Storm Dennis did its utmost to disrupt the 37th Hendy Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon but quick thinking enabled the race to proceed safely. Tunbridge Wells Harriers and local race management company Nice Work agreed an hour's delay to the start was necessary.
Storm Dennis peaked at the planned 9:00am start time and weather watchers predicted a lull one hour later, so the decision to start or cancel was deferred. Thankfully, the wind and rain eased and with the full cooperation of all involved the new start time of 10:00am was agreed.
Billy Hobbs (pictured above) knows his way around this undulating course and he delighted the promoting club, Tunbridge Wells Harriers, by storming to victory from 1,000 runners in 1:13:18.
Hobbs – a parkrun graduate who was runner-up to Simon Goldsworthy (Guildford) for the past two years – finished a minute clear of Andrew Cumine (Belgrave Harriers, 1:14:27). Also inside 75 minutes in the testing conditions were Matt Chipping (unattached, 1:14:46) and the rapidly improving Joshua Teece (Central Park Athletics, 1:14:59 PB).
The women's race was dominated by the strong front running of Tonbridge W40 master Helen Gaunt (1:23:44) who had a mile to spare over the closely matched Ali Farrall (W45 Kent AC, 1:30:52) and debut half marathoner Jemma Whyman (W35 Medway & Maidstone, 1:30:57), with Nichola Evans (W35 Tonbridge, 1:31:13) not far away in fourth.
There were 999 classified finishers in 3:28:44 and two hours was beaten by 640 of those. All appreciated the smiling and uncomplaining marshals who were at their posts far longer than anticipated. The jelly babies at Langton Green also went down very well!
Pre-race there were many doubts regarding the decision not to cancel the race but after most got away with wet shoes from flooding at Fordcombe, this Facebook comment from 'Soloman Longshanks' sums up the post-race feelings of bonhomie: “Excellent event capped by some great decision making in the face of adversity. Your care of us runners was impressive. You weighed the risks, mitigated them wherever possible and ensured our safety throughout. Thank you all, especially the bedraggled but still cheery marshals”.
Check out these atmospheric photos by TWH Edward Steele:
Images courtesy Mark Hookway