Tonbridge runs up another half marathon success

Hattie Harrison Fran Taylor

The town notched up another major triumph on Sunday when thousands lined the 13-mile route of the annual Tonbridge Half Marathon to cheer on the runners.

The weather produced near perfect running conditions for the record number of 1,117 competitors who took part in the event and it is estimated that between them they will raise around £65,000 for local charities.

There was just one last-minute glitch when the Race Director, Mick Barlow, decided that the medals supplied as mementos to all the runners were not up to scratch.

In his introductory speech to the huge crowd of runners and supporters who had gathered at the Race Village at West Kent College before the start, he announced: “I am afraid that the medals that everyone receives for taking part are of such poor quality that we are not going to give them out.

“I have an urgent meeting with the supplier and if I am not given guarantees that they can resupply them to an acceptable quality we will go to another supplier.”

Then with his voice cracking with emotion he added: “We will then send a medal to everyone so you will all get one.”

His speech prompted a warm round of applause from the crowd, which then made its way down the appropriately named Dame Kelly Holmes Way to the start in Brook Street. The race was started by Tonbridge’s Mayor, Mark Rhodes.

The overall winner was Julian Rendall of Tonbridge Athletics Club and the first female was Maria Heslop, wife of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Leader Nicolas Heslop.

Both have now won the competition three times since it started six years ago and there were cheers from the crowd when Chris Owen of DC Access Systems, one of the race sponsors, announced during the presentation ceremony that he was adding another £100 to their prize money.

The Tonbridge Half Marathon, which this year incorporated the Kent Half ­Marathon Championships, is now considered one of the best half marathons in the national running calendar.

The Tonbridge Lions Club and Rotary Club jointly organise the race, which starts and finishes at West Kent College.

The Rotary Club President, Brian Piner, said: “I would like to thank the 220 ­volunteers who help out on the day as without them we simply wouldn’t be able to run what is now a major date in the town’s diary.”

After the race Mr Barlow said: “The medals that we received were of a very poor standard, and were small and flimsy. It would have been insulting to give them out.”

Chief Marshal of the Tonbridge Half Marathon and Lion’s First Vice President Gordon Hill said:

“Now in its sixth year, this hugely popular event passed off safely without major incident due to the organising efforts of Tonbridge’s Lions and Rotary clubs and the tremendous support from the volunteer marshals. Over 1,100 runners enjoyed perfect conditions in the beautiful countryside around Tonbridge, helping to raise more than £60,000 for charity.”

The full set of results and times are on:

For more photos from the event and more stories click here.

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