Heartbreak for Sophie at Tunbridge Wells
Navigational error helps Tonbridge team mates as parkrunner Liam steps up in class
The 38th Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon on Sunday (20 February) will be remembered more for the storming performances of winners Liam White and defending champion Helen Gaunt than for the weather conditions – which were still pretty challenging.
Last held two years ago due to the pandemic, and on that occasion subject to an hour's delay as Storm Dennis did its best to disrupt the event, this year's race proceeded on time during a lull in the current weather as a result of the jet stream flexing its muscles over our shores.
The wind did put a damper on PB aspirations but the 124 parkruns completed by the overall winner Liam White – many of which were 'first finishers' – proved the perfect preparation for a 1:13:40 personal best by almost six minutes, improving his 2019 result of 1:19:29 in the Simplyhealth Great East Run.
The nearest challengers to the unattached local winner were Anthony Bradley (Lonely Goats RC, 1:14:43) and the host club Tunbridge Wells Harriers' Alex Reid (1:17:09 PB) and promising junior Dillon Hobbs (1:17:55).
Meanwhile, Helen Gaunt (W40, Tonbridge AC) was only 43 seconds slower than her best set at Paddock Wood Half Marathon in 2012 with a victory here in 1:23:22 – strong running in the blustery conditions.
The women's race had been led by Tonbridge AC's junior athlete Sophie Preston (1:30:00 PB) but she took a wrong turn in the later stages and lost significant time as her Tonbridge team-mates Helen Gaunt and Ellie Baxter (1:27:34 PB) plus Amelie Karlsson (1:29:25 PB) of Tunbridge Wells Harriers all benefitted from her misfortune.
Sophie Preston's 64th position overall marked the 90-minute threshold as 832 finished in 3:43:28 – compared with just over 1,000 in the pre-pandemic era two years ago.
The image above shows Liam White (#1007) and Helen Gaunt (#359) prominent to the right just after the start.
Results and previous race reports at runABC South here
Image courtesy Tunbridge Wells Harriers website