Crowds at this year’s Bournemouth Marathon are set to welcome impressive East African talent to this year’s event. Last year, Ethiopian Ebisa Merga won the inaugural staging of the event, setting the first ever course record of 2:16:41. He will return to the scene of his triumph, where he will face the tough challenge of Kenyans Japhet Koech and Andrew Lesuuda.
Koech – star of best-selling book ‘Running with the Kenyans’ – was second in this year’s Edinburgh Marathon in 2:16:19 and Lesuuda is making his debut over 26.2miles, but has victories in both the Cardiff and Reading Half Marathons on his CV.
Heading the home hopes is local runner Ian Habgood of Bournemouth Running Club. He was the leading Brit in last year’s race with 2:31:14. In the women’s race, Kenya’s Risper Kimaiyo is the hot favourite with a personal best of 2:29:16. She may well have the course record of 2:31:50 on her radar, set by last year’s women’s winner Olha Kotovska of Ukraine.
Other contenders include last year’s runner-up Joan Kigen of Kenya and Casablanca Marathon winner Gulilat Serkalem of Ethiopia. Abi Beautyman, Bournemouth Marathon Festival elite co-ordinator, predicts another 'super fast series of road races on the ultra fast Bournemouth route'.
There are six races on offer at the 2014 Bournemouth Marathon Festival, guaranteeing something for everyone from the seasoned runner to the charity fundraiser and beginners. The fun kicks off on Saturday 4 October at the Lower Gardens, Bournemouth with the Supersonic 10K, Speed of Light 5K which is run at dusk and two junior races.
On Sunday 5 October is Bournemouth Marathon and Half Marathon which start from Kings Park Drive and continues along the coastline offering stunning views and an unforgettable running experience.
Standard entries for the full marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival are now closed after thousands signed up for the race but you can still enter the full marathon on Sunday 5 October with a charity place, available via 150 charities. Details at the event website.
Neil Kilgour, Director, said: “Bournemouth and Poole are preparing to welcome the world and we look forward to delivering another outstanding Bournemouth Marathon Festival that the local area will be proud of. With miles of glorious, unspoilt golden sands and clear blue sea, Bournemouth and Poole, provide a beautiful backdrop for the ultimate run in a pure and clean natural environment.”