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!

IMG_5285
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!

IMG_5260
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.

IMG_5257
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.

IMG_5265
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.

IMG_5219

IMG_5220

IMG_5221

IMG_5223

IMG_5226

IMG_5228

IMG_5272

IMG_5281
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!

IMG_5280

 

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.

Bulbs planting 5Nov18 (4)

20181022_101843

summer bedding planting June18 (2)

Duck feed Nov19 (3)

 

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

 

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.

 

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!

 

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!

 

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:

20190521_100338[1]

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!
20190521_094535[1]

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.

20190518_143517[1]

20190518_143839[1]

The unusual hazard!
20190518_111249[1]

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

20190518_144306[1]

Up in the fields...
20190521_093306[1]

20190518_144101[1]

20190518_143952[1]

20190518_143416[1]

Making a beeline for the scanners
20190518_144505[1]
Hive of activity... [That's enough bee puns - Ed]
20190518_144402[1]

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

 

End of an era

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
30 March 2019
Event No 243

Run report by Richard Woodfield. Pictures by Nick Fitzgerald

Everything came together brilliantly for Joe's farewell parkrun as Event Director:

* our highest ever attendance - 331 parkrunners & 37 volunteers came to give Joe a great send off.
* it was the ideal spring morning - sunny and mild - for a special occasion
* heartful tributes were paid to Joe and to all that had been achieved under his leadership of our parkrun
* astonishingly, as if to underline the point, there was a century of personal best times achieved.

Even the practical nitty gritty contributed to the spirit of the occasion. The PA system was on its best behaviour. The mud situation was much improved. And the number of "unknown runners" without barcodes was just 15 out of 331. At less than 5%, this meant that Joe's final stint processessing results afterwards involved a lot less detective work than on many a previous parkrun!

parkrun-4 parkrun-8

Reflecting on his experience Joe thanked all those who had contributed to the success of RTW parkrun, not forgetting those who had enabled the parkrun to use such a wonderful venue. Volunteers, parkrunners, TWBC and Friends of Dunorlan Park had all played their part. Joe recalled that he had been responsible for adding the "Royal" to "Tunbridge Wells parkrun". He had also changed the route originally envisaged - it had initially been planned to have the route start by going uphill towards the main carpark. There was one parkrun, back in the early days, when the event had been run by just six volunteers. This had been pretty fraught and had required substantial multi tasking across all the essential volunteer roles.

parkrun-6

Louise had been in at the start of RTW parkrun, so it was entirely fitting that she paid tribute to Joe:

"I first met Joe in early 2014 at Tonbridge parkrun where I had gone along to meet with the newly appointed Event Director for the soon-to-be-established RTW parkrun. I had heard about the event via a facebook appeal for volunteers and as an avid runner myself and keen to give something back to my local community, this seemed right up my street.

My first impression of Joe was of a cool, calm and collected guy, disciplined and clearly into fitness. I also thought he was quiet, until I got to know him a little better. This was just the sort of person I knew would carry out the Event Director role perfectly, and he has proven me right! Many of you will not be aware of the time-consuming hard work that goes on behind the scenes at parkrun each week, not only on a Saturday, but during the week – organising the volunteers, dealing with queries from participants, liaising with the local council and parkrun HQ, as well as helping out at the actual events on a Saturday morning. It is not an easy job to undertake, but one that Joe has done humbly.

Over the 5 years I have known Joe, he has faced everything thrown his way head on with diplomacy, with the best interests of parkrun and its participants at the forefront of his mind. No mountain has been too high for him to overcome, in his personal achievements as well as spearheading RTW parkrun. I have seen Joe go from a DJ when I first met him, to a fully qualified PT and Running Coach, leading running groups of all abilities as well as fitting in his own training, and all this outside his actual job, which he still continues to do.

It has been a pleasure to see RTW parkrun grow and flourish under Joe’s tutelage, from inception to winning Best Group at the Love Where You Love Awards and our imminent 5-year anniversary. It will now fall to our new Event Director, Colin Ratcliffe to tackle the role, which I have no doubt he will do with fervour and determination.

If you could please all join me in a round of applause to thank Joe for his hard work in making RTW parkrun what it is today."

Joe - surrounded by parkrun milestone tops as a reminder of all that parkrunning and volunteering!
parkrun-16
parkrun-17

Judy - our volunteer co-ordinator - presented gifts and a card to Joe. Among the many messages in the card were: "You've been totally awesome - thanks for making me and hundreds/thousands of people get fit and passionate about running" ... "parkrun changed my life" ... "Great work, Joe. I hope you will always be proud of what you have achieved here, and your legacy. Thank you"

Let's leave the final word to Joe:

"It's been an absolute pleasure being involved with parkrun over the past 5+ years and wonderful to see how the event has grown and evolved over my tenure. I know that it is in safe hands with a core, experienced volunteer team as well as a core and faithful group of runners. Saturday was a wonderful send-off and I look forward to seeing the event continue to grow and succeed over the next 5 years and beyond. I fully intend to return as a runner and volunteer when I am available and always encourage my RTW runners to attend. My main aim in setting up the event was to inspire others to get involved in running, the same way in which I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics and it's great to see so many at RTW parkrun who have gradually progressed and become more involved with the event, the sport and the community."

Medley of memories..... (RW)
Collage_2019-04-01_16_31_38[1]

 

“…..And so I volunteered. The rest is history.”

There have been over 200,000 parkrun kilometers run, jogged and walked at RTW parkrun. Through all of them Joe Watts has been our Events Director. We took the opportunity of his stepping down to ask him to reflect on his time in the role.

When did you first hear about parkrun?

​I first heard of parkrun back in 2013 from a clubmate who mentioned a free, timed 5km event which takes place each Saturday over in Orpington - something called parkrun. I went along for a few times over the summer of 2013 and then another parkrun event opened up in Maidstone later that year; Tonbridge followed the year after.

Tell us how it was you became Event Director at RTW parkrun?

I came across a post on Facebook to say that a parkrun event was set up and ready to go in Tunbridge Wells but that an Event Director and volunteer team was required in order to get it up and running and so I volunteered my services. The rest is history.

Joe - on Run Director duties
IMG_0347

Did you ever think "I wish they'd told me X before I agreed to become Event Director"?

Not at all. The parkrun team were very helpful every step of the way and I was fortunate to have a good support network in the way of Jacky MacDonald, then Whitstable parkrun Event Director and Kent parkrun ambassador who provided ongoing support, training and advice, as well as the ED's at the other Kent parkruns. I was able to shadow a few different event teams leading up to our test event and inaugural event and so I was familiar with how things worked when it came to the event becoming a weekly fixture in Tunbridge Wells.

Can we have a couple of highlights from your time as Event Director?

There are many, however, I think when the event was nominated for and won the "best group" award at the TWBC Love Where We Live Awards, that has to be right up there.

What have you learned from your time as Event Director? What has given you greatest satisfaction?

I have learned a lot from my time as ED and feel that the role has allowed me to grow as a person and apply my knowledge, experience and leadership skills to my employed role. The greatest satisfaction is getting to meet and volunteer with other individuals from a variety of different backgrounds who, without parkrun, I would never have had the pleasure of engaging with.

Apart from Event Director, what's your favourite volunteering role and why?

My favourite non-running role is photographer and my favourite role which allows me to have a (fast) run, would be barcode scanning!

Joe surging through "The Shoewash" (a feature thankfully much improved since drainage works in Spring 2018!)
20180407_091141[1]

Many voluntary organizations these days struggle to get enough volunteers - what do you think is the secret of parkrun's success?

I think the fact that it is so accessible to all ages and abilities. The fact that anyone from any background can participate and volunteer in the event at no cost is a huge positive and I'm sure this is one of the main reasons why parkrun has grown so quickly over its short tenure.

Joe and volunteers assembled for photoshoot with Dame Kelly
P1020979

What do you like best about Dunorlan Park as a venue for parkrun?

How it changes through the seasons and how no two consecutive weeks are ever the same in terms of weather conditions and how the park looks. Also the location of the park - it's near the middle of Tunbridge Wells but is so tranquil - you wouldn't think that there is a busy, bustling town centre less than a mile away as well as a main road!

Dunorlan Park through the seasons....
IMG_2142
20171028_091851[1]

What's your favourite parkrun course (excluding Dunorlan Park)?

I've been fortunate to run at a number of difference parkrun courses, both in the UK and abroad. My favourite course in this country would have to be Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall, which although is one of the hilliest available, is set in such a beautiful location. It's also one of the only events that I know you can visit by ferry (from Plymouth). My favourite international parkrun event would have to be Crissy Field in San Francisco which has the Golden Gate bridge for a backdrop on the way out and Alcatraz in the distance on the return leg. It's also one of the flattest courses that I have run!

Any tips for a parkrunner struggling to keep on running up Heartbreak Hill as they approach the finish?

I see so many runners struggling up the hills, my tips would be to keep your chest up, reduce your stride length, pick up your knees and smile!

What are you going to do with all that spare time now that you're relinquishing the role of Event Director?

Part of my decision for relinquishing the role of ED is that I have far less spare time than I once did at the start of my parkrun journey due to other commitments. In the time that I have been ED I have started up my own running group, qualified as a Personal Trainer, progressed in my job and moved house! I feel that now is the right time for someone else to take on the role in order to breathe new life into the event and continue to take it forward.

What could parkrunners do that would most help your successor to enjoy his time as Event Director?

* Register with parkrun and remember to bring along a printed copy of your barcode every week.
* Listen and pay full attention to the pre-event safety briefing and announcements.
* Once across the finish line, stay in order and move swiftly through the funnel, collect a finish token and hand this to the barcode scanning volunteers.
* Smile and enjoy yourself!

Pictures by Zena, Charles and Richard - who between them have run over 500 parkruns at RTW parkrun while Joe has been Event Director.

⇐ Newer Tagged Posts