Inspirational Commonwealth Games runner Steve Way has confirmed he will take part in this year’s Bournemouth Marathon Festival (BMF) by racing the half marathon and being official starter for the full distance event, which take place in his hometown during 4-5 October. Entries are set to close for the half marathon at 5pm on Monday 1 September.
The 40-year-old Way captured the imagination of the nation this summer when he completed the journey from a heavy smoking takeaway-addict to Commonwealth Games hero.
In 2007, he weighed 16 and a half stone when he began running to get healthy. It led to selection for Team England at Glasgow 2014, where he placed 10th in the men’s marathon in a British age-group record of 2:15:16.
Now he will return to the scene of his favourite junk food outlets as an international athlete. “I’d normally be sat in Bournemouth Square eating takeaways, not far from the course.” He recalls of his previous routine, before making the life-changing decision which has also resulted in him earning Great Britain selection for November’s World 100K Championships.
A member of local club Bournemouth AC and resident in nearby village Sturminster Marshall, Way is relishing the prospect of racing on home turf.
He said: “A lot of people in the area have shown me a lot of support and it will be nice to show my appreciation. I get recognised a lot where I live. At one time I was just that guy who ran around the village a lot and no-one knew why. People now do know me and I get lots of waves and people saying ‘well done’.”
He also very comfortable his new-found role model status. “My back story of being a smoker and overweight not so long ago strikes a chord with people.” He says. “I am also very transparent and honest with the training I do. You can read it all on my blog. People know where I have come from and what I have achieved and it touches them in some way.
“Don’t get me wrong, I can still walk the streets of Bournemouth and not worry about being accosted!” He is also looking forward to his role as race starter for Sunday’s marathon, one of five events taking place as part of the whole weekend.
“It’s something I haven’t done before, so let’s hope I don’t cock it up!” He said. “I am going to race the half and then quickly get ferried back to the marathon start. I am looking forward to it. It will be nice to know my hard work is done for the day and get the chance to chance to cheer on a few friends doing the race.
“Last year was the first year of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival and it was a really great family and community occasion. It’s great to have an event like this in Bournemouth. With Saturday’s 10k and Speed of Light 5K and junior races, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Sometimes people who wouldn’t normally consider running might think about giving it a go and that’s great!”
Way is building towards his final challenge of the year, representing GB at the World 100K Championships of the year in Doha, Qatar in November and he says the half marathon will be a key part of his preparation.
“The half marathon will be the crossing point when I go back into ultra-training. It will be my last speed work before I go into some ridiculously long back to back runs.” He says of the 50 mile runs he now logs.
If you wish to join Steve Way and be part of this year’s Bournemouth Marathon Festival, visit the event website.