News

Belfast to host World 24-Hour Championships

17 February 2016

Belfast has won the race to host the 12th IAU 24-Hour World Championships in 2017.

 

The Championship, which is held every two years, will be staged in Victoria Park, in east Belfast on Saturday,July 1 and Sunday, July 2.

When last held in Turin in 2015, the Championship attracted 300 of the world’s top competitors from 45 nations.

The international Association of Ultrarunners(IAU), which administers the long-distance running wing of the sport for the IAAF, has made the announcement at its Executive Council meeting in Monaco following what it described as “ a good competition.”

The IAU President Dirk Strumane says: “ It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that Belfast has been allocated the organisation of the 2017 24H World Championships.

“ Belfast presented us with a convincing,well-structured and strongly supported bid and we are looking forward to a fruitful and constructive co-operation.”

The Belfast bid had struggled initially to gather the required underwriting to allow the bid to go forward but backing from Belfast City Council, from long-time sponsors Energia and members of the Local Organising Committee had got it across the line at the eleventh hour.

“ It was touch and go for a while,” says Bid chairperson Ed Smith. “ But as well as getting the guarantees in place, there was support from Athletics NI acting on behalf of  UK Athletics, from Athletics Ireland, who’s National Championships we’ve hosted since 2012 , the Charles Hurst Group, and from  Dame Mary Peters and across the political divide.

“I’m delighted that all the Committee’s hard work has got this recognition -delighted also for the city and for east Belfast and Victoria Park which has helped so much by establishing itself as an international venue  as part of the £40m Connswater Community Greenway project currently underway in the area.

“ We realise that there are no eye-catching household names in this branch of athletics - it’s all about ‘endurance and survival’ but hopefully with the Championship we can bring a spotlight to bear on the Park and the whole city with the influx of athletes and visitors.

“ We will certainly be doing our best to deliver a memorable event on the first two days of  July next year,” he says.

From its inception in 2010, Belfast City Council  has  helped Energia24 through its ‘Support for Sport’ initiative.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Arder Carson says: “ May I congratulate the organising committee on bringing another major event here. This will be a further opportunity to showcase our city and let the competitors,spectators and visitors experience all that Belfast has to offer and what good hosts we are .”

From day one leading gas and electricity supplier Energia has supported Belfast’s 24-Hour race.

Group Managing Director Tom Gillen says: “ The race from small beginnings has developed into a magnificent occasion; and I am thrilled that the dream of becoming a major international event has been realised. We will give every support we can in helping to deliver the  2016 race and then the Championship in 2017.”

The  Energia24 race switches from the Mary Peters’ track to the 1.7K circuit at Victoria Park this summer for what will be a ‘dress-rehearsal’ on June 25/26. It is hoped that several international runners will come to get a look at the course ahead of the World Championships.

2017 promises to be a big year for athletics in the British Isles with the IPC World Championships for Para athletes coming to the Olympic Park in London from July 15-23; to be followed by the IAAF World Championships from August 5-13.

More information contact Ed Smith 07740818389 or ed_n_smith@ hotmail.com