Northern Ireland’s Antrim Coast Half Marathon in partnership with Clearer Water launches significant bid to host the 2025/26 World Road Running Championships.
The Antrim Coast Half Marathon based in the World Heritage Site of the Antrim Coast has launched its bid for the 2025/26 World Road Running Championships (previously known as the World Half Marathon championships) which attracts 35,000 runners from over 160 countries, with the event broadcast across the world.
The bid panel, in collaboration with The Clearer Water, submitted its letter of intent announced via BBC NI.
The World Road Running Championships was first launched in 1992 and has been held biyearly until now when it will be hosted annually from 2025. The Antrim Coast is delighted to see theirs being the first ever bid to come from Northern Ireland, and across the island of Ireland, to host the event.
The application to host the 2025 edition in Northern Ireland’s Antrim Coast was put together by Antrim Coast Half Marathon Founders James and Ruth McIlroy, prominent businessmen and Co-Chairmen of the award-winning Clearer Water, Ross Lazaroo-Hood and Sitki Gelmen. In collaboration with Tourism NI, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, UK Athletics, U.K. Government and The Clearer Group, the Bid panel has huge experience in activating global mass participation events, evidenced with Antrim Coast Half Marathon’s being only one of two events in the UK and Ireland to be awarded World Athletics Elite Label status.
The team are thrilled to see Northern Ireland being front and centre in this bid to gather world-class elite athletes and running enthusiasts plus inspiring the next generation from around the world and having BBC iPlayer stream the event globally. A significant funding package has been agreed for the 2025/26 World Road Running Championships bid, for the successful delivery of the newly annualised event.
The Antrim Coast Half Marathon is regarded as one of the most beautiful races in the world, which was also the backdrop of the HBO’s Game of Thrones and its spin-off House of the Dragon set locations, in addition to being the gateway to the Glens of Antrim, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO world heritage site that brings the local communities and hospitality further showcased onto the world stage.
The event was first held in 2020 and has not only been successfully granted the World Athletics Elite Label Road Race status, one of only two in the UK & Ireland, but now holds the number 1 half marathon in the U.K. and number 2 in the world.
The 2021 Antrim Coast Half Marathon event set an unratified Women’s World Record with the 2022 event setting 2 x UK and Ireland all comers records in both the men’s and women’s races and finishing the year with a global world ranking of No.2.
Previous winners of the event include double – double Olympic Champion Sir Mo Farah, Ethiopian Record holder Jemal Yimer and multiple World Record Holder and 2022 London Marathon winner Yalemzerf Yehualaw.
Elite Race Director – James McIlroy BEM OLY said,
“It feels like the natural progression. Last year, we had over 20 nationalities participate in the event, and all the overseas runners where in awe of the coastline course, with 100-metre-high cliffs on one side and views of the Mull of Kintyre and Scotland close on the other. So, we thought bidding for the World Road Running Championships would be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Antrim Coast and Northern Ireland to the whole world. We know the event will have stiff competition from across the globe, but like ‘The Open’ golf in 2019, I’d be confident that Northern Ireland would overdeliver putting on a fantastic spectacle and showcase our famous hospitality.”
Ross Lazaroo-Hood, Co-Chairman of Clearer Water, “Sitki Gelmen and myself are delighted to be part of the bid panel to bring this dream event of The World Road Running Championships to Northern Ireland. To host the world-class elite athletes and running enthusiasts will make a significant positive impact on the local communities, economy and hopefully inspire the next generation of marathon runners here in Northern Ireland and across the globe. This event will affirm the Antrim Coast as a location for leading international running with the aspiration of bolstering and supporting our local communities plus amazing hospitality sector”.
The successful bid to host the 2025 and 2026 World Road Running Championships will be announced at the end of May 2023, with James McIlroy going onto say, “The Antrim Coast Half Marathon event will have major announcements in mid – March which we are very excited to share with everyone”.