Bournemouth Marathon Festival 2019

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7 Days ago I ran Windsor Half Marathon in a time only 19 seconds shy of my PB (which was Windsor HM last year!). So why on earth am I running another half marathon so soon?

Not to mention the knee injury which has meant training has been less than perfect!

Clearly gone bonkers!!

Well its a long story and just goes to show how much I have become obsessed with running.

It all started much earlier in the year when my wife was feeling the need to get into running and was doing a great job to run when she could. But she wanted an event to aim for. A 5Km or 10Km. We found a few options but every time we found one that looked a good fit it clashed with something else. Usually it was a race I was already doing – I have a tendency to book early!! So I became the reason that we were unable to find an event for my Wife. I had to find a solution. So lots of searching, googling, asking on forums later I thought I had found a workable solution. Bournemouth Marathon Festival. It was a free weekend. It had a 5 or 10Km. It was not too far away. But a bonus – it was a seaside location where my two youngest children might be happy to spend a weekend – as long as we had decent weather – but then it’s October, so that is a long shot.

So we agreed we would go with it. She chose the 10Km. Im then sitting there realising that the Half Marathon is early Sunday. I could do that, and get. back to the hotel, shower and change, and help checkout all before the hotel check-out time specified – you see my dilemma!!

Of course. at this point I already had the Windsor Half Marathon booked (week before) and the Maverick Original Oxfordshire Trail Half Marathon the week after (actually 6 days). So doing a third race is clearly crazy and foolish. So I signed up – I couldn’t go that far and not sign up for a race. it was like they had scheduled it just for me!!!

Prior to the race training was interrupted by a knee injury, but I managed a good race at Windsor only the weekend before. I ran a few Kms in the week in-between but mostly rested. hoping to do my best at Bournemouth.

The running festival is mostly focussed around the Pier front and the gardens in Bournemouth. It pretty much brings the centre to a close on the Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday. But it appears a very welcomed event. No complaints or winging, no angry locals that I could see. It was a real festival feeling.

My 5Yr old took part in the Kids 1Km with me, and loved it. Such a great little event.

My wife did the Supersonic 10Km event. And loved it. Her fist event and she thought it was ace. The course included Boscombe and Bournemouth piers as well as a long drag along the promenade. Great backdrop to run along. The finish line was crowded and loud and lots of support for everyone.

The Sunday arrives and the Half Marathon…

The start for this is some way away from Bournemouth Pier. It starts near Bournemouth FC football ground out the back of Boscombe/Pokesdown.

An 8am start, so I walked up to be there by 7am, got there about 6:45am. Was nearly dark still, hardly a soul around but preparation was underway. I was in the right place (tick), I hadn’t missed the start (tick) I had remembered everything I was planning to bring (tick) I was earlier than the dawn of time (oops). Never arrive late – always a stress!!

As the daylight arose the crowds gathered. The PA system pumped out the same message on a 2 minute loop. Useful to know but eventually drove me bonkers – ‘stop already!!!!’

As race time approached, I put the bag in the truck (well signed and well manned) and lined up in my start point (well signed with massive coloured flags!).

We got to within 15 minutes of the start when we were told it was delayed – by maybe 15 minutes. Not very well announced I will admit, the PA system wasn’t used, just a man in a Hi-Vis and a rubbish megaphone – most of us got it, but not the best announcement.

So we wait…

and wait a little longer…

The original start time lapsed and the PA system continued to give us countdowns. However it began getting it wrong. One minute it would say ‘there are 12 minutes left’ then it would say ‘there are 7 minutes left’ then it would say ‘there are 18 minute left’. Oh my god nobody knew what was happening – we just assumed somebody would let us know clearly and give us a 10second countdown or something. Well no, that didn’t happen. Instead I can only assume somebody at the front shouted ‘GO’ and that was it, suddenly we were running. Thank god I wasn’t tying my shoelace up! So a bit less than perfect – a shambles of a start really! – but as soon as we started running all was forgotten. Running through the streets around the start was pleasant and enjoyable. Roads can be tedious sometimes but this was good. some nice support along the roads and generally a good morning. It was warming up nicely as well and the rain had held off after an overnight shower.

The course headed out to Southbourne before turning back towards Boscombe. Still staying away from the sea front itself. There is then a turn back (running past runners going in the opposite direction) which headed through Southbourne almost to Hengitsbury Head. This is then when the course drops down to the sea front.

There is then a long slog towards Boscombe pier. Really good fun, bit of a headwind but really enjoyable. Around 8miles you reach the pier and cut inland through Boscombe Chine gardens where a short but steep hill meets you head on. Up this and the hilliest bits are done.

From there its Cliff top running down to the pier at Bournemouth where you drop down to the sea front again (past Harry Ramsdens!) and then head back to Boscombe pier, run down the pier then back to Bournemouth – Biot more headwind.

Finally you run the length of Bournemouth pier and then finish right at the Observation wheel at the start of the gardens.

Overall an excellent race. The course is really good, not pancake flat, not Himalayan hilly. The sea front is really good to run along, but a lot of sand, so carefully does it.

Support was great all along, even when there weren’t loads of people there were words of encouragement, clapping and signs, and the very useful jelly babies 🙂

I finished with a new PB 1:33:13.

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