Top Kenyan pair go head to head in Belfast Marathon
The winners of the past two Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathons will contest the 34th edition of the race on May 4.
Kenyan duo Freddy Sittuk and Joel Kipsang will renew their fierce rivalry of 12 months ago when the former broke away from his opponent at the halfway mark to record an unexpected victory in wet and windy conditions.
Kipsang is clear favourite this time round particulary after a fine fourth place in Israel three months ago in a time of 2.12.37.
Two years ago in Belfast Kipsang attempted to break the course record of 2.13.41 but was thwarted by the usual strong wind on the M2 Foreshore.
He still recorded a comfortable win in 2.19.28 ahead of an isolated Sittuk who was third.
The tables were completely turned last year when Sittuk took a calculated gamble by breaking away from the opposition on the Whitewell Road at 14 miles after which he simply lengthened his lead with a splendid solo run to the finish in a time of 2.18.30.
Prolific racer Sittuk then went on to win the Derry Walled City Marathon a week later.
However his best marathon time of 2.15 may not be good enough to get the better of Kipsang who may once again have his eye not only on the winner's prize of £3,000 but also a further rollover figure of £3,000 for breaking the course record which has stood for three years.
In the ladies event last year's runner-up Shona Crombie-Hicks has every chance.
The Bourton AC runner is a prolific road racer and has a best marathon time of sub 2.39 from Berlin a few years ago.