ERIC KOECH & CAROLINE JEPCHIRCHIR WIN DEEP RIVERROCK BELFAST CITY MARATHON
07 May 2018
Kenyan athletes Eric Koech and Caroline Jepchirchir claimed victory as 17,000 participants took part in the 37th annual Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and associated events (Monday 7th May 2018).
Eric raced clear of three-time winner Joel Kositany (Kenya) and Dan Tanui (Ethiopia) to win in 2:18:19, while Caroline saw off a brave effort from Northern Ireland’s reigning Belfast City Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) to win in the ladies race in 2:41:23.
However, it was the aforementioned Kilkeel based athlete, Laura, who again stole the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of spectators, with an excellent performance and podium place.
The 32-year-old, a Northern Ireland and Ireland international, who has been selected for this years European Athletics Championships, held her own against Kenyan Commonwealth Games athlete competitor Caroline, who boasts a personal best some ten minutes quicker than Laura, until the latter stages.
After claiming the runners up spot in 2:43:33 (2nd place), Laura told Athletics NI, "I loved it, I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m really happy with my performance.
This year my main focus is the Euros and today was about a controlled effort and having fun. I did that and I'm happy with second place behind Caroline.”
Laura added, “Belfast (Marathon) means a lot to me, the crowds were unreal. The support from them would make you cry, it did actually! Thanks everybody!"
Christina Bogomiakova (Ukraine) completed the top three in the ladies race in 2:46:43 (3rd place).
Northern Ireland’s Karen Alexander (Unattached), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) all made the top eight. Karen crossed the line in 2:54:31 (5th place) and Louise also broke three hours with a 2:57:36 effort for 6th place. Gerrie ran 3:04:26 for 8th place.
In the men’s race, there was no splitting eventual winner Eric Koech and fellow Kenyan Joel Kositany for much of the race. The pair led out and with Dan Tanui just behind, relentlessly covered the early miles.
As the race progressed, Dan brought himself into contention and it became clear that that a move for victory would come from a late surge, and it did – as the athletes made their way back towards the City Centre, Eric, a runner up in Belfast two years ago (2016) made a race winning change of pace, dropping Joel and Dan.
To loud cheers from the crowds, Eric came off the Embankment and negotiated the Ormeau Road and Ravenhill Road section. He blasted into the Ormeau Park finish area and broke the tape in 2:18:19 (1st place). Dan replicated his 2nd place finish from last year (2017), when crossing the line in 2:20:19 and Joel claimed 3rd place in 2:23:40.