Results for the 2014 event are now available! The date for the next event is Sunday 22nd February 2015.
Well done to all competitors that took part in the 31st Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, and tremendous thanks to all sponsors, volunteers and helpers that made the event possible. We hope that our new earlier start time of 9am wasn't too uncomfortable, as it certainly made a huge difference to the amount of traffic on the course.
The 31st Lifestyle Renault Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon took place on Sunday 2nd March 2014 at 9am. The race is one of the most popular in the South of England attracting 2800 entrants and usually sells out well before the event. Famed for the scenic and challenging route (the 300 foot ascent of Spring Hill at Fordcombe is to be mentioned), meticulous organisation, value for money and friendly marshals, it was voted the 'Most Improved Race in the UK' in 2009 and was voted the No.2 Half Marathon in the UK in 2011 by Runner's World readers. It is one of the biggest events in the UK organised by a running club and Tunbridge Wells Harriers are very proud to have hosted the event for over 30 years (read about the history of the race). Over the last 4 years the race has also donated over £85,000 to charity and some worthy local causes directly from race profits.
On a cool morning with overcast skies and an ideal temperature of 6 degrees, the race was started by Michelle Griffith-Robinson representing the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust. In excess of 1660 buoyant runners set off on the single lap circuit to the rousing beat of Bloco Fogo drummers. The half marathon route of 13.1 miles headed through Southborough to Bidborough, on to Penshurst and up the infamous Spring Hill to Fordcombe. The runners then returned via Langton Green and Rusthall, before heading along Mount Ephraim and St. John’s Road to the finish at the Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar School.
The first runner home was Ben Cole from Tonbridge AC, who finished in 1hr 11mins and 11secs. He was followed by his team mates Julian Rendall in 1:12:45 and Daniel Bradley in 1:13:02, so ensuring that Tonbridge won the club team prize. The first lady to finish was Maria Heslop of Paddock Wood AC in 1:21:17, with past winner Tina Oldershaw, also from Paddock Wood AC, taking 2nd in 1:23:06. Clair Reeves from Dartford Harriers AC was third lady in 1:24:03. The ladies team prize was taken by Paddock Wood AC. In total there were 1663 finishers of the race. Full race results can be found at www.chiptiming.co.uk/.
The Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon is organised by a volunteer organising team from Tunbridge Wells Harriers. As such, the race is probably one of the largest events organised by runners for runners on a voluntary basis. Without the many volunteers from the club and member’s family and friends who gave up a great deal of their personal time, this event would not have taken place. This year’s event was managed by new Race Director Mark Taylor. He took over from Sarah Russell who had managed the event for the last six years, with her final race being the 30th anniversary event which produced the highest number of finishers. The 2013 event was a hard act to follow, but with a firm foundation laid by Sarah the race was again another terrific success with well over 2,000 entrants. For the same entry cost as 2013 of £24 (or £22 for England Athletics Affiliated Club Member), competitors received a technical fabric long-sleeved high visibility running T-shirt, a bespoke medal and accurate chip timing.
We are hugely grateful to Lifestyle Renault, our title sponsor for the fourth year, and of course to all of our sponsors and partners. Lifestyle Renault sponsored the event and also supplied all of the transport requirements. Lifestyle also had 21 employees running in the race and supporting the Pickering Cancer Drop in Centre. This year they have so far raised in excess of £2000 for the Centre, and in the past 4 years over £40,000 has been donated.
This year, the half marathon charity partners were Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, The Counselling Centre, The Bridge Trust, 3H Holidays and the Citizens Advice Bureau Tunbridge Wells and Hospice in the Weald. Most of these charities had stands at the race HQ the Fusion Sports Centre, and donations to them will be made from any surplus funds from the event.
One big disappointment for the organisers was that on the morning of the event, South Eastern trains were forced to cancel the service that had been specifically laid on for competitors travelling from London. The cancellation was understood to be due to overrunning Network Rail engineering works in the Sevenoaks Tunnel, but most travelling to the event weren’t advised in time to make it to Tunbridge Wells. However, some runners travelled from Victoria and having got to or near Tunbridge Wells they hailed down cars and were given lifts to the start. Two other runners arrived at High Brooms very late, ran to the start with their bags which they left with marshals, and then set off in hot pursuit to catch the race. Well done to everyone that made it, in spite of the problems caused by travelling by rail.
This year’s event changed to an earlier start time to try and overcome some of the traffic issues associated with previous years and to minimise the inconvenience to local residents. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to completely eliminate the impact of the race on the travelling public, but we work to continuously improve the event to lessen the disruption whilst also keeping the roads safe for competitors. Thanks to everyone who happily tolerated the situation and to those of you who have provided suggestions and comments. You played your part in making it a successful event and will allow the organisers to give to the charities that were supported.
Recognition must also go to other many sponsors and contributors to the event: Fit Brands,the suppliers of the Soleus watches for all the winner category prizes, Strathmore Water, Courier Newspaper Group, Freeway Exhausts for parking, Mack Multiples, Mitchells Printing, Girl Friday Graphics, Running Hub, AXA PPP Healthcare, Stone Marketing and the Royal Wells Hotel.
This event would also not be possible without the help and assistance of Tunbridge Borough Council, Kent Highways, Fusion Sports Centre staff, Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar School for allowing the use of their entrance and both car parks, St. Gregory’s School for the use of their school grounds for parking, Skinners’ School for allowing parking at the school and for manning an enthusiastic water station, St. John’s Church of England Primary School for parking and the Masonic Lodge and Tunbridge Wells Tennis Club for parking. Lastly, the many people not mentioned who contributed in many ways, but particularly the marshals who stood out in the cold to see the 1663 runners safely round the course.
If you have any questions about the the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, use our contact form to send us a message.