One thousand five hundred runners will take part in the second SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon taking place in Derry tomorrow.
After a 28 year absence, the race made an extremely successful return last year prompting to make the “one-off” event an annual fixture.
All eyes will be on Kenya’s Freddy Sittuk, hot favourite who posted a time of 2.18.30 in winning this year’s Belfast Marathon and if he produces anything near that time should win with ease.
Last year’s winner Tommy Hughes returns to defend his title hoping to improve on his 2.30.32.
Among the leading finishers should be Gary O’Hanlon, of Clonliffe Harriers, who won lst week’s Newry Marathon seven days after coming home first in the Killarney Marathon, the Newry athlete posting a time of 2.36.14.
Letterkenny AC’s Pauric McKinney was a podium finisher in Derry last year and is expected to be in contention again this time round.
Local athlete James Crampsey (City of Derry AC) is also tipped to be among the leading contenders and will be hoping to improve on his personal best time of 2.45.12.
Other local athletes expected to finish well up the field are Airtricity 10 mile road race winner Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Ryan Snodgrass (Foyle Valley AC) and Benny Mullan.
In the ladies race, Jacqui Boyle (unattached) is travelling back from England in an attempt to holding on to the title she won so impressively last year in a time of 3.14.10.
Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) and Claire McGuigan (Lifford AC) are among the local runners expected to run her close this time round.
Miriam Bridge (City of Derry AC) is also tipped for a top ten finish.
And of course, there are the hundreds of “fun runners” taking part and the Derry public has been called out to come out and cheer them on.
Race director Noel McMonagle said: “The runners names are printed on their race numbers so let’s hear a big shout out for each and every one of them as they go round the course!
“It all helps to get them across the line!”
Noel added: “We had a brilliant event last year and are back by public demand this weekend.
“Our runners come from all parts of our community and indeed beyond, and our event goes through large swathes of the city and environs with huge involvement from entire communities.”
He concluded: “We sincerely appreciate that participation and look forward to a brilliant event.”
The race will set off from the Everglades Hotel at Prehen in the Waterside, the 26.2 mile course finishing in the Guildhall Square.
In addition to the 26.2 mile race, there will be a one mile mini marathon for children from the local boroughs.