Excitement is building ahead of the 26th annual AES Larne Half Marathon, which takes place on Saturday 24th March 2018.  A record breaking field of 2,000 competitors are set to cover the stunning 13.1 mile coastal route.

Attracting participants from across the province, and beyond, the Larne Athletic Club hosted event, which is also part of the prestigious Pure Running Half Marathon Series, showcases all that is good about local sport and the Larne area overall.

Former Champion, Fiona Stack (Raheny Shamrock AC) will return.  In 2014, the well-known Irish athlete claimed the ladies title in 1:19:24. Northern Ireland international, Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), a podium finisher last year, will also compete.  Other top talent to look out for includes former AAI National 24-hour Champion Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) and talented North Belfast Harriers veteran Louise Smith.

Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), a podium finisher at the event in 2017, is likely to head the challenge for top honours in the men’s race.  The Belfast man, who claimed a runners up spot at last weekends SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race, will be joined by a number of Northern Ireland internationals, including mountain runner Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners).

North Belfast Harriers trio Joe Malone, Philip Goss and Andrew Considine will all play a part at the front, as should Ballymena Runners athlete Ben Morrow, who will return from warm weather training in Kenya for the event

The race will kick off at 11am from Larne Leisure Centre, with the Walk starting an hour earlier at 10.00am.

Larne AC officials are once again keen to ensure that fellow Larne residents understand how the event will unfold as the runners make their way around the route.  The club are extremely grateful for the ongoing support that all the local residents give to the event, and how they help to create a memorable atmosphere along the route.

Naturally, with so many participants travelling from outside the borough, traffic is likely to be particularly heavy from 9.30am around the Circular Road, Curran Road, Tower Road, Leisure Centre and Redlands.  It is therefore recommended that anyone intending to travel to these areas allow extra time for their journey.

The Route:

Following the 11am start, runners will make their way down Bay Road onto Curran Road and then towards Larne Main Street from around 11.05am – 11.25am.  The PSNI will be assisting with traffic control during these periods and club officials would appeal for patience and consideration towards runners as the race procession makes its way through along Main Street and back on to Victoria Road before heading towards Coast Road.  From 11.20am the Coast Road will see the majority of the action for the remainder of the half marathon as runners make their way towards Ballygally completing a rural loop towards Cairncastle via Weyburn Road and heading back for Larne Leisure Centre along the Coast Road.

Traffic Diversions:

Coastal traffic will be encouraged to use alternative traffic diversions from the Victoria Road/Glenarm Road Junction in place from 11.20am to approximately 12.45pm.  Coastal traffic are asked to use alternative routes along the Old Glenarm Road, and officials would ask that drivers requiring access to the Coast Road would try and enter on to the Coast Road at a convenient place (Drains Bay, Ballygally, Drumnagreagh).  With so many runners due to be on the route, drivers are also asked to allow extra time for coastal journeys (residents, Cairndhu Golf Club, Carnfunnock traffic) and exercise extreme caution for runners when travelling on the route.

Ballygally residents will also be impacted from around 11.30am to 12.50pm and residents are asked once again to allow extra time for planned journeys within this time.  Marshals in Ballygally will help to manage traffic flow and runners, and the slightly changed route at Grace Avenue North is aimed to ease congestion at the Coast Road/Cairncastle Road Junction.

A large team of volunteer marshals will be positioned throughout the route to ensure that any questions from the public are answered, and that both runners and traffic are considered safely.  They will be assisted by St John’s Ambulance, who will provide medical cover for the event.  Members of the public are asked to work along with the marshals in order to create an atmosphere that everyone can safely enjoy.

Organisers have arranged entertainment at several points along the route and any spectators are encouraged to get to their positions early, and avoid parking at junctions along the Coast Road.

Further information, including race instructions, are available on the official Larne Half Marathon website on www.larnehalfmarathon.webs.com

Larne Athletic Club would like to thank the Larne community for its ongoing support as they look forward to another great event that everyone from the area can feel a part of and be proud of.

Thanks to NI Running https://nirunning.co.uk/ for the press release