United in enjoyment of the feel-good factor

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 291
14th March 2020

Run report by Jasmine Quinney

This week 123 people ran, jogged, walked and squelched their way around Dunorlan Park for the 291st edition of Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun. We lined up ready for the run brief to be told to expect a muddy course and it certainly lived up to expectations!

There were 20 first timers today, three of whom recorded their first ever parkrun result today - welcome Nathan, Shanti and Kerry and I hope you managed to enjoy the muddy, wet experience! This number also included many tourists, from places as far away as Melbourne, Australia.

A fantastic seven people managed to record new Personal Bests in the conditions and representatives of 15 different clubs took part. The first finisher was James Sarre, and first female over the line was Amelia Ireson who also recorded a PB today. A shoutout also goes to Sheila Wilson, who achieved the highest age graded score of 70.21%.

A special well done to Timothy Radley who joined the 100 club today, with 94 of these runs being at Royal Tunbridge Wells!
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Briefing time

I was one of the first timers here, and today was a special one for me as it was the last course I had left to have done all 22 parkruns in Kent. This was a challenge I set myself in around October last year (I learnt the hard way that this probably would have been more appropriate for the summer months), and have been steadily ticking off all the runs the county has to offer since.

Kent has a variety of parkrun courses – you can run in a park, country park or forest, on a canal towpath or heath, along the seafront or through a vineyard! Royal Tunbridge Wells was a great one to finish off because it offered some of the greatest hits of the Kent parkruns experienced before – lovely park paths like in Ashford or Dartford, stopping to wipe my glasses off because they’re covered in rain like in Tonbridge, squelchy shoes to rival Squerryes Winery or the feeling at the end of the first lap that I distinctly remember having at Lullingstone of “Do I really have to do that again?!”.

Despite their differences, one thing unites the parkruns in Kent and beyond, and that is the community and feel-good factor that’s there every Saturday morning. This morning was no different, and it was great to have a chat with people while navigating the course this morning, and feeling the buzz of parkrunners and volunteers in the café afterwards. A lovely woman started chatting to me on the second lap after a particularly muddy stretch - we were sharing experiences and she was reminding me just why I enjoy getting out on a Saturday morning. She couldn’t have timed it better as she caught me just at the moment when I had started walking and doubts were creeping in of my decision to wake up at 6:30am for this! So thank you to her and all those like her who manage to give us a bit more of a drive to keep going.

In the current climate when it can feel like everyone is getting increasingly panicked and shutting themselves off, it is so refreshing to come out, forget about everything and enjoy the feeling that parkrun gives you.

The event today was made possible by 29 volunteers:

Mark SCOTT • Jane FENTIMAN • Bernadette O'CONNOR • Judy GUEST • Alison BEARD • Dominic BEARD • Kitty MUYSKEN • Sara RIOLO • Mal MCKENZIE • Noeline SIMS • Huw JONES • Hugh STEPHENSON • Erica JONES • Louis COOMBS • Heloise SOUTH • Robin BARWICK • Juanita MCFARLIN • Mark DENNISON • Alasdair SHUTT • Imogen BURMAN-MITCHELL • Susie NORWOOD • Reuben BENSON • Quinton WOOD • Benny FIDDIMORE • Jasmine QUINNEY • Sarah MCFARLIN • Riya RANJAN • Liberty SMITH • Peter BALL

Thank you for your efforts today, for standing out in the rain and all your words of encouragement. The army of volunteers standing at the end of the first lap was especially appreciated, and helped a great deal with my aforementioned end of first lap feeling!

Finally, thanks to all at Royal Tunbridge Wells this morning for the warm welcome to my friends and I, and for another unforgettable parkrunday. I’m sure we’ll be back to tackle this parkrun again in the future, just maybe in the summer next time!

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

 

International Women’s Day

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
Event number 290
7th March 2020

Run report by Benny Fiddimore

This week 164 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 24 were first timers and 4 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 17 different clubs took part. The event was made possible by 37 volunteers: Of which 21 were female

Following last week’s unavoidable cancellation, we were all overjoyed to welcome back RTW parkrun to Dunorlan Park! After the horrendous weather on Wednesday and Thursday we must say a big thank you to TWBC, Sodexo and the Monday morning volunteers helping to maintain the park in this exceptionally wet weather.

Today was special event because it was our International Women’s Day parkrun. To celebrate, many participants were wearing a mixture of green, white and purple.

One of our volunteers, Noeline, could not find anything green, white or purple in her house, but that didn’t stop her from showing off the colours. She decided to use some of her purple broccoli from last night’s tea and attached it to her hat using a white ribbon!

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Noeline showing off her great creation made from broccoli!

Obviously, being our International Women’s Day event, it would be wrong not to celebrate the females that make our parkrun run smoothly.

First of all, there are our many female DofE volunteers, who perform multiple roles every week, ensuring the roster remains ‘healthy’. Massive thanks to them!

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Our DofE volunteers hard at work

Next up are our Run Directors. Today we didn’t have one female director, but TWO. Coral, as always, did a great job managing our run. It was also Jane’s debut at a Run Director, and based on her pre-run briefing, it is obvious that she’s a natural. We now have six Run Directors.

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Today’s great team of Run Directors Jane and Coral

Last but not least, are two of the RTW parkrun team's most valued volunteers. Week in, week out, Judy and Noeline ensure our event goes on without a hitch.

Each week, Noeline arrives at 6:30am on Saturday to set up the start funnel, which means we can start on time. She also helps with the clear down, washes the Hi Vis vests and is a great motivator for all our runners. I’m tired just writing that, it sounds like a hard week’s work, let alone in just one morning!

Then of course there’s Judy. Since day one, Judy has been a really important volunteer for RTW parkrun. As well as scanning hundreds (probably thousands) of barcodes, she also manages the volunteer roster, organises the great Dofe volunteers, helps with the routine weekly administration. Without her fabulous organisation skills, parkrun’s volunteers would be a lot less well organised!

Thanks so much to Noeline and Judy for what they do.

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Judy and Noeline, the fairy godmothers behind parkrun!

While we are celebrating our great volunteers this week, it would be dishonorable if we didn’t speak about the female participants out in the fields, demonstrating that parkrun is great fun for males and females.

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Some of this week's participants posed for photos in our ‘This Girl Can’ frame

To summarise, it was another great weekend at Dunorlan Park. I completed the course myself this weekend, and while it was muddy it was great to do my first 5K since October. Now I know that the ‘This Girl Can’ was mainly for female runners, however I couldn’t resist taking part myself!

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Join us for International Women’s Day

On Saturday, 7th March, our parkrun will be joining in with others around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day.

As you all know, parkrun is for everyone, what people don’t know is that the figures for participation are a little unbalanced. Research shows that across the world women are less likely than men to take part in parkrun – and that’s despite females making up 54% of registrations!

That’s why we’re celebrating International Women’s Day and the This Girl Can initiative to encourage more women to come along and discover what it is to be a part of parkrun.

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Do you know a woman who’s nervous of coming last? Doesn’t want to be seen in public in lycra? Thinks the hills will be horrendous? Invite her along so she can meet the tail walker, realise lycra is Definitely Not Mandatory, or see how much we support each other up the park’s gentle slopes.

Or maybe she’d like to be involved but five kilometers really isn’t her thing? An introduction to our volunteering team could be the perfect start to a new Saturday morning hobby.

We’ve all been there and know the first visit to parkrun can be a tough one to build up to, then you arrive and wonder why you were ever worried.

So please, invite your sister, mother, daughter, grandmother, neighbour, work mate, mother-in-law, or any other ladies in your life to join us on 7th March – taking part together can make that first step so much more reassuring.

Also, you won’t be singled out, you’ll simply be helping us to balance out the equality of our 100% inclusive event.

 

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!

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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.

 

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.

 

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

 

We’re buzzing…

Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun
18 May 2019
Event #250

Run report/pics by Richard Woodfield

As it was our 250th parkrun I thought I'd better check how many times we'd exceeded 250 parkrunners at our event. Here's the answer:

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That number (45) represents remarkable growth considering that when we started there were just four other parkruns within 20 miles of us, whereas there are now 10! Those six additions are Malling, Lullingstone, Bedgebury Pinetum, East Grinstead, Uckfield, Kingdom.

It was no ordinary parkrun - even as the day's 31 volunteers were assembling to collect their hi vis and to be briefed on their duties intelligence arrived of a very large swarm of bees hanging right over the path just past the wooden bridge.

Can you beelieve it!
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A new volunteer role - bee marshal - was hastily created and Jessica and Stephanie assigned the role of steering parkrunners to avoid this, hopefully, temporary hazard.

Today's Run Director, Mark, briefed the assembled throng of 313 parkrunners. As ever he was succinct in his briefing - no droning on or waxing lyrical about matters parkrun! We were soon away, swarming down past the lake.

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

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Up in the fields...
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Making a beeline for the scanners
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Hive of activity... [That's enough bee puns - Ed]
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This week's volunteers were:
Alasdair SHUTT • Alison BEARD • Andrew DENNETT • Annie DE'ATH • Callum BENSON • Colin RATCLIFFE • Coral SADLER • Elizabeth MILLER • Gloria RICHARDS • Huw JONES • J B • Jane FENTIMAN • Joanna CAMERON • Jonathan HAWKER • Juanita MCFARLIN • Judy GUEST • Julie CHANDLER • Mark DENNISON • Mark SCOTT • Martin BRICE • Meredith BOCHMANN • Noeline SIMS • Oliver GAINES • Oliver MCCARTHY • Rachel SADLER • Richard NASH • Richard WOODFIELD • Robin BARWICK • Stephanie GROOT • Steve BARNFIELD • Vicky DENNETT

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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