Belfast Telegraph

Councillor steps up fight to keep Ormeau leg of city marathon

By Brett Campbell

A councillor has put up posters encouraging residents in south Belfast to oppose proposed changes to next year's route for the annual city marathon.

Declan Boyle placed the flyers along the Ormeau Road yesterday in an effort to stop the bustling street being axed from the event.

He has called on people to "make your voice heard" in order to champion the case for keeping the route on the race map.

"There are plans to divert participants along the embankment and bypass the Ormeau Road so that they can run by Queen's - even though no one will be in the university," Mr Boyle said.

"I want to gather feedback from as many people as possible so I can relay it to the organisers and the council." Event organisers are currently in the process of gauging reaction to several major changes which could see the finishing point move from Ormeau Park to Stormont next year.

"It's the Belfast City Marathon, not the east Belfast Marathon," the independent councillor said. "Why change something that works so well?"

The proposed changes have angered residents and business owners, who have embraced the long-running event with open arms. This year's event takes place on Bank Holiday Monday.

In addition to the £1.5m it generates for charities, the marathon is estimated to generate over £1m in additional economic activity for the city. "Business owners and residents make this such a special day for the runners - they love the encouragement they get from the hordes of spectators here," said Mr Boyle.

"I can understand the desire to remove more isolated areas but not such a popular stretch."

The councillor has vowed to pick up the pace of his campaign, which he insists has widespread support.

"I will keep fighting while there is a chance to save this route," he added.

A further report is due to be considered by members of Belfast City Council's City Growth and Regeneration Committee, but a fixed date has yet to be set.

A spokesperson for Belfast City Marathon said proposals are still being drawn up and a new route which includes the Ormeau Road is under consideration.

Belfast Telegraph

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