I was really excited when Bournemouth announced they were launching a ‘Marathon Festival’. Since I moved to London, I haven’t been short of local races to participate in, of any distance, but there’s always something special about doing your favourite thing in the place you still kinda call home. Especially when it looks like this.
Although the first festival was in 2013, marathon clashes left me cheering on the sidelines so this was the first year I had the opportunity to take part. There is a Bournemouth Bay half marathon in April, but the timing is no good for people running spring marathons, and it’s been plagued by bad reviews more recently. A Bournemouth Marathon Festival is just what the town needed to compete with the likes of Brighton and Portsmouth for running events.
The Festival spans over the weekend with a ‘Supersonic 10k’, ‘Supernova 5k’ and junior races on Saturday afternoon, and the Half and Full Marathons on the Sunday. There’s something for the whole family…unless you hate running of course…but we all know the sun always shines in Bournemouth so it’s worth a trip for cheering duties anyway!
I was in for the Half and the weather was looking mighty fine – sunny, dry, and maybe even a little too warm later in the day but, with a, err, sociable 8am start for my race I didn’t have to worry too much.
Mum & Dad dropped me off at Kings Park bright and early and I bumped into Chaser buddy Ed. Ed was in the elite start and, after a quick chat, I was in no doubt he would finish in the top 10. I dropped off my bag, headed to the toilet and started to panic…the queue was reeeaaally long and I only had about half an hour!
I ran into my friend Rick, who I hadn’t seen for ages, but didn’t even get a chance to speak to him because of the disturbing queue situation. By the time it got to 7.45 I had to give up as the start was a bit of a walk away, I was promised there were plenty more toilets there… After a jog over, I got into another queue, there definitely were not ‘plenty’, why was everyone taking soooo long?! Sensing my increasing stress, 4 lovely ladies let me go in front of them, I made my start pen with 2 minutes to spare so I’m hugely grateful they did (thank you kind ladies!!)
It was dry and sunny as promised, but it was too early to be very warm. The course headed through a residential street before turning onto Overcliffe Drive towards Bournemouth and switching back towards Southbourne at 3.5 miles. We could see the leaders coming in the other direction and I spotted Ed in 6th place so gave him a cheer.
I was feeling surprisingly good, I’d had a cold earlier in the week so thought I might find it tough but my watch said I was running faster than I felt I was so I was obviously in race mode. I knew I would slow at some point but I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard so found it difficult to slow down deliberately.
At 6 miles we ran down onto the beach front and switched back towards Bournemouth again along the promenade. It was getting warmer but it was nice to be beside the sea again, even if there wasn’t a welcome wind. At about 8.5 miles we came off the promenade and back up to Overcliffe Drive, this involved a fairly short but pretty sharp hill, I plodded on up but something made me give up half way and I walked (ohhh the shame!).
I totally lost momentum at this point, but a mile later we headed back down to the promenade near the finish line and the crowds thickened. I spotted Rick’s girlfriend, who gave me a cheer, and I rounded the corner to see Mum, Dad and my brother. I smiled and sped off (well, sort of).
The next section was tough, the course took us away from the crowds and the finish area and back along the front towards Boscombe again, the route is basically a giant zig zag. My pace had slowed and I felt a bit rubbish. I needed sugar, why didn’t I stick a gel in my pocket? Always stick a gel in your pocket! They were actually handing gels out at some point, stupidly I didn’t take one. I was stupid and gel-less and struggling.
We ran to Boscombe Pier, along the Pier, turned around and started to head back. I still felt rubbish with only a mile to go and I had a minute walking break which seemed a little ridiculous so close to the finish. Of course, at this point I saw Rick coming towards me, whilst walking…busted!
As we got closer to the crowds I tried to go a little faster, I saw my family again, headed up Bournemouth Pier, turned around and ran straight over the finish line. It was a 1:50:41 finish. It was OK but it could have, and probably should have, been a little better… As for Ed, he smashed it and finished in 7th place!
All in all though, I loved racing back home by the beach and the best bit was I got to have post run cuddles with my little niece and a homemade dinner from Mum!
My thoughts on the Bournemouth Marathon Festival Half:
- Amazing location (obvs)
- Fab weather (again, obvs)
- Plenty of smiley marshals (probs local, Bournemouth-ians are the best!)
- Plenty of water stations & a gel stop
- Not enough toilets at the start
- A speed-zapping stupid hill will, erm, zap your speed, so be prepared!
- The last 7 miles are exposed on the beach front so has potential to be windy
- The baggage truck isn’t in an ideal location at the finish, I don’t want to fight through spectators to get my stuff!
- Fab t-shirt in a great colour (at least it wasn’t another blue one!)
- Fab chunky medal
- Probably PB potential…you can counteract the hill with the downward slopes (if you don’t walk the stupid hill)