Tired Freddy Sittuk out of running to defend Belfast Marathon title
Defending Belfast Marathon champion Freddy Sittuk has dramatically withdrawn from next Monday's Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathon citing tiredness and indifferent recent form.
The 34-year-old Kenyan, who last year recorded a spectacular if unexpected victory by a huge three minute margin, recently ran a 10k road race in which his relatively slow finishing time convinced him that a successful defence of his Belfast title was not a realistic possibility.
But as he is based here from time to time he intends to race again in Ireland in the future.
A fully-fit Sittuk would neverless have been hard pressed to successfully retain his title because of the usual fierce African opposition which has been the hallmark of the Belfast race which is now in its 34th year.
Leading the charge will be last year's runner-up Joel Kipsang who was caught napping by Sittuk when Freddy forged ahead at the halfway point and opened a massive gap which Kipsang could not close.
Four months ago, however, 27-year-old Joel ran a classy time of two hours 12 minutes 37 seconds to secure a fourth place finish in the Israel Marathon which was the venue for his PB time of sub two hours 10 minutes back in 2009.
Kipsang is also a previous winner in Belfast in 2013 when his time of 2.19.28 would have been much faster had he not made a valiant effort to break the course record of 2.13.41.
He may contemplate attempting this again on Monday, weather permitting, when a roll over prize of £3,000 is available for a new record in addition to the winner's award of £3,000.
While Joel is marginal favourite to take his second title, he will need to be wary of a trio of fellow Kenyans, any of whom is capable of winning.
Linus Mayo has a PB of 2.11.34 from Barcelona in 2013 while Gideon Kimosop is part of a Project Africa group currently based in the province.
He has a sub two hours 17 minutes time to his credit while his team-mate Vincent Chepyegon ran 2.18.32 in Frankfurt last October.