Bournemouth Marathon Festival

Bournemouth’s first marathon festival brought thousands of visitors to the town last month, gave a welcome boost to scores of restaurants, pubs and hotels, making it a triumph in the 2013 Bournemouth events calendar.

Some 9,500 entrants took part in the six races, a massive success for the town’s first marathon event. Under blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, thousands of residents lined the streets, piers and beaches to cheer runners on.

With the heat on, it took 50,000 bottles of water to cool runners down as they sped the 26.2 mile circuit past some of the most spectacular coastal views in the country.

Ebisa Merge (pictured above) from Ethiopia won Sunday’s main marathon event, finishing in an astonishing two hours 16 minutes and 42 seconds. First woman to finish was Ukrainian Olha Kotovska.

And there was something for every age, with runners ranging from six to 72. Two junior events of 1.5km and 3 km were followed on Saturday by a 10km ‘Supersonic’ race with live bands adding to the festival cheer. A 5km Speed of Light sprint at dusk created a mesmerising sight.

The festival was launched by 102-year-old Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathon runner. Sunday’s half-marathon kicked off at 8am with the main marathon starting at 10am with more than 4,000 runners. Both events raised £millions for charities.

Dates have already been announced for 2014, set for October 4 to 5.

Bournemouth boasts an impressively packed programme of events each year, with more scheduled for next year, many of them free. Successful events like these, non-weather dependant and held in the shoulder season, are nothing but great news for tourist resorts, bringing in thousands of new visitors, their friends and relatives and hopefully leaving them wanting to see more.

Time to find the trainers!

by Sheron Crossman