Race Report by Kelvin Elliott
It feels ironic writing this report on World Mental Health Day as this feels so applicable to me. This year has been a really tough year for me as a runner and as a person due to my anxiety and depression that has impacted many things I have done, which has meant I have had to endure many different signs and symptoms that has took its toll on my wellbeing. When I booked this race earlier in year I was in a good mind space as I this race approached I was lacking a lot of confidence in my ability and was going to survival mode to get through any run which was leaving me drained. After having a really difficult time getting through the Kenilworth Half, Last summer handicap and the Great North Run I had to show resilience to try and finish which I did as word Quit and failure was most prominent.
The Half Marathon was part of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival weekend which consisted of a 10k and 5k run on Saturday afternoon and evening, followed by the Half Marathon that would start at 8am and at 10am the Marathon on Sunday. When myself and Eunice travelled to Bournemouth it was a 20c and no breeze which was lovely. On previous visits to Bournemouth I have always done parkrun the day before the half but this year I had forgot my barcode plus Bournemouth parkrun was cancelled due to the running festival. I was also advised that I needed to rest.
On Saturday the weather had changed dramatic as it was about 10-12 degrees cooler than the day before raining and strong winds. We supported fellow Massey Rachel Marrington on Saturday afternoon as she ran the 10k luckily it had stopped raining but very breezy and cold. All of the Marrington tribe were down for the weekend as the children did the 1k and 2k races and 5k evening the run and Rachel’s partner was doing the Marathon on Sunday. Rachel did brilliantly as we saw her run down the promenade and back. Rachel managed to get a 10k PB which was amazing as it was freezing cold. We were lucky to catch up with Rachel at the end of the race and she had to warm up for the 5k later that evening. We left Rachel and carbed up at Pizza Express.
Prior to the run I was feeling anxious and nervous as I didn’t want to let anyone down and was feeling under prepared for what was ahead of me. The Half Marathon is an early start as I had to be up 6am and have breakfast for getting to the start for around 7ish. The sun was rising and it was really cold roughly about 4c and a slight breeze. Once I got to Kings Park I said farewell to my chauffeur and support manager Eunice. Eunice was going to be my support crew at mile 9 and then the finish. I did my last minute preparation by using the facilities and dropping my baggage off and headed to the Blue Zone. As I was waiting in the start zone I was thinking about the heat we had at Leamington and Kenilworth trying to keep warm and loose. At 8am the first wave went it took me only 10 minutes before I could set off.
The race soon started out of Kings Hill Park which was a slight downhill then we headed towards Southbourne Road. I made good progress to the first mile getting into my rhythm that I want to run the course. I headed down the road overtaking many runners as the route looped as we headed towards the sea front and made are way running towards Boscombe.
After a half mile down the front I saw the leading runners coming back the opposite way. I made good progress to the 3 mile marker and I was happy with the time when I passed that point, I carried on and soon made the turning point and headed down the road running towards Christchurch. I could see large numbers of runners who were behind me as I reached the next mile as we passed the numerous water stations on the course. It felt that were running further away from the finish as we ran along the cliff face. I passed the 5 mile point making good progress and about half mile later the course went downhill to the actual sea front in which we had a 3mile run passing beach huts, toilets and few people walking their dogs. There was no breeze and it was starting to warm as the sun shone. It was nice running along the sea front if it had been on the sand it would have been a seen from Chariots of Fire as it felt I was running in slow motion that is my normal pace.
There was quite a bit of support as we approached Boscombe Pier which was mile 8 and we headed up hill to the really tough part of the course as we headed up a slope towards the Chime Gardens and we soon started running up a very steep vertical hill. Lots of runners in front of me started to walk, I was starting to feel tired so it was walk run tactic to get up the hill. The sun was out fully and it was getting very warm with a gentle breeze. I reached the top and exited the gardens which brought us back on to the cliff face. I felt real tired and felt I was starting to have a wobble plus my left foot was hurting me. I kept thinking what Massey buddie Claire Newman said to me earlier in week that the main thing is to enjoy the run and the atmosphere.
As I approached mile 9 I could see my support crew on the right side of the road by my base for the weekend which gave me a boost as there was not far to go. I carried on making good progress the course took a change as we ran down a steep walkway to the sea front. Before we turned the corner the crowds were deep and lots of support and complete strangers shouting Go Kelvin which was uplifting I turned left and ran down the promenade towards Boscombe pier which was narrow as you could see the runners ahead coming back towards you to the finish.
I was finding it hard on the approach to Boscombe pier so I walked for 100m and ran the next 100m I had to do a lap of the pier which was good then it was a mile and a bit to go. On Boscombe pier a fellow runner asked how much further we had to go so I told what we needed to do to finish the race and gave him plenty of encouragement and support. I headed back towards Bournemouth Pier I could see that there was lots of runners behind me. I was feeling completely drained as I approached the 12mile marker and I got closer to Bournemouth Pier it is hard to explain I had a surge of energy run through my body and my pace got quicker and my body didn’t feel I was running through quick sand. I approached the pier and the noise of crowd was there again as I ran the length the pier I knew that the finish was not far as I exited the pier I saw the Marrington tribe who gave me words of encouragement as I turned the corner and there was the finish. I gathered speed on the pier passing many runners and giving words of encouragement. It seemed that I had the last 100m to myself as I crossed the finish line. It is really hard not to focus on time I had run on previous occasions I was happy to get a seasons best of a time of 2hrs 46m 02s. Going through the finishing tunnel the gentleman who I helped at Boscombe Pier came up to me and thanked me for the support I gave him to get to the finish which was special. It was great to get through a long distance run without pins and needles in my feet and hands which was amazing and this was the first race and run I have done where I haven’t had to battle and struggle to the finish.
I received my medal which was amazing and collected my goodie box and met up with Eunice and saw the Marrington tribe as they were waiting for their Dad to finish the marathon. Overall this is a great run to do. Good support from the marshals and spectators lovely views of the seaside and great atmosphere and support. I love the medal and T shirt, it is a half I would definitely would do again and recommend and it would be amazing to get more Masseys do this running weekend.