SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon 2016 set to be a heated contest

Running 26.2 miles is never easy, but the warm weather could make it extra tricky for the 1,500 or so runners competing in this year’s SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon on Sunday.

The race is hotly contested every year, but the sunny conditions could make that truer than ever this time around.

Race Director, Noel McMonagle, said: “We would encourage the spectators along the course to consider setting up hose points where possible, and perhaps having drinks, oranges and sweets on hand for the runners as they pass.”

He also had a word of advice for the runners. "Hats, sunblock and lots of fluids, all highly recommended. Drink early and often!"

He continued: "People have enthusiastically embraced our event since 2013 and come out in huge numbers to support the runners all along the route. I have no doubt that this will be the case again on Sunday, and I would specifically ask that residents in the Bay Road Park area come out and boost the runners at this tough stage, around 23 miles into the race, when spirits could be flagging."

As the city prepares to welcome runners from 14 different countries, the up-front action is eagerly anticipated. Both defending champions, Freddy Sittuk and Pauline Curley, are in the line-up and will face strong challenges. Freddy, who won the race in both 2014 and 2015, will have to fend off tough competition in the form of his Omagh-based countrymen, Dan Tanui and Eric Koech.

Pauline will likely be competing against her namesake, and 2014 winner, Anne Curley from Dublin and Yorkshire-based Hanna Oldroyd.

Chris McGuinness is considered the man to lead the locals home, with Mark Mullan, James Crampsey and Moville man Benny Mullan also ones to watch. Sandra McKeever, a recent winner at the Inishowen Half Marathon, is in good form and could go well. Strabane's Claire McGuigan has a good pedigree and is reported to be shooting for a time close to three hours. If that happens, she could be close enough to worry one or more of the expected pace setters.

Vicky Boden, SSE Airtricity, said: “SSE Airtricity is proud to be sponsoring the Walled City Marathon for a fourth year running. The event has been a great success in previous years and it has become a real highlight in the city’s summer calendar. We’re looking forward to another fun day out this time around, especially if the weather forecast is to be believed!”

The action kicks off at 8.30am at the Everglades Hotel, with the leading runners expected at the Guildhall Square finish line by around 10.50am.

Why not get out there on Sunday morning and be a part of it!!

For more information, visit the official race website: www.thewalledcitymarathon.com.