The Poole Festival of Running is now one of the most important events in the South West featuring seven Kids Minithons, the Poole Hospital Charity 5K and the flagship Poole 1K. This year’s gathering on Sunday (5 June) was another sell out with 2,000 runners taking part as Phil Burden (Taunton) and Serena O’Connor (Poole Runners) showed that West is best in the main race of the day.
The Poole 10K unusually starts at 2pm and brings the day of activities to a close with musical accompaniment from Funky Little Choir. Burden hit his rhythm early and held on to win by 12 seconds in 32min29sec from Polish athlete Jacek Cieluszecki (Bournemouth, 32:41) and Jon Sharkey (Bournemouth, 34:12).
Serena O’Connor (16) is a talented junior and won the Dorset 5000m title last month in 17:32.4. She also finished third in the National Inter-Counties, fifth in the English National and sixth in the English Schools during an exhilarating cross country season. Her margin of victory was 15 seconds as she recorded 37:15 to W35 Tamsin Lewis (Poole AC, 37:30) and Emma Dews (Bournemouth, 38:59).
There were 921 finishers with more than 70 athletes inside 40 minutes, half the field through in 52 minutes and the last finisher an hour later. The 5k winners were M40 Alasdair Marshall (Lordshill Road Runners, 17:25) and Erica Shin (20:29) as 305 finished in 56 minutes. Last year more than £12,000 was raised for Poole Hospital Charity.
With a safe, spectator friendly route wholly within Poole Park the Kids Minithon races were as popular as ever with at least 50 entries in each age-group. Perhaps the most competitive were the youngest category for children aged 8-9 years with Lexie Brown (Talbot Heath School, 6:43) winning the girls’ race and Gabriel Harris (Castle Court School, 6:12) taking the honours in the boys’ race.
Next year’s 36th Poole Festival of Running promises to be even bigger and better so look out for confirmation of the date on the race website