Antrim Coast Half Marathon: who to look out for

This Sunday’s Antrim Coast Half Marathon (August 29) promises to be one of the greatest events of its kind ever assembled in the UK or Ireland.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 3:18 pm

With three full national teams confirmed, and runners from Africa, America, Europe, UK and Ireland, this year’s first ever World Athletics event in the Province is likely to be one of the leading road races in the world for 2021.

Some 53 men and 25 women will be taking to the start, with last year’s winner - four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah - ruled out due to injury.

The legendary runner will officially hold the role of event ambassador and has publicly expressed his enthusiasm for the event.

Sir Mo Farah stretching clear in the closing stages of the Antrim Coast Half Marathon in 2020. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

In addition to boasting 11 Olympians attending this year’s race, headlining the men’s race will be Ethiopian record holder Jemal Yimer.

Yimer won his last half marathon outing at the Houston half marathon in 2020 and has also achieved the fastest ever debut half marathon in 59:00 achieved in R’as al Khaimah back in 2019.

He will be joined by countryman Tesfahun Akalnew, with a personal best of 59:22,

Spearheading the UK and Ire landchallenge will be Tokyo Olympians Marc Scott, Stephen Scullion and Paul Pollock. Marc Scott 2x European record holder and seco nd fastest all-time Briton behind Sir Mo Farah over 10,000m is looking to go one better this year, and become only the second Briton to break the 60 -minute barrier.

Irish dup Stephen Scullion and Paul Pollock will be headlining the Irish challenge with Stephen finishing fourth in last year’s race on route to breaking the Northern Ireland record.

Paul, fresh from his second Olympics will make his debut on the fast scenic course and will also threaten the top positions. Barcelona Olympian and multiple world record holder Tommy Hughes will be also sure to have huge crowd support again this year as he once again makes his latest bid on the vet’s +60 world record, which he smashed at last year’s race.

With full strength teams from Ireland, England and Northern Ireland, spectators may see the first ever sub-60-minute half marathon in Ireland.

The Women’s race is headlined by Ethiopian sensation Yalemzerf Yehualaw. The 22-year-old finished third in last year’s world half marathon championships after tripping on the finishers mat, and has targeted the Antrim Coast half marathon fast scenic course since last year’s inaugural event.

The mass race will see record numbers on the day with five-time Olympian Jo Pavey pacing the two hour wave along with video blogger Stephen Reid.

The elite race starts at 8am, with the mass event beginning at 9.30am.

Spectators are encouraged to come out and show their support. The following areas will have entertainment for both supporters and runners: Main Street -music by Paul Sexton at Broadway; Drains Bay - music by Mark Dobbin; Carnfunnock - bagpiper Ewan MacDonald; Ballygally - music by Martello Jazz band.

There will also be television coverage on BBC Sport NI via the red button and also at www.antrimcoasthalfmarathon.com from 7,45am.

 Road closures will be place in the town area from 7am until 10.30 am and there will be disruption on the Coast Road to Ballygally until 12.30 pm.

The race finishes on Chaine Memorial Road and this year the organisers have turned the finishers’ hub in Sandy Bay into a festival for the day. There will be music from various local artists, street artists, a kids’ inflatable fun zone, bar area and an artisan market.

There will be something for everyone, whether they are running, supporting, or just looking for something fun to do. The organisers are encouraging everyone to come along and enjoy the day.

Last year’s winners Sir Mo Farah and Lily Partridge are unable to race this year due to injury but have pledged their ongoing support for the event by helping with the Kids Run.

This will take place at 2pm along the Promenade to finish under the race gantry.

The event closes with the after party in Larne Market Yard. Music will be by sea shanty group and Cornish legends Fisherman’s Friends. This event is open to everyone and tickets will be available to purchase online at www.antrimcoasthalf marathon.com until 3pm Sunday, August 29.