Records tumbled for the second successive year in today’s 31st Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
Ethiopia’s Urga Negewo returned to the event he won two years ago, to repeat his 2010 feat – and this time knocked more than a minute off the record, striding home on a wet and windy morning in 2:13:41.
Defending champion Joseph Chesire, who set a new Belfast record only last year, could only manage third place, in 2:18:09, behind fellow Kenyan David Kipserem Kisang (2:15:57).
The first local runner 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 women’s race was won by another Kenyan, Alice Chelangat, who also set a new record of 2:39:02 – shaving 20 seconds off that set by Marashet Jimma in 2008. Russia’s Yelena Kozevnikova was the second woman home, in 2:42:10, followed by Wioletta Kryza of Poland, in 2:43:57.
The wheelchair event was won by Darrell Erwin, from Ballymena.
Another record was broken, in terms of the number of competitors taking part in the main 26.2 mile race – with almost 3,800 people pounding Belfast’s streets. Taking into account the unique team relay, as well as the walk and fun run, organizers estimate that almost 21,000 took part in the event.
Speaking afterwards, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall O Donnghiale, said: “Despite the weather conditions, the wind and the rain did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those taking part, as well as the many 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.”