Sir Mo Farah will be back to defend his Antrim Coast Half Marathon title - that is the bold prediction of elite race organiser James McIlroy after the contest was granted elite world status.
Former Olympian McIlroy is confident the four-time Olympic gold medallist will return for another crack at the title he won in stunning style last September - hopefully with gold No.5 in his back pocket if the Tokyo Games go ahead.
"Fingers crossed Mo will be back this year. The 2021 race really will be amazing when you think we will have the best runners in the world running on one of the most beautiful roads in the world while also welcoming the masses back, who not only will get to race with some of their heroes returning from the Tokyo Olympics but, due to the out and back nature of the course, they'll also get a great view of the elite race - which we hope will be a record-breaking race like last year," said McIlroy, close friends with Sir Mo - who is coached by Larne man Gary Lough - since their time together in Team GB.
"We also should be in a position to welcome the American and African competitors confirmed for last year's race but who unfortunately, due to restrictions, were unable to travel."
The race is the first in Ireland to be elevated to the prestigious series of IAAF Road Race Label events, and only the third in the UK - joining the London Marathon and Cardiff Half Marathon.
The Antrim Coast Half Marathon now sits alongside events in Barcelona, Rio, Houston, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Seville, Valencia, Dubai, Istanbul, Naples and Shanghai on the prestigious roster. The IAAF have already indicated they will be sending a delegate to the race.
Sir Mo won the first ever Antrim Coast Half Marathon - a revamped version of the long-running and highly-successful Larne Half Marathon - in a time of one hour and 27 seconds, while Lily Partridge took the women's race in 71.36, both all-comers records.
Larne man McIlroy is sure the race will be the first ever sub-60-minute men's and sub-70 women's half marathon in Ireland.
The event, which starts and finishes in Larne, had been scheduled to take place last March but due to the pandemic was postponed until September - with no mass participation race and spectators urged to stay away due to Covid - and this year's showdown will take place on August 29. Around 10,000 runners are expected to take part.