Belfast Marathon, sponsored by Deep Riverrock, returns today with close to 17,000 runners taking part on the course that will tour the city before finishing in Ormeau Park.

For those not quite up to the full 26 miles, there’s the team relay, 8-mile walk and 3-mile fun run.

Running for blood Dale Hooks & Adrian Moat

Running for blood Dale Hooks & Adrian Moat

Last year’s winner was Freddy Keron Sittuk with a time of 02:18:30.

The event started at City Hall at 9am. This year’s charity partner is Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke.

DJ Dale Hooks and businessman Adrian Moat were among the runners who set off this morning for charity.

However, this pair had a unique request for their supporters.

They asked people to donate blood for the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service and save a life instead of their hard earned cash.

And so far it’s been a success with hundreds of people registering to donate.  Brilliant idea lads!

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