MARATHON: Defending Walled City Marathon champions face strong challenges

DEFENDING CHAMPION . . . Freddy Sittuk from Kenya, winner of the 2015 Walled City Marathon receives his medal from mayor Elisha McCallion in Guildhall Square.
DEFENDING CHAMPION . . . Freddy Sittuk from Kenya, winner of the 2015 Walled City Marathon receives his medal from mayor Elisha McCallion in Guildhall Square.

Sunday’s SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon is all set to welcome almost 1,500 runners for the fourth staging of what has become one of the sporting highlights around these parts.

And with both defending champions, Freddy Sittuk and Pauline Curley in the line-up and facing strong challenges, the up-front action should be hot.

Kenyan Freddy, going for three-in-a-row and former Irish Olympic marathoner, Pauline from Tullamore, are reported to be up for the challenge and ready to take on all comers.

Pauline faces the 2014 winner, Anne Curly from Dublin, Yorkshire based Hanna Oldroyd, a 2 hours and 50 minutes performer and Strabane lady, Clare McGuigan who is said to be targeting a sub 3 hour finish.

Freddy flys in from Kenya later this week and will face two currently Omagh based Kenyans, the in-form Dan Tanui and Eric Koech who have been setting the roads on fire over the last two months in a successful series of 5K’s, 10K’s and Half Marathons at various Irish venues.

Big runs in the recent Inishowen Half Marathon, Buncrana 5k and last Saturday’s Ballyclare 10K indicate their good form and they also finished second, Eric, and third, Dan, in the Belfast Marathon at the beginning of May.

That’s a huge pedigree and with Freddy apparently not racing recently he could be vulnerable this weekend! However, he knows the course and perhaps his compatriots have over-raced. Sunday will reveal all!

Chris McGuinness heads the local men in the line-up and the strong Foyle Valley man should be good enough to claim the local bragging rights with James Crampsey and Mark Mullan likely to be his nearest rivals.

The weather forecast suggests a continuation of the current warm weather so it may well be a hot competitive race in hot conditions - hats, sunscreen and lots of fluids could be the order of the day.

The action begins at 8.30am at the Everglades Hotel with the first finishers in the Guildhall Square from around 10.50am. onwards.

More information and a final race preview before the weekend visit www.thewalledcitymarathon.com.