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Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon - Sunday 30th April 2023


Name: Brendan McNally

Age: 41

Running Club: Roadrunners AC

Pacing: 3 hours

History: Paced half marathons for 5/6 years and paced Belfast City Marathon for the sub 3 hour group the last two years

Marathon PB: 2 hours 47 minutes

How did I get into running? I only started running roughly 10 years ago to get fit and my brothers ran, so I basically followed in their footsteps.

Advice for a new runner: Start with really short runs, and walk in between if you need to. Getting into running is a lifestyle choice. Why do you want to start running? Whatever your goal is, you have to work at it by starting small and build from there. When you don’t want to run, or the weather is bad, or whatever it is.. put your running shoes on and just get out the door. You always feel better after your run is done!          


noel-mcnally(1).jpgName: Noel McNally

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: Roadrunners AC

Pacing Time: 3 hours

Marathon PB: 2 hours 40 minutes

How long have you paced for? I’ve been pacing 3 hrs since the 2017 Belfast City Marathon.

How did you get into running? I’ve always played many sports but took up running in 2005 (the year I got married).

Advice for a new runner: Enjoyment is most important. When you love the journey, the goals just take care of themselves.            


neil-mercer(1).jpgName: Neil Mercer

Paces: Full and Half Marathon

Running Club: North Belfast Harriers

Pacing Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 58 minutes

How long have you paced for? Paced for Belfast City Marathon since 2017, full and half marathon. Paced Walled City Marathon since 2018.

How did you get into running? Began running in 2014 as a way of keeping fit and then got hooked.

Advice for a new runner: To any new runner I would advise that you take your time and build your weekly mileage up slowly. This will hopefully prevent injury. Also, remember each training run is not a race so run at a pace you feel comfortable with. 

On race day, don't get caught up in a race at the start. Start slightly slower and finish strong. It will make running the marathon more enjoyable. Good luck to everyone taking part.          


Name: Patrick Kerr AKA ‘PK’

Paces: Full Marathonpk-kerr-portrait.jpeg

Running Club: Jog Lisburn           

Pacing Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 54 minutes

How long have you paced for? Belfast City Marathon was my first proper pacing gig, although I have paced the Wallace Park Run several times.

How did you get into running? Got into running to lose weight in 2012 too as I was 19 stone! I have done Belfast full marathon every year since! Done Dublin Marathon twice, Derry twice and one ultra-marathon (50k).

Advice for a new runner: Most important advice for a marathon is to do as many long training runs as possible with as much elevation as possible! I find this makes it much easier to believe in yourself come race day!              



Name: Danny Bradley

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: Orangegrove AC

Pacing Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 44 minutes

How long have you paced for? 2022 Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon was my first time officially pacing.

How did you get into running? Initially for fitness after first moving to NI and then joined Orangegrove AC on the recommendation of a friend and have progressed from there. 

Advice for a new runner: Build up your mileage slowly, no more than 10% per week and take one recovery week every month.    


Name: Patrick McAuleypatrick-mcauley.jpg

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: North Belfast Harriers

Pacing Time: 3 hours 30 minutes 

Marathon PB: 2 hours 54 minutes

How long have you paced for? I've paced from 5k to half marathons so looking forward to pacing the full this year.

How did you get into running? May 2016 was watching the marathon with my kids and they said why don't you do that, so I did.. 

Advice for a new runner: My advice to first time marathon runner: you've done the training just relax the week before, eat plenty of protein and let your body recover, then carb load 3 days before the big day.               


Name: Mark Careymark-carey.jpg

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: West Belfast Coolers

Pacing Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 56 minutes

How long have you paced for? Around 10 years, mostly pacing for friends and family ranging from 5k’s to Marathons

How did you get into running? After going on to shift work in the NHS, I wasn’t making it to my normal GAA training and so running fitted well with the new working arrangements. In 2006 with about 12 hours’ notice a neighbour asked me to fill a spot in the Belfast City Marathon relay, doing the old Antrim Road leg, on completing this I challenged myself to the full Belfast City Marathon the following year in 2007 and I’ve been running marathons since.

Advice for a new runner: Definitely get some company to run / train with and while for some this might sound daunting this will be a decision you won’t regret.  From here follow a plan that allows for progression. Above ALL reward yourself and enjoy your running “A short run is better than NO run”          


Name: Paul Tyrrellpaul-tyrell-min(1).jpg

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: Beechmount Harriers

Pacing Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 53 minutes

How did I get into running? I just woke up one day and decided to go for a run and have now been running around 12 years

Advice to anyone taking it up? Go easy, don't push too hard too soon, relax and enjoy it 😊             


Name: Stephen Walkerstephen-walker.jpg

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: North Belfast Harriers      

Pacing Time: 4 hours

Marathon PB: 2 hours 54 minutes

How long have you paced for? 10 years - was one of the pacers on the first year it was introduced in the Belfast City Marathon.

How did you get into running? Starting running with a few people from a gym many years ago, and got the bug!

Advice for a new runner: Enjoy getting out in the fresh air and don't stress about pace - run for time not distance! Find a running club or running buddy, its so much more enjoyable when you have some company.           


Name: Neil Mearns

Age: 47

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: Coastal Runners

Pacing Time: 4 hours

Marathon PB: 3 hours 8 minutes

How long have you paced for? 2 years.

How did you get into running? I was already a cyclist, and took up running when I decided to train for Ironman.

Advice for a new runner: Be patient and build up gradually. It is often better for new runners to aim for steady improvement over a longer time, rather than to embark on an intensive program for quick results. This can also help you to enjoy your running, and keep going for longer.          


natalie-bowbanks.jpgName: Natalie Bowbanks

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: Portadown Running Club

Pacing Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 18 minutes

How long have you paced for? My first official pacing was for Newry City Marathon in 2017, bringing in the 4-hour group. I would regularly pace friends in races but my next opportunity to pace at an official event was at the Belfast City Marathon in 2018. It was an exciting opportunity to pace with a much bigger crowd and I am still proud as punch to say I was the first female pacer in Belfast City Marathon’s history.

How did you get into running? My dad was a keen runner in his day, so I guess the initial interest came from his experiences. I started off on a treadmill, but soon found the roads and great outdoors were much more enjoyable. I completed my first marathon in 2010 and have since been fortunate to run marathons and ultra-marathons across Europe and America. I like to set myself a new challenge each year and enjoy incorporating running and travel wherever I can.

Advice for a new runner: Be consistent and plan your training week ahead realistically, so that it is achievable around work and family life. Don’t get fixated on pace at the start and listen to your body when it is tired and needs a break. As for race day, I still apply the gold, silver, and bronze mindset. Go for gold, but if for some reason today is not the day, go for your silver finish time. The same applies for bronze. This helps keep your mind focused and you are less likely to mentally give up if you have a target and focus.           



Name: Donald Smith 

Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: North Down AC

Pacing Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 43 minutes

How long have you paced for? My first official pacer outing was in the 2022 Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon with the 4 hour 30 group and I'm excited to be pacing runners aiming for 4 hours 15 minutes this year. It's always amazing to reach a finish line with runners who have achieved their target time or smashed their marathon PB. 

How did you get into running? I ran cross-country competitively at school before football became my main sport. My first race was as part of a relay team at the 2006 Belfast City Marathon. I enjoyed being part of the event so much that I built up my mileage to run the Lisburn Half Marathon and the Dublin Marathon later that year.

Advice for a new runner: Nothing new on race day - that includes your pace, kit and fuel! Build up slowly and use a training plan.             



Name: Paul Bracken

Paces: Full & Half Marathon

Running Club: Jog Moira

Pacing Time: 4 hours 30 minutes 

Marathon PB: 3 hours 33 minutes

How long have you paced for? 2022 Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon was my first official pacing role & really enjoyed it. I had previously paced for my running club ‘unofficially’ for a few years.

How did you get into running? I got into running in 2014 as I was very overweight & seen a sign for Wallace parkrun. My goal was to finish it without walking, the rest is history. I've ran 260 parkruns, 102 marathons, various ultra-marathons & I am a member of the 100-mile club. Running is my go-to place & am lucky to have met so many wonderful people on the journey.

Advice for a new runner: I'd recommend running to absolutely anyone regardless of age or current fitness level. It has transformed my life from quite literally not being able to run a mile to running 5 days a week & being part of a great club. Running is great for my physical health but also key to my mental health. I can run in groups, solo or with my dog. I can run roads, trails, mountains, anywhere really. As said before the people I've met on my journey are amazing. If I didn't lace up for that parkrun in 2014, I honestly don't know where I'd be today...         



Name: Martin Caldwell

Paces: Full & Half Marathon

Running Club: Crossgar Harriers

Pacing Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 15 minutes at Belfast City Marathon

How long have you paced for? 2 years with Belfast City Marathon, previously paced at Derry & Ards.

Advice for a new runner: For new runners try to join a club, as they will accommodate to you in their training runs. Be honest with yourself about marathon times. Try to follow a training plan and stick to it. Enjoy your running. It is better to run with a group of people as it makes the miles go by easier.         


Name: Graeme McGowan


Paces: Full Marathon

Running Club: Scrabo Striders

Pacing Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 45 minutes

How long have you paced for? I have paced half marathons for years but this will be my first time pacing the full marathon.

How did you get into running? Started running as I thought I used to be fit this must be easy and really wasn't but I enjoyed it and got the buzz.

Advice for a new runner? Just enjoy your running and build your distance up as you feel comfortable and don't feel pressured to do anything specific.


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