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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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!
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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
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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

 

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.

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Then we moved onto the happier news.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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
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Plenty of spooky gear on view
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Possibly the yellowest tree in Dunorlan Park?
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Many thanks to all today's 27 volunteers who made the event possible.

 

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!

 

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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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.

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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

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