Champion Sittuk will return to defend his Belfast title
Reigning Belfast City Marathon champion Freddy Sittuk will return to defend the title he won so convincingly four months ago in May 2015.
Belfast City Marathon Chairman Danny O'Connor announced details yesterday of next year's 34th Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathon and confirmed that it is hoped this year's total of some 17,000 participants across all events will be exceeded.
O'Connor also confirmed that next year's official charity is Marie Curie Cancer Care, which is celebrating the 50th year of the Belfast Hospice. He revealed that the 2014 event raised some £1million and this would hopefully be repeated after the success of the Belfast Half Marathon two weeks ago, which had 4,000 competitors.
In that race, 28-year-old Kenyan Sittuk just got the better of Annadale star Eddie McGinley to take victory by three seconds. The outcome in last May's Marathon was more clear cut as underdog Sittuk defied wet conditions to break clear at the halfway mark.
At the finish he had a decisive three-minute winning margin over 2013 winner Joel Kipsang.
Sittuk, who took bronze in 2013 behind Kipsang, then went on to win the Derry Walled City Marathon a week later. He will be returning to Ireland next month to race in the Dublin Marathon.
It remains to be seen if Sittuk's best marathon time of just under 2 hours 15 minutes will be sufficient to win next year as organisers are keen to enhance the quality of elite athletes competing.
There is also the incentive of a top male winner's prize of £6,000, which includes a rollover figure of £3,000 for breaking the course record. The record is held by Ethiopia's Urga Negewo, who won with a time of 2.13.41 in 2012.
Sponsorship Manager Rob Crabbe said: "We are delighted that Deep RiverRock is title sponsor of the Belfast City Marathon for the ninth consecutive year.
"This marathon showcases the very best of what Belfast has to offer, making it an outstanding community event."