Race Report by Kelvin Elliott
Once again I set myself a challenge in the summer that I wanted to do 4 Half Marathons in 7 weeks with a 10 miler at Draycote Water in between. I had completed Kenilworth and the Great North Run which were totally different and amazing experiences which had tested me both physically and mentally. I travelled down to Bournemouth in full anticipation of what this Half Marathon would bring running by the sea. I only had Birmingham to do the following week and that will be the 4th half marathon.
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. I opted for the Half as there was not much recovery time from races on Saturday. Nethertheless I did Bournemouth parkrun the day before which was a tough course covering trail, tarmac, hills and grass and had differing weathers from wind, rain and sunshine. I met a lot of fellow runners who were doing the parkrun then later the 10k and the half marathon the following day real hard-core or mad you can make your mind up.
I was up early the weather seemed to be really fair and there was not much wind (sounds like the shipping forecast). 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. The temperature was starting to get warmer and the sun was slowly creeping out of the clouds. At 8am the first wave went it took me only 10minutes 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. I heard a voice from behind saying hello Bulkington bullet, I looked behind and it was Clare Weston fellow Massey buddie. I was surprised that she was behind me after her tour of Bournemouth pubs the day before and that she was sober. We had a nice brief chat and she went off into the distance. The course then headed to the sea front and we started to run towards Bournemouth.
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 scene from Chariots of Fire as it felt I was running in slow motion but I wasn’t. There was quite a bit of support as we approached Boscombe Pier which was mile 8 and he 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 and I had to weave past them which was exhausting especially running up a hill. The sun was out fully and it was getting very warm with hardly a breeze. I reached the top and exited the gardens which brought us back on to the cliff face. I was joined for a short while on the top of the cliff with the manager of the hotel I was staying at as he was doing his morning run, we had a good chat as I approached mile 9.
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. As I approached the pier I could see Clare heading back and we were able to high five each and encourage each other. I had to do a lap of the pier which was good then it was a mile and a bit to go. I headed back towards Bournemouth Pier I could see that there was lots of runners behind me. 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 turned the corner and there was the finish. I crossed the line and my phone texted me my result that showed I had ran a time of 2hrs 24m 59s. I received my medal which was amazing and collected my goodie box and met up with Eunice. 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.