Welcome 5k Your Way

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 285
25th January 2020

Run report by Benny Fiddimore

This week 333 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 54 were first timers and 23 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 24 different clubs took part. The event was made possible by 36 volunteers.

Our run report is written by Benny Fiddimore who is taking part in his Bronze DofE award.

Today, the weather in Dunorlan Park was not the greatest. It was cold, grey and misty. However, that miserable atmosphere was soon changed. Firstly, I had a quick talk with Sonja King, who is celebrating joining the parkrun 100 club! Since August 2014, Sonja has clocked up 64 parkruns here at Dunorlan, with the majority of the rest completed in Croydon. RTW parkrun is extra special for Sonja, because it started the day after her son was born! Congratulations on all the hard work put into reaching 100 parkruns Sonja!

lake view
The weather at parkrun was cold, grey and misty.

Just before the event was about to begin, Run Director Mark was joined by a very special guest for today’s pre-parkrun briefing. Dame Kelly Holmes was here to talk about 5K Your Way. This is a charity which supports and encourages people living with and beyond cancer to get out and get active. She said the point of the charity was to help people get active in a "supportive, friendly environment".

Following her speech, Mark went over a few health and safety announcements before the run commenced.

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And they’re off! Following Mark’s health and safety announcements, the parkrun commenced!

With the event now in action, I decided to walk around the course to motivate our new 5K Your Way participants. I was very happy to see that 5K Your Way is for all abilities, whether you’re a runner, jogger or walker. After all, it’s about getting out in the fresh air and getting some exercise, not about how fast you are.

I spoke to some people who were walking the course. One of these people was a nurse. They had been walking with some of their patients and said to me: "It was great to get some fresh air, and be out helping their patients get active".

As well as speaking to the amazing 5K Your Way participants, I met one of our parkrun regulars. She told me that “today was very difficult for me, but then I saw Dame Kelly Holmes, who gave me a high five, that really inspired me to finish the run”.

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Some of our new 5K Your Way runners, we also had joggers and walkers.


Also after the run, I spoke to the Kent Ambassador for 5K Your Way, Dr Rema Jyothirmayi. I asked her why she decided to bring 5K Your Way to the area. She wanted to encourage her patients living with and beyond cancer to get active. She also told me that the 5K Your Way group planned to meet up on the last Saturday of every month for parkrun! We look forward to welcoming them back in February.

Thank You to Dame Kelly Holmes for inspiring our participants to finish the parkrun today by cheering them on towards the finish line!

RTW parkrun will return next Saturday at 9am.

 

Move against cancer and do 5k your way

Here at RTW parkrun – and indeed every other parkrun around the world – our focus is on inclusivity and the encouragement to get involved no matter what your ability.

Following on from this belief, on Saturday, 25th January, we will be visited by an initiative called 5k Your Way, Move Against Cancer. The group, which has a branch in Tunbridge Wells, is a way of encouraging people living with and beyond cancer, and their friends and family, to get active. Organisers hope to make this a regular occurrence.

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Physical activity has been shown to have a number of important benefits for people living with cancer, including reducing cancer-related fatigue, helping to preserve heart and lung function and muscular fitness and improving psychological well-being. With this in mind, 5k Your Way invites anyone with a current or previous diagnosis of cancer, their friends, families and those working in cancer services to join their support group and then come along to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at our parkrun.

People attending as part of 5k Your Way will still have to register with parkrun in the usual way and bring their printed barcode to ensure they get a time. Briefings for parkrun begin at 8.50am, with 5k Your Way aiming to gather at 8.45am to say hello to each other first.

As added incentive on 25th January, it’s hoped Dame Kelly Holmes will be able to come along to celebrate this positive health initiative!

 

A week of celebrations

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
16 November 2019

Event No 274

Run report by Erica Jones

There’s always something to celebrate at parkrun, be it completing 5k, a personal best, a milestone, a friend’s milestone, volunteering and making a difference to others, or the simple fact you got up and out of the house before 9am on a Saturday. It’s no wonder so many of our photos show smiles on the faces of participants.

However some weeks there’s more to celebrate than others, and event 274 was one of those weeks.

The celebrations began on a sad note, as we held a minute’s applause in memory of former parkrunner John Dyson, but even in sadness there’s joy as many of us shared tributes, some of which can be seen in another news item on this site.

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Then we moved onto the happier news.

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Run Director ‘lite’ Lizzie Miller was given a round of applause as she loses the word ‘lite’ from her title. This week it’s her 18th birthday so she’ll be able to take on full RD responsibilities from now on. Lizzie is one of our valued Duke of Edinburgh volunteers, who is working towards her gold award.

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Next we have a few milestone achievements, with Kelvin Desmoyers-Davis becoming only the second RTW-registered participant to complete 250 5Ks. At the same time David Castle was here for his 100th parkrun, and Jason Horne his 50th. By the end of the morning we were also celebrating the achievements of 18 first-timers and 17 personal bests. Well done to all!

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Last but definitely not least is Judy Guest. Milestones are generally celebrated after the fact, so this week we surprised parkrun fairy godmother Judy by letting her know her 250th separate occasion of volunteering had not gone unnoticed.

A volunteer from day one, Judy is an invaluable member of the team who has almost certainly scanned your barcode at one time or another, as well as managing the volunteer roster and carrying out countless other roles to ensure our parkrun goes without a hitch – all without ever having completed the course.

All of us at RTW parkrun are grateful to Judy for her efforts, and she was presented with a box of chocolates and a personalised T-shirt by way of thanks.

As you can see, last week’s parkrun was definitely a day of celebrations.

 

Expected run time: 133 years!

Royal Tunbrige Wells
26 October 2019
Event no 271

Run report by Richard Woodfield

In common with many other parkruns our numbers were down a bit on the usual. Probably not unconnected with a certain sporting fixture kicking off at precisely 0900. But despite that, and the gloomy weather conditions, there was plenty to enjoy - not least with all the colourful and spooky gear on view.

Judy presents flowers to Coral to mark our appreciation of all that she has contributed to parkrun in volunteering 52 times, in many different roles, as part of her Duke of Edinburgh gold award.
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The good news is that Coral will continue to be involved with our parkrun whenever she can.

A striking addition to today's event was a visiting dinosaur. Leading to this classic exchange. Run Director: "Any parkrun tourists?" Several hands raised. "Where are you from?" "The Jurassic period."

So, what is the expected finishing time for a dinosaur? Let's assume that the dinosaur is a T Rex and so maybe around 70 million years old. With such a veteran status it's probably reasonable to assume that his parkrun finish times have lengthened on average by perhaps a minute each year. This would suggest an expected parkrun finish time of around 133 years! In fact, the dinosaur managed a very sprightly performance in the windy conditions, finishing in around 27 minutes.

All in a day's work for a touring dinosaur.... first timers' briefing.... starting at the back of the field ... collecting a finish token
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Plenty of spooky gear on view
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Possibly the yellowest tree in Dunorlan Park?
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Many thanks to all today's 27 volunteers who made the event possible.

 

From the beginning

Our latest parkrun person profile introduces Kelvin Desmoyers-Davis, a name many might recognise from its regular appearance near the top of the finishers list.

One of the participants in the first ever Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun, Kelvin has been taking part in parkruns since before ours existed.

“A colleague at work mentioned this ‘timed 5k event in Maidstone’ and my gut feeling was well that sounds interesting but a bit far to travel!” explained Kelvin. “Then through word of mouth and social media I discovered there was a parkrun starting at Tonbridge, so I went along to their inaugural event. Then – as I’m Tunbridge Wells born and bred – I heard about the then new Royal Tunbridge Wells event and I’ve been here ever since.”

Kelvin is front of the pack (he's the one on the left!)

Kelvin is front of the pack

When asked what made him keep coming back Kelvin said: “Different reasons at different stages. Originally I was determined to beat my PBs. Then to get into the 50 club. Now [not far off 250 parkruns] I see it as more than just a 5k and I enjoy the social aspects like catching up with fellow participants for a post parkrun coffee.”

Post-parkrun coffee

Post-parkrun coffee

His favourite thing about parkrun is entering the finish funnel, because that’s the moment when he feels like he’s achieved something: “Whether that’s helping someone get a PB if I’ve been a volunteer pacer, renewing my own PB or simply knowing I’m one run fewer away from the next milestone club!”

Having been a parkrunner for so long, Kelvin’s one of our faster participants but is often seen slowing down a little as a volunteer pacer [pacers always choose a time they feel comfortable with, rather than aiming for their own PB, so they can be sure their time is achievable on the day].

“It’s rewarding to know you may have helped someone achieve a PB. The pacer can help prevent runners from going too fast for their target time and so burning out before the end of the run. It’s often easier to just follow someone in front of you!”

Part of the pacer pack

Part of the pacer pack

His advice to others is taking part is: “If it’s a cold day, bring something warm to wear afterwards. If it’s hot, bring a bottle of water. The most important thing is to just try and enjoy taking part. Don’t set unrealistic goals, and avoid injuries by listening to your body.” Invaluable advice whether you’re a 20, 40 or 60 minute finisher!

Kelvin also shares his toughest part of the route: “I find the second lap between the bridge and the events field is the toughest part. Keep something in the tank for this section.” That said, of the 13 different parkruns he’s participated in he also says ours is one of – if not the most – picturesque. We always like to hear praise of our park!

To finish his profile we asked Kelvin to tell us something random about himself. He may be one of our faster participants now, but his response was to admit he used to smoke for more than 10 years. Which perhaps acts as reassurance to others thinking of quitting smoking and taking on a new challenge?

 

Helping others to experience parkrun

As we continue our introduction to regular faces at RTW parkrun, we thought we’d share another golden girl from our volunteering team, meet Lizzie.

Having joined parkrun in 2017 as a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze volunteer, Lizzie Miller has continued to help out as she progressed through the achievements, and is now working towards her Gold Award.

Lizzie

Already a runner with Tonbridge AC, Lizzie had visited our parkrun before and loved the friendly, relaxed atmosphere in Dunorlan Park. When it came to choosing somewhere to volunteer it made her decision an easy one.

“I loved the sense of achievement when I crossed the finish,” says Lizzie, “and I wanted to give something back so that other people would have the chance to experience the same thing.”

Admirable reasons for choosing to volunteer!

In her two years since joining our volunteer team, Lizzie has helped out with barcode scanning, finish tokens and support, timekeeping, marshalling and tail walking. She says her favourite roles are timing or finish token support.

It’s a busy time for Lizzie as she works towards her A-levels, but she still loves coming to parkrun on Saturday mornings.

One final word, her advice to anyone considering volunteering or trying out the 5k route: “If your’e thinking of doing parkrun I say go for it! It’s so much fun, kick-starts your Saturday morning and is a great way to meet new people.”

Wise words from Lizzie and we’re grateful to have her as part of the team.

Lizzie scanning

 

Five years of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
27 April 2019
Event No 247

Run report by Erica Jones

The fifth birthday of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun was such an exciting event that even Storm Hannah attempted to put in an appearance. Thankfully, she wasn’t quick enough, so apart from a little (a lot) of headwind the event was able to run without a hitch.

An impressive 310 participants and 46 volunteers turned up for the birthday event, which is certainly something to be proud of.

parkrun view

The day started with regular parkrunner and Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council William Benson saying a few words, before our new Event Director Colin Ratcliffe launched into the briefings. This included highlighting the Gazebo of Joy which was sheltering the raffle prizes as well as sweet and savoury treats (for human and four-legged runners). This year the raffle prizes were won by a “magic” finish token spot system, a speedier way of ensuring participants win prizes and recognising the efforts of a random assortment of finish times along the way (not forgetting a handy way of discouraging funnel duckers!).

The spot raffle was also a great way of directing people to the sweet and savoury treats and encouraging a few more conversations among those who like to loiter and relax in the park after their 5k effort.

Five years of RTW parkrun has led to many achievements to be proud of, on a collective scale 6,725 people have completed the 5k course, clocking up an incredible 42,858 runs, walks or jogs. This has led to a massive 7,307 personal bests being achieved during that time.

Adding up all the time participants have taken means a total of 2 years, 142 days, 1 hour, 22 minutes and 36 seconds have been spent parkrunning at Royal Tunbridge Wells, clocking up a distance of 214,290km around Dunorlan Park.

All of this supported by 438 different volunteers – our helpers really are heroes!

Over the last year our parkrun has grown in number, with record-breaking attendances occurring increasingly often and it’s great to see average finish times are actually getting slower as our numbers increase. We call it parkrun, but many of us do walk or jog, using the 5k event as the perfect opportunity to begin to get active, which is the best advice for anyone thinking of joining us at our next event.

Well done to everyone who’s taken part in our parkrun – it’s the joggers, runners, volunteers and walkers who make our event so special.

 

Coral’s golden

Our parkrun couldn’t happen without the kind help of volunteers, and so this week – as part of what we hope will become a series of profiles of parkrun participants of all kinds – we’re introducing a Run Director of the future, Coral Sadler.

Coral

Okay, so we may be looking ahead a little when we’re touting her as a Run Director, but having volunteered at Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun for the last six months, Coral certainly knows what’s going on when it comes to ensuring our event runs smoothly. Her experience includes barcode scanning, finish token support, funnel manager, marshal, timekeeper, token sorting… we could go on… and her favourite role (for now, while she eyes up the RD vest) is number checker.

As Coral says: “I love helping things run smoothly and I enjoy solving any problems that may arise within that role!” (Editor’s note, from people accidentally entering the finish funnel twice to missing tokens, a *lot* can go wrong between passing the stop watches and receiving your emailed finish time.)

Coral volunteers Coral at the finish funnel

Coral, who is working towards her gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, explains why she chose to volunteer with us: “My Mum has been taking part for a little while and she suggested it was a good idea, now every Saturday we turn up together and it’s a good way to get the weekend started.” We applaud this sentiment.

While volunteering is her preferred start to the weekend Coral has also participated in the 5k a couple of times, to try it out with her Mum: “I really enjoyed it, everyone is very friendly and the marshals are super motivational! A nice hot coffee and veggie sausage sandwich afterwards always won me over too.”

A few highlights from her time with us – so far – include volunteering on Christmas day, when everyone was in good spirits, including lots of Santa hats and treats, and the week an entire bridal party (complete with bride and groom) took part.

Coral adds: “I really enjoy my time at parkrun and can see myself staying on after I have completed my DofE. I thoroughly enjoy my Saturday mornings and would be lost without them.”

A politics and international relations student at Royal Holloway University, Coral is currently training her chocolate Labrador so he can join her at parkrun.

 

Snowed off….

With snow forecast for Thursday evening, Robin, our Run Director for Sat 2 February, decided to make an early morning course inspection on the Friday. Sadly, it did not take him long to decide that our event should be cancelled on safety grounds. In snowy weather it is nearly always ice that is likely to be the main threat to our event. There was a high likelihood that the hard paths near the lake would on parkrunday be covered in an unpleasant mixture of ice, compacted snow, slush and puddles. The safety of our parkrunners and volunteers is paramount at all times.

The forecast was for the temperature to remain at or just above freezing during Friday and overnight into Saturday. Rather than hang on until first thing on Saturday for only a very very small chance that the course might be safe to use it seemed better to make the call on Friday morning and so give our parkrunners and volunteers time to reschedule their parkrunday morning. Many thanks to all those who volunteered for the event.

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2018 – A Year in Review

Review by Erica Jones
Pictures by Charles Bowley, Zena Hassell and Richard Woodfield

Despite January being a rather dark and depressing month, there’s much to look forward to in 2019, especially for those of us who are able to drag ourselves out of bed and over to Dunorlan Park for 9am every Saturday morning. (Plaudits of course to those volunteers who are up even earlier to help set up the course!)

We may complain about the early start on a weekend but we all know we love parkrun, don’t we? At least, the figures indicate we do, with 2,592 people having taken part in our event in 2018. One of those, Mark Scott, is just a few events shy of his 200th at Royal Tunbridge Wells, and not far from his bottle green 250 parkrun top – the first to be earned by a current RTW participant!

Anyway, they say you can’t look to the future without understanding the past, so we’ve taken a look back at 2018 and picked out a few noteworthy moments, because who knows what new highlights 2019 will bring?

The year started rather coldly, with a few unwelcome Beast from the East related cancellations, but we’re parkrunners and wherever possible we won’t let a little cold weather stop us.

February - and the Beast from the East created opportunities for PB descents of the first hill!
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In February we were visited by a group of students from Kent College, who enjoyed the challenge of our hilly course. March saw a more sedate highlight in the form of two young children bearing a ‘Tap for Power’ banner. They may not have been taking part in the 5k, but they were very much helping the rest of us to ‘power’ around the course!

March - "Tap for Power" - a welcome, albeit temporary, new feature at the start of Heartbreak Hill!
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Volunteering stalwart/hero Judy also deserves a mention for March, as many of you wouldn’t know it but she stepped up as volunteer co-ordinator at the end of the month and later in the year volunteered at her 200th parkrun. Our helpers really do make all the difference to parkrun and we’re grateful to every one of the 178 of you who helped out in 2018.

April saw another highlight you might have missed, when a participant in a green 250 parkrun top ran the course. Christine Gibbons, chairman of parkrun Global, had popped by to try our course while visiting friends – it’s always great to meet tourists!

April - and The Beast from the East finally gives way to Spring...
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April - 4th anniversary celebrations. Run Director, Louise, backed by volunteer pacers, thanks regular volunteer Judy for another year of service
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In mid May, we started to use the alternative course. This incorporated a diversion to avoid two striking features - which had become known, graphically, as Quagmire Corner and The Shoewash. The revised route has evoked mixed reactions, with some enjoying the reduced encounters with mud while others were not so keen on the additional (relatively slight) uphill section (which is thankfully followed by a speedy downhill). Overall the route has still continued to see a high number of PBs achieved through the year. It remains to be seen how the revised course might stand up to the combined rigours of a long wet winter and lots of tramping parkrunner feet. So, we’ll have to watch this space for any further developments.

May - A revision to the course hopefully meant that scenes like this at The Shoewash have become a thing of the past!
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And here's Event Director, Joe, tackling The Shoewash - with some panache!
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Dame Kelly Holmes stopped by in June to help us celebrate 70 years of the NHS. She did a great job of inspiring the crowd but some may have missed her if they were distracted by Run Director Francis’ historic midwife get up. Top marks to him for fancy dress effort.

June - temporary midwife and Run Director, Francis, shares a joke with Dame Kelly
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Also in June, regular parkrunner Nick brought along a camera and filmed his 5k. Those of us at the more leisurely end of the timings blinked and missed him as he ran past, but it’s certainly a great way to view our event and beautifully shows off Dunorlan Park.

We got a new fastest female finisher in July, when Nicole Taylor beat the course record for women on a very hot day, achieving a time of 17.48. This may have prompted more than a few women to eye the record more closely. Could we end up with a battle for times in 2019?

In August our final finisher was much more remarkable, when Commonwealth Games judo medallist Jemima Yeats-Brown volunteered as tailwalker for the national Team parkrun event. It was great to have her join us and help emphasise that whether you run, jog or walk the taking part really is what counts.

It’s easy to forget now, but week after week through most of the summer we enjoyed warm parkrunning weather and unbroken blue skies. Many a post-parkrun sociable half hour was spent on the café balcony or relaxing on the grass near the finish funnel.

The long hot summer continues - post parkrun relaxation
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September had perhaps our most striking participants show up, when Lloyd and Suzannah brought their entire wedding party along to take part before their main event. Both wore appropriate clothing for the big day and Suzannah deserves special recognition for running 5k in a full-on wedding dress.

September - the wedding party!
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Summer gives way to autumn in lovely Dunorlan Park
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In December the other half of our duo of volunteer heroes gets a special mention because Noeline took part in her first ever parkrun when she stepped in as tailwalker at the last moment. For those of you who don’t know, Noeline is the other half of the Judy/Noeline volunteering duo, having clocked up well over 100 events as a volunteer.

Towards the end of the year a future parkrunner also entered the fold, when Run Director Louise and regular runner and volunteer, Nick, welcomed their first baby, Isabelle, into the world. Congratulations to the family!

Finally, the year ended on a high number, with Christmas Day parkrun smashing our event's previous record for participants, when 329 people came along to run, jog or walk the course before settling down to their turkey. Well done everyone!

December - Christmas parkrunners ready for action
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