Over 2,000 runners expected on start line for WHM2019
Over 2,000 runners expected on start line for 2019 Waterside Half Marathon
Over 2,000 runners are expected at the start line this weekend at the 38th staging of the Waterside Half Marathon is hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with City of Derry Spartans.
Runners will wind their way from the Ebrington site start, along the banks of the Foyle, crossing both Foyle Bridge and the Peace Bridge en route to the finish on the St Columbs Park track.
Assisted Wheelchairs, racing wheelchairs and runners of all abilities including around 80 Relay teams of three, will be in the line up for the WHM, the biggest and most pretigious local road race. The assisted wheelchairs have a 9 30am start, the racers go at 9 55am with all the runners off at 10am.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, wished everyone taking part a safe and enjoyable day.
“The Waterside Half Marathon is one of the longest running athletics events in Ireland as it continues to prove popular with the public who have endorsed it by registering in such large numbers again this year,” she said.
“There has been a noticeable increase in runners out on our roads and greenways in recent week as they make their final preparations for race day and it is fantastic to see more and more local people reaping the health benefits of taking regular exercise and making good lifestyle choices.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to wish all of those taking part well as they finalise their preparations, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable today and reach your personal goals.”
Entries have come in from all round the country and beyond with Enniskillen based Kenyan Gideon Kimosop the clear favourite to lead them home, and defending female champion Anne Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny AC tipped to retain her crown.
Kimosop should have too much for what will most likely be a mainly local challenge from the top City of Derry Spartans and Foyle Valley men. Indeed a real shoot out between the local clubs is on the cards as both will vie for local bragging rights and the NI & Ulster Half Marathon individual and team championship honours.
The Spartans are the defending champions in the 3 to score cumulative time based team race and will look to Declan Reed and Kyle Doherty to front their challenge on Sunday. Foyle have the inform Scott Rankin and Gary Slevin among their upfront squad and a real battle of attrition is anticipated with little between both squads.
Podium spots will also be at a premium. Reed and Rankin have both been the bridesmaids behind Kenyans in recent years and would dearly love to stride down the finish straight clear of the opposition. Kimosop obviously will have other ideas but who knows what will happen. Freddie Sittuk relied on a final sprint in his recent wins but perhaps that tactic will come unstuck this year and we will have the first local male winner since Keith Shields in 2013.
Reed, Rankin, Slevin, Kyle Doherty, Chris McGuinness, Aaron Doherty, Emmett McGinty and Craig Simpson appear to be the men to watch in the podium battle. It should be riveting.
The talented Irish international Anne Marie McGlynn is a nailed on shot to defend her female individual crown, the Strabane based runner preparing for the Dublin marathon and looking for a big run this weekend. Her 77m 01s clocking last year was impressive and no doubt she will chase a sub 77m run this time.
Former Springwell and now Ballycastle Runners star Gemma McDonald, looks a likely podium finisher with other potential candidates including local Gemma McGinty who is preparing for the Dublin marathon in late October, Amy May Lally from Omagh who finished a good 4th here back in 2017 and Beechmount Harrier's Aine Hughes who has a sub 90 minute clocking on the books.
The female team race is impossible to call but with Letterkenny AC sure to get off to a flier via Anne Marie McGlynn, the Donegal women will be fancied to retain their team title.
The Danny Sheerin saga continues and the Creggan man will start with the assisted Wheelchairs at 9 30am while a previous WHM racing Wheelchair winner Jim Corbett from Bambridge will line up to take on locals, James Divin and Karol Doherty. The racers go at 9 55am to give them open spaces in the early stages.
All relay participants will receive a race t shirt and medal and a shuttle bus is available to take runners to and from the handover locations.
The race is open to athletes of all levels and abilities and further information is available by e mailing [email protected] or calling 028 71 253 253.