Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has officially launched the fifth running of the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon, which will take place next year on Sunday, June 4th.
The 2017 running expects to see more than 2,000 athletes make the 26.2 mile journey through the spectacular backdrops of Derry City – from the banks of the River Foyle, through the parks and city streets, past the city’s iconic Peace Bridge, and on for the final push to the finish at Guildhall Square.
Among those taking part will be two-time Walled City Marathon winner and course record holder, Freddy Sittuk. The champion Kenyan, who will be running the 2017 event with the aim of adding a third title, was also on hand to join the Deputy First Minister to launch next year’s marathon.
And for those who want to get in some extra training and preparation for the event, Walled City Marathon organisers and SSE Airtricity have also announced the launch of this year’s SSE Airtricity 10 Miler, which will take place on Saturday, March 4th 2017.
Registrations for the 2017 SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon open online this coming Thursday (October 27th). Returning runners, and those looking to take part in their first Walled City Marathon, are encouraged to visit www.thewalledcitymarathon.com to register.
Inspired by the 2013 UK City of Culture designation and the long-standing tradition of road running in the Maiden City, a small group of local runners, with crucial support from both SSE Airtricity and the local Council, successfully staged the inaugural SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon in June 2013. Now heading for its fifth running, the event continues to grow in popularity, with even more runners expected to take up next year’s challenge.
Launching the 2017 SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon, the Deputy First Minister said: “I am a keen supporter of the Walled City Marathon which is always a fantastic family day out, bringing runners and well-wishers out onto the streets of Derry.
“The entire City will be buzzing and I thank SSE Airtricity for once again putting their best foot forward by providing the financial backing to make the marathon a reality. They have been strong supporters for the last five years and their ongoing support is greatly appreciated.
“Running has grown in popularity in recent years and I encourage anyone who hasn’t done the Walled City Marathon before, or who remains undecided, to make 2017 the year to give it a go. I am sure it is a challenging and gruelling 26.2 mile course but there could be no greater backdrop than our famous walls and the banks of the Foyle.”
Eimear Lenehan from SSE Airtricity said: “At SSE Airtricity, we’re committed to supporting communities, and our support of the Walled City Marathon is one of the most important sporting events that we back. We’re proud that the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon is now in its fifth year.
“Each year we have seen more competitors, more entertainment and more spectators take to the streets of this historic city, all of which adds to the carnival atmosphere of the event. The Walled City Marathon truly is one of the very best annual spectacles and sporting events in the city, and in the whole North West region, and on behalf of SSE Airtricity I encourage everyone who can to either get running this year or get behind those running this great 26-mile course.”
Walled City Marathon organiser, Scott Galbraith, added: “We have had magnificent buy-in from the communities all across Derry City, as well as excellent support in each of the five years of the marathon from SSE Airtricity, making this one of the best sporting events around.
“The buzz in the city on marathon day is something that has to be experienced to understand, and we are looking forward to seeing more people enjoy it in June, whether they are running the 26 miles or just soaking up the atmosphere.”
In addition to hosting the finish line for the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon, Guildhall Square will also host the finish of the very popular Kids 1km Mini Marathon, with hundreds of young runners pouring across the finish line as a prelude to the arrival of the leading marathon finishers.