John Mutai aiming for fourth Belfast Marathon title

John Mutai
John Mutai won the Belfast Marathon for three consecutive years

Kenyan John Mutai will aim to win the Belfast Marathon for a fourth time on Monday and collect a possible £6,000 first prize which includes a roll over fund to break the course record.

The 44-year-old was beaten into second place last year as arch rival Urga Negewo of Ethiopia snatched a six-second win thanks to a sprint finish.

Negewo is currently awaiting his visa to travel to the UK.

Ukranian Andriy Toptun could prove to be the man to beat on May Day.

Toptun has produced impressive displays in Germany, Dublin and Sacramento over the past year, recording a best time of 2 hours 12 minutes in Germany.

If the weather is favourable, Tipton could break Marty Deane's record of 2hrs 15mins 51secs which was achieved over an easier course in 1985.

Toptun will be assisted in this task by pacemaker Matt Pierson who ran 2.22 in London two years ago.

Other athletes who should contend include Kenya's Jacob Chesire, who ran 2.19 last October, twice Belfast Marathon winner Tommy Hughes, City of Derry's Diarmuid Grant, Colin Griffin, Michael Fitzpatrick and Greg McClure.

In the women's field Sarah Stradling will hope to repeat her victory of last year.

The 35-year-old may have to improve on her personal best time of 2.44 if she is to win again.

Kenya's Rael Kimaiyo, Ukranian Vira Ovcharuk and Russia's Elena Kozhevnikova will be a threat while local athletes include City of Lisburn's Heather Ardis and North Belfast's Lisa Sturgeon.