A record breaking 13,000 runners signed up to run in the fourth edition of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival on 1st and 2nd of October. Runners from across the UK and beyond gathered on the Dorset coastline for the biggest event yet.
The festival included the Marathon, Half Marathon 10k, 5k, and Junior races which made for an action-packed weekend.
Saturday saw the Supersonic 10K, Supernova 5K and Junior 2K and 1.5K races take centre stage. The Supersonic 10K started at 4pm on the seafront and saw victory for Genci Pepaj of Redway Runners, who finished in a time of 34 minutes 42 seconds. He spoke to us afterwards: “It was lovely, the weather was good and all the locals came out to support so I can’t complain. I took the lead up after the first kilometer and held it from there, I’m very happy to win here.” The first female over the line was Christina Squire with a winning time of 42 minutes 10 seconds. Christina reflected on her race: “The second 5K was pretty windy, but it was nice to see that I had a gap on the second female as I made the turn. It’s great to get the win here.”
As dusk fell in Bournemouth, it was time for the glow in the dark Supernova 5K runners to light up the night. The final Saturday race kicked off at 7pm; runners set off along the promenade clad with fluorescent gear and each with a headtorch, creating a breathtaking visual spectacle. The eventual winner was Bayley Massey from Cambridge Harriers, in a time of 17 minutes 7 seconds. Bayley commented: “It was fantastic, the fact it’s a night time run gives it something different, it was great seeing everyone coming round behind me as I made the turn. This is my third time down here in Bournemouth and I love it every year.” Bayley was followed home by Michael Johnson of Wimborne AC, and Cameron Telford of Poole AC, in second and third.
Lara Atkinson, also from Cambridge Harriers, was first female finisher – successfully defending her title from last year. She raced round the 5k route in 18 minutes 51 seconds. Lara said: I’m really happy with the win, seeing all the other runners and having such great support from the crowds really pushed me on. I ran here last year and it was great to be back!"
The two junior races got the ball rolling at Saturday lunchtime, with hundreds of enthusiastic young runners crossing the finish line in the bright Bournemouth sunshine. The 1.5K for ages 6-8 was first up at 1:30pm. Eight year old Jon Pepin from the New Forest Juniors club raced to a new course record of five minutes and 20 seconds, while the first female home was eight year old Ruby Moroney, in a time of seven minutes and one second.
An hour later, it was the turn of the 9-12 year olds in the 2K. Finn Pardy (aged 11) of Poole AC was first across the line in seven minutes exactly, and Southampton AC’s Megan Hulbert (aged 11) was first female home in seven minutes and 49 seconds.
Sunday’s half marathon event saw Alex Wall-Clarke from Southampton AC cross the finish line first, with a time of 1:11:04. Afterwards he said: “I really enjoyed that race today – it was a beautiful, scenic route. I’ve been in good shape recently and felt confident going into the race, but you never know who is going to turn up, so I’m really happy to come away with the win."
The women’s race was won by local girl, Emma Dews, who set a new course record of 1:21:26, having giving birth just one year ago. Afterwards, Emma commented on her win: “That went really well! I wasn’t expecting that so I’m really, really pleased. I have been wanting to do this race for a while but had just had a baby last year. I actually ran past my house twice on the route!"
The final event of the 2016 festival was the full marathon, which got underway at 10am from Kings Park under brilliant blue skies. At the front end of the race, a group of four broke clear early on, including Kenyans Stanley Kiprotich Bett and Julius Kiplagat Korir, along with Moroccan Abdelhadi El Mouaziz. The pack of four, which also included Japhet Koech of Kenya, were still together as they ran over Bournemouth Pier and through the finish area in Lower Gardens with nine miles remaining. But it was Bett who surged clear in the closing stages, crossing the line in a swift two hours 17 minutes and 59 seconds. El Mouaziz stayed strong to claim second in two hours 20 minutes and 45 seconds, with Korir third in two hours 25 minutes and 44 seconds. After his win, Bett said: “The route was good and I felt good the whole way round. There was some strong wind on the shore but I just ran my own race. I enjoyed the Bournemouth sunshine too so I’m very happy.”
The female race was won by Eddah Jepkosgei of Kenya, who held off a strong challenge from compatriot Hildah Cheboi. Jepkosgei said: “I liked the route. I was with a group until about 7km and then I went on my own. I enjoyed the day and the sunshine was lovely.” Brit Emma Prideaux of Billericay Striders came home in third place finishing in three hours one minute and 15 seconds.
Ben Smith, who was the official starter of the full marathon, sounded the start of the race at 10am which saw thousands of runners set off from Kings Park and complete the coastal marathon route around Bournemouth and Poole.
Ben completed his 398th marathon on Sunday, which is part of his 401 challenge – to run 401 marathons in as many days and raise money for Kidscape and Stonewall.
He said: “It was an absolute honour to be the official starter of the Bournemouth Marathon. I actually ran a PB for the challenge – 3:39:22. This is the third year I’ve done this event and it gets better and better every year.
“I’ve seen some amazing places and run with some incredible people all over the country through the 401 Challenge, I’m excited for the future.”
Elsewhere, there were plenty of other inspirational people doing truly incredible things. One such example was Holly Jobling. Last year, Holly had life saving surgery for cervical cancer. One year on and she has just completed her first ever half marathon for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival official charity partner – Macmillan Cancer Support. Holly said: “I chose this charity to say a massive thank you. My journey would have been a lot harder without them.”
Neil Kilgour, Race Director said: “It’s been another incredible record-breaking 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.
“Come and see us again next year for BMF 2017!”
Early bird entries are now available for 2017 until Sunday 16th October. Find out more at www.bournemouthmarathon.com