2018 – A Year in Review

Review by Erica Jones
Pictures by Charles Bowley, Zena Hassell and Richard Woodfield

Despite January being a rather dark and depressing month, there’s much to look forward to in 2019, especially for those of us who are able to drag ourselves out of bed and over to Dunorlan Park for 9am every Saturday morning. (Plaudits of course to those volunteers who are up even earlier to help set up the course!)

We may complain about the early start on a weekend but we all know we love parkrun, don’t we? At least, the figures indicate we do, with 2,592 people having taken part in our event in 2018. One of those, Mark Scott, is just a few events shy of his 200th at Royal Tunbridge Wells, and not far from his bottle green 250 parkrun top – the first to be earned by a current RTW participant!

Anyway, they say you can’t look to the future without understanding the past, so we’ve taken a look back at 2018 and picked out a few noteworthy moments, because who knows what new highlights 2019 will bring?

The year started rather coldly, with a few unwelcome Beast from the East related cancellations, but we’re parkrunners and wherever possible we won’t let a little cold weather stop us.

February - and the Beast from the East created opportunities for PB descents of the first hill!
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In February we were visited by a group of students from Kent College, who enjoyed the challenge of our hilly course. March saw a more sedate highlight in the form of two young children bearing a ‘Tap for Power’ banner. They may not have been taking part in the 5k, but they were very much helping the rest of us to ‘power’ around the course!

March - "Tap for Power" - a welcome, albeit temporary, new feature at the start of Heartbreak Hill!
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Volunteering stalwart/hero Judy also deserves a mention for March, as many of you wouldn’t know it but she stepped up as volunteer co-ordinator at the end of the month and later in the year volunteered at her 200th parkrun. Our helpers really do make all the difference to parkrun and we’re grateful to every one of the 178 of you who helped out in 2018.

April saw another highlight you might have missed, when a participant in a green 250 parkrun top ran the course. Christine Gibbons, chairman of parkrun Global, had popped by to try our course while visiting friends – it’s always great to meet tourists!

April - and The Beast from the East finally gives way to Spring...
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April - 4th anniversary celebrations. Run Director, Louise, backed by volunteer pacers, thanks regular volunteer Judy for another year of service
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In mid May, we started to use the alternative course. This incorporated a diversion to avoid two striking features - which had become known, graphically, as Quagmire Corner and The Shoewash. The revised route has evoked mixed reactions, with some enjoying the reduced encounters with mud while others were not so keen on the additional (relatively slight) uphill section (which is thankfully followed by a speedy downhill). Overall the route has still continued to see a high number of PBs achieved through the year. It remains to be seen how the revised course might stand up to the combined rigours of a long wet winter and lots of tramping parkrunner feet. So, we’ll have to watch this space for any further developments.

May - A revision to the course hopefully meant that scenes like this at The Shoewash have become a thing of the past!
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And here's Event Director, Joe, tackling The Shoewash - with some panache!
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Dame Kelly Holmes stopped by in June to help us celebrate 70 years of the NHS. She did a great job of inspiring the crowd but some may have missed her if they were distracted by Run Director Francis’ historic midwife get up. Top marks to him for fancy dress effort.

June - temporary midwife and Run Director, Francis, shares a joke with Dame Kelly
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Also in June, regular parkrunner Nick brought along a camera and filmed his 5k. Those of us at the more leisurely end of the timings blinked and missed him as he ran past, but it’s certainly a great way to view our event and beautifully shows off Dunorlan Park.

We got a new fastest female finisher in July, when Nicole Taylor beat the course record for women on a very hot day, achieving a time of 17.48. This may have prompted more than a few women to eye the record more closely. Could we end up with a battle for times in 2019?

In August our final finisher was much more remarkable, when Commonwealth Games judo medallist Jemima Yeats-Brown volunteered as tailwalker for the national Team parkrun event. It was great to have her join us and help emphasise that whether you run, jog or walk the taking part really is what counts.

It’s easy to forget now, but week after week through most of the summer we enjoyed warm parkrunning weather and unbroken blue skies. Many a post-parkrun sociable half hour was spent on the café balcony or relaxing on the grass near the finish funnel.

The long hot summer continues - post parkrun relaxation
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September had perhaps our most striking participants show up, when Lloyd and Suzannah brought their entire wedding party along to take part before their main event. Both wore appropriate clothing for the big day and Suzannah deserves special recognition for running 5k in a full-on wedding dress.

September - the wedding party!
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Summer gives way to autumn in lovely Dunorlan Park
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In December the other half of our duo of volunteer heroes gets a special mention because Noeline took part in her first ever parkrun when she stepped in as tailwalker at the last moment. For those of you who don’t know, Noeline is the other half of the Judy/Noeline volunteering duo, having clocked up well over 100 events as a volunteer.

Towards the end of the year a future parkrunner also entered the fold, when Run Director Louise and regular runner and volunteer, Nick, welcomed their first baby, Isabelle, into the world. Congratulations to the family!

Finally, the year ended on a high number, with Christmas Day parkrun smashing our event's previous record for participants, when 329 people came along to run, jog or walk the course before settling down to their turkey. Well done everyone!

December - Christmas parkrunners ready for action
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Christmas No 1

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Christmas Day 2018 parkrun
Event no 231

Run Report written by Judy Guest and Zena Hassell. Photos Richard Woodfield

On a beautiful crisp morning an event record for us of 329 runners, joggers, walkers, santas and herding reindeer joined in our 5k at Dunorlan Park.

The reward at the end was treats and Prosecco kindly donated by some of the runners and volunteers.

Run Director Joe Watts this week welcomed the large festive crowd, which included several tourists from Cardiff, Carlisle, Tonbridge and also from the warmer climes of Gozo and Sydney. Joe also mentioned that park runner Janet Bird (a regular at Tonbridge parkrun) had joined the unofficial 200 Club - very well done!

The path down from the cafe was slightly icy but a line of brave volunteers directed the participants around the ice. I (Judy) can personally let you know the sight of more than 300 people descending on you is not for the faint hearted! Overall, conditions underfoot included a selection box of patchy ice, puddles, squelch and mud, mud glorious mud ! It certainly adds to the challenge of RTW parkrun in the winter months. (Hooray for the days now getting longer...)

Many friends and families were there cheering everyone on but a big thank you to all 26 volunteers who gave up their time to ensure the event went smoothly. It really was a fabulous atmosphere.

By the response on social media it looks as though the Christmas parkrun was a great way to start the festive season.

"Doesn’t look like rain - dear"
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"Maybe just one more sip?"
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“Chin, chin – it’s a record attendance!"
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Peace and Goodwill to all...
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All present and correct in the finish funnel...
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Encouragement to the end...
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Pacing yourself for Christmas

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event no 230
22 December 2018

Run report by Richard Woodfield

Overhead conditions today were very pleasant - fairly mild and sunny. Underfoot, however, running conditions were certainly tough with enough slidey mud to keep even the most avid of mudlarks happy. Just six personal bests were achieved today among the 246 parkrunners.

Faceplant potential

There's a few parts on the course with considerable faceplant potential in muddy conditions. Currently, my top three are (in reverse order):

* the sharp left hand turn to go downhill after you've been along the top of the events field. My tactic is to veer slightly to the right some way before reaching the turn, thus allowing myself a very wide turning circle. (Probably not ideal if you're trying to achieve a PB - and I'm often overtaken at this point on muddy parkruns!) Today's faceplant potential 3/10

* the mini roller coaster section when the path leaves the Victoria Cross Grove area before passing through into the events field. I found that fairly manageable by keeping well to the left where the path, although very muddy, is less tilted at a slidey sort of angle! Today's faceplant potential 3.5/10.

* the U turn where, after running downhill beside the hedgerow along the last part of events field, you then turn sharp right to follow back uphill the other side of the same hedgerow. Very easy to find that, although your body obediently turns sharp right, your legs decide to carry straight on! Today's faceplant potential 7/10

Of course, the simplest way to reduce such scores to about 1/10 is to slow right down at the critical parts of the course - and, judging by the low number of PBs, that's probably what many parkrunners did today! To my mind this illustrates why it was sensible to skip having a December pacer day and to keep that situation under review for the next month or two.

Anyway, turnning from mud brown to much more festive colours like red, green and "antler brown"....

Here's a selection of festive gear on show today....
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After the mud it's quite a relief to finish the 5k on a nice firm running surface. Maybe Heartbreak hill is not so bad...
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This close to the winter solstice there's often a chance of capturing a low sun rising over the lake in the half an hour or so before parkrun and today did not disappoint.

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A Happy Christmas to ALL our volunteers and parkrunners.

Today's 25 volunteers were:

Angela TYLER • Austin RUDMAN • Callum BENSON • Colin RATCLIFFE • Coral SADLER • Edward DENNETT • Emily MULLETT • Grace GOODWIN • Hannah CRAINE • Isobel WARREN • Jane FENTIMAN • John LOWDEN • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Julie CHANDLER • Laurence BUNNETT • Mark DENNISON • Molly SLOUGH • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Sophia DENNETT • Steve BARNFIELD • Vicky DENNETT • Victoria MULLETT • William BENSON

 

Winter events at RTW parkrun

Here's what we've got lined up for you over the next couple of months or so at RTW parkrun. Our usual Saturday parkruns continue through the winter. If there's snow and (especially) ice around do keep an eye on our website and social media (Twitter or Facebook) for news of course inspections and possible weather related cancellations.

Christmas Day We have an extra parkrun (Yay!) laid on for you this Christmas Day. It will be at the usual time of 09:00. Many thanks to all those who've already volunteered. It would be great to enter the festive spirit with an outbreak of santa hats, antlers and such like. Remember to give a massive thank you to all the volunteers on the day!

Saturday 19 January - RTW parkrun New Year social It would be great to make a New Year resolution of getting to know other parkrunners and volunteers that bit better. We'll be holding an evening get-togther at 20:00 in The Guinea on Calverley Road – an area has been reserved to the side of the bar.

Saturday 16 February - our Valentine themed parkrun. Bring a loved one along and it'll be a red themed parkrun.

Pacer days: due to the current gloopy and rather slippery condition of the course we've decided not to hold a pacer day in December. We reckon that when conditions are really squelchy the majority of parkrunners are probably just concentrating on getting round the course in reasonable shape rather than looking to achieve a target time. We may potentially hold pacer days on 26 January and 23 February, but we'll keep an eye on course conditions and aim to let you know in good time whether we're going ahead with these.

 

Christmas Day parkrun in Dunorlan Park

Every year, UK 5km parkrun events are given the option of providing two additional parkrun events - one on Christmas Day and another on New Year's Day.

As with last year, we have decided to provide an additional parkrun event on Christmas Day but NOT on New Year's Day.

This decision has only been made possible thanks to the good number of people who have volunteered to help out with the running of this event on Christmas Day, so a very BIG thank you.

We invite you (and your friends and family) to join us as we celebrate Christmas in style in Dunorlan Park at the usual start time of 9am. This additional event means that we shall be offering 6 free parkrun events throughout the month of December.

Please note that the cafe will NOT be open for business on Christmas Day, however, we invite you to bring along drinks and food to share with fellow parkrunners and volunteers!

If you would like to volunteer on Christmas Day, we have roles available before (setting up the course), during (marshalling, help around the finish funnel) and after the event (collecting course markers & finish token sorting). Please e-mail our volunteer coordinator Judy at the following address: royaltunbridgewellshelpers@parkrun.com

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