300 Not Out!

A compilation of memories from the first three hundred Royal Tunbridge Wells parkruns.
Words by Richard Woodfield. Pictures by numerous contributors from our parkrun archives...

Following months of preparations RTW parkrun was launched in April 2014 by a team of volunteers led by our first Event Director, Joe Watts. In those early days numbers of parkrunners and volunteers were often quite small. (There were just 53 intrepid parkrunners and 11 volunteers on this snowy day in February 2015.)
16600221135_6d0e34360f_c

But the team persevered and the parkrun has grown and prospered. And of course we have continued to parkrun in almost all weathers. Come sun, frost, snow, torrential rain... we've kept on going!
20210814_100802 30751428570_6cbd25a6e8_z

32714361081_fbddbcb632_z 67337897_1165390220312721_7597266430400135168_n

We did, however, have to admit temporary defeat during the icy Beast from the East when tobogganing seemed the safer option!
40534290391_8d71e44458_z 40534353751_4b6dc038e1_z

Come rain, come shine, whether clad in yellow or in pink, the hi vis heroes have never been less than awesome!

20210706_224933 20210706_173557

A remarkable total of 550 people have volunteered with RTW parkrun. These have included successive cohorts of Duke of Edinburgh award students.
40855432975_2c58996420_o 38506459440_cf213b9d66_o

We love fabulous Dunorlan Park!
27885135818_a31825fe85_o 26891903317_07ea2524bc_o 20210906_190757 37956935822_f9d69902d8_o
image1(3)

Ok - we can maybe overlook the occasional drainage issue! This section came to be known affectionately as The Shoe Wash.
40424184835_698b85b48f_o

Then - from time to time - we've had the odd patch of mud to contend with!
50119394956_2cc8ae76ca_c 50118829843_e4ee478c87_c

Heartbreak Hill has always posed a challenge to parkrunners nearing the end of the 5k course. In March 2018 unexpected help was at hand in the unlikely form of a homemade "tap for power" sign. Judging by the feedfback on Facebook and Twitter afterwards it proved remarkably effective! Sadly the initiative would probably not be Covid compliant just at the moment.
29060345_828641573987589_9022066558901632112_o 28947714_828641893987557_7262729797260800492_o

Since our launch a total of over 8300 different parkrunners have somehow tapped into a source of power to achieve a collective total of over 8800 personal best times at our event! Week by week these totals continue to rise...

We've had some memorable festive Christmas parkruns.
132541080_1616942851824120_8274702534453529326_n

Special occasions, including pre-wedding parkruns, have featured. Here the groom had the best of things, wearing shorts, while the bride ran the course in a long wedding dress and the "vicar" perspired liberally as he toiled up Heartbreak Hill clad in a heavy cassock.
43178370690_d5db76c870_z

RTW parkrun anniversary events have been an annual highlight. Here's a barcode cake - one of Zena's wonderful creations, made for our 3rd anniversary in 2017. And over the years we've had some superb catering from Team Baguley!

31235084_844953959023017_4017273093842731286_n 27885133278_a9d735fb0e_z

We won an award for "Best Group" at the Tunbridge Wells Love Where We Live awards evening in 2016. Joe, as the then Event Director, received the award on behalf of our community of parkrunners and volunteers.

In 2018 we welcomed the founder of parkrun Paul Sinton-Hewitt who ran the course before, characteristically, returning to encourage weary parkrunners at the foot of Heartbreak Hill.

Also in 2018, a swarm of bees hanging low over the path caused us to create a new role of bee marshal, to supervise a temporary diversion in the route.
30241925026_c9cc334251_z(1) 32416255846_e8c6eb85e2_z 20190518_111249

Joe, Louise and Judy update RTW parkrunners about our Love Where We Live award.
30249899311_61e3a9d25e_k

We've had the fancy dress .... We've welcomed a dinosaur, listening open mouthed to Mark's first timer's briefing.
31940237908_0a98f01cda_z 123206869_1568692086649197_8384064384930394795_n

A highlight for many was our parkrun to mark the NHS 70th birthday, with the visit of Dame Kelly Holmes.
28817011858_d6a8c46939_z

41973276424_4abe142378_z

42695462131_d4a237f636_c 28820829618_03c9e5b3a2_c 41973235474_5c7982df28_c 41973374114_62a92da7e2_c

The Dunorlan Park Cafe has featured large in our collective memory - whether as an impromptu office to process results and sort finishing tokens, or as place to meet old and new parkrun friends...
32930165856_2e91003e26_o 20200104_133148
43787422055_6bbc39b1d2_z

We've had a good number of social occasions too outside our usual parkrun hours.... parkrun itself is not of course a race, but the egg and spoon race one summer Saturday afternoon most certainly was as competitive as they come!
117950343_1500868653431541_2450095591696992592_n 117931733_1500876493430757_7707912613427718161_n
20200106_233122 88265923_1356146421237099_3923485872237838336_n

Winding down after another sunny, warm parkrun...
44271121874_0dff2bf290_o

No review of our "first 300" would be complete without the curious incident of the gang of surly ducks! In December 2016 under the command of their "ring" leader the wildfowl bided their time, loitering with intent on the waste bin, before launching a series of systematic attacks on passing runners, causing several - including local MP Greg Clark - to take rapid evasive action.
31331714570_536097438a_z 30894393723_7bfbd992bc_z 31667401836_e71d2f43bb_z

After the long, long suspension resulting from the Covid19 pandemic it was so good to be back up and running, jogging, walking and volunteering again these last few weeks.

First the pilot event, led by current Event Director, Robin, to test out the new Covid-compliant arrangements. Here Robin, makes friends with tail walker Helen's dog. And we tried out the new scanning arrangements.
20210706_174444 20210706_183436

Then "the real thing" - actual parkrunning!
20210814_100211 20210731_103219

Finally, we recall that over these 300 parkruns our RTW parkrun community has experienced some sad times as we have lost several very good friends of parkrun. Here, in August 2019, we paused for respectful applause as we remembered Steve Barnfield who contributed so much during the early years of our parkrun.
69461178_1185260008325742_5700441145423691776_n

As we move into another autumn season of parkrunning in Dunorlan Park, here's to the next 100 parkruns!
37935041486_71f16d7a44_z