Run Bournemouth is a series of running races over a variety of distances which takes place annually in early October. On Saturday, there are children’s races in the afternoon with distances from 1 kilometre to 5 kilometres, depending on age. This is followed by the Supernova 5k in the evening. On Sunday, there is the Supersonic 10k and the Half Marathon, which isn’t super anything.
The Supernova 5k starts at 7 pm, just as the sun is setting over the bay, which is always a sight to behold as you stand nervously in the toilet queue even though you just went to the loo before leaving home.
Runners are all issued with head torches. Many also opt to dress up with neon clothing and flashing lights. As darkness descends, the race starts and runners set off along the Promenade. The course consists of a 2 km stretch from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier, then turns and heads back to Bournemouth.
The run culminates with a circumnavigation of the pier before finishing on Pier Approach.
This year, the Pier was illuminated with rows of purple lights, which added to the spectacle.
Saturday’s races all start and finish in the same place (Bournemouth Pier) which makes transport logistics simple. Plenty of buses stop nearby in Bournemouth Square. There is a Pay & Display car park next to the start, which costs £3 an hour – incentive to run faster?!
The Supersonic 10k starts at Hengistbury Head, 5 miles east of Bournemouth, then after a short road section, turns and descends onto to the Prom and heads to Bournemouth, taking in both Boscombe and Bournemouth Pier along the way.
This is a scenic route, with the majority of the race along the seafront. Although it can involve running several miles into a headwind. Perfect for kite surfers, less so for runners.
The Half Marathon starts and finishes in the same place as the 10k, but goes up and down the clifftop and the prom a bit more.
To be honest, starting and finishing in two different places is trying. There is no way to reach Hengistbury Head by public transport. The race organisers run an (expensive – £9!) event bus between the start and finish. This is only useful if you are (a) made of money and (b) near the start or finish to begin with. But if like me, you live in between the start and finish, you need to get a bus to the bus, which isn’t ideal.
In addition, the road is closed long before the race starts causing large traffic jams and making access to the start difficult. Plus, the car park is used for portable toilets so there’s nowhere to park. We opted to get a lift to the start, got stuck in traffic, and missed the start. The traffic was so bad, that even though we left what we thought was plenty of time, we ended up having to get out of the car and run to the start. When the gun went off, we were still in the queues for the toilets.
Frankly, after running 13.1 miles, the last thing I wanted to do was walk (hobble) the half mile up the hill to catch a bus home again. Why the race can’t start and finish in one place is a mystery to me. In future, I shall stick to spectating from the end of my road, which doesn’t involve four buses, £12 in bus fares or any form of hobbling.