Gebremichael Returns to Defend Belfast Marathon Title

27 April 2016

Last year's Belfast Marathon Women's champion Behran Gebremichael of Ethiopia will be defending her title in next week's race which has a current entry of some 3,000.

The 29 year old is firm favourite to win again particularly as her current form would indicate that she will have few problems dealing with next Monday's opposition. She has won all her Marathons to date starting with India in Feb 2015 (2 hrs 39 mins 11 secs), Belfast in May (2.40.57) and Castellon in Spain last December where she recorded a huge PB for victory in 2.36.31.

A year ago in Belfast Berhan defied the windy conditions to run with the top 10 male runners for a large part of the race. She finished 8th overall some 10 mins ahead of the next woman in the 4th fastest time in the 34 year history of the event. The Ethiopian said she could have broken the course record of 2.36.49 had she had the services of a proper pacemaker. Her top form as shown in Spain would indicate that the record might be under threat next week.

Other female names who will be well to the fore include fellow Ethiopian Fantu Jifar and England's Shona Crombie-Hicks who was 4th in Belfast in 2012 and 2nd two years ago   behind the Ethiopian Bayush Shiferaw. Already announced is Hungary's Katalin Garami who got bronze last year.

The Men's race also has last year's winner Joel Kipsang of Kenya who will be going for a hat trick of victories. Additional opposition now includes fellow countryman Eric Koech who ran 2.16.33 in a marathon in Nairobi last October. Also racing will be Daniel Tanui who was 4th in the big Cardiff International Half Marathon last autumn.

This quality field which also includes Ethiopia's Zeleke Bekele (PB of 2 hrs 15 mins) points to a very fast time in Belfast weather permitting. The current record   stands at 2 hrs 13 mins 41 secs set in 2012 by Urga Negewo.  A new record could prove very lucrative for someone   as a roll over prize of £1,000 for each year since then plus the first prize of £3,000 would translate into a healthy pay day next Monday  of £7,000.