The organisers of the newly accredited World Athletics – Elite Label race ‘Mid & East Antrim’ Antrim Coast Half Marathon, are delighted to announce that Yalemzerf Yehualaw has confirmed at the weekend that she will be returning for this year’s event in August.

Elite Race Director James McIlroy, confirmed on Sunday that the Ethiopian sensation is set to return to the scene of her unratified World Record last year by stating:

‘The one name we wanted back after last year’s unratified World Record was Yalemzerf, and to get this news at the beginning of the season, means so much.  She loves the course, the people, and the support she got last year along the route really spurred her on, so to have her confirm that she’s returning to the province is very special.  As it stands, she has run 4 of the 7 fastest all-time half marathons and just last week she ran the fastest ever 10km at altitude in winning the Great Ethiopian Run against some of the best distance runners in the world.  At 22 years old she’s got so much more to come’.

When asked about the course being found to be 54 metres short, he stated:

‘It was very disappointing for everyone concerned; the event, the course measurers, who are two of the most experienced in the UK, but most of all the athlete. But we did follow the protocol to the letter, and the main issue was around not having both measurements done at the same time. This unfortunately wasn’t possible due to the travel restrictions in place at that time because of COVID.  Moving forward in 2022, we will have the course measured, verified and a racing line put down ahead of the race in August’.

McIlroy went on to say that he has a massive announcement coming soon in the men’s race but due to embargo’s he can’t make any statement for at least another couple of weeks.  He has however promised it’s as exciting news as you can get when it comes to global distance running.  Also, he is eager to see how this athlete will perform over the half marathon distance against early entries, European Record Holder and Great North Run winner Marc Scott, and last year’s 2nd placed athlete Tesfahun Akalnew.

In the Main Race, the organisers announced at the start of the year that there will be an increasing commitment to sustainability, with competitors’ tees being fully recycled and the event also partnering with One Tree Planted and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council to plant a tree for every participant who enters the main event.

Five time Olympian Jo Pavey is also set to return this year pacing the 2-hour group, and after the success of Jo’s pacing job in last year’s race, organisers will be announcing famous pacemakers for the 1 hr 30 minute and 1 hr 45min categories over the coming months, in addition to giving local runners the opportunity to pace with the stars.

With entries starting to come in, the organisers have adjusted the course to improve the start experience and will also look to make things more exciting at the finish with a timing mat placed 600m out and prizes awarded to the fastest male and female finishers in the main race, as well as category and top 5 finishers prizes.

Also, for the first time, 2022 will see both the elite and the mass races streamed to a global audience.

Launching soon in February will be an all-new Classic Street Mile taking place on the Saturday evening before the main World Athletics half marathon race on Sunday for both Kid’s and Adults.