The Belfast city marathon took place on a Sunday for the first time this year, and included a new start at Stormont and finish at Ormeau Park.

After some encouragement from Tom Kinsella and hearing it’s a new “flatter faster course” I decided I’d give it a go.???? I left Dublin at 5 AM on Sunday morning and arrived at Stormont at about 7 AM. After another 30mins of driving around, I found the elusive car park. Most people must have opted to get the bus provided from city hall to the start as there were ample car spaces. Or maybe they couldn’t find any signs for the car park either ????????‍♂️

About 8:15 I got a call from Tom where we meet up for a traditional photo before the start. Most people were just wandering about the place, we didn’t think it was gonna start on time, but all of a sudden about 5 minutes to go, people, all filled into the start areas and bang on 9 am we were off.

The weather was perfect for running, very little breeze and still feeling a little cold for the first 2km. I tried to be patient and not go out too fast, just sit in with a group and enjoy the atmosphere. There was plenty of support from locals along the streets as we headed out along the route.

As I got to the first 5km I was disappointed there was no water station available, thankfully by 10km, there was plenty of bottles available and again at every other 5km from there on out.

I hit the 5mile according to my Garmin at 30min but got to the 5-mile marker 3 minutes later up the road, I thought maybe my watch is a bit off until I heard everyone around me complaining about the marker being off. Unfortunately, this continued throughout the race with each mile marker which left a lot of runners confused about their pace.

The course is a mix of ups and downs (more ups than downs) with a massive hill at mile 17 to 18 that really takes a lot out of the legs. You do get some recovery as it goes down around the Belfast waterworks before being faced with another climb not as massive but it felt tough. The last stage is slow and flat along a boardwalk where you can manoeuvre around walkers and through the park watching out for children, dogs and more walkers.

Overall It’s not a bad marathon, the people along the route give great support which gives it a really good atmosphere. If you are running it just for fun, I’d say it’s great but if you running it as a proper marathon run I wouldn’t recommend it. They still have some work to do to get it right.

Martin ran 02:52:51 and came 68th. Tom ran 03:39:31 and was placed 862