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Graffin storms home in half-marathon

SYDNEY Olympian Andrew Graffin (Belgrave Harriers) cruised to victory in the 19th annual Tunbridge Wells half-marathon. Graffin, appropriately sporting No 1 on his vest, allowed his former Tonbridge team mate Adrian Whitwam, to dictate the early pace which was clearly not hot enough to trouble Barry Royden's 1999 course record.

The decisive moment, as so often is the case on this testing course, was the climb of Spring Hill at half distance where Graffin quickly built a winning margin, which he extended to 66 seconds at the finish line.

Whitwam stuck to his task to lead Tonbridge AC to a convincing team victory over Paddock Wood and the host club, Tunbridge Wells Harriers.

More than two minutes elapsed before London-based athletes Karim Chebouki (Serpentine) and Ian Johnson (Stragglers) finished ahead of first veteran, Steve Keywood (Tonbridge) who is no stranger to the prize winners rostrum.

The reputation of this race draws entries from all over Britain but there were several other local athletes among the top 15 who dipped under 80 minutes, including Greg Stevens (Sevenoaks), David Law (Maidstone Harriers) and the Tonbridge trio, Phil Coleman, Richard Owen and Bill Sutherland.

Dave Thornby (Maidstone Harriers) was second over-50 veteran in 80min 37sec with Martyn Rouse (Invicta) third in that class in 82.32.

Spring Hill was also the deciding factor in the women's race which saw Miranda Heathcote (Tonbridge) laying down the early pace. Canadian track specialist Kristina Farr accelerated into the lead, making good use of her sub-17 minute 5,000m speed and the race was over.

Alyson Parlett (Bexley) passed a tiring Heathcote to claim the first veteran award but the Tonbridge athlete was far from disappointed after dipping a toe back in the endurance running water following a brief flirtation with the world of race walking. Only the first three athletes were among the 85 runners under the 90 minute barrier as 935 finished the course.

Bexley AC were the team winners from Heather Fitzmaurice-Cotton led Sevenoaks AC and Maidstone Harriers who featured Sharon Hawkins, Cherry Burnett and Jane Bright in their squad.

Results: 1 Andrew Graffin (Belgrave Harriers) 70.39, 2 Adrian Whitwam (Tonbridge) 71.45, 3 Karim Chebouki (Serpentine) 74.10, 4 Ian Johnson (Stragglers) 74.18, 5 Steve Keywood (Tonbridge M40) 75.11, 6 Antonio Pecoraro (Havering) 76.21, 7 Jonathan Bradley (London Heathside) 76.33, 8 Greg Stevens (Sevenoaks M40) 76.54, 9 David Law (Maidstone Harriers) 77.37, 10 Colin Steptoe (Vale of Aylesbury M50) 77.47, 11 Phil Coleman (Tonbridge) 77.54, 12 Richard Owen (Tonbridge) 78.29, 13 Bill Sutherland (Tonbridge M45) 78.57, 14 Richard Adams (Lingfield) 79.19, 15 Adam Hines (Unattached) 79.47, 16 Dave Thornby (Maidstone Harriers M50) 80.37, 17 Michael Thomson (Tunbridge Wells) 80.53, 18 Andy Fletcher (Paddock Wood M40) 81.05, 19 Jonathon Hope (Paddock Wood) 81.09, 20 Lloyd Marshall (Serpentine) 81.25, 21 Richard Bretherick (unattached) 81.43, 22 Baz Van Aken (Cambridge University) 81.48, 23 Daryl Palfrey (Tunbridge Wells) 82.10, 24 Johnny Banks (Tonbridge M40) 82.23, 25 Martyn Rouse (Invicta M55) 82.32, 26 Phil Smith (Paddock Wood) 82.43, 27 John Mitchell (Unattached M40) 82.55, 28 Martin Wright (unattached) 83.07, 29 Dee Patel (unattached M40) 83.09, 30 David Siveright (unattached) 83.11.

Over 60: Chris Ford (Road Runners Club) 98.02.

Teams: 1 Tonbridge AC 18 points, 2 Paddock Wood 63, 3 Tunbridge Wells Harriers 71, 4 Sevenoaks AC 86, 5 Surpentine Runners 137, 6 Havering Mayesbrook 173, 7 Dartford Road Runners 248, 8 Bexley AC 287, 9 Frinstead 300, 10 Blackheath Harriers 371, 11 Kent Police 413, 12 New Eltham 436, 13 Istead & Ifield Harriers 463, 14 Road Runners Club 474, 15 Swanley & District 483.

Women: 1 Kristina Farr (unattached) 86.24, 2 Alyson Parlett (Bexley W35) 88.08, 3 Miranda Heathcote (Tonbridge) 89.42, 4 Migopi Forega (unattached) 90.31, 5 Tracey Watson (Crowborough W35) 91.14, 6 Heather Fitzmaurice-Cotton (Sevenoaks) 92.16, 7 Sharon Hawkins (Maidstone Harriers W35) 92.36, 8 Martina Ryan (Plumstead) 92.50, 9 Anna Thornhill (unattached) 93.07, 10 Ruth Elliott (unattached) 94.13, 11 Tara Taylor (Tunbridge Wells) 94.30, 12 Veronica Manly (unattached W45) 96.28, 13 Sally Dawson (Herne Hill W40) 96.41, 14 Sabine Hannema (Cambridge University) 97.13, 15 Carol Emery (Paddock Wood W40) 98.17.

Over 55: Carol Dyke (Tunbridge Wells) 113.54.

Teams: 1 Bexley AC 48 points, 2 Sevenoaks AC 70, 3 Maidstone Harriers 163.

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