A week of celebrations

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
16 November 2019

Event No 274

Run report by Erica Jones

There’s always something to celebrate at parkrun, be it completing 5k, a personal best, a milestone, a friend’s milestone, volunteering and making a difference to others, or the simple fact you got up and out of the house before 9am on a Saturday. It’s no wonder so many of our photos show smiles on the faces of participants.

However some weeks there’s more to celebrate than others, and event 274 was one of those weeks.

The celebrations began on a sad note, as we held a minute’s applause in memory of former parkrunner John Dyson, but even in sadness there’s joy as many of us shared tributes, some of which can be seen in another news item on this site.

IMG_4147

Then we moved onto the happier news.

IMG_4142
Run Director ‘lite’ Lizzie Miller was given a round of applause as she loses the word ‘lite’ from her title. This week it’s her 18th birthday so she’ll be able to take on full RD responsibilities from now on. Lizzie is one of our valued Duke of Edinburgh volunteers, who is working towards her gold award.

IMG_4149
Next we have a few milestone achievements, with Kelvin Desmoyers-Davis becoming only the second RTW-registered participant to complete 250 5Ks. At the same time David Castle was here for his 100th parkrun, and Jason Horne his 50th. By the end of the morning we were also celebrating the achievements of 18 first-timers and 17 personal bests. Well done to all!

IMG_4136[1]
Last but definitely not least is Judy Guest. Milestones are generally celebrated after the fact, so this week we surprised parkrun fairy godmother Judy by letting her know her 250th separate occasion of volunteering had not gone unnoticed.

A volunteer from day one, Judy is an invaluable member of the team who has almost certainly scanned your barcode at one time or another, as well as managing the volunteer roster and carrying out countless other roles to ensure our parkrun goes without a hitch – all without ever having completed the course.

All of us at RTW parkrun are grateful to Judy for her efforts, and she was presented with a box of chocolates and a personalised T-shirt by way of thanks.

As you can see, last week’s parkrun was definitely a day of celebrations.

 

50,000 and counting

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
9 November 2019

Event No 273

Run report by Richard Woodfield

A wonderful autumn morning with the mist dispersing to reveal brilliant sunshine.... today was certainly a big contrast to the battering we took last week from blustery gales and squally rain. Run Director, Mark, announced in the pre-run brief that the parkrun of today's 40th finisher would be the 50,000th to be completed on our course. It turned out that the honour fell to Dan (pictured) and he was awarded a special star to commemorate the occasion.

20191109_104728

It was a pacer day, and the pacer hi vis vests lined up ready for action always make a fine sight for parkrun early arrivals. There was plenty of squelchy ground to be found after the autumn rains and so it was not surprising that collectively we didn't chalk up a vast number of personal best times. But 20 PBs is still a more than respectable total for this time of year, so well done all.

20191109_083615

Many thanks to all today's 42 volunteers. It was also excellent to see the number of parkrunners bounce back up to 238 after several weeks of lower numbers (probably not unconnected to the rugby World Cup and last week's very unpleasant weather). Here's a few more pictures from the morning's event.

20191109_104444

20191109_093255

20191109_104522

20191109_104803

20191109_105153

20191109_104009

 

John Dyson

RTW parkrun regulars will be very sorry to hear the news that John Dyson passed away at the end of October. Invariably arriving by bike which he parked under the big tree, John became a familiar figure at our parkrun. He ran the first of his 125 parkruns in Dunorlan Park back in the autumn of 2014. John most recently ran with us in July this summer. He also completed another 30 parkruns at East Grinstead.

John was a softly spoken, gentle man, always ready with a friendly word. During 2017 and 2018 he also became one of our stellar volunteers, regularly arriving early to help set up our course for parkrun. (He helped with set up on no less than 44 occasions during this period.)

Core volunteer Noeline has fond memories of John. She recalls: "He used to arrive really early every Saturday, because he hated the thought of me carrying the orange cones. He would then take them up to the events field and lay them out, no fuss or bother! I remember him drawing me a little map to show exactly where he placed each cone - just in case he didn't turn up one Saturday."

We have found several pictures of John in action (taken by Charles and Zena). In the picture of the starting line up John is on the far right, which if we recall correctly was his regular and favourite starting position!

We send our condolences to John's family and friends.

Below we include just a few of the many tributes that have been paid to John since we received news of his passing.

"John was an extremely fast downhiller, often overtaking whole groups of runners on the way down to Quagmire Corner."

"Really sad news. Many a run behind him with me thinking I could catch up with him on the hill... But rarely did!"
40315813541_56d46a4760_c

"When I first started running and was struggling a bit, he was so supportive to me and encouraging."

"He inspired me to get running each week, as he was 20 years older than me and a true inspiration to me personally. RIP John" (Comment from an East Grinstead parkrunner)
39485124120_4a5d1d5a8c_c

"John was always a friendly and familiar face every Saturday morning. He will be greatly missed."

"I was especially fond of John for all his athlete's advice on recovering from my broken ankle. In particular he gently persuaded me to be patient. He was a gentleman."
40855152505_701c0332fc_c

"We were very fond of him, he was such a lovely man. He was an inspiration - cycling to Dunorlan, then doing the 5k and cycling back home again. Sometimes I would see him warming up before the race.

"John was a long-standing member of the TW Harriers & a familiar sight on his bike. He will be missed by many."
28902926127_084afe0fb0_c - Copy

 

Expected run time: 133 years!

Royal Tunbrige Wells
26 October 2019
Event no 271

Run report by Richard Woodfield

In common with many other parkruns our numbers were down a bit on the usual. Probably not unconnected with a certain sporting fixture kicking off at precisely 0900. But despite that, and the gloomy weather conditions, there was plenty to enjoy - not least with all the colourful and spooky gear on view.

Judy presents flowers to Coral to mark our appreciation of all that she has contributed to parkrun in volunteering 52 times, in many different roles, as part of her Duke of Edinburgh gold award.
Dunorlan dino parkrun 5

The good news is that Coral will continue to be involved with our parkrun whenever she can.

A striking addition to today's event was a visiting dinosaur. Leading to this classic exchange. Run Director: "Any parkrun tourists?" Several hands raised. "Where are you from?" "The Jurassic period."

So, what is the expected finishing time for a dinosaur? Let's assume that the dinosaur is a T Rex and so maybe around 70 million years old. With such a veteran status it's probably reasonable to assume that his parkrun finish times have lengthened on average by perhaps a minute each year. This would suggest an expected parkrun finish time of around 133 years! In fact, the dinosaur managed a very sprightly performance in the windy conditions, finishing in around 27 minutes.

All in a day's work for a touring dinosaur.... first timers' briefing.... starting at the back of the field ... collecting a finish token
Dunorlan dino parkrun 4

Dunorlan dino parkrun 1

Dunorlan dino parkrun 7

Plenty of spooky gear on view
Dunorlan dino parkrun 2

Possibly the yellowest tree in Dunorlan Park?
Dunorlan autumn

Many thanks to all today's 27 volunteers who made the event possible.

 

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
20190921_103714[2]

20190921_104033[2]

Tail walkers setting off
20190925_152402[1]

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.
20190921_105843[1]

20190925_154112[1]

20190925_150349[1]

20190921_105516[2]

20190925_162714[1]

20190921_105243[1]

20190925_163334[1]

20190921_105115[2]

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
SteveApplause

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
SteveApplausePacers

SteveApplauseForegroudn

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
38586792996_f410bc1484_z

Timekeeping duties
42017045652_23c4250e37_z(1)

Results processing - a role which Steve performed well over 100 times
27312295069_39c2645169_z

Run Director - calm and inspiring confidence
33495685684_23fcc365b3_z

Thank you, Steve, for all your service to parkrun
41036664304_9605a5eed7_z(1)

 

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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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!