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Gallery: First Belfast Marathon winner from north in 18 years

John Monaghan
02 May, 2017 01:00

KILKEEL and Kenya provided the winners of this year's Belfast Marathon, as around 3,000 runners descended on the city for the main race.

More than 15,000 participants in total competed in various events at the 36th annual marathon.

Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston, who opened the event, completed the course in three hours and 32 minutes and said there were great crowds along the route.

Co Down's Laura Graham became the first competitor from Northern Ireland to win the woman's race since 1999 when Barbara Brewer crossed the finish line first.

The 31-year-old mother-of-four claimed victory with a personal best time of 2:41: 45, five minutes ahead of her nearest challenger and just eight days after she ran the London Marathon.

The Mourne Runners athlete, who ran her first Belfast Marathon six years ago to raise funds after her father had suffered a heart attack, said: "It doesn't feel real. I've yet to wake up!"

"It (running) started all with those kids of mine. I'm doing it for them. Payton, Jaden, Leila and Darcy."

She added: "I just went out for a run one day and decided I would give it a go. I ran here a few months after my first (child). With that, I took a bug for it."

In the men's race, Kenyan athlete Bernard Rotich came out on top after completing the marathon in 2:16:02, breaking clear from a group of five African runners who had been leading the way for most of the race to win.

It is the fifth consecutive year that a Kenyan runner has won the men's race.

"In 2014 I was here, I was not well prepared because I had an injury, but today I was very impressed with the time I ran," Mr Rotich told the BBC.

For those who judged the full 26 mile race to be beyond them, there were relay teams, wheelchair racing, a marathon walk and a fun run, with many taking part to raise funds for charity.

Starting at Belfast City Hall, competitors made their way around the city, which was bathed in blistering sunshine, before reaching the finish line at Ormeau Park in south Belfast.

David Seaton, director of the marathon, said that talks were underway to develop a new route from City Hall to Stormont ahead of next year's race.

There was plenty of music, colour and extravagant costumes on display as some runners came in fancy dress.

One runner, Paul Boyle, completed the route with a hurl attached to his headwear, in aid of Project Africa.

Water, food and shouts of encouragement as the finish line approached were all on offer from organisers and crowds who had gathered to watch.

Justin Sinnott, an independent councillor on Fingal County Council in Dublin, tweeted: "Definitely the friendliest marathon I've done. Super support on route #BelfastMarathon."

However, boxer Paddy Barnes's enjoyment of the race was dampened by one hit which he was unable to duck.

He tweeted: "Just finished 12 mile of the marathon and looked in the mirror to find out that a bird s**t on me!"

02 May, 2017 01:00 News

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