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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Good luck Louise and Nick

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 221
20th October 2018

Run Report Writer Judy Guest

On a lovely autumnal morning Louise was the Run Director for the last time, as she is standing down before the imminent arrival of her first baby. Louise has been with RTW parkrun since inception, originally sharing the Run Director role with Joe. We will greatly miss Louise and all that she has brought to this role, but we give her and her husband Nick our good wishes Who knows - very likely there may be some ‘buggy running’ in the future!

Louise and Nick having fun with Dame Kelly earlier this year
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Louise presiding over our anniversary event raffle
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Louise welcomed Peter White and Vicky Waghorn to the 50 club.

Reminders were made of the Halloween themed run next Saturday which is also a Pacer Day. Feel free to dress up accordingly.

We saw 266 people who ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 37 were first timers and 53 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 23 different clubs took part. Sadly a massive 32 runners did not bring along their barcodes, meaning they did not get a time, but more importantly this prolonged the results processing. Please remember your barcode.

The event was made possible by 33 volunteers:

Ross MARSHALL • Joseph WATTS • Jane FENTIMAN • Louise FITZGERALD • Steve BARNFIELD • Judy GUEST • Richard NASH • Gloria RICHARDS • Nick FITZGERALD • Richard WOODFIELD • Coral SADLER • Noeline SIMS • Lizzy ADAM • Colin RATCLIFFE • Huw JONES • Hugh STEPHENSON • Erica JONES • Isobel WARREN • Oliver DAWE • Robin BARWICK • Victoria MULLETT • Emily MULLETT • Bethan CHANDLER • Victoria CAGLAR • Angela TYLER • Derek JEE • Maisie VERNON • Mark DENNISON • Amy DOBSON • Jane PALMER • Hannah CRAINE • Grace GOODWIN • Annie TAYLOR

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun Results Page.

The male record is held by William LEVETT who recorded a time of 16:12 on 8th April 2017 (event number 149).
The female record is held by Nicole TAYLOR who recorded a time of 17:48 on 21st July 2018 (event number 209).
The Age Grade course record is held by Cath WHEELER who recorded 86.98% (21:23) on 15th September 2018 (event number 216).

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun started on 26th April 2014. Since then 5,861 participants have completed 36,634 parkruns covering a total distance of 183,170 km, including 6,550 new Personal Bests.

 

Thank you… thank you… thank you…

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event no 199
28 April 2018

Run report by Richard Woodfield. Pictures by Charles Bowley, except where stated

Our fourth anniversary was a gloomy, dank sort of day. But no matter - that could not supress the brilliant colours of the flowery garlands worn by all the volunteers or indeed the enjoyment of parkrunners and volunteers on an action packed birthday event. It was very much a day for thanking everyone who had contributed to the continuing success of parkrun over the last year, and in the four years that our event has been running.

Special guest, William Benson (Chief Executive of TWBC) is a parkrunner himself and so is well placed to know that a short pithy speech in the prerun brief is likely to go down well with the assembled parkrunners. William (pictured below) drew attention to some of the impressive stats about participation and the achievements of parkrun and thanked those - volunteers and paid staff - who looked after the park.

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Run Director, Louise, "ran" through an impressive list of organisations and individuals to be thanked. These included: the Council for their considerable and continuing support; the cafe for regularly refreshing us after parkrun - and putting up with our muddy footwear; those who had contributed to the food and raffle prizes for today, which included a number of local businesses and the Running Hub; Event Director, Joe, the other Run Directors; and of course all the volunteers - including those who had recently joined the core volunteer team. Louise presented some "thank you" cards, containing kinds words of appreciation.

Louise introduced the pacer team - and gave a reminder to keep right of the cones when coming down to Quagmire Corner from the Events Field. This avoids the risk of collision with parkrunners who have just run across the wooden bridge travelling in the opposite direction.

The pacer team leads the applause as Louise thanks volunteer co-ordinator, Judy
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Sofia and family with a selection of the delicious refreshments on offer
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A "Zena special" parkrun cake
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Louise reminded the parkrunners about the organization, Friends of Dunorlan Park, which aims to help protect and enhance the park. (At the left of the picture below you can see evidence of the work supported by the Friends, to prevent the larger of the two islands subsiding into the lake dute to erosion. The smaller island is next on the list as it too has been suffering heavily from erosion.) If you would like to support the Friends, there are leaflets in the cafe, or the organisation can easily be found online. Membership is a reasonably priced £7, or £12 for family.

An environment worth protecting!
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There was a rousing cheer for all today's volunteers and the parkrunners were up and running, jogging and walking.

Where have all the flowers gone?

I perched myself next to a rhododendron bush with its profuse array of pink blossoms strewn over the path, which made a great position for photography. A man out was out walking his dog and, as it's quite a narrow stretch of path, he waited patiently awhile for the flow of parkrunners streaming past to ease. It was very encouraging to hear I should think at least 40 parkrunners thanking him politely as they passed. Certainly a little politeness and consideration can go a long way. (3 pics by RW)

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Passing with flying colours

Most our parkrunners will not be aware that one of the visitors today was a parkrun adjudicator, Jacky MacDonald. The adjudicator's job is to conduct perdiodic checks of parkruns around the country to see that parkruns are complying with parkrun policies and rules. The aim is not simply box ticking - it's to ensure that parkrun events continue to be safe and enjoyable, and well run. You'll be pleased to know that RTW parkrun received a very positive assessment, with Jacky concluding:

"First class Run Director Louise Fitzgerald, very clear, and as it was their 4th anniversary gave mention to all the core volunteers. Nice touch."

Adjudicator Jacky conducting a practical assessment ....and one very cool parkrunning dog
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The raffle ....
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parkrun tourist pleased with her raffle prize - the edible parkrun vest!
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Photographer, Charles, captures array of parkrun colours postively glowing on a dank morning!
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Special guest, William, with daughter Amelia, who knocked over 20 seconds off her PB
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Flower power...
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After today's event parkrun tourist Max (based at Folkestone) told me that, with this visit to RTW, he had just completed a full set of the Kent parkruns. He agreed with the suggestion that Lullingstone was probably the most challenging Kentish parkrun course.

Today's statistics
227 parkrunners
43 volunteers
42 personal bests
31 first timers on our course (including 10 doing their first ever parkrun)

Steve Bolton and Hugh Stephenson had recently joined the 50 parkruns club and John Dyson had become a member of the 25 volunteers club.

I've finished!
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This week's volunteers were:
Angela TYLER • Austin RUDMAN • Bethan CHANDLER • Charles BOWLEY • Chris MULLALEY • Colin RATCLIFFE • David CUNNINGHAM • David SAWYER • Emily MULLETT • Francis EAMES • Gabriela BAGULEY • Huw JONES • India ERLAM • Isabella SOUTH • James BAGULEY • James WELBURY • Jane FENTIMAN • John DYSON • Judy GUEST • Kitt BAGULEY • Louise FITZGERALD • Lukas RATCLIFFE • Maisie VERNON • Marian KEEP • Mark DENNISON • Mark SCOTT • Nick FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Rachel SADLER • Richard NASH • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Sofia BAGULEY • Stella BEARD • Stephen ELLIOTT • Steve BARNFIELD • Steve BOLTON • Stuart CORKE • Tom CHANDLER • Victoria CAGLAR • Victoria MULLETT • Wendy ANDERSON • Yolanda WITT

 

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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