This year’s Tonbridge Half Marathon was a resounding success once again. We are particularly grateful for the wonderful facilities provided for us by West Kent College and for all the assistance provided by Sharon Corden both before and on the day. The weather was rather warmer than most runners would have preferred, but over 1000 runners headed out of Tonbridge and through the glorious Kent countryside. They arrived in Leigh to a wonderful welcome and musical entertainment provided by the 17th Scout and Guide Band and the bell ringers of Leigh Parish Church. An enthusiastic and very vocal crowd awaited them back in Tonbridge as they came up the finishing straight.
Tonbridge AC’s Julian Rendall was bidding for his second Tonbridge HM crown, but suffered an early setback when he tweaked his ankle on a road drain while in the leading pack. However, he managed to recover and finished in 1:14:08, holding off a determined Keith Macintosh of Wimbledon Windmilers to win by 21 seconds. Anthony Webb came in a comfortable third and well deserved third.
The ladies’ event was won for the second year running by Maria Heslop of Paddock Wood AC powering home in 1:22:46, over 7 minutes ahead of Isabel Kuhl and third placed Fiona Russell of Mornington Chasers.
The men’s team competition was won by Cambridge Harriers, a Kent Club despite their name, comprising James Gordon (5th), Stephen Hodges (12th) and Grant Beerling (37th). In second place for the second year running were Tunbridge Wells Harriers (Nick Leech, Craig Chapman and Stuart Shileds), followed by Sevenoaks AC (David Ives, Chris Desmond and Keith Brown) in third place.
Paddock Wood AC (Maria Heslop, Claire Day and Shirley Exall) kept their iron grip on the ladies team event, followed by Tunbridge Wells Harriers (Zoe Button, Nicola Morris, Lesley Mercer) in second place and Maidstone Harriers (Julie Stoppani Sarah Brenton and Suzanne Warburton) in third.
"This was the first time I had run this event and what a great event it was! The support of the crowd and the marshalls was second to none. Also, being able to use the facilities in the college made this the most civilised half marathon I have ever done :-). I had an absolute shocker of a race and was contemplating pulling out 8 miles in but the cheering from the local residents and the support from the marshalls (specifically at the water station at mile 12!) pulled me through to the finish. I will be back next year! Thank you to you and your team for organising a brilliant race." Stephanie
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I am particularly grateful to the very hardworking members of the Committee who have worked tirelessly for the past year to make this such a successful event – Chief Marshal Gordon Hill, Race Secretary John Playle, Course Director Mick Barlow, Course Manager Diane Bradley, Race Village Manager Brian Piner, Water Station Manager Hugh Millson, TMBC liaison Lindsay Bennett and Raynet liaison Colin Bowman, together with Dixon Hawkins, Mark Leach, Sean Downs and Steve Shaw. They are truly a top team!
This event would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of members of the Rotary Club of Tonbridge and Tonbridge Lions Club who staged the event. Most of them were out on the course as marshals and in some cases out beyond the course at key junctions, advising motorists of road closures and alternatives to driving through Leigh.
There were many other volunteers and organisations that supported this event – well over 200 of them:
- Tonbridge AC volunteers who helped as race officials;
- Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council who supported the event and gave invaluable help and advice;
- Steve Bright our very enthusiastic announcer and Monica Pell and her team who kept Steve provided with information
- Jason Frisby and DPA Sound Hire for very professional loudspeaker coverage of the race village
- Colin Bowman, David Walsh and the Raynet of volunteer radio operators who provided radio communications cover across the whole course;
- Rob Blundell and the Fat Boy Football Team who set up and organised the start/finish area and cleared it all away afterwards and the Judd School CCF who assisted them;
- 2520 Squadron Air Training Corps who assisted with car parking;
- 8th Tonbridge (Hildenborough) Scouts who ran the water stations;
- Carers First who provided a number of marshals in the race village and on the course;
- Val Davies and her team of volunteer masseurs;
- Vicky Stoodley and her wonderfully efficient Baggage Drop team
- Sylvia Davis and her equally efficient Information Desk team
- Clive Grenyer and the team in Race Control
- Sonia Williams and Janet Sergison who managed the Spot Prize operation
- Andy Graffin, our results manager who got everything right for the presentation ceremony!
- all the individual volunteers who offered to help or had their arms twisted but without whose help we would have been really stretched.
Altogether over 260 volunteers turned up on the day and we are immensely grateful to each and every one of them. In addition we are grateful to St. John Ambulance and their many volunteer first aiders for medical and first aid cover on the day and to Trafeco for traffic management services.
Altogether, an estimated £63,000 was raised for charity, both by the event itself and by the efforts of individual runners for their chosen charities. We are also extremely grateful to our sponsors and supporters for covering many of the costs of staging the event, which are considerable. Please take a moment to check them out and maybe visit their websites.
Well done to everyone who took part. I look forward to seeing you next year!