Hughes is first local man home in Belfast

FORMER Maghera man Tommy Hughes was first local man to finish in Monday’s Belfast Marathon.

Hughes maintained the form he showed in the London Marathon a fortnight earlier to once again dip below the 2.30 mark and bag the £1,000 prize money.

The 52-year-old has won Belfast twice during his running career and was working towards this year’s event over the winter.

He says he feels at home on the course, despite the hills.

“The Belfast Marathon is home. I know most of the runners in the race and I get a lot of good support around the course. It’s hilly but at the same time it seems to suit me because I was surprised to run 2.28 there three years ago (at age 48, when he finished sixth overall),” he said in a recent interview.

A member of North Belfast Harriers and Leicester Corinthian Athletic Club, he placed eighth overall in Monday’s marathon behind race winner Urga Negewo.

Negewo, from Ethiopia, ran 2.13.41 for the course breaking Marty Deane’s record of 2.15.51 which has stood since 1985.

Hughes has a personal best of 2.13.59 for the event set during his build-up to the Barcelona Olympics back in 1992.

He has been living and working in Leicester in recent years and his training regime as tough now as it was when he was a full time athlete in the Barcelona build up.

“I’m actually probably doing more than I did when I was younger. I’m working in Leicester so in the time I have after work I can train away.

“I usually do ten mile in the evening time and 8 in the morning. And I mix it on a Tuesday and Thursday with speed work with the boys from Leicester. And a long run on the Sunday. I’ve been up there at about 120 miles a week, but that’s what I need to do. I’ll not do that all the year round, but you need to get miles in the legs, so I’d say about 6 weeks at 120.”

His marathon times this year will probably establish him as one of the top world performers in the Over 50s category once the rankings are worked out.

Draperstown man Michael McGlade also produced a good run to finish the Belfast course in just over three hours in 115th position.

He competed in an international field at the Connemara Ultra Marathon back in April and finished 10th in 5.00.53.