Coming back for more…

Sheila Wilson is just a few parkruns away from gaining her 100 parkruns t shirt and so is a familiar figure at our parkrun. She’s also one of our relatively few regular parkrunners in the VW65-69 age category. We thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about her experience and so we dispatched Richard from our Comms team to pose her a few questions.


How did you come to take up running?

It was 5 years ago, when I was 61. A work colleague wanted to try out a local beginners running club (Sarah’s Runners) and wanted me to go with her for a bit of moral support. I needed a lot of persuading because I had never done any sort of running before, but finally I did go with her, but fully intended that it was to be a ‘one off’. The friendship, encouragement and helpful running tips I received there, meant that what was to be my one and only visit, kept getting extended and I still enjoy a weekly run with them when I can.

And what about parkrun?

I first heard about parkrun from several people at Sarah’s Runners, but it was a while before I actually got around to getting there. That first run was tough going though. It was cold and muddy and ‘Heartbreak Hill’ was just about the final straw for me. (I’ve never done hills well and still don’t). While plodding up that final stretch I decided that this definitely would be a one time attendance only. As soon as I’d finished, several other runners came over and spoke to me, one of whom was Zena Hassell. It was her friendly words of encouragement and advice to try it again, that persuaded me to return the following week - so “thank you, Zena!”.

What do you most enjoy about parkrun?

I’ve met some lovely people since starting parkrun and it is this friendliness and the taking part in a community event that keeps me coming. I am also so impressed by that faithful core team of volunteers who are there week after week, regardless of whatever the weather throws at them.

Still smiling - even after last Saturday's mudfest!

What would you say to someone who says that over 60s are too old to be running?

It came as a huge surprise to me to discover in my 60’s that I could run a bit and more importantly that I actually enjoyed it. It is so true that you never know what you can do until you actually try it.

The only word of caution I would say, is that if you are in the older age bracket and have never run before, it is probably advisable to build up your running gradually. You could join a beginners running club, such as Sarah’s Runners’ or do one of the excellent on-line apps such as NHS couch to 5K. Or, as many do, you could do a mixture at parkrun itself – for example, jogging the downhills and walking the uphills and so allow your body to get used to parkrunning. Going straight into trying to run the full 5k parkrun distance, without having had any previous running experience, for some older runners could be off putting and possibly medically unwise.

Summer, sunny, downhill - that's the way to enjoy parkrun!
Sheila W

If you could be a parkrun tourist at any event you liked, which would you choose and why?

I’ve tried a few other parkruns, mainly when the Dunorlan event has been cancelled and have been to the Tonbridge, Bedgebury and Penshurst runs. My favourite though has to be Hastings. It’s by the sea, it’s all on the flat (yippee!) and there’s no mud, but it does entail a ridiculously early start.

On a scale of 1 (“I really don’t mind at all”) to 10 (“I’m an obsessive!”) how much attention to you pay to your finish times? Has that changed during the period you’ve been parkrunning?

At one time I would always have said that I was very uncompetitive. When I first started parkrun, it was often half way through the week, before I looked up my timing. (Ed: we think that probably counts as a “2”!) That gradually changed though and now I often find myself looking at the on-line results as soon as they come through! I’m not in the least bothered about where I come on the table, or if I’ve run slower or faster than anyone else. It’s just a challenge on myself to try and keep up a reasonable time.

Corny though it sounds, it really is the taking part that matters. Recently, when the weather conditions were particularly poor, I ‘achieved’ a personal worst, but I was that pleased to have got round the course in one piece that it really didn’t matter!

What’s the most difficult part of the course in winter:
• muddy stretch on path through bushes about 50 metres after the memorial?
• Quagmire Corner?
• Heartbreak Hill?

I still find ‘Heartbreak Hill’ a real trial and am filled with admiration at those who manage a sprint finish on it.

That's Heartbreak Hill beaten for another week
Sheila W2

And, to sum up?

Running is now a real positive in my life and parkrun is a big part of that. I am still not keen on all that winter mud, but the friendliness, banter and encouragement between fellow runners more than compensates for that.


Welcome to 2017

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

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

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

There were plenty of dogs this week (please remeber only one dog per runner, to be kept on a short lead or harness and under firm control for the duration of the event):
parkrun 070117 004

Finally, with the witching hour (9am) approaching, Simon without further ado, asked the timers "timers, are you ready?" and the runners "runners, are you ready?", and 3…2…1!, it was off down the slope.

An impressive 202 people completed our free, 5km course this week:
parkrun 070117 011

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

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

The entrance to the events field:
parkrun 070117 055

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

Our youngest finisher?? Children are able to register with parkrun from the age of 4:
parkrun 070117 079

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

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

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

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

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


Happy 12th Anniversary parkrun

1st October 2016: Event number 123

Run report written by Simon Jones

It was 12 years ago last Saturday, that 13 people took part in the first Bushy Park Time Trial, which was later renamed Bushy parkrun. The rest, as they say, is history.

To celebrate this milestone 183 runners and 28 volunteers met at Dunorlan Park for this free, weekly timed 5km run, including 9 pacers, of which I was the 30 minute pacer and I am so happy to know that I helped a few people to a personal best.

1st October 2016

For me, parkrun was the start of a journey, not being in the best of places I made my way to Dunorlan Park and nervously put my hand up when asked if there were any first timers. I soon forgot my fears and enjoyed the best, but somewhat muddy 5km of my life. It was thanks to parkrun that I have met people that I have become great friends with, and also got introduced to Sarah’s Runners where again I have made some great new friends. I became part of the core volunteer team, and just recently qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness through which I hope to get more people running, with my first advice being...go to your local parkrun!

1st October 2016

Like me, many people start there weekend with parkrun. It is more than just a run, it is a community event, where friendships are made, and families meet up and support each other.

So I ask you please raise a glass and wish parkrun a happy anniversary.

Thanks to this week's volunteers

Charlie ATWOOD • Charlie KIRWAN • Chris MULLALEY • David CUNNINGHAM • David HARMAN • Gabrielle RICHARDS • Gloria RICHARDS • John BOWMAN • John TIGHE • Joseph WATTS • Judy GUEST • Julie CHANDLER • Kelvin DESMOYERS-DAVIS • Kerry FRANCIS-WATTS • Laurence BUNNETT • Louise FITZGERALD • Marian KEEP • Mark MORDAK • Mark SCOTT • Nick FITZGERALD • Noeline SIMS • Ralph GREEN • Rob CAMPBELL • Simon JONES • Simon KEEP • Stella BEARD • Steve BARNFIELD • Zena HASSELL

A reminder of our special events that will be taking place this Autumn.

1st October 2016

Year on year statistics at RTW parkrun:

04/10/2014: 77 runners, 17 volunteers
03/10/2015: 135 runners, 15 volunteers
01/10/2016: 183 runners, 28 volunteers

Finally, don't forget that you can follow us on Twitter or if you prefer you can like us on Facebook - we would love to see your pictures and hear your views on the event.


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. 

rr1 rr2
rr3 rr4

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’.


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

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


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!


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!


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


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


Johnathon & Felix McArdle-Hodge from Tunbridge Wells.


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!





Many more photos from the day, by our volunteer - Darren Matthews, will be uploaded soon to the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun event page:

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!


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


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.



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


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

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