United in enjoyment of the feel-good factor

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 291
14th March 2020

Run report by Jasmine Quinney

This week 123 people ran, jogged, walked and squelched their way around Dunorlan Park for the 291st edition of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun. We lined up ready for the run brief to be told to expect a muddy course and it certainly lived up to expectations!

There were 20 first timers today, three of whom recorded their first ever parkrun result today - welcome Nathan, Shanti and Kerry and I hope you managed to enjoy the muddy, wet experience! This number also included many tourists, from places as far away as Melbourne, Australia.

A fantastic seven people managed to record new Personal Bests in the conditions and representatives of 15 different clubs took part. The first finisher was James Sarre, and first female over the line was Amelia Ireson who also recorded a PB today. A shoutout also goes to Sheila Wilson, who achieved the highest age graded score of 70.21%.

A special well done to Timothy Radley who joined the 100 club today, with 94 of these runs being at Royal Tunbridge Wells!
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Briefing time

I was one of the first timers here, and today was a special one for me as it was the last course I had left to have done all 22 parkruns in Kent. This was a challenge I set myself in around October last year (I learnt the hard way that this probably would have been more appropriate for the summer months), and have been steadily ticking off all the runs the county has to offer since.

Kent has a variety of parkrun courses – you can run in a park, country park or forest, on a canal towpath or heath, along the seafront or through a vineyard! Royal Tunbridge Wells was a great one to finish off because it offered some of the greatest hits of the Kent parkruns experienced before – lovely park paths like in Ashford or Dartford, stopping to wipe my glasses off because they’re covered in rain like in Tonbridge, squelchy shoes to rival Squerryes Winery or the feeling at the end of the first lap that I distinctly remember having at Lullingstone of “Do I really have to do that again?!”.

Despite their differences, one thing unites the parkruns in Kent and beyond, and that is the community and feel-good factor that’s there every Saturday morning. This morning was no different, and it was great to have a chat with people while navigating the course this morning, and feeling the buzz of parkrunners and volunteers in the café afterwards. A lovely woman started chatting to me on the second lap after a particularly muddy stretch - we were sharing experiences and she was reminding me just why I enjoy getting out on a Saturday morning. She couldn’t have timed it better as she caught me just at the moment when I had started walking and doubts were creeping in of my decision to wake up at 6:30am for this! So thank you to her and all those like her who manage to give us a bit more of a drive to keep going.

In the current climate when it can feel like everyone is getting increasingly panicked and shutting themselves off, it is so refreshing to come out, forget about everything and enjoy the feeling that parkrun gives you.

The event today was made possible by 29 volunteers:

Mark SCOTT • Jane FENTIMAN • Bernadette O'CONNOR • Judy GUEST • Alison BEARD • Dominic BEARD • Kitty MUYSKEN • Sara RIOLO • Mal MCKENZIE • Noeline SIMS • Huw JONES • Hugh STEPHENSON • Erica JONES • Louis COOMBS • Heloise SOUTH • Robin BARWICK • Juanita MCFARLIN • Mark DENNISON • Alasdair SHUTT • Imogen BURMAN-MITCHELL • Susie NORWOOD • Reuben BENSON • Quinton WOOD • Benny FIDDIMORE • Jasmine QUINNEY • Sarah MCFARLIN • Riya RANJAN • Liberty SMITH • Peter BALL

Thank you for your efforts today, for standing out in the rain and all your words of encouragement. The army of volunteers standing at the end of the first lap was especially appreciated, and helped a great deal with my aforementioned end of first lap feeling!

Finally, thanks to all at Royal Tunbridge Wells this morning for the warm welcome to my friends and I, and for another unforgettable parkrunday. I’m sure we’ll be back to tackle this parkrun again in the future, just maybe in the summer next time!

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun Results Page.

 

International Women’s Day

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 290
7th March 2020

Run report by Benny Fiddimore

This week 164 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 24 were first timers and 4 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 17 different clubs took part. The event was made possible by 37 volunteers: Of which 21 were female

Following last week’s unavoidable cancellation, we were all overjoyed to welcome back RTW parkrun to Dunorlan Park! After the horrendous weather on Wednesday and Thursday we must say a big thank you to TWBC, Sodexo and the Monday morning volunteers helping to maintain the park in this exceptionally wet weather.

Today was special event because it was our International Women’s Day parkrun. To celebrate, many participants were wearing a mixture of green, white and purple.

One of our volunteers, Noeline, could not find anything green, white or purple in her house, but that didn’t stop her from showing off the colours. She decided to use some of her purple broccoli from last night’s tea and attached it to her hat using a white ribbon!

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Noeline showing off her great creation made from broccoli!

Obviously, being our International Women’s Day event, it would be wrong not to celebrate the females that make our parkrun run smoothly.

First of all, there are our many female DofE volunteers, who perform multiple roles every week, ensuring the roster remains ‘healthy’. Massive thanks to them!

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Our DofE volunteers hard at work

Next up are our Run Directors. Today we didn’t have one female director, but TWO. Coral, as always, did a great job managing our run. It was also Jane’s debut at a Run Director, and based on her pre-run briefing, it is obvious that she’s a natural. We now have six Run Directors.

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Today’s great team of Run Directors Jane and Coral

Last but not least, are two of the RTW parkrun team's most valued volunteers. Week in, week out, Judy and Noeline ensure our event goes on without a hitch.

Each week, Noeline arrives at 6:30am on Saturday to set up the start funnel, which means we can start on time. She also helps with the clear down, washes the Hi Vis vests and is a great motivator for all our runners. I’m tired just writing that, it sounds like a hard week’s work, let alone in just one morning!

Then of course there’s Judy. Since day one, Judy has been a really important volunteer for RTW parkrun. As well as scanning hundreds (probably thousands) of barcodes, she also manages the volunteer roster, organises the great Dofe volunteers, helps with the routine weekly administration. Without her fabulous organisation skills, parkrun’s volunteers would be a lot less well organised!

Thanks so much to Noeline and Judy for what they do.

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Judy and Noeline, the fairy godmothers behind parkrun!

While we are celebrating our great volunteers this week, it would be dishonorable if we didn’t speak about the female participants out in the fields, demonstrating that parkrun is great fun for males and females.

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Some of this week's participants posed for photos in our ‘This Girl Can’ frame

To summarise, it was another great weekend at Dunorlan Park. I completed the course myself this weekend, and while it was muddy it was great to do my first 5K since October. Now I know that the ‘This Girl Can’ was mainly for female runners, however I couldn’t resist taking part myself!

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parkrun 29 February 2020 – CANCELLATION

Sadly, we're CANCELLED as a course inspection has shown that we're flooded out.

This evening's social will still take place at 1930 at The George pub on Mount Ephraim.

 

Volunteering – with a difference

As a parkrun we are hugely fortunate to have the beautiful and wonderfully varied surroundings of Dunorlan Park as the setting - week by week - for our event. Have you ever thought that you'd like to show your appreciation of those who work so hard to protect and maintain the park? If so, here's one way in which you could make a very practical contribution and "give something back".

Kasia, Parks Technical Officer at TWBC, writes:

"Monday Volunteers meet at Dunorlan Park nearly every Monday near the café at 9.30am. We undertake various gardening and conservation tasks in the park. In winter it would be coppicing vegetation around the lake, removal of invasive laurel, some planting and pruning, weaving of playground willow tunnel and feeding of the waterfowl. In spring and summer we help with the upkeep of the beds – weeding, tidying up. We finish work at 12.30pm, with a tea/coffee and biscuits break at 11am. TWBC provide tools, gloves, volunteers t-shirts and fleece jackets. Sturdy boots are required."

For more information please contact parks@tunbridgewells.gov.uk or call Kasia on 07500 050892.

We aim to post information periodically on the work of the Monday Volunteers. In the meantime, here's some pics of the volunteers in action.

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summer bedding planting June18 (2)

Duck feed Nov19 (3)

 

Join us for International Women’s Day

On Saturday, 7th March, our parkrun will be joining in with others around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day.

As you all know, parkrun is for everyone, what people don’t know is that the figures for participation are a little unbalanced. Research shows that across the world women are less likely than men to take part in parkrun – and that’s despite females making up 54% of registrations!

That’s why we’re celebrating International Women’s Day and the This Girl Can initiative to encourage more women to come along and discover what it is to be a part of parkrun.

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Do you know a woman who’s nervous of coming last? Doesn’t want to be seen in public in lycra? Thinks the hills will be horrendous? Invite her along so she can meet the tail walker, realise lycra is Definitely Not Mandatory, or see how much we support each other up the park’s gentle slopes.

Or maybe she’d like to be involved but five kilometers really isn’t her thing? An introduction to our volunteering team could be the perfect start to a new Saturday morning hobby.

We’ve all been there and know the first visit to parkrun can be a tough one to build up to, then you arrive and wonder why you were ever worried.

So please, invite your sister, mother, daughter, grandmother, neighbour, work mate, mother-in-law, or any other ladies in your life to join us on 7th March – taking part together can make that first step so much more reassuring.

Also, you won’t be singled out, you’ll simply be helping us to balance out the equality of our 100% inclusive event.

 

Sonja’s story

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
1st February 2020
Event 286

Run report by Sonja King

As a very recent member of the 100 club I thought I would share my parkrun journey. My first ever parkrun was back in June 2011 at Lloyd parkrun in Croydon. At the time we lived about 1 minute’s walk away from the start and my husband encouraged me to give it a go, as we literally could roll out of bed at 8:45am and still make it to the start on time! I wasn’t much of a runner then, barely running at all but the bug bit me and I kept going back for more. I completed 18 parkruns in 5 months until we moved to Tunbridge Wells in December 2011.

My husband and I were very disappointed that there were no local parkruns at the time and we even contacted parkrun HQ to ask how we might establish one. At the time they suggested joining a local running club and so my husband and I joined the Tunbridge Wells Harriers which we are still members of 8 years later. I was very excited when Tonbridge started their parkrun in November 2013 but unfortunately I was pregnant with my first child and unable to participate. The inaugural Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun took place the day after my son was born and this year its 6th anniversary also coincides with his 6th birthday. We are very much a parkrun family with my husband and son also running. My husband particularly enjoys being a parkrun tourist. He has participated in 24 different parkruns including ones in the United States and Germany. My son often runs at the junior parkrun event in Tonbridge on a Sunday.

parkrunning led on to ... the London Marathon!
Sonja London mara

I ran my first Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun on 23rd August 2014 event #14. I found the support and camaraderie amazing and it still is although it is a significantly bigger event now. After having a baby getting out and running really helped me cope with the demands of being a mum and gave me the opportunity to have some cherished time to myself. I have run 64 parkruns at Royal Tunbridge Wells and can claim the accolade of being 1st lady 3 times. I hope to run under 23 minutes there one day (my PB currently stands at 23:04)!

Sonja - far left - heading uphill at parkrun
Sonja parkrun

parkrun is a great way of socialising, keeping healthy and active and training for other, longer events. This year I will be running my 5th marathon, my 4th at Brighton. A weekly parkrun has helped me retain my fitness over the winter and I am now beginning my marathon training in earnest. If we have some better weather and the fields dry up a bit I may even incorporate parkrun into my marathon training. I’ll definitely be back in the Spring/Summer to try and get that elusive PB!

At the cross country
Sonja

This week 220 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 20 were first timers and 10 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 16 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 34 volunteers:
Mark SCOTT • Sonja KING • Jane FENTIMAN • Elizabeth MILLER • Judy GUEST • Alison BEARD • Dominic BEARD • Kitty MUYSKEN • Richard WOODFIELD • Coral SADLER • Mal MCKENZIE • Noeline SIMS • Huw JONES • Hugh STEPHENSON • Heloise SOUTH • Robin BARWICK • Victoria MULLETT • Emily MULLETT • Rose SAWYER • Adrian FERNANDEZ PAREJA • Juanita MCFARLIN • Julie MARCHANT • Mark DENNISON • Alasdair SHUTT • Julie ERXLEBEN • Jayne MEYERS • Imogen BURMAN

New group members are:
10 club - Marlowe Fraser and Alex Glencross
50 club - Gavin Rodney, Paul Truscott and Alasdair Shutt
100 club - Sonja King
200 club - Richard Nash

 

Welcome 5k Your Way

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 285
25th January 2020

Run report by Benny Fiddimore

This week 333 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 54 were first timers and 23 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 24 different clubs took part. The event was made possible by 36 volunteers.

Our run report is written by Benny Fiddimore who is taking part in his Bronze DofE award.

Today, the weather in Dunorlan Park was not the greatest. It was cold, grey and misty. However, that miserable atmosphere was soon changed. Firstly, I had a quick talk with Sonja King, who is celebrating joining the parkrun 100 club! Since August 2014, Sonja has clocked up 64 parkruns here at Dunorlan, with the majority of the rest completed in Croydon. RTW parkrun is extra special for Sonja, because it started the day after her son was born! Congratulations on all the hard work put into reaching 100 parkruns Sonja!

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The weather at parkrun was cold, grey and misty.

Just before the event was about to begin, Run Director Mark was joined by a very special guest for today’s pre-parkrun briefing. Dame Kelly Holmes was here to talk about 5K Your Way. This is a charity which supports and encourages people living with and beyond cancer to get out and get active. She said the point of the charity was to help people get active in a "supportive, friendly environment".

Following her speech, Mark went over a few health and safety announcements before the run commenced.

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And they’re off! Following Mark’s health and safety announcements, the parkrun commenced!

With the event now in action, I decided to walk around the course to motivate our new 5K Your Way participants. I was very happy to see that 5K Your Way is for all abilities, whether you’re a runner, jogger or walker. After all, it’s about getting out in the fresh air and getting some exercise, not about how fast you are.

I spoke to some people who were walking the course. One of these people was a nurse. They had been walking with some of their patients and said to me: "It was great to get some fresh air, and be out helping their patients get active".

As well as speaking to the amazing 5K Your Way participants, I met one of our parkrun regulars. She told me that “today was very difficult for me, but then I saw Dame Kelly Holmes, who gave me a high five, that really inspired me to finish the run”.

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Some of our new 5K Your Way runners, we also had joggers and walkers.


Also after the run, I spoke to the Kent Ambassador for 5K Your Way, Dr Rema Jyothirmayi. I asked her why she decided to bring 5K Your Way to the area. She wanted to encourage her patients living with and beyond cancer to get active. She also told me that the 5K Your Way group planned to meet up on the last Saturday of every month for parkrun! We look forward to welcoming them back in February.

Thank You to Dame Kelly Holmes for inspiring our participants to finish the parkrun today by cheering them on towards the finish line!

RTW parkrun will return next Saturday at 9am.

 

Move against cancer and do 5k your way

Here at RTW parkrun – and indeed every other parkrun around the world – our focus is on inclusivity and the encouragement to get involved no matter what your ability.

Following on from this belief, on Saturday, 25th January, we will be visited by an initiative called 5k Your Way, Move Against Cancer. The group, which has a branch in Tunbridge Wells, is a way of encouraging people living with and beyond cancer, and their friends and family, to get active. Organisers hope to make this a regular occurrence.

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Physical activity has been shown to have a number of important benefits for people living with cancer, including reducing cancer-related fatigue, helping to preserve heart and lung function and muscular fitness and improving psychological well-being. With this in mind, 5k Your Way invites anyone with a current or previous diagnosis of cancer, their friends, families and those working in cancer services to join their support group and then come along to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at our parkrun.

People attending as part of 5k Your Way will still have to register with parkrun in the usual way and bring their printed barcode to ensure they get a time. Briefings for parkrun begin at 8.50am, with 5k Your Way aiming to gather at 8.45am to say hello to each other first.

As added incentive on 25th January, it’s hoped Dame Kelly Holmes will be able to come along to celebrate this positive health initiative!

 

parkrunning in winter

After a wet autumn some sections of our 2 lap 5k route around lovely Dunorlan Park are distinctly muddy and squelchy. During the winter months we recommend use of trail shoes to help give you better grip.

The main thing is to enjoy yourself and get round the course safely - so you might want to ease back on the pace a little in the muddy sections to give yourself the best chance of remaining upright on any slidey surfaces!

 

Coming back for more…

Sheila Wilson is just a few parkruns away from gaining her 100 parkruns t shirt and so is a familiar figure at our parkrun. She’s also one of our relatively few regular parkrunners in the VW65-69 age category. We thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about her experience and so we dispatched Richard from our Comms team to pose her a few questions.

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How did you come to take up running?

It was 5 years ago, when I was 61. A work colleague wanted to try out a local beginners running club (Sarah’s Runners) and wanted me to go with her for a bit of moral support. I needed a lot of persuading because I had never done any sort of running before, but finally I did go with her, but fully intended that it was to be a ‘one off’. The friendship, encouragement and helpful running tips I received there, meant that what was to be my one and only visit, kept getting extended and I still enjoy a weekly run with them when I can.

And what about parkrun?

I first heard about parkrun from several people at Sarah’s Runners, but it was a while before I actually got around to getting there. That first run was tough going though. It was cold and muddy and ‘Heartbreak Hill’ was just about the final straw for me. (I’ve never done hills well and still don’t). While plodding up that final stretch I decided that this definitely would be a one time attendance only. As soon as I’d finished, several other runners came over and spoke to me, one of whom was Zena Hassell. It was her friendly words of encouragement and advice to try it again, that persuaded me to return the following week - so “thank you, Zena!”.

What do you most enjoy about parkrun?

I’ve met some lovely people since starting parkrun and it is this friendliness and the taking part in a community event that keeps me coming. I am also so impressed by that faithful core team of volunteers who are there week after week, regardless of whatever the weather throws at them.

Still smiling - even after last Saturday's mudfest!
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What would you say to someone who says that over 60s are too old to be running?

It came as a huge surprise to me to discover in my 60’s that I could run a bit and more importantly that I actually enjoyed it. It is so true that you never know what you can do until you actually try it.

The only word of caution I would say, is that if you are in the older age bracket and have never run before, it is probably advisable to build up your running gradually. You could join a beginners running club, such as Sarah’s Runners’ or do one of the excellent on-line apps such as NHS couch to 5K. Or, as many do, you could do a mixture at parkrun itself – for example, jogging the downhills and walking the uphills and so allow your body to get used to parkrunning. Going straight into trying to run the full 5k parkrun distance, without having had any previous running experience, for some older runners could be off putting and possibly medically unwise.

Summer, sunny, downhill - that's the way to enjoy parkrun!
Sheila W

If you could be a parkrun tourist at any event you liked, which would you choose and why?

I’ve tried a few other parkruns, mainly when the Dunorlan event has been cancelled and have been to the Tonbridge, Bedgebury and Penshurst runs. My favourite though has to be Hastings. It’s by the sea, it’s all on the flat (yippee!) and there’s no mud, but it does entail a ridiculously early start.

On a scale of 1 (“I really don’t mind at all”) to 10 (“I’m an obsessive!”) how much attention to you pay to your finish times? Has that changed during the period you’ve been parkrunning?

At one time I would always have said that I was very uncompetitive. When I first started parkrun, it was often half way through the week, before I looked up my timing. (Ed: we think that probably counts as a “2”!) That gradually changed though and now I often find myself looking at the on-line results as soon as they come through! I’m not in the least bothered about where I come on the table, or if I’ve run slower or faster than anyone else. It’s just a challenge on myself to try and keep up a reasonable time.

Corny though it sounds, it really is the taking part that matters. Recently, when the weather conditions were particularly poor, I ‘achieved’ a personal worst, but I was that pleased to have got round the course in one piece that it really didn’t matter!

What’s the most difficult part of the course in winter:
• muddy stretch on path through bushes about 50 metres after the memorial?
• Quagmire Corner?
• Heartbreak Hill?

I still find ‘Heartbreak Hill’ a real trial and am filled with admiration at those who manage a sprint finish on it.

That's Heartbreak Hill beaten for another week
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And, to sum up?

Running is now a real positive in my life and parkrun is a big part of that. I am still not keen on all that winter mud, but the friendliness, banter and encouragement between fellow runners more than compensates for that.

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