Northern Ireland

Decision on Belfast Marathon day and route change deferred

Belfast City Marathon finish line Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The proposals would see a move from a finish line at Ormeau Park to Stormont Estate in east Belfast

Belfast City Council has deferred a decision on the proposal to move the Belfast Marathon to a Sunday and change its route.

For the last 36 years the marathon has been traditionally held on the May Day bank holiday Monday.

The proposals went before a council committee on Wednesday.

UUP councillor Jeff Dudgeon said the council would "reserve its position until the Marathon company's consultation".

Belfast City Marathon intends to consult with churches and other stakeholders on the proposed new route.

Previous proposals to move the event to another day were rejected.

As well as seeking to change the day of the event to Sunday, a new course is being proposed from 2019.

Councillors at the meeting told BBC News NI some concerns had been raised about the changes.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Runners wear fancy dress to compete in Belfast City Marathon in 2017

Jeff Dudgeon said: "A lot of members were keen that the Ormeau Road not be left out.

"The Sunday issue was also discussed. There are a lot of churches along the route. Some seem to not yet know of the change.

"There had been concerns voiced about the effect the route change would have on trade though if one person's trade is lost then that's another one's gain.

"The fact that the Ormeau Road traders will miss out is unfortunate but that is matter for the marathon company.

"There was a general agreement that some of the dead areas around the docks should go.

"It is a welcome change for runners that they wouldn't have to run that route again."

Mr Dudgeon added: "We'll wait and see. We've got a chance to listen to the company after consultation when they come to speak to councillors again.

Not insurmountable

Independent councillor for Botanic, Declan Boyle, said businesses in his constituency were against the move.

"Concerns have been raised with me, in the area I represent, the Ormeau Road, where the marathon came up for years. It was always warmly embraced by businesses and residents.

"Now, that's been changed. The new route misses out the lower, middle and upper parts of the Ormeau Road.

"People there are not best pleased to have this taken away from them.

"Those areas heavily supported the event for years and years and it has a very warm and friendly atmosphere.

"Sunday to Monday is a problem but not insurmountable. I do take the concerns of churches.

"This isn't going to happen for two or three years so these people will all be consulted and we will see what the best route is then," Mr Boyle added.

Stormont

The report states that the stakeholders and the various churches "directly and indirectly affected by the proposed new courses" will be consulted.

The proposed route would see a move away from Dargan Crescent in North Belfast.

It would also encompass the Titanic Quarter and include more of south Belfast.

Instead of a finish at Ormeau Park, the route would end at the gates of Stormont estate.

More on this story