Honours Go To Woldemeskel and Oumaarir in Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon
01 May 2023
Shewaye Woldemeskel of Ethiopia and Morocco’s Mohammed Oumaarir were convincing winners in yesterday’s 41st Mash Direct Belfast Marathon which had once again record entries including some 1,800 five person relay teams and 4,000 marathon entries.
The event was once again favoured with dry ,windless conditions although some of the leading runners said they found the humid conditions challenging over the tricky second half of the race .
Commonwealth Games athlete Natasha Cockram of Wales had agreed to act as pacemaker for the eventual winner plus fellow Ethiopian Gadise Negesa but she found herself 50 yards adrift of the Africans at the seven mile mark which was covered at record pace .
Behind her came last year’s winner Gladys Ganiel who was determined to maintain an even pace .The experienced Cockram then closed the gap on the leaders and all three went through the half way mark in 77 mins which was still well within record breaking pace for this course .
However in the second half of the race the more difficult terrain and increasing temperature began to take its toll with Negesa suffering from thigh problems .
However Woldemeskel maintained an excellent pace at the front . She had previously illustrated her class in Belfast back in the 2019 event when she recorded a classy sub 2 hrs 38 mins for 2nd place behind Kenya’s Caroline Jepchirchir .
Shewaye maintained her rhythm to the finish and recorded a superb victory in 2 hrs 37 mins 20 secs which was the fourth fastest ever time in Belfast .North Belfast’s Ganiel got her reward for an even paced race with second place in 2 hrs 41 mins 18 secs .
Gadise struggled across the line for 3rd in 2.44.24 and had to be given medical assistance as her thigh had seized . Pacemaker Cockram was 4th .
A happy Gladys said ;
“ I’m pleased with that time which was over two minutes faster than a year ago . The field this time was better with African athletes competing.The conditions got very humid as the race went on . I was however determined to maintain an even paced race . I find that despite me being 46 years old I can usually maintain this level of racing so long as I remain injury free .”
In the Men’s race Bridgend’s Adam Bowden was determined to make things difficult for both eventual winner Oumaaarir and also 2017 Belfast winner Bernard Rotich of Kenya .
The Welshman lost a little ground on the leaders in the early stages but then closed the gap with all three going through the halfway mark in under 71 mins .Olympic walker Colin Griffin was a long 4 mins back in fourth place followed by Clonliffe’s Gary O’ Hanlon who was 3rd last year.
In the difficult second half Oumaarir maintained his pace and finally broke clear to cross the line for victory in 2 hrs 22 mins 54 secs . Bowden was a solid second in 2.23.28 followed some way back by Rotich in 2.26.03 .
The top 6 were completed by Griffin ( 2.26.41) ,O’Hanlon ( 2.30.17) and Gary Stewart 2.32.47) .Matin Lynch was top local finisher in 2.33.24.
Bowden commented ;
“I thought that was a brutal course. However I worked the hills which is my strength and closed on the leaders eventually .Even though I’m 40 I ran 2 hrs 20 mins in Newport two weeks ago so I feel there’s definitely more to come .”
Rotich who recorded a very fast 2 hrs 16 mins in Belfast back in 2017 said he was in a lot pain during the race because of a hip problem .
Belfast Marathon organisers are delighted with yesterday’s support for the event particularly as it has now achieved World Athletics bronze medal status .