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7 October 2013, 08:49
Thousands of runners took part in the first Bournemouth Marathon Festival at the weekend.
Runners from more than 30 countries enjoyed stunning sea views as they set off on the 26.2 mile course which includes Bournemouth Pier at the centre of seven miles of golden sand.
They included super-fit Ebisa Merga who won the inaugural marathon, racing to the finish line in a time of 2 hours and 16 minutes and 42 seconds during the two-day running festival.
The 25-year-old from Ethiopia was elated to set the course record benchmark which runners in future years will have to follow. He said:
''It's an unbelievable feeling to finish first at the first ever Bournemouth Marathon Festival.
''I loved the race, I loved the spectators and the weather was perfect for me. I’ve run a lot of marathons this year but this one has definitely been one of my favourites. Hopefully I’ll be back to defend my title next year.''
Olha Kotovska, 29, from Ukraine was the first woman home crossing the line in 2 hours and 30 minutes and 4 seconds.
Amanda Kerr, 32, from Wiltshire was the first female half marathon finisher in 1 hour and 29 minutes and 14 seconds. She said:
''It was an incredible experience and such a lovely course and event.
''I was shocked and a bit overwhelmed to be the first female home''.
21-year old half marathon finisher and local girl Kimberley Bracher enjoyed a double celebration when boyfriend Scott Hudson proposed to her at the finish line seconds after completing her race. She said:
''My first half marathon and diamond ring, thanks''.
Finance Scott added:
''It was brilliant! I'm ecstatic that my beautiful wife to be, Kimberley, said yes!''.