THE Walled City Marathon returns to the streets of Derry~Londonderry on Sunday, June 2, for the first time in 28 years, one of the sporting highlights of the 2013 City of Culture celebrations.
The proposed route for the 26.2 mile race will take in all the sights of the historic city, both ancient and modern, including the city walls and the iconic Peace Bridge. It will hug the banks of the River Foyle as it takes in the rural areas around the city and follow a route through the Waterside, Cityside and city centre before a finish in Guildhall Square.
The race is open to runners of all abilities, rather than an elite field, to make it a marathon for the people of Derry~Londonderry. A full training schedule has been worked out, beginning in January, which will enable novices to properly prepare for the race.
The Walled City Marathon has a total prize fund of £9,000, with £1,000 going to the winners of both the men’s and women’s races. The runner-up in each race will take home £600 with £400 for third place.
Mayor, Cllr Kevin Campbell welcomed the inclusion of the city Marathon as part of the City of Culture events, “The City Marathon will offer is a great opportunity to showcase our city to runners from all over the island of Ireland and beyond.
“We have a lot of local athletic clubs who will be delighted at the opportunity to participate in a marathon in their home town. It will be one of a number of great sporting occasions taking place throughout 2013 and I hope it will become an annual event.”
Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “The Walled City Marathon is a wonderful addition to Derry’s City of Culture celebrations in 2013. It adds a further dimension to the sporting strand of the year’s events.
“This is an event which showcases the human spirit not through artistic endeavour, but physical effort. Weaving through the city for 26.2 miles, the marathon has drama, excitement and no lack of challenge for the athletes taking part.
“As an iconic city hosts the toughest of races, it promises to be a truly unique and memorable occasion.”
Top Derry marathon runner Greg Roberts said: “I think having the race again as part of the year as City of Culture can be the springboard to having this race as an annual event again.
“For me, having a marathon in my home town will make all the difference. There’s nothing like having home support and running on the streets that you know, especially if the route will take me past my own front door.”
The last full distance marathon to take place in Derry~Londonderry was in 1985 when the men’s race was won by County Derry runner Tommy Hughes.
“Having the marathon back in the city is a very exciting prospect,” he said. “It’s a very tempting prospect to come back and run it again, although it will be a very different course to the one I would have run in 1985.
“If it is going to be a flat course it is going to be very inviting to runners because everyone is always looking to run a personal best time.”
Runners will be able to register for the race shortly by visiting www.thewalledcitymarathon.com or by visiting the Facebook page Derry Walled Marathon.