Nearly 8,000 runners toed the line for the inaugural Brighton Marathon today as the race dubbed ‘London by the sea’ attracted entries from across the country and beyond.
On a glorious April day, spectators came out in force to support the runners, although the weather will no doubt have affected the masses, with temperatures unseasonably hot for the time of year.
The race got under way a few minutes late while a car was removed from the course, but the runners didn’t seem agitated. Having warmed up in Preston Park to a series of thumping house tunes, the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.
Prodigal son Steve Ovett, the former Olympic 800m champion and multiple world record holder, returned to his birthplace to officially start the race and cheer the runners over the line. Despite the narrow start funnel, competitors breezed through the line and everyone was up and running within 10 minutes.
Although much of the course was flat, the opening few miles took in a few surprise hills and took their toll on the runners, even among the elites. With the Virgin London Marathon sucking up many of Britain’s leading runners, the elite field included a select few. Fastest among them on paper was Medway & Maidstone’s Michael Coleman, with a 2.19.42 personal best from London in 2005. Quickest man in the field was Ser-od Ba-otochir, a Mongolian now living in the North East.
With two Olympics under his belt and a best of 2.14.05, the smart money was on the four-time World Championships runner to set the pace.
As it turned out, it was another foreign national now resident in the UK, Simon Tonui, who set the pace, although he dropped out just after half way. With the mercury rising, the elite field was spreading out, and, at half way, big gaps between the first five were already appearing. True to form Ba-otochir was the class of the field, and stretched away from the British guys behind him to record a winning time of 2.19.05 and take the £500 bonus for breaking 2.20.
Coleman was the next to finish in 2.24.38, an excellent run in the conditions. Third place was Brightonian Chris Thomson, who celebrated his 26th birthday with a 2.29,53 clocking on his debut marathon.
On his second place, Coleman said: “It was a really good event. The course was surprisingly fast, and the conditions were perfect, if a little hot. I was well pleased with my run, and will definitely come back next year.”
With the masses out on the course in the height of the sun, there were a few painful expressions crossing the finish line. But everyone agreed that, for a first attempt, Brighton was a big success: as the book says – Brighton Rocks.
For more information and full results go to www.brightonmarathon.co.uk