Ganiel Aiming For second Consecutive Victory in Belfast Marathon

25 April 2023

Former NI Commonwealth Games athlete Gladys Ganiel will be attempting  on  Sunday to become the first ever local athlete to successfully defend her Mash Direct Belfast Marathon title. 

Ganiel Aiming For second Consecutive Victory in Belfast Marathon

She will however have significant opposition this time  from Ethiopia in this 41st running of the race .The event  has  again enjoyed huge support by way of some 4,500 entries in the marathon itself plus a record 1,800 five person relay teams  most of whom are supporting various charities .


The inclusion of  another record 1,000 in the walk event makes a  grand total of some 14,500 participants  meaning the event is  easily the largest mass sports participation events in the Province .


Last year 46 year old North Belfast athlete Gladys enjoyed a comfortable 8 mins victory over Gillian McCrory  of St Peter’s Lurgan who will also  be racing once again . 


Ganiel seems to get better each time she races in Belfast .She collapsed after her 3rd place behind Fionnuala Ross in 2021 but dominated the race 12 months ago to take victory in 2 hrs 43 mins 49 secs .  Back then Gladys had raised a few eyebrows as  she had just run some 2 minutes faster a month earlier in the Manchester Marathon .The university lecturer then completed a remarkable treble in October by recording 2 hrs 42 mins in the Dublin Marathon.


Gladys will however have much keener competition this time round in the form of Shewaye Woldemeskel from Ethiopia who was 2nd in Belfast in 2019  in the 4th  fastest time ever  in Belfast of 2 hrs 37 mins 35 secs .Her recent form however is unknown with her last recorded time being 2 hrs 30 mins in Seville back in 2020  which followed a 4th place in Dublin the previous year .


Also racing is Ethiopia’s  25 year old Gadise Negasa who has a PB of 2hrs 30 mins but was recently timed at 2 hrs 48 mins in Hong Kong .


An Irish name of note is Dublin’s Ciara Hickey who  was runner up in Belfast in 2021 in 2 hrs 44 mins 42 secs  behind winner Ross .Others include 3rd place finisher last year  Natalie Hall of Victoria and Connswater , Beechmount’s Sarah Lavery who has a PB of 2hrs 55 mins ,North Belfast’s Louise Smith plus Sarah Jane Cooke of Annadale who is a former winner of the Lisburn Half Marathon .


Commonwealth Games athlete Natasha Cockram of Wales has been asked to act as pacemaker for the Ladies event . The classy Welsh athlete has a PB of 2 hrs 26 mins and to date is the only GB female selected for this year’s World Championships in Budapest .


Other names for Sunday’s event will be announced shortly .