A DEVOUT Christian and long-distance runner has spoken out against the decision to move the Belfast Marathon to a Sunday.
Karen Alexander, a teacher from Cookstown, has ranked as Northern Ireland’s second fastest woman in each of the past two editions of the Belfast Marathon.
However, the decision to move the marathon to a Sunday, when she goes to church, has left her feeling "excluded" from what is no longer a cross-community event”.
"I do feel excluded and would love to be preparing once more to compete in the Belfast Marathon," she told The News Letter.
"For many years Belfast Marathon has been a highlight of my running life. In 2008 and 2014 I was fortunate to make the podium, claiming third overall female on both occasions."
Alexander’s love of the event has also seen her accompany pupils from Magherafelt High School, where she teaches, to take part in the fun run held as part of the marathon.
The fun run also served as a fundraiser for the school, with many pupils gaining sponsorship as part of their participation.
However, many of those same children are now opting not to compete after the marathon was moved to a Sunday for the first time.
"As a rule I do not race on a Sunday unless I am competing for my country," Alexander told The News Letter.
"It is such a shame that this local event is yet another race which I cannot participate in. However, I feel that by not racing on a Sunday I am making a stand for my beliefs."
"I am aware that those with Christian beliefs have their own stance on this issue and I do not hold it against, or judge, anyone who goes ahead and takes part on a Sunday,"
Despite her disappointment at the decision and not be able to take part, Alexander sent her best wishes to all those taking part.
The full interview with Alexander can be accessed here.