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!

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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.

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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!
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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)
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“…..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
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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!)
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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
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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....
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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.

 

Spring 2019 – change at the helm and upcoming events

Here's what we've got lined up for you at RTW parkrun through the Spring.

There are currently no planned cancellations of our event during the remainder of March and April.

Saturday 30 March - change at the helm! As we approach our 5th anniversary Joe Watts has decided the time is right to step down as overall Event Director of RTW parkrun. This will be Joe's last parkrun as Event Director, and he will also be Run Director on that day. We'd love to give Joe a great send off to thank him for the service he has given in setting up and leading our parkrun. During his time at the helm around 6,500 different parkrunners have, between them, completed over 40,000 parkruns on our course, achieving around 7,000 Personal Best times! And, equally impressive, around 425 different people have volunteered to don the yellow hi vis volunteer jacket at our event. As we know, every local parkrun is built on teamwork, but we owe Joe an especially big debt of gratitude for leading and committing an enormous amount of time and energy to the success of our parkrun. Colin Ratcliffe has kindly agreed to take on the role of Event Director.

It would be lovely to have a great turnout on 30 March to help make the day memorable for Joe. Also we'd like to suggest that all parkrunners and volunteers who have earned a parkrun tee shirt for volunteering or completing a given number of parkruns could wear their parkrun top on that day as a very visible reminder of how much parkrunners have achieved under Joe's stewardship of the event.

To add to the occasion we are planning to have pacers. (Although the course is rather muddy and slippery in places at the moment the forecasters are, encouragingly, suggesting there will be a fair amount of dry and mild weather through the rest of March.) The volunteer roster is currently open for pacer volunteers for that day.

Joe on cake cutting duties at our 4th Anniversary ...... Colin making sure our numbers add up
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Saturday 20 April - Easter parkrun We'll be marking Easter (ok - a day early as we're keen!) with some treats for parkrunners and volunteers around the barcode scanning area. Chocolate may feature! If you've got family or friends visiting for the holiday weekend it's always nice to have an outing with them at parkrun. Dunorlan Park is likely to be full of spring colours by then.

Saturday 27 April - 5th anniversary parkrun It's amazing to think we've been going that long! The event will be a good opportunity to thank the many people who've contributed so much to the success of our parkrun during the last year. It will also be a pacer day.

We'll also be having a raffle with prizes on offer, and so would welcome donations, in advance, of raffle prizes. It would be most helpful if any raffle prizes donated could be given to Judy by the previous parkrun (20 April) at the latest so that we know what other raffle prizes we may need to buy in to complete a suitable range. If you'd rather make a small financial donation towards raffle prizes this has to be done on-line via the website. (See "more" then "about us" buttons at top right corner of our home page)

 

And all of a sudden it is summer!

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event No 197
14 April 2018

Run report by Francis Eames. Pictures by Joe Watts and Richard Woodfield

After the unusual autumn mists of the last few days, Saturday suddenly became summer. So much so that some people were starting to think it was getting TOO HOT for running! But it wasn’t summer underfoot of course and the squelchy bits were still horribly boggy and the shoewash on the back straight was resolutely undiminished to make sure that everyone arrived at the finish properly mudsplashed.

Above ground - it's summer (well almost!)
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Ground level - definitely not yet summer!
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And thanks to the tremendous commitment of 28 wonderful volunteers a magnificent turnout of 218 runners braved the mud, the highest number since the first Saturday of January. It was good to see 17 different clubs represented in the lineup. And we were able to welcome a fantastic number of First Timers. At least 25 runners completed their very first parkrun and another 20 parkrun tourists from places as far flung as Cirencester and Sweden joined us for the first time to experience the beauty of our lovely park. It wasn’t really a morning for running a PB but 14 runners did just that, which was most impressive in the conditions. Well done to all of them and especially to junior runner ELLIE MACAULEY who was not only First Finisher here for the first time but also had an impressive new PB as well.

This week's higher numbers kept our scanners busy
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And many congratulations also to our very own Event Director JOE WATTS, who recorded his first time as First Finisher here. Well done Joe and Ellie.

STELLA BEARD was in charge for her second turn as run director and once the megaphone decided to behave she welcomed XANDER DOLMAN to the Junior 10 Club and everyone to our 197th event.

On Saturday we sadly said goodbye to TILLY WHITE who has been volunteering with us as part of her DofE Bronze award. Thank you Tilly for all your help and we hope to see you again here on the start line soon. We rely on our DofE volunteers to help us run our events and we currently have 5 from local schools turning out on Saturday mornings. Thanks to all of them.

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So without further ado, we were off down the hill towards the boathouse and onwards to our muddy fate. And as we squelched up the hill through the mud past the VC memorial, the conditions underfoot must have been somewhat similar to those the soldiers endured during the horrific Spring Offensive of 1918, which broke the stalemate of the First World War and led to its long - awaited conclusion in November that year.
It is always worth remembering the 10 Tunbridge Wells men who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery and are remembered in the VC Grove as we run past it each week, and one of them Major Eric Stuart Dougall was killed in action in Belgium 100 years ago to the day on 14th April 1918, four days after the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

How fortunate we are to be here in 2018 and only having to endure the winter mud in the park.

The final hill may be steep - but at least it's not muddy!
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Don’t forget that in 2 weeks time we celebrate the 4th anniversary of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun and since then 5,092 different runners have completed 30,543 parkruns covering a total distance of 152,715 km and setting 5,036 personal bests. To celebrate it will be a Pacer Day, and we need lots of volunteer pacers. We will have a flower theme to the day and there will be lots of raffle prizes and scrumptious eats, so make a note in your diary. Who knows? With the weather forecast as it is, we may even have completely dry course by then. Wouldn’t that be a novelty? An anniversary PB anyone?

We've put in an order for sky this colour for our anniversary event...
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Saturday was my 3rd anniversary at RTW parkrun, and in that time I have totted up 114 parkruns, of which 82 have been in Dunorlan Park. It’s difficult to remember what I did on Saturday mornings before that!

You can view our complete event history on the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun Results page, which includes the full results from this week's event. Also on the website (photos page) there are lots of fantastic photos of Saturday’s event thanks to our able photographers RICHARD WOODFIELD and the multi - tasking Event Director and First Finisher JOE WATTS. Is there anything you can’t do Joe?

You can also follow us on Twitter or like our page on Facebook.

Next week it is my turn on the megaphone and I hope to see all of you there on Saturday morning, especially this week’s first timers. It will be great to see you again. Have a good week.

parkrun reinstated!

Please note that - contrary to our previous announcement - we are now intending to have a parkrun on 5 May. This is as a result of the postponement of another (non parkrun related) event that had been due to take place in Dunorlan Park on 5 May. We just now need to fill our volunteer roster for the reinstated parkrun.

This week's 28 volunteers:

Fiona SUTTON • Joseph WATTS • Jane FENTIMAN • Stella BEARD • Steve BARNFIELD • John DYSON • Judy GUEST • Paul HOLLIS • Matilda WHITE • Gloria RICHARDS • Richard WOODFIELD • Rachel SADLER • Francis EAMES • Noeline SIMS • Erica JONES • Graham BROOKS • Robert HASSELL • Robin BARWICK • Victoria MULLETT • Emily MULLETT • Bethan CHANDLER • Tom CHANDLER • Yolanda WITT • Rose SAWYER • Adrian FERNANDEZ PAREJA • Maisie VERNON • Mark DENNISON • Jack NORWOOD

 

#DFYS – don’t forget your snorkel!

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event #195
31 March 2018

Run report by Richard Woodfield. Pictures by Prem Konieczny except where otherwise stated.

Heavy rain on several days during the preceding week meant that last week's tentative improvement in ground conditions were nullified - and once again we were back to swamp like conditions. "Probably the wettest muddiest RTW parkrun ever" and "I’m a swimming teacher by 'trade' so I’m confident of a top 10 finish for the 1st time." Nevertheless, 168 hardy parkrunners and 30 volunteers braved the conditions and were rewarded with at least some modest periods of sunshine.

It was one of our regular pacer days. It's fair to say, tho, that in these conditions the chances of bagging a personal best time for our course were not very high unless perhaps you had only previously run a few times on our course. But very well done to the six parkrunners who did achieve PBs.

Afterwards we were treated to some welcome light refreshments. Thank you to those who provided them - I certainly consumed several mint chocolates, "several" being a fairly elastic concept in my book.

A tranquil scene before parkrun - although this was the path rather than the "official" lake! (RW)
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Joe - on his 57th occasion in the role of run director
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We all know that there are plenty of fascinating parkrun statistics. But at RTW parkrun we also do other branches of parkrun mathematics - for instance geometry. Here - as every week - parkrunners "describe an arc" (pic RW)
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Back to the statistics. In March we passed several landmarks

* 5,000 different parkrunners have now parkrun at our event
* 30,000 parkruns have been run, jogged or walked at our event, which means 150,000 kilometres have been parkrun here.

However, March remains the only month of the year in which we've never had 200+ parkrunners at an event. It's fair to say that the weather really has not been on our side.

A challenging day for the pacers - how much time do you need in hand to allow for the slippery, slidey parts later in the course?
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Waving or balancing? Not always easy to tell on the slippery sections!
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Definitely waving here!
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Youthful parkrunners switch on the burners towards the end of the lap ...
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It's smiles all round from the volunteers ...
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Three new members have recently joined the 25 volunteer club - Robin Barwick, Huw Jones and Yolanda Witt. Well done all three! And parkrun veteran and regular, John Dyson, has joined the 100 runs club. Another John (John Isaacs) who is also in the MV 75- 79 category was a parkrun tourist with us today, running in his 301st event.

Age gradings
The age grading percentages show how fast your times are in relation to the world record for your age and gender. It was interesting to see that the top thirteen age grade percentages this week were all achieved by parkrunners either aged 40 and over or aged 14 and under. Which could suggest that (given reasonable health) it may be more feasible for us ordinary runners to hang on to much of whatever pace we had for longer - into middle and even older age - than it is for elite athletes. Anyway, that's what I'm hoping!

Commitment: Graham (MV85+) doing warm ups.... John, after overnight flight from USA (RW)
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Let us know how you got on at our event on social media, where you can also keep up to date with the latest news - follow us on Twitter or like our page on Facebook.

This week's volunteers were:

Adrian FERNANDEZ PAREJA • Alexander CARDEW • Amy WHITE • Bethan CHANDLER • Chloe CARDEW • Colin RATCLIFFE • Daniel WITT • Emilia CARDEW • Erica JONES • Francis EAMES • Gloria RICHARDS • Jane FENTIMAN • John DYSON • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Louise FITZGERALD • Maisie VERNON • Marian KEEP • Mark DENNISON • Nick FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Prem KONIECZNY • Richard NASH • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Stella BEARD • Steve BARNFIELD • Stuart CORKE • Tom CHANDLER • Wendy ANDERSON

 

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:
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Certificates for our "most regular" runners (all of whom were on volunteer duty):
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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):
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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:
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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:
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Regular RTW parkrunner and local MP Greg Clark was in a dog race:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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Some of the food that was on offer to our finishers:
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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...
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... and dogs MUST be kept on a short lead or harness and under firm control throughout:
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And of course, if you want to receive a time - don't forget your (printed) barcode #DFYB !!

 

Run report – Saturday 3rd May, by Louise Fitzgerald

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun - 3rd May 2014

Today was the 2nd Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun event and I had the honour of being the Run Director. Sadly, I had to miss the inaugural event the previous week due to my sister's wedding so I was very excited to be able to attend and oversee the second event with the help of my fellow Run Director and the Event Director for RTW parkrun, Joe Watts.

It was a beautifully sunny but chilly morning in Dunorlan Park and after scouting out the course first thing to set up the cones and signage, we discovered the course was a little muddy, especially in the fields, thanks to the recent rain. Our wonderful volunteers arrived in good time to be briefed on their respective duties and we even had a runner, Carol Tsang, who decided on the morning that she didn't want to run and put herself forward to volunteer, so a massive thank you to Carol. Once kitted out in their high vis jackets, the marshals headed off to their respective posts while the funnel team remained close at hand to prepare for the start.

After the new runners briefing, I called everyone together to give the pre-run briefing, welcoming everyone and telling them to be careful of the mud. I think a little more practice over the next few weeks will make for smoother and less nervous briefings! Once I'd finished and everyone was in their positions, I counted the runners down and they were off!

We had a fantastic group of runners today, and almost everyone commented on what a beautiful setting Dunorlan Park is and that it is a joy to run around, despite the hills!

Some parkrun tourists from Oxford staying in Royal Tunbridge Wells for a stag weekend:

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Well done to the 24 runners who returned from last week and achieved personal bests, a huge welcome to the 47 parkrun first timers and to the 19 runners who had previously been to a parkrun, but ran our course for the first time today. We hope to see you all again soon.

Congratulations to Ros Tucker and Jake Tucker (pictured centre), who returned to achieve a personal best time by over 5 minutes - this being their 2nd only parkrun event!

 

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Finally, congratulations to Daniel Watt (pictured below) who returned after last week to set a new course record, with a time of 17.26.

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A massive thank you to those of you who volunteered this week. As I’m sure you know by now, parkrun wouldn’t be possible without every single volunteer and we need them every week so please, if you can spare a couple of hours for just one Saturday morning, please send an e-mail to royaltunbridgewellshelpers@parkrun.com with your availability - it is a great feeling and a fantastic way to start the weekend!

Our volunteer team, sorting the finish tokens for next week's parkrun and closing down the finish funnel:

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And last, but by no means least, a huge thank you to Graeme Pate (pictured below), who was our volunteer tail runner for this week.

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parkrun tourists get a taste of our hills! by Anne-france Rix

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun – 26th April 2014

Despite a grey and drizzly start to the day, Tunbridge Wells dragged itself out of bed to put on a sterling effort at its inaugural parkrun!

As with all parkruns, there was a friendly and excited buzz from the 179 runners and 18 volunteers, as they lined up to be part of what is sure to become an established community event in our town. 

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We welcomed many local and regional running clubs who came to show their support as runners or volunteers, including my local club - “Sarah’s Runners” in Tunbridge Wells, and parkrun tourists from Tonbridge, Whitstable, Bromley, the ‘Orpington Road Runners’, and ‘Meopham & Malling Ladies Joggers’.

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Some of the Orpington Road Runners: Harrison, Annette, Caroline, Kevin & Rupert.

Visit www.orprunners.com for info on the ‘Orpington High Elms 10k’ on Sunday 15th June 2014!

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Whitstable parkrunners: Shirley Pullen, Karen Hoult, Andy Phillips & Anthony Ansell.

It was great to see Richard and friends in their red ‘CPRC on tour’ t-shirts from ‘Chineham Park Running Club’ in Basingstoke (pictured below). They are aiming to complete 50 different parkruns by parkrun’s 10th anniversary in October!

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parkrun is also about families having fun, getting fit and achieving goals together. A special mention goes to Alex (6yrs) & mum Manuela Alfagene, with Jamie (11yrs) and Jake (8yrs) & mum Ros Tucker, all from Paddock Wood. It was the boys’ first ever parkrun, and Jake completed it despite having had pneumonia twice not that long ago!

Ros and Manuela are delighted their boys are following in their footsteps by getting into running, and are themselves setting a great example - as these two mums have gone from “0 to 60” in just over 1 year – from hardly being able to run for long, when they joined the ‘Meopham & Malling Ladies Joggers’, to completing the Paddock Wood half marathon last month!

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Jamie, Ros, Jake, Alex & Manuela from Paddock Wood.

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Sarah & Anna (8 yrs) Barker from Tunbridge Wells (Sarah’s Runners club).

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Johnathon & Felix McArdle-Hodge from Tunbridge Wells.

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Gary & Dylan Manser – on their first ever parkrun!

There is a lot to look at on your parkrun, to take your mind off your aching muscles! The course is a scenic mix of well-kept tarmac, meadow and field trails, undulating around the 6 acre boating lake full of graceful swans and honking geese, and through pretty landscaped gardens, trees, marshes, fountains, grecian temple, sculptures, and many other features in this Grade II Heritage Historic Park, which has not changed much since the 1850’s. The tea pavilion awaits you at the finish line, to reward you with refreshment and a lovely view over the course as you enjoy a well-deserved rest.

I’ve always been impressed watching the speed of the first few finishers crossing the line at Tonbridge parkrun, but am even more sympathetic when the finishing stretch involves the killer hill at Dunorlan park!

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Many more photos from the day, by our volunteer - Darren Matthews, will be uploaded soon to the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun event page: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/royaltunbridgewells/photos/

Well done to all 179 of our runners at the inaugural run and especially to the 55 runners who attended a parkrun event for their very first time – we look forward to welcoming you all back soon! 

Will Levett of Tunbridge Wells Harriers was the first male finisher, although he forgot his barcode!

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Nicole Taylor of Tonbridge Athletic Club was the first female finisher.

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And of course thanks go to our many volunteers, including Joe Watts (Event Director) and Jacky Macdonald (Kent Ambassador for parkrun) (pictured below), for making this weekly event happen, and to run smoothly.

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Mike Hughes (finish token support) & Judy Guest (barcode scanning)

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Jane Fentiman (barcode scanning), Steve Barnfield (back-up timekeeper) & Claire Lawrence (timekeeper)

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