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Belfast City Marathon: Kenyans Jepkemei & Kiplimo earn triumphs

Conditions were perfect for the 5,000 runners who took part in the full marathon with over 12,000 in action in the accompanying relay event.

Jepkemei and 2023 winner Woldemeskel were out on their own in the women’s race from early on before the Kenyan broke clear just after the 14-mile mark.

Moroccan Alaoui Selsouli looked set to take victory as she moved alongside Jepkemei with a couple of miles to go but the Kenyan, whose personal best is 2:30.14 set in Linz last year, regrouped to regain the advantage.

North Belfast athlete Ganiel, who celebrated her 47th birthday in March, gained on third-placed Woldemeskel in the closing stages but the 2023 winner held on to the final women’s podium place.

In the men’s race, Kiplimo, Ayalew plus other Kenyans Matthew Kemboi and Moses Kimulwo were in a leading group of four until halfway before the Bahrain athlete and Kimulwo broke clear.

Ayalew seemed a certain winner as Kimulwo dropped back after the 22-mile mark but Kiplimo then produced a huge effort to stride clear of the Ethiopian-born athlete with less than a mile remaining.

Annadale Striders’ Eskander Turki was the leading Northern Ireland-based athlete in ninth spot as he clocked 2:22.22 on his debut marathon.

Other noteworthy local performances included 64-year-old Tommy Hughes clocking 2:36.37 to finish 25th overall.

The county Londonderry man, who represented Ireland at the 1992 Olympics, has broken numerous world age-group records in recent years which included running a time of 2:27.52 in Frankfurt five years ago.

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