No surprises as Joel entertains in Belfast victory
favourite kositany shows his top class
Joel Kipsang Kositany came to Belfast three days ago with a point to prove following last year's decisive defeat at the hands of Freddie Sittuk.
And the Kenyan certainly made that point when he added to the crown he won in 2013 to become the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon champion for 2015.
The 27-year-old made no mistake when, after a 24-mile game of cat and mouse, he broke away from fellow Kenyan Gideon Kimosop to claim a clear victory by almost a minute.
Like last year, Kositany was the pre-race favourite with a series of very fast marathons to his name and accordingly he and Kimosop led the field of 3,000 runners through the seven-mile mark at Castle Place in a relatively modest 36 minutes.
Behind them was another Kenyan, Vincent Chepyegon, and Andy Wacker of the USA, who had been persuaded by Irish friends to race on these shores for the first time.
Next was a group of four which included Annadale's Eddie McGinley, who was hoping to emulate past recent successes by local runners Thomas Frazer and Joe McAlister by finishing in the top six.
The half-way mark at the top of the torturous Antrim Road hill was reached by Kositany and Kimosop in 68 minutes 17 seconds, with Wacker some 150 metres in arrears. Further back was Chepyegon, while McGinley's group was joined by surprise late entrant Tamas Nagy of Hungary and Morocco's Mustafa Channi.
There was little change over the next seven miles, with the leading pair seemingly just eyeing each other in the windswept Duncrue Estate. But it was clear at 24 miles at the Waterfront Hall that victory would go to one of the leading pair.
Kositany suddenly threw down the gauntlet and rapidly opened a gap on Kimosop, and he crossed the line in Ormeau Park in a time of 2.19.36, almost a minute ahead of his compatriot (2.20.29), while Nagy stormed through for a surprise third place in 2.24.19.
Next came a euphoric McGinley, who seemed to find a burst of energy in the closing stages to take fourth place in 2.24.52 which equals his PB.
Kositany said he was determined to win following his defeat 12 months ago.
"I was tired before the race last year because of four marathons in the space of eight months," he explained.
"This time I felt much stronger having spent the last three months preparing solely for Belfast.
"I like the Belfast course, although it is difficult. I now have two wins and a second place to my name and I will certainly be back next year to defend my title."
A smiling McGinley admitted that he exceeded his expectations.
"I tried to break the race down into sections where different relay runners helped me," he said. "I was also assisted by the unreal support from the crowd which I greatly appreciated. This is a special day for me."
Omagh athletics agent Ciaran Collins was also delighted with the performances of his two proteges, with Kimosop finishing second and Chepyegon seventh in 2.27.22.
"I am over the moon with the podium position for Gideon," commented Collins.
"He said the race was fine for him despite the very strong headwind towards the end."