Eddie McGinley relishes Belfast Marathon challenge
While athletes from Africa have tended to dominate the Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathon of late, one local man is determined to give them a run for their money next Monday.
Annadale AC's Eddie McGinley will fly the flag for local talent in an event that has an impressive entry of some 3,000 runners for the full distance.
The 32-year-old journalist will face the usual array of classy Kenyans, who have excelled in the race in recent years.
However, McGinley has indicated that he will be concentrating on his own tactics as opposed to mixing it with the Africans, who have set a breakneck pace in recent times in their attempts to break the course record of 2 hours 13 minutes 41 seconds.
Ideally, McGinley would like to break his personal best time which currently stands at 2.24.52, set in Dublin in 2013.
He does, though, accept that good times in Belfast are never easy given the torturous Antrim Road hill and the exposed areas in Duncrue Estate.
The former Irish Cross Country champion does have some advantageous local knowledge to draw upon.
"I work and train in the Duncrue area," explained McGinley.
"I will also be running with some of my training mates which should help along with the tremendous crowd support which is always there for a local runner."
McGinley will be more than happy if he can emulate the achievement of Thomas Frazer, who has been the highest ranked local finisher in recent times when he came home in fourth two years ago.
McGinley will face a stiff challenge from two Kenyans in particular who are temporarily based in the province under the Project Africa scheme.
Vincent Chepyegon has a PB marathon time of 2.18.32 from Frankfurt last October and he recently beat the Annadale man when winning the Larne Half Marathon.
An even greater threat will come from 26-year-old Gideon Kimosop, who has a best time of 2.16.44.
He recently beat World Championship Marathon runner Paul Pollock in the Omagh Half Marathon, where he recorded an impressively quick time of 65.15.Kimosop also recorded a solid fourth place in the recent Greenmount Cross Country.
Both these athletes have made it clear that the top target for their visit to the province is next week's marathon.
The Ladies field, meanwhile, will now include Britain's Shona Fletcher, who triumphed in the York Marathon last October in 2 hours 43 minutes.
Also entering the race is Kenya's Selina Kangogo, who lost to last weekend's London Marathon star Breege Connolly in the Larne Half Marathon and is sure to be up amongst the leading contenders.