A record-breaking 11,000 runners enjoyed an incredible weekend at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival (BMF) on 3-4 October.
The Dorset coastline was blessed with bright conditions as runners of all ages and abilities took part in the third annual BMF which raised an estimated £0.5m for good causes. An amazing seven course records were broken over the weekend.
After Saturday’s Speed of Light 5k, Supersonic 10k and 1.5k and 2k junior races, Sunday saw the marathon and half marathon take place.
There was an air of anticipation in King’s Park Drive as thousands of runners and supporters gathered for the race start. Tens of thousands lined the course which took in Boscombe, Poole Harbour and Bournemouth’s iconic pier.
The marathon was won by Kenyan Boaz Kiprono who covered the 26.2mile course in 2h 16 00, breaking the previous course record by 41 seconds.
Latvian Olympian Valerijs Zolnerovics was second in 2:17:49 with Japhet Koech (Kenya) completing the top three in 2:21:19. The leading British runner was George Gurney of Avon Valley in fourth place in 2:29:04.
In the women’s race, Kenyan’s Joan Kigen won at the third attempt having finished runner up in both 2013 and 2014. She won in 2:36:47, well clear of Londoner Sophie Carter, who picked her way through the international field to finish in 2:56:43. Kenyan Purity Kimetto completed the top three in 3:00:53.
Afterwards Carter said: “I found it tough. I thought ‘Just stick in there. If I am finding it tough, so is everyone else. Don’t give up’. I wanted to stick in there and do it for the British ladies.
“Everyone found it tough. I was fourth to start with and then got into second in the last mile and a half.”
There were countless inspirational stories from the masses, none more so that Steve Edwards. The Cotswolds runner completed his 700th marathon in 3hours 15mins. His average time across the hundreds of marathons is 3:18 – a world record.
Afterwards, he said: “I’ve been running them every week for as long as I can remember just to get to 700 today. It gets ever harder as I get older – I am 53 soon.
“I’ll keep going for as long as I can and the records I am setting are harder to beat for someone else in the future. I give it everything every single time. People talk about 1,000. Well, it depends what sort of shape I am in, but it’s there. We’ll see, I’d like to run into old age and still enjoy my running.”
Hot of Steve’s inspirational heels is Ben Smith, who is in the early stages of attempting to run 401 marathons in 401 days:
Afterwards, he said: “It was fantastic. I did Bournemouth last year and I wanted to incorporate it into the 401 challenge. Bournemouth is the only official marathon that I am doing twice.
“I can’t wait to do it again. It’s my 34th and will be 398th next year. So far the challenge is going well. I’ve had some niggles, I’ve had a cold. But all in all, everything seems to be working.”
Sunday’s half marathon winners were won in heroic performances by international triathletes with local connections.
On his half marathon debut, 22 year old Rich Horton of Poole AC broke the course record to win in 1:08:02. A former World and European Junior Duathlon Champion, he is aiming to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games triathlon on the Gold Coast, Australia.
Looking fresh at the finish, the talented youngster said: “I felt like I was running really well for the first half. It was my first half marathon as well. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to run around 66 minutes, I was losing time to what I wanted from halfway.
“It’s a new distance for me. I’ve done 10ks, but you can’t really just double the time. But it’s good to hear it’s a course record.” He was followed home by Dale Annable of Heanor AC in 1:10:58 and Sean Hogan of Poole Runners in 1:12:16, who completed the top three.
The women’s race, won by current Ironman UK triathlon champion Tamsin Lewis. Just six months after giving birth, she smashed the course record to win in 1:22:50.
Afterwards, she said: “It’s been a bit tough getting back. I was back training after a week (after giving birth). But it was like dragging my legs through mud. The first month was horrendous and the sleepless nights don’t help.
“I moved here two months ago from London and I love it. I’ve practiced along that seafront quite a bit. The crowd were ace!”
Sandra Scott, Race Director said: “It’s been another incredible weekend at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, with over half a million pounds raised for good causes.
“Thanks to all the runners, supporters on route and to our fantastic team of volunteer race crew from all over the UK and beyond for making Bournemouth one of the UK’s ultimate running destinations: running as it should be.
“We hope to see you all again next year for BMF 2016. And for those inspired by what they have seen, why not sign up and be part of it next year? Entries open on Monday at www.run-bmf.org.”