Next week’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will, for the first time, have a former Olympic champion among the runners.
Hunde Gezahegne Abere won the gold medal in Sydney in 2000 – and went on to become World Champion the following year. Most recently, the Ethiopian runner won last month’s Barcelona Marathon.
Abere – also a former winner of the London Marathon – will face stiff competition, not least from double Belfast winner Urga Negewo. Other top African runners expected to dominate the race for podium places are fellow Ethiopians Wosen Zeleke Demse, Ashenafi Eshetu Deme and Birhanu Niguse Melese, and the Kenyan trio of Joel Kipsang Kositany, James Rotich and Freddy Sittuk, who finished fifth in Belfast 12 months ago.
The leading local runner is Irish international Thomas Frazer, of St Malachy’s AC, who will be seeking to emulate his personal best time of 2hrs 18mins 37secs.
Top challenger for honours in the women’s race will be 21-year old Ethiopian Lemlem Berbe Yachem, who set a personal best of 2hrs 34mins 38secs which she won the Barcelona Marathon on St Patrick’s Day past. Her biggest challenge is expected to come from Kenya’s Helen Chereno Koskei, who has a personal best of 2:29:33 and has beaten the 2hrs 40 barrier on eight occasions, while Russia’s Yelena Kozhevnikova will be seeking to improve on the second place she has secured in each of the last two years.
Other top women include current Edinburgh and Toulouse champion Nataliya Lehonkova, of the Ukraine, Kenya’s Sarah Kerubo Kebaso, and the Ethiopian trio of Zenabu Haftu Abay, Yenalem Buli and Tsehai Desalegn Adhana
More than 17,500 people are expected to take part in the 2013 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, which starts at the front of City Hall at 9am on Monday May 6th. This year’s event will be preceded by a short silence, in memory of those killed and injured in the bomb attack on the Boston Marathon earlier this month.
All events – the main Marathon, the Team Relay, the nine-mile walk and the Fun Run – finish at Ormeau Park. Motorists are warned to expect delays along the 26.2 mile route, details of which can be found on the official website, www.belfastcitymarathon.com