Are you ready for Spring Hill? Here is our Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon preview

    Nearly 2,000 runners are preparing to take on the notorious hills of Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon next month.

    Entries are still open for the 35th annual 13.1mile event before the starting gun fires on Sunday, February 18.

    Mark Taylor is into his fifth year as Race Director for the Tunbridge Wells Harriers-organised event, which has become a firm fixture on the town’s calendar.

    “We are expecting 1,500 to 2,000 participants,” he told the Times last week.

    “The race has had up to 2,500 in the past but the numbers have gone down a little as there are so many more races now than when we started.

    “It is our 35th year and not many half marathons have been going that long but we’re not making a big thing of the anniversary.”

    The scenic and challenging course has not changed in the event’s history.

    Starting near to Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre in St John’s Road at 9am, the route takes in the villages of Bidborough, Penshurst and Fordcombe.

    A lasting memory for many is the gruelling 300ft climb up Spring Hill into Langton Green as the route heads towards Rusthall, the town centre and finishing in Southborough.

    But despite the hilly sections, Mr Taylor said it is possible to set a personal best while the course record is a swift 68 minutes.

    He continued: “I talk to a lot of people and there are mixed views on how easy the course is. Because of Spring Hill some say that it is tough.

    “But I think the Tonbridge Half Marathon (held in the autumn) is harder. Tunbridge Wells is my PB course.”

    “It is downhill to Penshurst and I would advise runners not to go off too fast,” he added. “Training-wise I would advise getting some reasonable distance in.”

    There is also a charitable element to the run with Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre, The Bridge Trust and Tunbridge Wells Counselling Centre all set to benefit from the £10,000 expected to be raised this year.

    Hendy Ford dealership is sponsoring the 2018 event.

    Mr Taylor continued: “It is a race organised by runners, for runners, and the marshals can add to the atmosphere.

    “There will be a lot of runners looking to go onto run the London Marathon.”

    • Entry costs £28 for non-affiliated runners and includes a t-shirt, medal and timing chip. For more information visit twharriers.org.uk