“Come and experience running as it should be”, is the enduring strapline for Bournemouth Marathon Festival, the stand-out event in a congested weekend with more than 60 fixtures across the south of England. The Bournemouth programme has expanded to eight races, starting with junior runs on the Promenade at 12:00 noon on Saturday (6 October).
Last year saw a record entry of 13,000 runners and the sixth edition BMF looks set to break new ground this weekend. Since the event started in 2013 some £6 million has been raised for good causes; Bournemouth's smiling volunteers have handed out 6,000kg of medals and 300,000 bottles of water and the competitors age range has been from 3 to 101 years!
It is the youngsters who get the party started with the Kids Kilometre for children aged 3-6 years, followed by junior races at 1.5K, 2K and 5K – the latter is for runners aged 11-18 years. Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm is the unusual start time for the Supersonic 10K and this leads into the 'glow in the dark' Supernova 5K as dusk falls at 7:00pm.
On Sunday morning it is the turn of the longer distance runners, many of whom will have warmed up with a race (or two) the previous day. BMF Half Marathon starts at 8:00am and is followed by Bournemouth Marathon at 10:00am. The BMF races are timed so that each one is showcased separately and it is possible to run four of the main events for a unique challenge.
The half and full marathon start at Kings Park and enjoy superb coastal views as the route passes Boscombe and Bournemouth Piers before a spectacular grandstand finish in Lower Gardens. There were more than 6,000 finishers in both races last year and great excitement when local Bournemouth AC runner, Jacek Cieluszecki, won the 26.2 mile race in 2:31:59.
Image of 2017 marathon winner Jacek Cieluszecki courtesy BMF