The ABP Southampton Marathon in 2019 was a great success with 8,000 runners and 850 volunteers all taking part in making the event a brilliant day for everyone involved. This event is our biggest of the year and therefore takes the most planning, with plans beginning for the next year on the same day as the event based on runners’ initial feedback!
After almost a year of build-up the week of the ABP Southampton Marathon 2019 has arrived and we are busy making our final preparations – answering questions from runners and members of the public, checking suppliers are all sorted and briefing our extended team throughout the week.
As Sunday approached signs of the Race Village began to appear on Thursday with the main supplies like water, barriers, flags and other branding being delivered to the Guildhall Square.
On Friday after a day in the office, the team headed to Guildhall Square for a walk round of the site to familiarise new members of staff with where everything would be from VIPs to pacers to finish distribution and most importantly the start/finish line. When all the team knew where they would be based and what they needed to do it was time to start fully making it look like the ABP Southampton Marathon.
Concord boards, flags, PVC banners and scrim – almost every type of branding you could image was put up to proudly show passers by what was happening and display for all to see our wonderful partners.
The team were back at it and hard at work at 8 o’clock in the morning on Saturday and left the site twelve hours later after a jam-packed day. In this time 1000’s of Utilita water bottles were filled up, medals and t-shirts placed ready to be revealed during the race and 100’s of race packs collected, and questions answered. Our race control room was also set up and so that they could communicate with marshals out across the route to ensure that everyone was safe!
Across the road inside Solent’s Spark building, we welcomed all our volunteer marshal group leaders for their briefing with race director Nikki Rees to let them know what is needed from them to ensure that all our runners have the best time and are most importantly safe. They also then collected their boxes with t-shirts, radios, food supplies and water for their groups to make sure they were healthy and well fed throughout the day of cheering and clapping along runners.
After a well-deserved and well-needed rest, the team were back on site bright and early at 5AM and with four hours until the start of the marathon things were getting busier and busier in Guildhall Square as runners and their families began to arrive. Over in Watts Park, the charity village was taking shape with our charity partners gazebos for their runners and others to visit and help raise valuable funds for some amazing causes.
Then as 9AM approached all eyes were on the start line which thousands of runners lined up behind and then as the warm-up ended and nerves jangled, Paul Sinton-Hewitt the founder of parkrun blasted the air horn and we were underway!
After almost seven full minutes every half and full marathon runner had crossed the start line and then the focus was on the 10K runners who would be starting their race soon after. In between races, there was a quick change of pacer signs and then the same process again with the 10K runners heading off.
Our first half marathon runner was back in a fantastic time of 1:15:35 and then a steady stream of runners followed for the next few hours with around 8,000 finishers crossing the finish line then heading to collect their medals and t-shirts.
One of the most exciting parts of the day is the awards ceremony at 12:30 where the three quickest male and female athletes in each distance given their glass awards on stage in front of their friends and family.
Once the last runner had crossed the line all the finish distribution was packed away quickly by our wonderful marshals ready to set up the holding area for the SOLD OUT fun run around the parks of Southampton City Centre but before that the ‘Mascot Mile’ got the kids excited with a photo-finish right in front of them.
As children whizzed around the parks and back into the Square to be reunited with their parents the event was over for 2019 but that was not it for our team. The Guildhall Square needed packing down – tables, leftover supplies, our ReesLeisure gazebo and much more were thrown into the back of vans to be taken back to the storage unit alongside all the advertising. The finish gantry was taken down and then in a matter of hours, nobody could even tell we had been there.
After a long hard weekend, the team retreated to a local restaurant for Pie and Pizza to celebrate another successful event all before the planning for 2020 began but before the next Southampton Marathon there a few more events for you all including Southampton Sailing Week, the Winchester Half Marathon and Good Fri Tri!