Runners and spectators confounded the damp weather to fill and line the streets with record attendances at the 2014 Bath Half Marathon, now in its 33rd year.
Despite the cold and drizzly weather, over 12,000 runners pounded the streets of Bath for a multitude of different reasons, from those striving to achieve a personal or charity challenge, to elite athletes aiming for a new course record and world record attempts, the streets were filled with ambition yesterday morning.
Over 30,000 people came to support the 11,300 runners taking part in the BATHALF and almost 1,000 runners who took part in the family fun run.
The Kenyans stole the show in the elite field, taking first and second place in both the male and female categories. Nicholas Kirui of Kenya took the top spot, after breaking away from his running partner, Boniface Kongin, also of Kenya around 5km before the finish.
Kirui said: “I achieved a personal best, beating my previous best time by about 20 seconds. I’m happy that I won the race, but I came with the goal of trying to beat the course record and the cold, wet weather just made it too difficult to achieve that”.
Perendis Lekapana of Kenya finished first in the female race, five minutes clear of the second female, Gladys Kwambai who came second. Perendis shaved more than two minutes off her personal best. She was also the female winner at the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2013. She said: “The BATHALF has a great course with plenty of spectator support. The cold weather made it harder to race as I’m not used to it, but I’m so happy to have a new personal best”.
The first British female to cross the line was local girl, Lucy Macalister who runs with Bristol & West AC, and lives near Wellington.
She said: “I was really comfortable for the first six miles, but I found the last seven miles more tricky, which has a lot to do with the weather. I knew I was in a strong position near the front of the female field, and I wanted to make sure I could stay there. I ran my personal best here in 2011, and I’m happy to be the first female Brit to cross the line. The two lap course really helps because you know what’s coming on the second lap, so I was able to experiment a little to ensure I kept a strong position”.
Former Coronation Street and Casualty actor, Will Thorp, from Frome was also amongst the starting line up, running for Somerset based charity, Time is Precious.
He said: “This is my first organised race and I was really pleased I took part – what a great event. It was tough, but it was great to be a part of such a positive race. The crowds were brilliant and made a massive difference. I also loved the entertainment around the course, particularly the beating drums which really helped me to pick my pace up.
“When seeing all these amazing people, lots of whom were running for charity, you couldn’t help but feel good about yourself and everyone around you. I’d love to come back and do it again, ideally when the weather is a bit nicer”.
David Flatman was not only the official race starter, but he also ran the 13.1 mile race after encouraging thousands of runners to give it their all on the stage at the start line. David ran for the Down’s Syndrome Association, finishing in 2 hours, 44 minutes and 14 seconds, and has already raised almost £8,500 for the cause. Former English Captain, British Lion and Bath Rugby player also took part, finishing in 1 hour, 48 minutes and 2 seconds.
He said: “The truth is, I hate running, but running the BATHALF gave me the chance to raise some good money and to hand it over to people who really need it. I feel humbled at the public support I received in the build up and on the day as I made my way around the course. People have been so generous and I’m still getting donations coming in now, which makes the aches and pains I’m feeling today all the more worthwhile.
“I ran every mile, though some superior athletes seemed to be walking past me which did ruin me a bit! Lewis Moody might have finished faster than I did, but that’s only because he had a head start while I started the race on stage”.
2012 X Factor Finalist and Ashley James from Made in Chelsea ran for 2014 Lead Race Charity, CoppaFeel! amongst 180 Hooters all wearing giant boob costumes. After finishing together, Kye commented: “It’s been a really amazing and emotional experience. The support was fantastic and as a man, it was great to run surrounded by lots of giant CoppaFeel! boobs. I’m a big fan of the two lap course, as you really get to take in the atmosphere of the event and the beautiful city that is Bath”.
Ashley added: The run was great and I particularly loved all the music as we ran round the course. It was great to run with Kye and the rest of the CoppaFeel! gang, who really helped me make it across the finish line”.
Amongst the runners taking part for charity and as personal challenge was 18 year old Ollie Noad from Bath, who took part in his first ever half marathon at Bath.
He said: “This was my first half marathon and I was really surprised at how good the organisation was, right from arriving in the morning, through to crossing the finish line. I’ve worked hard on my physical training, but I underestimated the mental side of things, with the challenge really hitting me three quarters of the way through the race. I’d like to think that my positive experience at the BATHALF will open the door to many more half marathons for me”.
Despite the cold, wet and windy conditions, spirits were high and the charity runners in fancy dress were out in force. Now in its 33rd year, the BATHALF is the biggest single day fundraising event in the South West, with this year’s event expected to raise over £2 million.
This year, runners from across the UK raced to raise money for 90 different official charities and the Bath Half Marathon Fund, which helps raise money for local community projects in and around the City.
Almost 1,000 people took part in the 1.5 mile Family Fun Run, raising money for Send a Cow. The event was a complete sell-out, with entries closing in January this year. First to finish was Dillon Dykes.
Race Director, Andrew Taylor from Running High said: “I am delighted with the smooth running of this year’s event. Despite the weather, it was a great day with no major incidents, and the crowds have been out en masse to support our runners every step of the way.
“Everyone’s hard work over the past year has really paid off in making the event a success once again. Events like this don’t happen on their own so we would thank all our volunteers and sponsors for all their efforts in making the BATHALF so special. The runners who work so hard and have once again raised incredible amounts of money for charity are a real inspiration.”
Entries for the 2015 BATHALF will open in the next few days. For more information, go to www.bathhalf.co.uk.