On your marks: Former pupils dominate Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon again
by Andy Tong | 20th February 2019
AROUND 1,250 runners took part in the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon around the town and surrounding villages on a gloriously sunny, crisp morning on Sunday February 17.
The popular race, now in its 36th year, attracted running club members and unaffiliated runners from all over the country.
Organised by experienced volunteers from the Tunbridge Wells Harriers running club, the race was started by the British junior curling team from Beacon Academy in Crowborough, who stayed around to cheer runners on at the third drinks station.
The winner was Simon Goldsworthy of Guildford & Godalming Athletics Club. The former Bennett Memorial schoolboy, who also won last year’s race, clocked a time of one hour 11min 29sec.
The Harriers’ own Billy Hobbs, a 19-year-old former Skinners’ School pupil, came second to repeat his feat last year, with a time of 1:12.16 – slightly better than his effort in 2018.
Alan Lee of Sevenoaks AC came third in 1:13.37, just pipping last year’s third-placed runner, Julian Rendall of Tonbridge AC, into fourth.
Andrea Berquez, with a time of 1:26.32, was the first woman across the line, followed by Georgina Frost of Orpington Road Runners, in 1:26.47 – improving on her third place last year. That went to the Harriers’ Harriet Woolley in 1:28.30.
Harriers race organiser Mark Taylor described the race as ‘organised by runners for runners. This is a challenging event and we want runners to feel a real sense of achievement’.
He thanked his team of helpers, saying: “We could not do this event without the support of our fellow club -members, who are marshals, and all the other volunteers who help from organising the start and finish areas, to manning drinks stations.
“We were delighted with the support shown from the town, including businesses sponsoring the events and providing discounts for runners and everyone who cheered the runners along the route. It created a wonderful atmosphere.”
The 13.1-mile course started in Southborough, and the picturesque route then traversed some of Kent’s most beautiful countryside.
It passed through Bidborough, descending into thick mist in Penshurst before the tough 300ft uphill climb at Spring Hill in Fordcombe and back into the sunshine.
The runners then went through Langton Green and Rusthall, along Mount Ephraim and back into Southborough for the finish line.
In past years, more than £160,000 has been raised for charity by the not-for-profit event, and this year’s primary recipients will be the Bridge Trust homeless charity, the Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre and the Counselling Centre, with some support also going to Citizen’s Advice and Compaid, which provides transport for the elderly and disabled.
Many runners were raising funds for charities with whom they have a special connection, including a Tigger who literary bounded across the finish line and three Ghostbusters, who run the Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon every year wearing different outfits.
They said: “We just wanted to run for fun, but we raised so much in sponsorship that now we do this every year. It was hot running in these boiler suits.”
All runners’ times can be found at twharriers.org.uk/tunbridge-wells-half-marathon