Belfast Marathon is all set to make a big splash with record numbers
The entries have already started pouring in for the 37th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, which was launched yesterday.
The event will be held on May Day Bank Holiday, May 7, 2018, and organisers are expecting yet another massive turn-out - possibly a record entry - for the race.
The biggest single participatory event in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Marathon began in 1982 and combines several different levels of participation, from the full marathon to the family-friendly fun run.
Kenya's Bernard Rotich is the defending champion, however he will be run close by the likes of Dan Tanui and Emanuel Kiprotich, while local girl Laura Graham will be hoping to strike gold in the women's race.
Around 17,000 people are expected to take to the streets on May 7, and Belfast Marathon chairman David Seaton is sure it'll be another successful year.
"Since its inception in 1982, the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon has grown in both numbers and appeal," said Seaton.
"Whether you compete in the full marathon, participate in the fun run or contest the relay event, there is something on the menu to suit all athletic tastes," he added.
Also in attendance was the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Sonia Copeland, who echoed Seaton's words in hoping for an exciting day.
"Thirty-seven years ago Belfast City Council took the decision to stage the first Belfast City Marathon and, over the intervening years, the event has gone from strength to strength," she said.
"When other marathons fell by the wayside, Belfast continued to grow.
"Once again, I would urge the people of Belfast to turn out and support the runners on May Day - whether it be by offering a glass of water or a slice of fruit, or merely an encouraging word," she added.
Like all other runnings of the Belfast Marathon, next May the majority of participants will compete in aid of charity through sponsorship.
Mencap Northern Ireland will be the official charity partner of the marathon and have encouraged people to get involved by using the hashtag #MoveIt4Mencap for those running in the marathon.
Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap Northern Ireland, said: "We are delighted to be the official charity partner for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
"No matter what the event, we encourage everyone to run, walk or wheel in aid of Mencap Northern Ireland and the 42,000 people in Northern Ireland with a learning disability."
Deep RiverRock's Sponsorship Manager Rob Crabbe said: "As Northern Ireland's favourite water brand with its roots in Co Antrim, Deep RiverRock is delighted to continue its long-standing partnership with Belfast City Marathon in 2018.
"Deep RiverRock is proud to be associated with such a world class event that resonates so well with the local community and as a company we are honoured to have played a part in the success of what is now a key event in Northern Ireland's sporting calendar."