300 Not Out!

A compilation of memories from the first three hundred Royal Tunbridge Wells parkruns.
Words by Richard Woodfield. Pictures by numerous contributors from our parkrun archives...

Following months of preparations RTW parkrun was launched in April 2014 by a team of volunteers led by our first Event Director, Joe Watts. In those early days numbers of parkrunners and volunteers were often quite small. (There were just 53 intrepid parkrunners and 11 volunteers on this snowy day in February 2015.)

But the team persevered and the parkrun has grown and prospered. And of course we have continued to parkrun in almost all weathers. Come sun, frost, snow, torrential rain... we've kept on going!
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We did, however, have to admit temporary defeat during the icy Beast from the East when tobogganing seemed the safer option!
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Come rain, come shine, whether clad in yellow or in pink, the hi vis heroes have never been less than awesome!

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A remarkable total of 550 people have volunteered with RTW parkrun. These have included successive cohorts of Duke of Edinburgh award students.
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We love fabulous Dunorlan Park!
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Ok - we can maybe overlook the occasional drainage issue! This section came to be known affectionately as The Shoe Wash.

Then - from time to time - we've had the odd patch of mud to contend with!
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Heartbreak Hill has always posed a challenge to parkrunners nearing the end of the 5k course. In March 2018 unexpected help was at hand in the unlikely form of a homemade "tap for power" sign. Judging by the feedfback on Facebook and Twitter afterwards it proved remarkably effective! Sadly the initiative would probably not be Covid compliant just at the moment.
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Since our launch a total of over 8300 different parkrunners have somehow tapped into a source of power to achieve a collective total of over 8800 personal best times at our event! Week by week these totals continue to rise...

We've had some memorable festive Christmas parkruns.

Special occasions, including pre-wedding parkruns, have featured. Here the groom had the best of things, wearing shorts, while the bride ran the course in a long wedding dress and the "vicar" perspired liberally as he toiled up Heartbreak Hill clad in a heavy cassock.

RTW parkrun anniversary events have been an annual highlight. Here's a barcode cake - one of Zena's wonderful creations, made for our 3rd anniversary in 2017. And over the years we've had some superb catering from Team Baguley!

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We won an award for "Best Group" at the Tunbridge Wells Love Where We Live awards evening in 2016. Joe, as the then Event Director, received the award on behalf of our community of parkrunners and volunteers.

In 2018 we welcomed the founder of parkrun Paul Sinton-Hewitt who ran the course before, characteristically, returning to encourage weary parkrunners at the foot of Heartbreak Hill.

Also in 2018, a swarm of bees hanging low over the path caused us to create a new role of bee marshal, to supervise a temporary diversion in the route.
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Joe, Louise and Judy update RTW parkrunners about our Love Where We Live award.

We've had the fancy dress .... We've welcomed a dinosaur, listening open mouthed to Mark's first timer's briefing.
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A highlight for many was our parkrun to mark the NHS 70th birthday, with the visit of Dame Kelly Holmes.


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The Dunorlan Park Cafe has featured large in our collective memory - whether as an impromptu office to process results and sort finishing tokens, or as place to meet old and new parkrun friends...
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We've had a good number of social occasions too outside our usual parkrun hours.... parkrun itself is not of course a race, but the egg and spoon race one summer Saturday afternoon most certainly was as competitive as they come!
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Winding down after another sunny, warm parkrun...

No review of our "first 300" would be complete without the curious incident of the gang of surly ducks! In December 2016 under the command of their "ring" leader the wildfowl bided their time, loitering with intent on the waste bin, before launching a series of systematic attacks on passing runners, causing several - including local MP Greg Clark - to take rapid evasive action.
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After the long, long suspension resulting from the Covid19 pandemic it was so good to be back up and running, jogging, walking and volunteering again these last few weeks.

First the pilot event, led by current Event Director, Robin, to test out the new Covid-compliant arrangements. Here Robin, makes friends with tail walker Helen's dog. And we tried out the new scanning arrangements.
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Then "the real thing" - actual parkrunning!
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Finally, we recall that over these 300 parkruns our RTW parkrun community has experienced some sad times as we have lost several very good friends of parkrun. Here, in August 2019, we paused for respectful applause as we remembered Steve Barnfield who contributed so much during the early years of our parkrun.

As we move into another autumn season of parkrunning in Dunorlan Park, here's to the next 100 parkruns!


Making a Mark

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event no 204
2 June 2018

Run report/pictures by Richard Woodfield

This week, 1 - 7 June, is Volunteers' Week. It's a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. Our parkrun depends 100% on volunteers - this week alone we had 31 different people, from teenagers to aged 75+, volunteer with us. So we thought it would be good to talk to one of our many regular volunteers, Mark Dennison, to find out a bit more about his experience of volunteering. On Saturday I caught up with Mark in the middle of his busy schedule - after his marshalling duties but before he moved on to token sorting in the cafe.

Mark used to be a runner before health issues put an end to that - in fact I was impressed to learn that he had once run the London marathon. Of recent times he would regularly go for a brisk walk on a Saturday morning. As he also knew a few of the people involved with parkrun he thought he would like to cheer them on. He got in touch with RTW parkrun to offer his services as a volunteer, initially for a month in January this year to see whether he and RTW parkrun were suited to each other. The stats tell their own story: by the beginning of June Mark had already undertaken no less than 29 volunteering duties, including marshal (16 times) and token sorting (11).

Mark in action at today's parkrun, first as a marshal and later on token sorting duties
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What does Mark particularly value about volunteering at RTW parkrun?

Mark was made to feel welcome by the run directors and by the supportive team of volunteers. This helped to draw him in at the outset. He thinks that parkrun is well run as an organisation and that it really appreciates the contributions made by volunteers. This includes the simple touches like the reminder email volunteer received beforehand and the thank you email that comes afterwards. Likewise, Mark appreciates the flexibility of parkun's approach to volunteering, valuing the contributions of both those who are able to volunteer regularly but also of those who can only do so from time to time. And he also thinks it's great that there are a wide variety of different types of volunteering role to suit different people's likes and abilities.

What about his role as marshal?

You’ll often see Mark stationed towards the end of the lap just where the path leaves the lakeside to go down the long straight toward the fountain. (This part of the course doesn't seem to have a special name, but you'll probably recognise it from the picture). Mark is particularly enthusiastic about this spot as an excellent place at which to marshal. I hadn't realised it had quite so much going for it - but everything Mark said made good sense!
* good visibility - it's nice to know in advance who's about to come past you. Mark likes to build up the number of regular parkrunners whom he recognises by name and so can give them an extra bit of personal encouragement along the way;
* near lap end - so he can without exaggeration tell any parkrunners struggling toward the finish that they are nearly there and only one last push is needed;
* near Halls Hole Rd car park Mark will still be out marshalling when some of the earlier finishers walk past him on their way back to that car park. So, often people will stop by to have a quick word and to thank him. Meanwhile, of course he also appreciates the waves and "thank you marshals" from parkrunners out on the course.

You’ll not be surprised to hear that Mark thoroughly recommends volunteering at RTW parkrun. I'm sure that all of us at RTW parkrun, not least the many perspiring runners who have had the benefit of Mark's encouragement towards the end of their 5k, are grateful to Mark for his contribution.

If you would like to volunteer, or would like to find out about volunteering, at our parkrun do have a word with Judy our friendly parkrun co-ordinator. Or drop us an email at royaltunbridgewellshelpers@parkrun.com

In other news....

It was a lovely warm morning for the parkrun. Run Director, Noeline, announced a number of new members to the run clubs: Junior 10 - Bethan Chandler, Connor Bourne, Leo Rodney and 50 club: Greg Clark, Annie Galanti. Noeline reminded the parkrunners that next week is the NHS 70 celebration event. This special event sees parkrun events up and down the country teaming up with their local NHS Trust in order to encourage new participants, including NHS staff and volunteers, to come along to their local parkrun to recognise the contribution that the National Health Service has made to the health of the nation over the past 70 years.

Meanwhile, I had decided that it was not a temperature conducive to a fast time, for me at least. So I positioned myself near the boathouse to take pictures of the starters before dutifully trotting back up to the start line to begin my run a couple of minutes later than everyone else.

The start...


Tailwalkers - Jane and Rosemary - enter the finishing funnel bearing cones. Rosemary (right) at this stage was looking relaxed - clearly unaware that I was about to make her morning considerably more fraught by accidentally picking up her blue running bag instead of my own rather similar looking one!

As I was about to leave, also looking very relaxed, was a gaggle of parkrunners enjoying refreshments on the cafe balcony. I took several pictures - but the one with Colin standing was the only one where you can (just about) see everyone's face. Sorry Colin!


This week's stats:
* 234 parkrunners
* 31 volunteers
* 14 first timers to our event (of whom 7 were running their first ever parkrun)
* 29 personal bests

This week's volunteers were:
Adam JEE • Bethan CHANDLER • Colin RATCLIFFE • Croz CROSWELL • Derek JEE • Emily MULLETT • Eve DUBREUIL • Francis EAMES • Geraldine JEE • Jack NORWOOD • Jane FENTIMAN • John DYSON • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Keelan STUBBS • Kerry FRANCIS-WATTS • Lara JEE • Louise FITZGERALD • Mark DENNISON • Mark SCOTT • Noeline SIMS • Paul HOLLIS • Rachel SADLER • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Rosemary SUMPTER • Sian DUBERY • Steve BARNFIELD • Valerie STUBBS • Victoria MULLETT • Yolanda WITT


Falling acorns

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 171
7th October 2017

Run report by Joe Watts with a contribution from Noeline Sims. Photographs by Joe Watts

It was a drizzly, yet mild Autumn morning for our 171st event in Dunorlan Park where 259 people decided to join our team of 19 volunteers for a free 5 kilometre run, jog or walk. This week your Run Director was Simon Jones and during his pre-run brief he mentioned that we were celebrating the 13th anniversary of parkrun. Simon welcomed Vicky Dennett to the parkrun 50 club and there was also a mention for RTW parkrun regular, Francis Eames who was running his 100th parkrun.

Of the 259 people who participated in this event, there were 7 parkrun tourists, 15 first timers and a disappointing 29 unknowns (people who had either forgotten their barcode or not registered with parkrun beforehand). Of the returning 208 people there was an impressive 45 new Personal Bests on our course.

259 people make their way down the starting slope:

Vicky Dennett joined the parkrun 50 club last week:

Francis Eames on the way to joining the parkrun 100 club:

The event was made possible by 19 volunteers:
Mark SCOTT • Joseph WATTS • Louise FITZGERALD • Steve BARNFIELD • John DYSON • Judy GUEST • Edward STEELE • David HARMAN • Nick FITZGERALD • Simon JONES • Richard WOODFIELD • Jon PEET • Noeline SIMS • Wilf PEET • Annaelle DUFFIELD • Richard MCMANUS • Paul ROBBS DE LA HOYDE • Robin BARWICK • Yolanda WITT

The calm (relief) after the storm (5km):

A piece by regular volunteer & Run Director, Noeline Sims:
I know, looking at me now, it is hard to believe I was once a keen runner, just like all of you. I was never fast, nor competitive, but have competed numerous 10k, half and full marathons, raising thousands of pounds for guide dogs. So often, the encouraging smile of a volunteer steward has made all the difference, spurring me on when I felt exhausted. It was this that initially prompted me to volunteer with parkrun as a marshal. As the weeks went by I gradually took on other roles, enjoying each and every one. Then in February 2016 it all came to an abrupt halt as I broke my ankle in a skiing accident. Unable to drive (I live 45 minutes from Tunbridge Wells!), I had to miss my Saturday monring outings. But throughout this time away, Joe & the team regularaly checked up on me. I returned to join the "core" team. Then in January & February this year I lost my Mum & Dad within three weeks of each other. Again, my parkrun family were there for me, helping me cope in the darkest of times. The thought of coming to parkrun every Saturday morning & being able to forget everything for a few hours, surrounded by all your smiling faces, has helped more than you will ever know. So can I give a big "thank you" parkrunners for just being there. You are all amazing!!!

Run Director Steve Barnfield was your 24 minute pacer:

Team Joggle:

Full results of this week's event and a complete event history can be found on the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun results page on our website.

There were plenty of smiles out on course, despite the drizzle:

Hands-up if you love parkrun:

Specks of brightly coloured runners in amongst the trees:

Finally, a reminder of 3 very important rules of parkrun:

1. Under 11's must be within arm's reach of a parent or guardian (aged 18+):

2. Dogs must be kept under firm control & on a short lead or harness:

3. Don't Forget Your Barcode #DFYB

To keep up to date with the latest news and information on our event please follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.


It’s a family thing

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 162
22nd July 2017

Run report written by Joe Watts, with photos courtesy of Suzanne Young

Following on from the torrential rain that we had experienced earlier in the week, the morning started out dry and bright and slightly cooler than it had been in recent weeks. I was back on Run Director duties and during the pre-run briefing I welcomed a few new members to the parkrun milestone clubs. This included, Eliza Muysken & Caleb Meier to the junior 10; Andree Edwards to the 50 club and Colin Hardy to the 100 club - very well done to all! I also reminded the crowd that we would be having our next pacer day on the 29th July and on the 5th August we would be celebrating the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships which are being held in London, where we invite you to join us in wearing red, white & blue to show our support for #teamGB.

Some of our volunteers in action:
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This week 221 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 7 were parkrun tourists, 19 were first timers and 38 of those who returned to our event recorded new Personal Bests. Finally, representatives of 20 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 25 volunteers:

Alice WESTHORP • Colin RATCLIFFE • David EDWARDS • Elizabeth MILLER • Emily MULLETT • Gabriela BAGULEY • Helen SANSON • Isabel EDWARDS • James BAGULEY • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Lauren JACKSON • Louise FITZGERALD • Lucille JOANNES • Marian KEEP • Mark SCOTT • Naomi SMYTH • Nick FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Richard WOODFIELD • Sofia BAGULEY • Steve BOLTON • Suzanne YOUNG • Tom CHANDLER • Victoria MULLETT

I'd like to say a big thank you to this week's volunteers and especially to those who helped out before and/or after their participation in our event - Suzanne Young volunteered as this week's photographer and managed to get some great pictures before and after her run; Tom Chandler helped with pre-event setup and after completing his run assisted with handing out finish tokens; David Edwards, Nick Fitzgerald (also on post-event closedown) and Mark Scott (also on first timers briefing) all helped with pre-event setup before completing their respective runs and finally, Steve Bolton & Marian Keep who helped out with post-event closedown after their runs. It really does go to show that many hands make light work!

As you can see, we have volunteer roles available before, during and after the event, so if you would like to help out in any way then please drop us a quick e-mail with the role that you would like to volunteer for, the date and most importantly, your parkrun barcode number. Our e-mail address is: royaltunbridgewellshelpers@parkrun.com and you can always check the state of our roster for the next 4-5 weeks on our future roster page.

It's a family thing. Everyone is welcome to participate - even dogs!
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Results from this week's event and a complete event history can be found on the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun Results page.

For the latest news and updates from our event follow us on social media via Twitter and Facebook.

Dunorlan Park in all its beauty (photo courtesy of Richard Woodfield):

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun started on 26th April 2014. Since then 4,163 participants have completed 23,254 parkruns covering a total distance of 116,270 km, including 4,787 new Personal Bests.


3rd anniversary celebrations in Dunorlan Park

Event #151 – 3rd anniversary
Saturday 22nd April 2017

Run report by Joe Watts with photographs courtesy of Charles Bowley

It was a dry morning with some patchy cloud as we celebrated the 3rd anniversary of our free weekly event and our volunteer team were busy preparing the course, finish funnel, food and balloons from 8am.

Pacer vests ready and waiting for their volunteers:
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Pre-run shenanigans kicked off a little earlier this week with Mayor Dave (Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, David Neve) providing a great speech with some terrible run-related puns thrown in for good measure! Soon after, I provided a brief summary of the main highlights from the past year and also handed out certificates to the “most attended” male, female and junior runners from the past 150 events – these went to Mark Scott (129), Zena Hassell (119), James Baguley (94) and Gabriela Baguley (72).

The mayor giving his speech and a glimpse of our AED:

Certificates for our "most regular" runners (all of whom were on volunteer duty):
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

I then went on to hand out thank you cards to the core volunteer team (and the real backbone of our event) of Louise Fitzgerald, Steve Barnfield, Judy Guest, Simon Jones, Nick Fitzgerald, Richard Woodfield and Noeline Sims, or as I prefer to call them the magnificent 7! Finally, I gave a huge thank you to everyone who had donated towards the purchase of our AED (defibrillator) which we have recently purchased. This will now be permanently located within the café so that it is available for all park users and not just during our event.

The core volunteer team and true superstars of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun (from left to right - Noeline Sims, Richard Woodfield, Nick Fitzgerald, Simon Jones, Louise Fitzgerald, Steve Barnfield & Judy Guest) pictured with the Mayor (centre):
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

This week 289 people ran, jogged and walked our two lap course in Dunorlan Park. Of this record-breaking total attendance there were 20 parkrun first timers, 15 parkrun tourists, 16 unknown finishers (those who had forgotten their barcode) and 15 volunteers (14 pacers and 1 tail runner). Therefore, of the returning 223 finishers a very impressive total of 102 recorded new Personal Bests on our course, whilst representatives of 17 different clubs took part.

289 people "toe the line" for the start of our 151st event:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

A sea of colour as runners make their way along the lakeside path:
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parkrunners stream out of the events field and make their way back toward the lake:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

Regular RTW parkrunner and local MP Greg Clark was in a dog race:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

The event was made possible by the following 37 volunteers:
Alison BEARD • Annaelle DUFFIELD • Charles BOWLEY • Chris MULLALEY • Colin RATCLIFFE • Dave HADAWAY • David CUNNINGHAM • David EDWARDS • Deborah DIXON • Deirdre LULHAM • Dominic MARDEN • Elizabeth MILLER • Emily MULLETT • Gabriela BAGULEY • Georgia BEARD • James BAGULEY • John DYSON • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Kerry FRANCIS-WATTS • Kitt BAGULEY • Laurence BUNNETT • Louise FITZGERALD • Marian KEEP • Mark SCOTT • Nick FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Ryland ATWOOD • Samuel DOBSON • Simon JONES • Sofia BAGULEY • Stella BEARD • Steve BARNFIELD • Stuart CORKE • Suzanne YOUNG • Victoria MULLETT • Zena HASSELL

The funnel was very busy and queues almost backed-up over the finish line:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

A couple of last minute additions to our pacing team (Ryland Atwood – 25 mins and David Edwards – 36 mins) meant that we were able to provide 14 volunteer pacers from 36 all the way up to 22 minutes (excluding 35 mins). I don’t think that it’s a coincidence then that there was a massive hall of 102 PB’s on the morning which I’m sure must be a record number at our event! Huge thanks to each and every one of them and please keep an eye out for news of our next pacer day if you fancy volunteering or going for a personal best yourself.

The scanners were kept very busy:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

After the event there was plenty of food and drink on offer to the finishers, courtesy of some of our regular volunteers (Judy Guest & Noeline Sims) as well as regular runner Sofia Baguley. We also held a post-run raffle with plenty of prizes available which included a very impressive parkrun barcode cake (pictured below). Overall, it was a very successful morning and a wonderful way of celebrating what has been another great year for our event. Thank you to everyone who volunteered and participated in our anniversary event.

A home-made cake donated for the raffle:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

Some of the food that was on offer to our finishers:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

I wish everyone a successful and enjoyable year of parkrunning and I look forward to sharing many more memorable occasions with you #loveparkrun

My final thought is a reminder of three of the most important rules of parkrun:

Under-11's MUST be kept within arm's reach of an adult for the duration...
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

... and dogs MUST be kept on a short lead or harness and under firm control throughout:
Tunbridge Wells Parkrun

And of course, if you want to receive a time - don't forget your (printed) barcode #DFYB !!


The moral of the story is…..

Run report event #150
15 April 2017

Report and pictures by Richard Woodfield

Easter Saturday dawned bright and as the number of runners assembling for the new runners' briefing swelled it was already clear that a bumper attendance was in prospect. Our attendance total of 268 parkrunners was the second highest - exceeded only by the attendance last Christmas Eve. Maybe it's something about the imminent prospect of eating lots of chocolate that brings out the parkrunners in force!

It's worth highlighting this notable statistic: We had a total of 62 first timers to our course, of whom no less than 40 were running their very first parkrun. A very warm welcome to all Saturday's first timers (including parkrun tourists) who may be reading this run report. We also had a plethora (63) of personal best times achieved by returning runners, so that was a further cause of satisfaction.

Steve Barnfield with a well attended new runners' briefing

Run Director, Noeline Sims welcomed Daniel Niblett to the junior 10 parkruns club and also announced that it was regular volunteer Nick Fitzgerald's 30th birthday. (He promptly went on to achieve his first sub 19 minute parkrun.)

100,000 and counting....

The honour of bringing up the first 100,000 kms of parkrunning at Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun went to day's 75th finisher ..... who turned out to be an unknown runner without a barcode! However, on checking my finishing token I was pleased to discover that, as 76th finisher, I had completed the first parkrun to count towards our second set of 100,000 kms!

The finishing funnel - another 55 multicoloured kms completed by our parkrunners

Another notable achievement was the first time (as far as anyone can recall) that we have had a canine first finisher. Magnus was running with parkrun tourist James Buckley.

Esther completed her first parkrun......................... James and Magnus - first finishers.
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You heard it here first!

Those of you who were at our second anniversary event almost a year ago (on 25 April 2016) may recall that in a short speech our local MP, Cabinet Minister and parkrunner Greg Clark said that steps would be taken to dissuade local councils from seeking to charge for parkrun events. This followed the controversy over an attempt by a council near Bristol to make a charge for the Little Stoke parkrun. All went quiet on this front for a number of months. But a few days ago we heard of the public consultation that has just been launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government about "... the Government’s proposals to legislate to put it beyond doubt that local authorities, including parish councils, cannot charge parkrun or junior parkrun for the use of public parks". The public consultation runs until 5 July 2017.

So, it's clear that back last April we had our own exclusive early access to national news during the pre run formalities. The moral of the story: always pay attention to the pre run briefing - you never know what vital intelligence you might otherwise miss!

Volunteers on duty at the finishing funnel entrance....
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Facebook and Twitter
As always you can keep up to speed with our latest news on Twitter and on Facebook. We currently have 828 Facebook "likes" and 708 followers on Twitter.

This week's volunteers were:
Alison BEARD • Annaelle DUFFIELD • Charlie KIRWAN • Deborah DIXON • Deirdre LULHAM • Dominic MARDEN • Dominic RADLEY • Georgia BEARD • Judy GUEST • Louise FITZGERALD • Marian KEEP • Nick FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Simon JONES • Sophia DENNETT • Steve BARNFIELD • Steve BOLTON • Vicky DENNETT


A Royal visit

Event #138
21st January 2017

Run report written by Joe Watts, photos courtesy of David Harman

It was a beautiful, clear, sunny morning for our second event of 2017 and following an early morning course inspection (a quick one-lapper at 7.30am), conditions were deemed safe following last week's decision to cancel due to the amount of ice on the paths. Although it was very cold (around -2 degrees celcius), the running conditions underfoot were some of the best that we have experienced during any of our winter events as the off-road sections of the course had frozen solid and so there was no chance of slipping on the mud! The only potentially icy section, which was on the path after turning right from the wooden bridge was clearly "coned-off" and marshalled by our tail runners for the first lap.

The sunrise in Dunorlan Park. A beautiful start to a wonderful morning

The lake was frozen over, except for a small watering hole to which our landlords took a liking
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This week our 21 strong volunteer team welcomed a bumper crowd of 233 people - the fourth consecutive event that we have exceeded 200 participants, which beats the previous run of 3 (May 2016 and also October/November 2016). This week I was back on Run Director duty and there were a few announcements during the pre-run brief. Firstly, I mentioned that we are raising funds in order to purchase an AED which will be situated inside the Cafe - you can read more about this here. I then welcomed some new members to the parkrun clubs, firstly Jack Goose to the junior 10 and then Suzannah Kinsella, Lloyd Collier & Andy Dang who were to run their 50th parkrun on the morning and I'm pleased to say that they all made it round, so a warm welcome to all from a fellow 50 club member! Finally and by no means least, I had the pleasure and great honour of welcoming the founder of parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE to our event and this was greeted with rapturous applause!

There were plenty of parkrun tourists this week, including some from as far as California!
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Runners make their way down the slope at the start
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And so, here is some in-depth analysis and statistics for you from this week's event:

This week there were 233 runners, of whom there were:
- 13 parkrun tourists
- 39 first timers
- 24 unknowns (those who had either not registered with parkrun or forgotten their barcode, or forgot to get themselves scanned and return our finish token - please hand this back next time)
- Of the returning 157 runners, a huge 49 recorded new Personal Bests on our course - very well done to all!

Please remember to return the finish token for scanning as we need these every week
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Most popular first name today: 7 x Andrew or Andy; 6 x Paul; 6 x Stephen, Steve or Steven & 5 x Fiona.

One of the Steve's in action - tail runner Steve Barnfield completing his 120th volunteer occasion
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Despite the average run time on our course of 28:50 (based on 17,933 runs), the busiest minute at the finish funnel this week was 24:00 to 24:59 (20 finishers) - perhaps thanks to our 25 minute pacer?!

Darren Handley was our 25 minute pacer
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William LEVETT (VM40-44) was graded 81.60% for the time 16:51 (first overall).
Paul SINTON-HEWITT (VM55-59) was graded 77.24% for the time 20:04 (6th overall).
Jack FILBRANDT (VM55-59) was graded 76.17% for the time 20:21 (9th overall).

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun started on 26th April 2014, and since then 3,440 different runners, including participants from 267 athletics clubs, have completed 17,933 runs covering a total distance of 89,665 km, and there have been 3,772 new Personal Bests.

Sun is shining, the weather is sweet. Make you want to move your running feet
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The parkrun annual points competition will cease to exist from the end of February 2017, so here are the current leaders for our event:

Current standing in the Women's annual points competition:
Valerie STUBBS (Unattached) 2625 pts.
Sofia BAGULEY (Unattached) 2342 pts.
Zena HASSELL (Unattached) 2332 pts.

Current standing in the Men's annual points competition:
Kelvin DESMOYERS-DAVIS (Tunbridge Wells Harriers) 2511 pts.
Austin RUDMAN (Unattached) 2462 pts.
Ryland ATWOOD (Unattached) 2229 pts.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt is the biggest fan of parkrun and was supporting runners up the finishing path...

... he also enjoyed having photos taken with our runners and volunteers
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For obvious reasons, our social media channels went crazy at the weekend. If you would like to join in on the action then please follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. This is a good way to keep up with the latest news and information on our event (including cancellations).

If you want to feel like this, then join us next week!
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Honestly, it is great fun - and free!
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Welcome to 2017

7th January 2017: Event #137
Run report & photos by David Harman

With Christmas pudding, mince pies, roast turkey, cold turkey, lukewarm turkey, turkey stew, turkey fricassee, turkey curry, turkey soup, turkey pizza etc. now distant memories, thoughts usually turn to the lengthening days, the countdown to Spring, New Year's Resolutions and Getting Back Into Shape. Thus it was that 202 runners gathered at a murky Dunorlan Park for the 137th Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun on 7th January.

Runners congregate near the start/finish area
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Simon JONES was Run Director for the day and he firstly wished a Happy New Year to all runners and volunteers, before welcoming returning runners, 19 first timers, and 5 parkrun tourists from as near as Tonbridge and as far away as Brueton (Solihull), Cambridge and Horsham. There were no announcements, for no-one had joined the Junior 10 club, 50 club, 100 club or 250 club in the past week, but here's the thing …. with a whole year of parkruns ahead, there's plenty of time to work towards those milestones!

There were plenty of dogs this week (please remeber only one dog per runner, to be kept on a short lead or harness and under firm control for the duration of the event):
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Finally, with the witching hour (9am) approaching, Simon without further ado, asked the timers "timers, are you ready?" and the runners "runners, are you ready?", and 3…2…1!, it was off down the slope.

An impressive 202 people completed our free, 5km course this week:
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With the cold weather turning milder, plus half a day and half a night of rain, the course was inevitably muddy in places. Three of the usual notorious spots, the little dell just after the War Memorial, the slope up through the copse onto the Event Field, and the little copse just beyond the Event Field exit on the downhill glide to Quagmire Corner were predictably slippery. Quagmire Corner itself was fairly muddy but we have seen worse (and probably will see worse 'ere Summer comes!). Time to dust-off the trail shoes if you have some, methinks!

The quagmire is making a most unwelcome, yet inevitable return...
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...however, please keep to the right of the orange cones to avoid collisions:
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Despite the onset of these stickier conditions, 18 runners achieved new PBs – a cracking start to the New Year! And all runners, whether young or young at heart, plus a good selection of dogs made the finish line without incident. The ducks and geese for some mysterious ornithological reason were all in the water, with just a few disinterested seagulls on dry land.

The entrance to the events field:
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Minor hiccups in the results processing caused Steve BARNFIELD a few grey hairs, so a few parkrun New Year Resolutions: Please don't take the finish tokens home – we need them for next week. If, inadvertently you do take one home, please give it back before the next parkrun starts, not at the finish token scanning stage. If you only complete one lap, please don't go through the finish funnel. And finally, the old chestnut – Don't Forget Your Barcode (#DFYB)! This week, 22 runners forgot their barcode or hadn't registered and therefore did not receive a time. Pity!

Our youngest finisher?? Children are able to register with parkrun from the age of 4:
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Our thanks go to this week's wonderful team of volunteers: Alison BEARD • Annaelle DUFFIELD • Annamaria BETTS • Austin RUDMAN • Charlie WARD • David HARMAN • Dominic MARDEN • Graham BROOKS • Helen SANSON • Huw JONES • Jessica CARSWELL • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Julie CHANDLER • Kathy SKINNER • Laurence BUNNETT • Louise FITZGERALD • Nick FITZGERALD • Simon JONES • Steve BARNFIELD and Zena HASSELL.

Volunteers are the superstars of parkrun - thank you:
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Like to join our volunteer team next week? Easy-peasy! Simply drop an email to royaltunbridgewellshelpers@parkrun.com and Event Director Joe WATTS will do the rest.

Some murky photos of RTW parkun #137 can be found on our Flickr page and if you would like to add yours, please do!

Let us know how you got on at our event by:
Liking us on Facebook
Following us on Twitter

Walk, jog or run, but above all - have fun!
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Full results of this week's event with all the statistics, and a complete event history can be found on the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun results page.


Exclusive: assailants and ring leader caught on parkrun camera!

Run report by Richard Woodfield. Photographs by David Harman, except where otherwise indicated

It was an eventful parkrun #134 with a rapidly changing kaleidoscope of weather - mist then sun then fog. And then there was a bunch of particularly surly ducks that decided to ambush runners on the far side of the lake.

Early arrivals at parkrun were treated to the spectacle of a golden glowing sun rising through the mist beyond the lake.... (photo by RW)

Run Director for the day, Joe, announced that today was Louise Fitzgerald's 50th parkrun (Louise has of course also volunteered well over 100 times) and Matthew Bentham had joined the Junior 10 parkruns club. It was also John Bowman's 50th birthday as well as regular volunteer Noeline Sim's birthday (number unspecified!).

After a quick reminder that Christmas Eve was a "pacer day special" and a burst of applause for the volunteers the parkrunners were up and away.

And they're away.... one moment the colours were sharp and bright....
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Moments later the light was mellow and soft....
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I opted for a steady run in the middle of the pack - which meant that until after the run I was unaware of the drama that had been unfolding ahead. On the far side of the lake - and acting up in front of our parkrun photographer - the local ducks were in a stroppy mood, distinctly lacking in the festive spirit. I'm a bit of an ornithologist but struggle to pin these ones down - they look like some kind of cross between Muscovy duck, farmyard duck and mallard. But, whatever their precise pedigree, they were undoubtedly cross!

The ducks eye up their tactics. No doubt which is the "ring leader"
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Attack Mark 1!.... Colin "ducks" to avoid a possible premature end to his parkrun
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Attack Mark 2!... This time local MP Greg Clark is the startled victim as the duck (at right of picture) swoops low across the path.
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Having captured that exclusive, David was roving around the course to look for some unusual parkrun angles. Here's one of them....

Who goes trip trap over my bridge?
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One of the great things about parkrun is its versatility. You can really go for effort and personal bests - or you can opt to take things in a more relaxed way.

A parkrun for all moods. Digging in deep........................ And relaxing
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"Never quit" is the very appropriate logo on the light green top
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There was a good turnout of well behaved dogs on short leads.

Plenty of dogs enjoyed their parkrun....
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149 parkrunners
17 volunteers
18 parkrunning for the first time at our course (of whom 10 were doing their very first parkrun)
19 personal bests achieved by returning runners
16 runners who were unregistered or who had forgotten their barcode

The parkrun engine room (Pt 1) Joe briefing DofE volunteer Annaelle about uploading the results
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The parkrun engine room (Pt 2) Sorting the finish tokens
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Many thanks to this week's volunteers who were:
Alison BEARD • Annaelle DUFFIELD • Annamaria BETTS • Charlie KIRWAN • Charlie WARD • David HARMAN • Duncan RALPH • Huw JONES • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Louise FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Ralph GREEN • Richard WOODFIELD • Simon JONES • Steve BARNFIELD • Zena HASSELL


And the winner is…..

The whole ethos of parkrun is that it is a run and not a race, and there are no winners and losers. But for once we will allow ourselves to use the "win" word. For, on Tuesday 11th October 2016 during a glittering award ceremony at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun won the "Best Group" category in the Love Where We Live awards 2016.

Over 200 individuals and groups from across our Borough had been nominated for awards in the seven categories - ranging from "Charity of the Year" and "Ethical Business" to "Young Sports Achiever". The three finalists in each category were invited to the Oscar-style award ceremony. Guests in attendance included the Mayor, the Council Leader and Chief Executive as well as the various sponsors of the awards. Given the wide range of dedicated volunteer groups across the Borough it was a great honour for RTW parkrun even to achieve recognition as a finalist.

At the awards night we were represented by Event Director, Joe Watts, and four regular core volunteers - Run Directors Louise Fitzgerald & Rob Campbell, Scanning Queen Judy Guest and social media guru/photographer/run report writer & regular runner, Richard Woodfield. There was not long to wait as the "Best Group" award was first up, and almost before he knew it a rather surprised looking Joe was on stage accepting the award from the Mayor, David Neve. The Mayor had given the starters orders at our anniversary parkrun in April 2016 and remarked that, watching local MP Greg Clark steaming up the last hill, it was difficult sometimes to believe that parkrun was not competitive! Accepting the award Joe paid tribute to all the many people who contribute their time and energy to make our parkrun the event that it is.

The other finalists in our category were Compaid Volunteers, who work with hundreds of disabled and elderly people to help them overcome digital, social and financial limitations and Kent High Weald Partnership Volunteers, who work to involve the local community in preserving and enhancing our environment. Either group would also have been worthy winners.

Special guest at the Love Where We Live awards evening was paralympic gold medallist, Will Bayley. Will was brought up in Tunbridge Wells and played table tennis at Byng Hall (next to Skinners' School) in his teens. In addition to winning a table tennis gold medal at Rio, Will achieved further fame when he received a yellow card for climbing onto the table in celebration of his achievement! Will spoke about the determination needed to succeed against adversity - in his own case the many serious health difficulties he had faced. In a nice touch, when asked about which individual had most inspired him to achieve in sport, Will said that his real heroes were all those volunteers who had helped him behind the scenes. People like those who had regularly given him lifts to training and events as well as his coaches.

It's good on an occasion like this also to recognise the help and support that our event has received from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. After all, it were they who provided the start-up funding which is required to set up a parkrun event as well as providing us with one of the most beautiful venues in Kent, Dunorlan Park.

Joe with our certificate and Louise with the glass trophy. Meanwhile Judy takes the (heart shaped) LWWL biscuit!

Joe - and the trophy.
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