We know that it is only just October, but we wanted to let you all know that the elves at Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun are delighted to announce that we will be hosting a Christmas Day run starting at the usual time of 9 am. You'll all be able to try out your new running gear that you will have received under your Christmas trees. If you don't want to run, please volunteer, because we will need help to host a successful run full of festive cheer. Further announcements will follow on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
21 September 2019
Event no 266
Run report by Richard Woodfield
Conditions overhead and underfoot made for an ideal early autumn parkrun. Cool, sunny weather and firm, but not bone hard, ground. A good many of our regulars were taking part in the Hospice in the Weald 10k/5k/ Run the following day, and so were either taking things a little easier than usual on their parkrun or were volunteering. So the total of 81 personal bests (out of 284 parkrunners taking part) was particularly impressive.
Autumn in Dunorlan Park often offers plenty of photography opportunities and, as I too was resting up before the Hospice Run, I took the opportunity to take some action shots on the gentle uphill section just before Heartbreak Hill. The shafts of low autumn sunlight bursting through the deep shade made for some colourful compositions.
Many thanks to all 32 volunteers who made this event possible.
Onwards and upwards. Maybe only another five or six parkruns to go until we pass the landmark of 50,000 individual parkruns completed at our event!
When it comes to parkrun, we all have characters we recognise: a particular pair of trainers we follow up Heartbreak Hill; the person in the red top who you stand next to in the starting funnel; the guy with the buggy; the marshal who gives you the extra boost to carry on around the course; and then there’s the tall smiley guy who often helps with set-up and is always seen running around the town.
This week Mark Scott, our official Smiling Running Man, was the first RTW parkrunner to reach the hallowed 250 milestone. To mark the occasion, Erica Jones asked him some questions about running, rivalry and the joy of parkrun.
When did you start running?
I was about 12 months old, but as an adult, when I moved Tunbridge Wells, in 2005.
What made you come along to the first parkrun?
By pure chance I saw it advertised in The Kent & Sussex Courier.
Is there anything you particularly like about our parkrun?
What’s not to like? The park is the best looking parkrun venue I have come across, plus I’ve made good friends over coffee. I’m sure all parkruns are friendly, but, for me, ours is special.
It's amazing to see how it has evolved from that first winter with only a few of us in the mud, to the great success it is today. Our core team of volunteers really are something else, especially those who don't even run, so, thank you to you all for helping me get to 250! [Mark has himself volunteered 68 times] I want to add I will be thinking of our friend Steve Barnfield on this day, a true parkrun legend and a thoroughly nice chap.
Any comments about different places you’ve run or other parkruns?
It’s always good to do a bit of parkrun tourism when on holiday. I did one in France which was fun. It was mainly UK tourists, and a few locals. Very friendly again, with a free coffee from a flask, as there was only about 12 of us! I also enjoyed our trip to Lullingstone, where Joe, Kelvin and a few others got lost and ended up running a few extra kms! (They still beat me though!)
If I remember right it’s since doing parkrun that you’ve started doing longer distances?
No, my first marathon was London 2007 – pay attention!
Oops, sorry! Is there anything you’d like to say about your longer runs?
I have managed a few marathons now, and one longer race, its certainly addictive and I like to have a few races lined up. I had a great time this summer with fellow parkrunners Kelvin and Hugh, taking on the UK's most northerly marathon on the beautiful Orkney Islands. We loved it so much, we may head back next year if you all fancy joining us? (RTW parkrun takeover?)
Is there anything you’d like to say about parkrun in general?
parkrun has become an important part of my life. The course is lovely, there's always a chance to push hard if you are feeling it, but it's just as enjoyable to jog round and have a catch up. In fact, sometimes, catching up and having a chat, the run gets in the way!
Many of us know you because of the 5k a day challenge you set yourself, if I remember correctly this was a bet with work?
Yes, six of us started out to see who could run 5km every day for the longest. I managed to come second.
How long did you keep doing 5k a day?
For 1,776 days. I hobbled the last one round parkrun – with you I believe – and took a break due to injury.
I remember that parkrun! I think you’re back on a new 5k a day streak? When did that begin?
On 11th July, just over 50 days ago, so just settling in...
Any advice to other people considering being as crazy as you and/or general running advice?
Enjoy it! Too many people see running as a fitness chore. If you find what works for you, it becomes addictively good fun. We are so lucky here in Tunbridge Wells, surrounded by hills, parks, woods, quiet lanes and not that far from the coast – so I like to try a few different runs each month.
Anything else you’d like to say about getting fitter/healthier/life improvements and becoming a vegan?
parkrun has been part of that process, giving me a boost to keep going when in those early days I was trying to get fitter – I did go vegan about three years ago, and it has helped a lot with my general fitness and overall health, but I'll leave that there... you don't want to get a vegan started!
And can I ask about your friendly rivalry with Kelvin?
He's too damn quick! He has encouraged me a lot, and we have run quite a few races together. Despite being very talented, he's always had time for a slow long run, or just a beer! I am always trying to persuade him to do strange challenges, but he refused to do Beachy Head Marathon as a pantomime cow... boring! I think we also discussed running the length of France, maybe next year! We are getting fellow runner Hugh involved too, but he's too fast too!
Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
24 August 2019
Run report by Erica Jones and Richard Woodfield (pictures by various)
The morning's event was a mixture of joy and sadness as we held a minute's applause to celebrate the memory of our good friend, fellow parkrunner and volunteer Steve Barnfield. Run Director Colin led the applause, with friends and family participating, including a group from the Tunbridge Wells Harriers, Steve's running club.
As today was the Nation's Biggest Sports Day we put on an event to be proud of, celebrating sport with a large roster of pacers. This must surely have had an impact on the impressive 42 PBs in a field of 312 - well done all!
We also had 34 first timers and a superb total of 52 volunteers. All of our participants and helpers make parkrun the special event it is, so thank you all.
Steve always appreciated interesting or encouraging statistics - and so it was fitting that this tribute event saw our highest ever parkrun attendance in August, and also our second highest ever total of volunteers. Steve himself had, remarkably, volunteered at no less than 219 out of 260 events.
It was also lovely to see Dame Kelly Holmes put in an appearance, with many of us grateful for her encouragement as she ran back around the course after completing her 5k.
We conclude with a few pictures from our archives showing Steve in parkrun action.
We are very sorry to inform you that our good friend Steve Barnfield has passed away. Steve was a loyal and highly committed member of our RTW parkrun community who was with us right from the start back in 2014. He was the kind of team player on which every successful volunteer based organisation depends.
As his illness progressed Steve bravely and determinedly continued to volunteer with us. Indeed, after he received diagnosis that his illness would be terminal, Steve told us that he valued parkrun more than ever as it offered several hours of normality, distracting him from dwelling on his illness. At his last parkrun, just a few weeks ago, the scanners failed in the wet weather. The results had to be entered manually – a long and arduous task which Steve willingly carried through to completion.
Joe Watts, who was our Event Director up until this spring, has paid this tribute to Steve:
“I met Steve when he volunteered at the test event for Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun and from that day forward until his untimely passing, Steve was ever-present and formed part of the core volunteer team, volunteering on a total number of 219 occasions. Steve will not only be remembered for his enthusiasm for running and volunteering, but also for his love of statistics. He would often impress me with his knowledge of the year-on-year event attendance growth and he was always keen to process and analyse the results - a role that he conducted on over 100 occasions, most recently in July 2019.
Steve was also a very quick runner himself, posting a parkrun PB of 21:33 at Tonbridge in September 2018, with a best ever time at his home event (RTW parkrun) of 21:52 in July 2017. Not only quick over the shorter distances, Steve also had an impressive record over the longer distances. So much so, that he holds two current Tunbridge Wells Harriers club records for the M60-64 category over 20 miles and the marathon distance – the latter being a very swift 3:21.27. I’m sure he would be smiling at my analysis of his performances!
Steve battled through his melanoma with quiet dignity and never displayed any signs of fear or weakness.
He will be sorely missed, yet remembered fondly by all those who had the fortune to be part of his life.”
We send our condolences to Steve’s family, including to his son, David, and daughter, Laura, who are both regular RTW parkrunners. If you would wish to have information on the funeral arrangements please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Steve is pictured here during one of his many appearances as Run Director at RTW parkrun. We aim in the next few days to publish on our Facebook page a compilation of pictures of Steve in action at parkrun.