The first-ever Bournemouth Marathon Festival, believed to be the only event of its kind in the UK, was officially launched by record-breaking runner Fauja Singh – at the ripe old age of 101 years.
The world’s oldest “marathoner”, Fauja took up competitive running at the age of 89 and has since completed six London marathons, as well as similar events in New York, Toronto, Hong Kong and Lahore.
The former farmer from the Indian state of Punjab was one of the torch-bearers for the London 2012 Olympic Games, a role he had previously played at the 2004 Athens Olympiad, and he holds no fewer than eight world records as the fastest centenarian over 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, one mile, 3,000m and 5,000m.
Fauja has already signed up to take part in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival over the weekend of October 5/6, when he will be joined by thousands of local, national and international runners.
At the opposite end of the age range, the youngest competitor to have signed up so far is eight-year-old Katie Few, from Verwood in Dorset. Katie, who aims to complete her second triathlon next month (March 2013), has already completed a number of charity runs and is a keen swimmer, mountain-biker and martial arts practitioner.
The final routes for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, being held over the weekend of October 5/6, are now unveiled. The six different routes offer athletes of all ages and abilities a unique and spectacularly scenic running experience that combines challenge with charm.
Detailed maps are now available (below) at www.run-bmf.com, but here’s a whistle-stop tour of the 26.2-mile marathon circuit.
The course starts in a tree-lined avenue in Bournemouth’s Kings Park – one of the town’s many wide-open green spaces – before heading down through Southbourne, fast becoming known for its cosmopolitan café culture, and certain to draw the crowds.
Runners continue to head eastwards, descending towards the historic Hengistbury Head promontory, the site of a Stone Age settlement and now a designated area of natural beauty. The route then doubles back along Southbourne’s clifftop, affording superb views of the Isle of Wight.
Another about turn takes the route down to the beachfront promenade for a flat and fast section past the award-winning Boscombe Pier before a short sharp climb through the pretty wooded Boscombe Chine Gardens and on to Bournemouth’s East Overcliff with its views across Poole Bay to the distant Purbeck Hills.
Runners then descend to the beach’s edge for a sea-level stretch to – and up and back along – Boscombe Pier itself. This unique experience is repeated at Bournemouth Pier, just ahead of the 18-mile marker and a taxing ascent of the Bournemouth marathon’s “Heartbreak Hill” into West Cliff.
Following the winding West Overcliff Drive and crossing the wooded Middle Chine via a suspension bridge, the runners descend to the promenade once more and head westwards past the renowned Sandbanks Peninsula to Poole Harbour – after Sydney, the second largest natural harbour in the world.
For the final few miles, the route heads back along the promenade to Bournemouth Pier for the final dash into the award-winning Lower Gardens – and the finishing line!
“The spectacular, natural running environment and fresh air of Bournemouth and Poole will be loved by runners who want ‘running as it should be’,” says race director Neil Kilgour. “The Bournemouth Marathon Festival is a unique and exciting addition to the UK running calendar.”
Entries are now open for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival on October 5 and 6, 2013. Just go to the website www.run-bmf.com and like the Bournemouth Marathon Festival facebook page.
The Bournemouth Marathon starts at 10am on Sunday October 6, 2013 from Kings Park. The route includes running on both piers as well as the promenade and the fantastic coastal arena of Poole and Bournemouth. The Bournemouth Half Marathon will start at 8am.
The 5K Speed of Light race, Supersonic 10K and two junior races will be on Saturday October 5, 2013 and start from 2pm.
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival is brought to you by the experienced team at GSi Events who are also behind the Edinburgh Marathon Festival which is in its 11th year. The Edinburgh Marathon recently joined the world’s elite road races by becoming the first in Scotland to be officially recognised by the IAAF, the athletics governing body. Last year alone, more than £4.6 million was raised for charity. More than 30,000 runners will be welcomed to the Scottish capital on May 25 and May 26, 2013 to take part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival races.