Wild weather shrugged off as runners and records fly in Belfast marathon


RAIN AND cold winds did not ruin the day for 21,000 runners who participated in different aspects of yesterday’s Belfast marathon, from those who completed the full 26.2-mile course to those who took part in sponsored relays and fun runs.

The main prizes again went to the fleet-footed endurance runners from Africa with both the winners of the men’s and women’s races establishing new records for the Belfast marathon.

Urga Negewo from Ethiopia repeated his victory of 2010, but this time he knocked more than a minute off the old record, crossing the line in two hours, 13 minutes and 41 seconds. The defending champion, Joseph Chesire from Kenya, who set a new Belfast record only last year, came third in two hours, 18 minutes and nine seconds, behind compatriot David Kipserem Kisang, who finished in 2:15:57.

The women’s race was won by another Kenyan, Alice Chelangat, who also set a new record of 2:39:02. She broke the previous record – set by Marashet Jimma in 2008 – by 20 seconds. Russia’s Yelena Kozhevnikova was the second woman home, in 2:42:10, followed by Wioletta Kryza of Poland, in 2:43:57.

The first local man home, in 2:29:43 and eighth place, was Tommy Hughes, who was the last Northern Ireland athlete to win in Belfast, back in 1998. The wheelchair event was won by Darrell Erwin from Ballymena.

Almost 3,800 runners competed in the full marathon, which is also a new record for Belfast. Organisers estimate that, taking into account the relays, as well as the walk and fun runs, almost 21,000 people participated in the event, which brought them from Belfast city centre to the four compass points of the city.

The Sinn Féin lord mayor of Belfast, Niall Ó Donnghaile, said he was delighted that the wet and windy conditions did nothing to upset what, aside from the competitive element of the marathon, was a great community day for Belfast.

He complimented all the runners and the thousands who turned out, “in spite of the miserable conditions, to cheer on friends and family – and even people they didn’t know”.

“It’s great to see so many people continuing to support the marathon – and especially to raise so much money for so many worthwhile charities. I congratulate everyone involved, and hope that any aches and pains have all been worthwhile, whether they have been gained in the course of setting a new personal best time or in fundraising,” added Mr Ó Donnghaile.