Belfast Marathon runner-up Gideon Kimosop is among a number of Kenyans likely to dominate the third Asics Belfast City Half Marathon - incorporating the NI Championship - on Sunday (9am, Ormeau Park).
The largest half marathon in the province is proving as popular as ever with entries closed at 3,500, many raising funds for the official charity Marie Currie.
The new super-fast course takes in east Belfast, the city centre and the Lower Falls.
Leading the way should be Kimosop, the surprise packet at the Belfast Marathon in May. The 27-year-old fought a tough battle with previous winner Joel Kipsang before having to settle for second in 2.20.29. Kimosop is therefore hot favourite on Sunday, particularly as he has a fastest half marathon time of 65.15, achieved when winning in Omagh last March when defeating top local marathon runner Paul Pollock.
In the absence of last year’s runner-up Eddie McGinley, the top local athlete could be Newry-based Paddy Hamilton, who was second earlier this month in the Laganside 10k won by Gary Murray who is racing next week in the Berlin Marathon. Hamilton has a good half marathon PB of 66.29 from last September.
East Down’s Brendan Teer, third two years ago, should also feature particularly as last year’s fourth finisher Brian Campbell is out with a calf injury.
In the ladies race, last year’s winner Gladys Ganiel of North Belfast is still working her way back to race fitness and may not be able to challenge two very useful Kenyans in Mercy Jemutai Tanui and Rosina Kiboino who are - along with Kimosop - under the wing of Omagh coach Ciaran Collins.