runABC South reporter Alan Newman was looking at the weekend fixtures and could not decide whether to preview a race on Saturday or Sunday – so he opted for both! The Bridge Events Midnight Marathon starts at 7:00pm on Saturday (15 June) and with the programme including a 52K ultra there will be runners finishing well past midnight on Sunday morning.
This will be the fifth running of the Dartford Midnight Marathon in the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, better known as Dartford Crossing. Bridge Events is the race organisation arm of Bridge Triathlon, who have experience of promoting triathlon, aquathlon, open water swim and running events based at the two lakes location at Crosswater.
The lighting and safe route at this location allows for events to take place at night and the Midnight Marathon was born in 2015, adding a half marathon option last year and expanding due to demand for the ultra-marathon this year.
Eight laps are required for the full marathon and the course records are 2:45:29 by M40 Mike Bisson (Lordshill Road Runners) and 3:19:50 by Jenny Millett (Reigate Priory) – both set in 2016. Last year's marathon winners were Tom O'Beirne (London City AC, 2:58:07) and Marina Martinez (Midnight Runners, 3:30:18). Kevin Cundy (4:57:57) was the 70th and last runner to finish before midnight and 13 more were unlucky in their quest to beat the clock.
Last year's half marathon leaders were M45 Stephen Turpie (Medway & Maidstone, 1:26:51) and unattached athlete Dee Lye (1:49:04). Just under 150 started both races but numbers are well up this year, with nearer to 250 expected for the joint start of all three races. After a soggy week in Kent there is little chance of rain and conditions should be comfortably mild.
Free drinks and snacks are provided at the rest area and a good old-fashioned tea wagon will be on site until midnight. As the last train from Dartford back to London leaves at 11:30pm, those without the physical gifts of Eliud Kipchoge make their own arrangements or can sleep in the on site marquee as the hard working organisers are processing the results.