Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon: How 1,400 runners tackled 35th edition

Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon: How 1,400 runners tackled 35th edition

Good weather, enthusiastic support and the hard work of volunteers enabled a successful 35th edition of the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon.

More than 1,400 runners completed the 13.1-mile challenge on Sunday [February 18], which started and finished at Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre in St John’s Road.

Mark Taylor, organising the race for the fifth time with Tunbridge Wells Harriers club, said: “It was a good day with nice weather and great running conditions.

“We got a lot of positive responses and we had a great team of volunteers. I started at 5am and I got back home at 4pm after the set-down.”

On a circular course, runners passed through Southborough and turned into Bidborough before dropping into Penshurst.

The toughest section came between mile six and eight, where the road leads up Spring Hill to Fordcombe and on towards Langton Green, before turning back towards town.

Roads were closed throughout the route, with water stops positioned on the course, and The New Orleans Jazz Band played, as per tradition, in Penshurst.

Simon Goldsworthy was the first of 1,417 finishers in 1hr 11.21, while Tonbridge & Malling councillor Maria Heslop won her third successive women’s title, and her fourth in five years, in 1hr 22.25.

Mr Taylor continued: “We had 1,700 people sign up to enter the run but there are always some who do not turn up on the day.

“We had a Dutch guy taking part and people from up north and all over the country. They all said it was well supported.

“There was only one casualty but I understand it was not serious.”

The race was also considered the second Kent Grand Prix road race of 2018, which allowed clubs to score points in a league. Tonbridge AC won both the men’s and women’s team event ahead of Tunbridge Wells Harriers.

The Hendy Ford dealership was the lead sponsor of the event, while town beer café Fuggles handed out glasses of of the frothy stuff to runners inside the final mile.

The number of runners was some way below the largest field on record of 2,500, which was set in 2013, but the number of running events has significantly increased since the Tunbridge Wells Half started.

Mr Taylor said he is likely to be at the helm again next year. He added: “I want to thank the volunteers, for the event would be impossible without their help.

“We could probably look to build the event a little more, it is something we are going to look at doing as the numbers have dropped.

“There are so many more running events now, but we have come a long way from when only 54 people did the first Tunbridge Wells Half.”

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