Christmas

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.

 

Autumn light

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.

A neat circle of first timers and parkrun tourists listens to Robin's pre run briefing
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Tail walkers setting off
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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.
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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!

 

RTW’s first 250 parkrunner – Mark Scott

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.

Mark leading the pack

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.

Mark as a volunteer

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!

What does getting to 250 parkruns mean to you?
It’s a great thing to get there, but now the big challenge begins, can I hold off Kelvin in the race to 500!
Mark in the cafe

 

A minute’s applause – years of memories

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
24 August 2019
Event #262

Run report by Erica Jones and Richard Woodfield (pictures by various)

Paying tribute to Steve - a minute's applause
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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.

Pacers, volunteers and parkrunners join in the applause
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Tunbridge Wells Harriers gather in tribute
TW Harries Steve Barnfield tribute

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.

Dame Kelly with tailwalker, Den
Kelly Holmes tailwalker

After the parkrun, very welcome food was provided by Sofia's Columbian Kitchen
Sohpias Kitchen Steve tribute

We conclude with a few pictures from our archives showing Steve in parkrun action.

Steve, as pacer, running with his son David
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Timekeeping duties
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Results processing - a role which Steve performed well over 100 times
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Run Director - calm and inspiring confidence
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Thank you, Steve, for all your service to parkrun
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Steve Barnfield

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 royaltunbridgewells@parkrun.com.

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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.

Steve pictured here on one of his many appearances as Run Director at RTW parkrun
 

10 and 17 August updates

10 August: we had been keeping under review whether this week's parkrun was possible in the light of the planned Cinema in the Park in the events field. We are pleased to confirm that we plan to go ahead.

17 August - we have a double billing!

In the morning it's our parkrun - usual time, usual place.

Then it's parkFunday! From 1300 to 1500. All welcome ... parkrunners, volunteers and their friends and families. Bring your own picnic. We'll be having a fun mini sports day. Nothing too serious - and running ability optional!

 

From the beginning

Our latest parkrun person profile introduces Kelvin Desmoyers-Davis, a name many might recognise from its regular appearance near the top of the finishers list.

One of the participants in the first ever Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun, Kelvin has been taking part in parkruns since before ours existed.

“A colleague at work mentioned this ‘timed 5k event in Maidstone’ and my gut feeling was well that sounds interesting but a bit far to travel!” explained Kelvin. “Then through word of mouth and social media I discovered there was a parkrun starting at Tonbridge, so I went along to their inaugural event. Then – as I’m Tunbridge Wells born and bred – I heard about the then new Royal Tunbridge Wells event and I’ve been here ever since.”

Kelvin is front of the pack (he's the one on the left!)

Kelvin is front of the pack

When asked what made him keep coming back Kelvin said: “Different reasons at different stages. Originally I was determined to beat my PBs. Then to get into the 50 club. Now [not far off 250 parkruns] I see it as more than just a 5k and I enjoy the social aspects like catching up with fellow participants for a post parkrun coffee.”

Post-parkrun coffee

Post-parkrun coffee

His favourite thing about parkrun is entering the finish funnel, because that’s the moment when he feels like he’s achieved something: “Whether that’s helping someone get a PB if I’ve been a volunteer pacer, renewing my own PB or simply knowing I’m one run fewer away from the next milestone club!”

Having been a parkrunner for so long, Kelvin’s one of our faster participants but is often seen slowing down a little as a volunteer pacer [pacers always choose a time they feel comfortable with, rather than aiming for their own PB, so they can be sure their time is achievable on the day].

“It’s rewarding to know you may have helped someone achieve a PB. The pacer can help prevent runners from going too fast for their target time and so burning out before the end of the run. It’s often easier to just follow someone in front of you!”

Part of the pacer pack

Part of the pacer pack

His advice to others is taking part is: “If it’s a cold day, bring something warm to wear afterwards. If it’s hot, bring a bottle of water. The most important thing is to just try and enjoy taking part. Don’t set unrealistic goals, and avoid injuries by listening to your body.” Invaluable advice whether you’re a 20, 40 or 60 minute finisher!

Kelvin also shares his toughest part of the route: “I find the second lap between the bridge and the events field is the toughest part. Keep something in the tank for this section.” That said, of the 13 different parkruns he’s participated in he also says ours is one of – if not the most – picturesque. We always like to hear praise of our park!

To finish his profile we asked Kelvin to tell us something random about himself. He may be one of our faster participants now, but his response was to admit he used to smoke for more than 10 years. Which perhaps acts as reassurance to others thinking of quitting smoking and taking on a new challenge?

 

Helping others to experience parkrun

As we continue our introduction to regular faces at RTW parkrun, we thought we’d share another golden girl from our volunteering team, meet Lizzie.

Having joined parkrun in 2017 as a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze volunteer, Lizzie Miller has continued to help out as she progressed through the achievements, and is now working towards her Gold Award.

Lizzie

Already a runner with Tonbridge AC, Lizzie had visited our parkrun before and loved the friendly, relaxed atmosphere in Dunorlan Park. When it came to choosing somewhere to volunteer it made her decision an easy one.

“I loved the sense of achievement when I crossed the finish,” says Lizzie, “and I wanted to give something back so that other people would have the chance to experience the same thing.”

Admirable reasons for choosing to volunteer!

In her two years since joining our volunteer team, Lizzie has helped out with barcode scanning, finish tokens and support, timekeeping, marshalling and tail walking. She says her favourite roles are timing or finish token support.

It’s a busy time for Lizzie as she works towards her A-levels, but she still loves coming to parkrun on Saturday mornings.

One final word, her advice to anyone considering volunteering or trying out the 5k route: “If your’e thinking of doing parkrun I say go for it! It’s so much fun, kick-starts your Saturday morning and is a great way to meet new people.”

Wise words from Lizzie and we’re grateful to have her as part of the team.

Lizzie scanning

 

We’re buzzing…

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
18 May 2019
Event #250

Run report/pics by Richard Woodfield

As it was our 250th parkrun I thought I'd better check how many times we'd exceeded 250 parkrunners at our event. Here's the answer:

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That number (45) represents remarkable growth considering that when we started there were just four other parkruns within 20 miles of us, whereas there are now 10! Those six additions are Malling, Lullingstone, Bedgebury Pinetum, East Grinstead, Uckfield, Kingdom.

It was no ordinary parkrun - even as the day's 31 volunteers were assembling to collect their hi vis and to be briefed on their duties intelligence arrived of a very large swarm of bees hanging right over the path just past the wooden bridge.

Can you beelieve it!
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A new volunteer role - bee marshal - was hastily created and Jessica and Stephanie assigned the role of steering parkrunners to avoid this, hopefully, temporary hazard.

Today's Run Director, Mark, briefed the assembled throng of 313 parkrunners. As ever he was succinct in his briefing - no droning on or waxing lyrical about matters parkrun! We were soon away, swarming down past the lake.

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The unusual hazard!
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Stephanie and Jessica efficiently steered the parkrunners a few yards off the main path, and so away from the bee hazard.

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Up in the fields...
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Making a beeline for the scanners
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Hive of activity... [That's enough bee puns - Ed]
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This week's volunteers were:
Alasdair SHUTT • Alison BEARD • Andrew DENNETT • Annie DE'ATH • Callum BENSON • Colin RATCLIFFE • Coral SADLER • Elizabeth MILLER • Gloria RICHARDS • Huw JONES • J B • Jane FENTIMAN • Joanna CAMERON • Jonathan HAWKER • Juanita MCFARLIN • Judy GUEST • Julie CHANDLER • Mark DENNISON • Mark SCOTT • Martin BRICE • Meredith BOCHMANN • Noeline SIMS • Oliver GAINES • Oliver MCCARTHY • Rachel SADLER • Richard NASH • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Stephanie GROOT • Steve BARNFIELD • Vicky DENNETT

 

Five years of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
27 April 2019
Event No 247

Run report by Erica Jones

The fifth birthday of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun was such an exciting event that even Storm Hannah attempted to put in an appearance. Thankfully, she wasn’t quick enough, so apart from a little (a lot) of headwind the event was able to run without a hitch.

An impressive 310 participants and 46 volunteers turned up for the birthday event, which is certainly something to be proud of.

parkrun view

The day started with regular parkrunner and Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council William Benson saying a few words, before our new Event Director Colin Ratcliffe launched into the briefings. This included highlighting the Gazebo of Joy which was sheltering the raffle prizes as well as sweet and savoury treats (for human and four-legged runners). This year the raffle prizes were won by a “magic” finish token spot system, a speedier way of ensuring participants win prizes and recognising the efforts of a random assortment of finish times along the way (not forgetting a handy way of discouraging funnel duckers!).

The spot raffle was also a great way of directing people to the sweet and savoury treats and encouraging a few more conversations among those who like to loiter and relax in the park after their 5k effort.

Five years of RTW parkrun has led to many achievements to be proud of, on a collective scale 6,725 people have completed the 5k course, clocking up an incredible 42,858 runs, walks or jogs. This has led to a massive 7,307 personal bests being achieved during that time.

Adding up all the time participants have taken means a total of 2 years, 142 days, 1 hour, 22 minutes and 36 seconds have been spent parkrunning at Royal Tunbridge Wells, clocking up a distance of 214,290km around Dunorlan Park.

All of this supported by 438 different volunteers – our helpers really are heroes!

Over the last year our parkrun has grown in number, with record-breaking attendances occurring increasingly often and it’s great to see average finish times are actually getting slower as our numbers increase. We call it parkrun, but many of us do walk or jog, using the 5k event as the perfect opportunity to begin to get active, which is the best advice for anyone thinking of joining us at our next event.

Well done to everyone who’s taken part in our parkrun – it’s the joggers, runners, volunteers and walkers who make our event so special.

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