The second Bournemouth Marathon Festival (BMF) was a record-breaking occasion with around 10,500 runners enjoying a full weekend of events on 4/5 October, an incredible six course records being broken and an estimated £0.5m raised for charity.
After last year’s inaugural event of 8000 participants, 2015 was bigger and better with thousands lining the course to support Saturday’s Speed of Light 5k, Supersonic 10k and BMF Junior Races, as well as Sunday’s marathon and half marathon races.
Distance debutant Andrew Lesuuda won Sunday’s marathon in 2:21:41. The Kenyan beat last year’s winner Ebisa Merga of Ethiopia into second place in 2:25.30. Third place went to local man and leading British runner Andrew Clark of Poole Runners in 2:40:50.
Lesuuda, who has paced several marathons but never raced the full distance, said: "I am very happy, this is my first marathon. It is my biggest success so far. Though I have won other half marathons in the UK. I look forward to the chance to drop my time a bit. The course is so nice, I loved it and the weather was ok. I would love to come back and defend it next year."
Kateryna Stetsenko won the elite female race, keeping the title in Ukrainian hands for the second successive year, following compatriot Olha Kotovska’s victory last year. Stetsenko clocked a swift 2:30:58, just 54 seconds shy of last year’s winning time. Kenya’s Joan Kigen was second in 2:33:13, with local runner Juliet Champion of Poole AC completing the top three in 3:03:48.
Afterwards, Stetsenko said: "I am very happy, but very tired. The race was good. It was very flat and very nice people supporting. For marathon running the weather was good. It is not my best time, but I am happy. It is my best time in two years."
The 26.2mile race was started at 10am by inspirational hometown hero Steve Way. The former overweight smoker who represented England at this year’s Commonwealth Games, got the runners on their way in King’s Park just minutes after finishing second in the half marathon. He clocked 1:09:43, just 13 seconds behind his training partner and club-mate Jacek Cieluszecki of Bournemouth AC. Cieluszecki’s winning time smashed last year’s course record by a full nine minutes.
Afterwards, the winner said: “I'm very pleased, especially beating a Commonwealth Games runner, although I know he is only 50% fit. The weather is great, I am so happy. It is my second time at this event, last year I ran the marathon and was 7th in 2:33.” Way said: "From a personal point of view, I wanted sub 70 to show I am heading in the right direction. I could feel Jacek coming up behind me. We are training partners, so I know what kind of shape he is in. He is in the shape of his life.
The women’s half marathon also went the way of a local runner in a record time, Helen Dyke of Poole Runners winning in 85:28 ahead of Cerri-Anne Santos (Swansea Harriers) in 86:51. It was almost four minutes inside 2013’s winning time. Charlie Barnard completed the top three in 86:51.
The wheelchair race was won by another local boy, Daniel Cook of Poole cruising home in 68:09. Afterwards, the 19 year old said: "I'm a para-triathlete and I compete at national level. This was to keep a bit of fitness and come through the winter strong. The crowd was amazing. It was really nice to see the inclusion of wheelchair racers and how supportive the crowd were."
Saturday’s action saw the Supersonic 10k, Speed of Light 5k and Junior 2k and 1.5k races take centre stage. The Supersonic 10k started at 4pm on the seafront and saw victories for local athletes Rob McTaggart and Serena O’Connor. McTaggert and O’Connor both won the Speed of Light 5k last year and stepped up in distance to win the 10k this year. McTaggart of Bournemouth won in 34:09, over a minute quicker than the course record.
As dusk descended, the town was illuminated by the Speed of Light 5k which saw thousands wearing fluorescent attire to create an incredible night-time spectacle from 7pm. Both male and female winners also set new course records. The men’s race was won by Simon Dill of Swindon Harriers in 16:31 who said: “It went dark at times and all you could see were the bright lights, flashing and camera flashes. It was brilliant. It makes you feel like a bit of a pro racing in an atmosphere like this. I've never done anything like it before. I really enjoyed it." The leading lady was local girl Bridget Dence of Bournemouth AC in 18:49.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, nearly 500 children aged 6-12 took part in the 1.5k and 2k junior races from local schools and beyond.
An estimated £0.5m was raised for good causes by runners taking part in BMF. Among the charity runners was Joe Elliot, an Estate Agent from Wickford in Essex who completed the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon events and Chris Spencer and David Withers of Kent Police Athletics Club who successfully completed the same BMF ‘Grand Slam’ of races.
Even Bournemouth Mayor Cllr Chris Mayne got in on the act. The 70 year old completed the Saturday’s night’s Speed of Light 5k alongside son David, 43 and grandson Noah Mayne-Venables.
For more information about the event visit the event website.