Women's Record at the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon
07 May 2019
On 5th May 2019, close to 18,000 participants made history taking part in the 38th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon on a Sunday for the first time ever, across the Marathon, Team Relays, Walk and Fun Run.
This was a record year for the event with the highest numbers ever for the Marathon alone, with approximately 5000 trying out the brand new flatter marathon route. Despite the discrepancies in the race distance, the overall feedback of the route was positive, with runners stating that they felt they had more support from spectators out round the course. 2019 has also seen an increase of Team Relay participants, with around 2,400 five person relay teams signed up this year.
Kenyan athlete, Caroline Jepchirchir won for the 2nd year in a row with a new Women’s Record time of 2:34:55 after setting an aggressive pace from the start. The 37 year old athlete fought against Ethiopia’s Shewaye Wolde Meskel for the majority of the race, before leaving her in 2nd place in a time of 2:35:50. In 3rd place was Ukraine’s Vira Ovcharuk in a time of 2:37:13.
She was followed by North Belfast Harriers’ Gladys Ganiel, who finished in a time of 2:37:32 to take 4th place and the NI & Ulster Championship title. The second NI & Ulster lady was Catherine Johnston (Tafelta AC) in a time of 2:56:28 and in 3rd was Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) in a time of 2:57:56.
Gladys, who was making her Belfast debut, said about the event: "That was a good run for me. Anything under 2 hrs 40 mins is good on this course which is still tough around Ardoyne where the hill makes you lose up to 40 secs. The African girls were just too good. I enjoyed the atmosphere and some churches helping out around the course".
The African challenge in the Men's race was equally ferocious with no less than 6 Kenyans disputing the lead though Ormeau Park at the 7 miles mark. Triple champion Joel Kositany from Kenya made a decisive move at 25 miles and despite the efforts of Eric Koech and Bernard Rotich the 2013, 2015 and 2016 champion was not to be denied.
Joel sprinted down the home straight in effortless style to take victory in 2:17:09, beating his 2018 time of 2:23:40. Eric Koech was second in 2:17:18 with Rotich only 4 seconds behind in 3rd place, in a time of 2:17:22.
Kositany said of his record 4th win: "I am really happy with that. It makes up for me badly pulling a muscle last year with only 3 miles left. The weather was good and I liked the course. I felt good when I broke away at 25 miles. I really like Belfast and will be back next year".
NI man Jarlath McKenna (Bristol & West) was 6th overall and won the NI & Ulster Championship title in a time of 2:26:18. Following closely behind was Acorn AC’s Vincent McKenna in a time of 2:30:41 and the 3rd NI & Ulster Male was Max Travers (Annadale Striders) in a time of 2:35:23.
Jarlath commented: "I have lived in England for a long time but I still like racing here. This is now the 5th time I have finished 6th in this event. I am really pleased as it’s the first time here I have broken 2 hrs 30 mins .It’s a nice course but I had to run a lot on my own . I might run the Belfast Half Marathon in September."
For the Marathon Wheelchair Race, Jim Corbett (Torque Racing Club) claimed victory in a time of 2:19:21, with Karol Doherty finishing in 2nd place in 2:33:06 (beating his 2018 time of 2.46.34). In 3rd place was James Divin (City of Derry Spartans) in a time of 2:35.:48.