More than 18,000 runners will pound the streets on Monday in the 29th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care, on May Day.
The event starts at the City Hall at 9am and finishes in Ormeau Park, with the route taking in all parts of the city.
Weather is expected to be perfect for pavement pounders and spectators alike, forecast as sunny with a maximum of 12C, and a southerly wind of 14mph.
Some 3,300 runners have entered the main race, up 400 since last year. They will be joined by 11,000 relay runners, 2,350 walkers and 1,500 fun runners — giving a total of 18,150 participants, 900 more than in 2009.
Danny O’Connor, chairman of the event’s organising committee, says numbers are higher than ever, just 300 shy of the all-time high entry back in the early 80s.
“The number of people taking up running and competing, particularly in road racing events, is an all-time peak, and this is reflected in the continuing phenomenal interest in the marathon, year on year.” he said.
Runners to watch include defending champion John Mutai from Kenya, favourite to become the first person to win the race for the fourth consecutive time. He will also be aiming to capture the elusive 25-year old course record of 2:15 set by Marty Deane way back in 1985.
Maria McCambridge is hoping to beat her personal best time of 2:35:29, set in Paris last year, and four minutes inside the current Belfast women’s record.
Belfast man Christopher Lawless, now 26, was shot in the face by loyalists aged eight, and will be raising money for the Northern Ireland Hospice in memory of his father, Peter — himself injured in a gun attack in 1972.
Drivers can expect delays throughout the morning and early afternoon — with the area around City Hall closed to through traffic between 7.30am and 9.30am — and later in the city centre and outlying areas until 2pm.
However, police and stewards will be in place to ensure disruption is minimised.
Ormeau Embankment will be closed all day and drivers travelling to and from the Stena Line terminal should be aware of possible delays and plan accordingly.
For more information, on check in times, call 084 4770 7070 or visit www.stenaline.co.uk
A free park and ride shuttle bus service will run between Ormeau Park and car parks on Ormeau Avenue and Cromac Street between 10am and 6pm.
The Traffic Information and Control Centre can be contacted on 08457 123321, or via www.traf ficwatchni.com. Regular updates also will be given via the Marathon’s official media partner, U105.
Details of changes to Translink Metro services can be obtained by calling 028 9066 6630 (7am – 8pm) or visiting www.translink.co.uk.
Top 10 tips
1. Buy proper running shoes.
2. Dress appropriately: cotton T-shirts can chafe.
3. Keep hydrated: drinking water is important.
4. Take the Vaseline: helpful to prevent painful chafing.
5. Start Slow: starting slower will give you energy to go at a fast pace for the entire race.
6. Locate the toilets near the start line.
7. Eat breakfast two hours before the race.
8. Be prepared: take dry socks and a change of shoes.
9. Have a support team.
10. Get in line at the finish lanes for your official time.