I went to University and lived in Bournemouth for a number of years and always welcome the opportunity to go back whenever I can. So signing up for a running event there was a no brainer, I therefore entered the marathon as a bit of a ‘home coming’ race and knowing it was late in the year it would give me enough time to be fit and ready. I can tell you, I was not disappointed by the Bournemouth Marathon Festival – stunning weather and location, great marshalling and a group of really buoyant and vocal supporters.
I came in to the Marathon on the back of a limited training programme, due to my hamstring issues, and following the Ealing Half two weeks before. That said, I was feeling strong if a little nervous and apprehensive.
The Start and Finish points are at either end of Bournemouth, the start being in Kings Park, Pokesdown and the Finish is at the Square opposite Bournemouth Pier. I took the train in, the start being a 10 minute walk from Pokesdown Station – otherwise it would have been driving or using the Shuttle Bus Service. Baggage was handled efficiently and quickly and loaded on to lorries, to be taken to the finish area.
Due to the train I got changed and walked straight on to the start line to carry out my warm up. Unlike recent races Bournemouth zoned the start by expected finish times and as such the start was staggered. Personally I really welcomed this as I think it works so well in events on this size and it meant that we were off and running quickly. There was none of the shuffling / walking starts you normally get.
The course itself starts out in the rural areas of Pokesdown and Boscombe and heading out to Hengitsbury Head, before doubling back and winding down to the Seafront. I felt I started strong, running between 9m/m and 9:30m/m, I felt comfortable for 13 or 14 miles at that pace and reached the half way point in just over 2 hours, which was what I was aiming for. It was however at this point when things started to go downhill…or up…for me. Mile 17 runs up behind the BIC and the Hilton Hotel, which for me was a killer – possibly the work of some evil genius – but that climb finished off my hamstring and the tightness and soreness returned with a vengeance. The second half of the marathon winds its way through the back roads of the ‘chines’ before coming back down to the Seafront and then on to Poole Harbour. This was a much quieter section of the course, with very few supporters apart from the marshal’s and I saw a lot of people struggling to keep going.
I completed the race in 5 hours, broadly what I was expecting, which meant I was obviously wasn’t going to be hitting the water stations while they were fully stocked. Being a hot day and me being a pasty ginger in a wig, I suffered badly with dehydration in the later stages and the feed station at the end of Poole Harbour had no water left – which was a massive problem for me. I ended up walking quite a lot as I was suffering and trying to control the nausea and the wobbly eyes. I was hurting at this point, with the dehydration and generally aching and sore and as such I was walking stints and running when I could, but I was determined to finish and not give up.
Personal thing and really only a minor criticism of what was on the whole a good course, but the amount of switch backs particularly at the end were a bit demoralising, knowing you are just going the end of the road and then coming back again isn’t great – but I understand why, it’s to keep you on the on the best bits of the course.
This was another race where the supporters and general public made it very special, as I said in my review of the Ealing Half – running in costume almost guarantees you being cheered and Bournemouth was no different. The last mile was epic – painful but epic – to be cheered home, by name, so loudly made it a bit emotional for me. It was an amazing feeling. I genuinely felt like I was the only person running and boy, what a way to finish. It made all of the pain and discomfort so, so worth it and I struggled to hold back the tears as I crossed over the finish line.
At the finish you receive your medal – again another weighty little devil, a cereal bar and a goody box, which was really nicely designed and contained a t-shirt, foil blanket, water bottle, hot and cold gel. From here you enter in to the finishing village – with Charity tents, massages and food. Personally I was exhausted, sore and pretty much done – so I collected my bag, got changed and made the journey home.
Final thoughts – the supporters were amazing and made it a special first marathon. First of many I hear you ask? No, I can pretty much say that 26.2 miles is not for me, I really enjoy the half distance but this, partly due to a lack of training, was just too far for me and I didn’t enjoy the end. I am so glad I have completed this challenge, it was one of the first challenges I signed up for – but right now I feel this was a tick off the list and that’s it.
Coming up on Sunday 15 October my girls and I will be running the Big Fun Run in Milton Keynes. I am really looking forward to this run, as it will be with the two most important people in my life and it will be a lot of fun too. Not sure how I feel about running again at the moment, but hey…
November see’s probably the biggest challenge to date – a 9 day, solo and unsupported, cycle down the length of the country from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
If you would like to donate to Guy’s fundraising efforts, in aid of Make-A-Wish UK then please visit www.justgiving.com/milesforwishes