Last year record numbers lined up to take on one of the city’s biggest sporting challenges – the Waterside Half Marathon – and this year organisers are expecting a bumper entry as the city’s running craze continues.
Today Derry City and Strabane District Council officially launched the event marking the welcome return of the Half Marathon to St Columb’s Park on Sunday September 6th, where it first began 34 years ago.
The new scenic riverside route - taking in both the city’s Foyle Bridge and Peace Bridge - is expected to attract even more local athletes to the event, and early registration is advised.
Announcing the launch ahead of registration opening on June 1, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion said: “I’m delighted to see the return of the event to St Columb’s Park. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase our stunning new Foyle Arena, as well as the scenic Greenway network which has become so popular for local walkers and runners. “The city has enjoyed a serious resurgence in running over the past few years and last year the event attracted a full entry quota, so I would encourage anyone hoping to participate to register early to avoid disappointment.”
This year the race headquarters will be based in the new state of the art Foyle Arena, blending the old with the new, as the park was the original base for the half marathon from 1981 – 2005, before it changed to Gransha Park.
Festivals and Events Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Karan Leonard, said the move would be extremely well received among local clubs. “I think there is a great sense of anticipation about this year’s event, which brings the half marathon back to its roots,” she said.
“The new course takes runners across the river Foyle to the cityside, showcasing the river, the Peace Bridge, Gransha Park, Bay Road Park, and utilizing extensive stretches of the riverside Greenway, Ebrington and of course St Columb’s Park and the Foyle Arena. All proceeds on the day will go towards the Mayor’s official charity – Alzheimer’s Society.
“While it’s a more scenic route it does have its challenges, and I think runners will enjoy the balance of running on the flat interspersed with some hill work as well. I expect we will have a great turnout on the day.”
Places are capped at 2,000 to include individual runners, wheelchair athletes and 3 person relay teams. Entries will officially open on June 1st and close on August 21st.
For those hoping for a gentler challenge, there will be a 2k Family Fun Run taking place at St Columb’s Park, opening up the event to runners of all ages and abilities while later in the afternoon the Alzheimer’s Society are hosting their annual Foyle Memory Walk from Ebrington at 2pm in an effort to raise awareness of dementia. Encouraging the public to come out and support the event, the Mayor said the event is for people of all ages and abilities and a great way of celebrating loved ones affected by dementia.
The Foyle Memory Walk will leave Ebrington Square at 2pm on Sunday 06 September, with two challenges to suit all abilities, 2km and 10km.
“September 06 is an action packed day of activity and I would encourage people from all over the North West region whether you are interested in running or walking to support these two fantastic events for the Alzheimer’s Society,” the Mayor added.
For a full training schedule and advice on how to prepare for the Waterside Half Marathon event, as well as registration details go to www.whm15.com.