Kenyans Kiplimo and Jepkemei clinch Belfast wins

Beatrice Jepkemei celebrates after her Belfast Marathon triumph
Beatrice Jepkemei's time cut one minute and 47 seconds off the previous Belfast women's event record [BBC Sport]

Kenya's Beatrice Jepkemei clinched victory in a women's race record time at the Belfast City Marathon as her compatriot Mathew Kiplimo won the men's event.

Jepkemei's winning time of two hours 35 minutes and three seconds cut one minute and 47 seconds off the previous women's Belfast mark.

The Kenyan, 26, withstood a late challenge from Morocco's Lalla Aziza Alaoui Selsouli to win by 17 seconds.

Kiplimo, running his debut marathon, took men's victory in 2:14.44 as he passed long-time leader Bahrain's Aweke Ayalew - in the final mile.

Ayalew was eight seconds behind the winner with Kenya's Moses Kilmulwo completing the men's podium positions in 2:15.10.

Last year's winner Ethiopian Shewaye Woldemeskel was third in the women's event in 2:39.58, which left her 23 seconds ahead of North Belfast's 2022 winner Glady Ganiel who took fourth.

The previous women's race record of 2:36.59 was set by Ukrainian Nataliya Lehonkova in 2012.

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 Mathew 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.