AROUND 1,400 people have set off on the sixth staging of the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon in balmy conditions from the Everglades Hotel in Derry this morning as they tackle the 26.2 mile course along the banks of the river Foyle.
Prior to setting off there was a round of applause for two athletes who had passed away recently and for one of the city's most legendary football characters, Paddy 'Smokey Maradonna' Hasson who died suddenly on Friday.
The late Adrian Devine of Castelfinn Runners and James Lundy from Ballina has registered for the event but sadly passed away earlier this year.
The Marathon set off shortly after 8.30 a.m. with a trio of Kenyan men expected to contest the podium places, all have won here before and if they go for it the course record could be threatened.
Dan Tanui won last year, Eric Koech in 2016 and Freddy Sittuk took both the 2014 and 2015 honours. Freddy's 2hrs 22m 34s is the male course record from 2015 while Eric posted 2hrs 23m 47s in 2016 to pip Dan Tanui by a mere three seconds.
Also taking part was a group pushing a hospital bed, led by Bill Duncan, as they raised money for Foyle Hospice while two wheelchair athletes and visually impaired runner, Tony Barclay got proceedings off to an early start.
Race Director, Noel McMonagle was 'delighted' to get everyone underway after months of preparation.
"I'm delighted everyone has got away on their journey across the city. It's started to get a bit warm now and it's a great carnival atmosphere. There's a host of runners from all over Ireland, right across the UK and from across Europe this year as well.
"It's an absolute spectacle just seeing them all going up the road."
The challenging course, which follows the banks of the Foyle and across the city's bridges before returning to the Walled City where it finishes at Guildhall Square.
In addition to the main event there will be a one mile mini marathon for children.
More updates to follow . . .