NEARLY 300 runners marked Easter in a rather different way – with the Rotary Quarter Marathon at Boscombe.

Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West, set the 267 charity road runners off and then followed, clocking up his own time of 55 minutes 17 seconds.

First across the finish line in the ninth annual event from Boscombe Pier on Saturday was Adrian Bonner, in 37 minutes, 23 seconds, though first lady Abigail Jones was hot on his heels with 40minutes, 26 seconds.

Mr Swayne confessed he had gone to Bournemouth Pier by mistake, and then ran to make it on time.

“I got there and wondered at the lack of other runners,” he said. “As I had to run a mile and a half before even starting, I’m very pleased.

“My aim was to get under an hour.”

Runners on the 6.5-mile course through Southbourne, near Hengistbury Head and the Overcliff, could collect for Bournemouth East Cliff Rotary Club’s charities Julia’s House, Youth Cancer Trust, Smile Train and Boscombe The Salvation Army, or their own cause.

Race sponsors Barclays entered a team, as did Steele Raymond, Saffery Champness and Princecroft Willis.

People came from Wales, Derby, Leeds and northern Scotland to take part.

Race director Keith Loveless said: “We’re proud of everybody.

“It has been great, with lovely weather and a good venue for the runners.”

Rotary Club President Simon Outten, who is running three marathons in three months, finished in one hour and three minutes.

“It was fun,” the 60-year-old said. “I didn’t injure myself too much more than I already have.

“The weather and atmosphere were lovely.”

Jacqueline Lowe, 55, from Canford Heath, took one hour and eight minutes.

It was her first race, after only joining Poole Athletics Club in October.

“It was terrific, I really enjoyed it. I loved looking at the lovely houses and people were cheering.”

The last person clocked in at one hour 26 minutes.