Natalie's ready to set the pace

A local runner who made history when she became the first female pacer in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is ready to step out again in the half marathon in September.

Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 7:54 am
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:19 pm
Natalie from Portadown (Craigavon Lakers AC) made history as the first ever female pacer for the Belfast City Marathon and will be pacing a 2:15 finish time at the 6th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon on 23rd September. ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Craigavon Lakers AC runner Natalie Bowbanks (37) has completed over 50 marathons and was chosen to be the first ever female pace setter for the Belfast Marathon back in May.

She is currently in training for yet another marathon in October but before that Natalie is ready to keep the pace for the 13.1 mile course on September 23 at 9am.

The dental practice manager from Portadown told the Portadown Times that pacing in the marathon was one of her ultimate goals.

“It was absolutely brilliant, I came in bang in on time. Really, really rewarding I have done marathons all over the world but it just felt that bit more special helping others finish.

“Giving them that reassurance, don’t worry about time, just run that is what I am here to do. Hopefully not having to look at their watch takes the pressure off them.

“It was such a buzz coming up towards the finishing line and helping to get them across that finish line.

“You can see just how much it means to people and how much effort they put in.

“If you have helped them in any way it’s a really good feeling.”

This September Natalie joins a team of experienced Pacers which range from 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes.

She added: “I will be training anyway for the marathon in October so I won’t need to add anything to the training plan but in the run up it will be quite a bit slower.

“Sometimes it is difficult to run slower, it is different to the norm.

“A couple of weeks before it I will focus my training runs on that particular pace.”

Natalie has completed marathons in Berlin and New York but she says her favourite is the London Marathon which she has completed FOUR times.

“It is the atmosphere and the people, they have zero interest in running but that’s the best weekend of the year.

“The atmosphere is incredible.”

Sign up for the 6th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon, the biggest Half Marathon event in Northern Ireland, before August 31 at or contact the office directly on 028 9060 5933.

Mencap Northern Ireland is the official charity partner of the 2018 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and they urge you to #MoveIt4Mencap. 41,700 people in Northern Ireland are living with a learning disability. Mencap are the voice for people with learning disabilities, by challenging yourself in this year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon you will help Mencap support even more people with a learning disability through their education, employment and family life programmes. The money you raise will help Mencap provide its live changing services to local people all across Northern Ireland. To find out more information about Mencap services in Northern Ireland; and about the people with whom we work please visit