Hometown hero Steve Way is the star name at this weekend’s third edition of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, which features 11,000 runners across six events.
The 41-year-old who famously went from being a 16 and a half stone smoker to finishing 10th in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year is bound to draw the biggest cheers in Sunday’s marathon. But he is nursing an injury which forced him out of the World 100K Championships in Winschoten, Holland earlier this month. The Bournemouth runner was placed third just after halfway, but dropped out with a glute injury.
Abi Beautyman, Bournemouth Marathon Festival elite coordinator, predicts another 'very quick series of road races on the fast Bournemouth route' as Kenyan David Toniok, winner of the 2014 Edinburgh Marathon, starts out as the fastest athlete in the field with a best time of 2:10:39 over the 26.2 mile distance.
Winner of the first ever Bournemouth Marathon in 2013 Ebisa Merga returns for the third successive year. After setting the coyrse record 2:16.41 in 2014, he was second last year in 2:25.30. The Ethiopian will be looking to return to the top step of the podium again this year. Other contenders in the elite men’s race include Kenyan Boas Kiprono who has a best time of 2:12:36 and Latvia’s Valerijs Zolnerovics who competed in the Olympic marathon at London 2012.
In the women’s race, 2014 winner Kateryna Stetsenko will attempt to retain her title. The Ukrainian ran 2:30:58 to break the tape last year. She is set to go shoulder-to-shoulder again with Joan Kigen of Kenya, runner-up in both 2013 and 2014. British hopes will be carried by the improving Sophie Carter. The 36-year-old Londoner ran 2:48:15 at this year’s London Marathon and will be aiming to be the first British woman to dip under three hours at the Bournemouth Marathon.
Behind the elite athletes, there are three athletes aiming for unique world records. Ben Smith of Bristol is in the midst of attempting to run 401 marathons in 401 days – Bournemouth is the only marathon he is set to run twice and he will be nearing the end of his epic challenge at the 2017 race.
Alice Burch of Hampshire is attempting to run 60 marathons in 60 consecutive days for a women’s world record. And prolific marathon runner Steve Edwards from the Cotswolds will be hoping to complete his 700th marathon in a world-record average of 3 hours 18 mins. Sunday’s marathon will start at 10am, the half marathon begins two hours earlier. The Speed of Light 5k, Supersonic 10k and Junior Races all take place on Saturday.