Tuesday 24 August 2021

Tonbridge junior parkrun

There has been a 5k parkrun in Tonbridge since November 2013 and in July 2017 this was joined by a 2k junior version. We had good intentions to visit shortly after it started, but for one reason or another, we never managed to make it, until now.

The venue for Tonbridge junior parkrun is Tonbridge Farm Sportsground (please note: this is not the same venue as the 5k event) which occupies around 16 hectares of land just to the north of the town centre. You can access it by heading along Shipbourne Road before turning onto Darenth Avenue and dropping down the hill and into the sportsground car park, which has ample space and is free-of-charge to use.

The sportsground and adjacent area consists of a playground, a skatepark, five-a-side football pitches, basketball court, Tonbridge Bowling Club, and an open sports field which is marked with five football pitches and a cricket pitch. This open area is also used for the parkrun. There is a clubhouse which I understand contains toilets, however it didn't appear to be open when we visited (this may have been Covid related). The nearest alternative public toilets are near Tonbridge Castle just off the high street.

The sportsground is also the location of Longmead Stadium - this is home to Tonbridge Angels Football Club, Incidentally the football club used to be based at 'Angel Ground' which was right in the town centre but it was demolished in 1980 to make way for a shopping centre, which forced the move to the new stadium.

The parkrun takes place over a two-and-a-bit lap clockwise course around the almost-rectangular playing field. It's a flat course and underfoot is a combination of beautifully kept lush grass and paths. You only actually use the grass for one of the four sides of the rectangle, with the remaining three on hard paths. The good thing for parents is that as it is a large open area, you can easily see the entire course from the main congregation point / finish point.

Things to note around the course: There is a little camber while on the grass which drops downwards towards the adjacent bushes. Also, the adjacent field to the west is home to a flock of sheep, so it's nice to hear the background sounds of them bleating away while plodding around the course.

At present, the event attracts an average of 87.9 participants each week (add the parents and you are likely to have around 130 or so people moving around the course). Once the initial pack has spread out, there is ample space for everyone. We had visited at event 142 on 15 August 2021 where my daughter took part with her friend and there were 89 finishers, so almost spot-on the average.

The results were processed swiftly and we received our notifications while we were still in the playground. My daughter commented that she really liked this venue, part of this was down to the fact that she found that the course felt shorter then some other junior parkrun venues she has visited. I reckon that had something to do with the fact that she took part with her friend who she hadn't seen since before the Covid lockdown, and her attention was distracted by chatting about Minecraft instead. We've all done it!

I did my own freedom run/walk around the course so I had some GPS data to share, and here it is: Strava - Tonbridge Junior parkrun. I also uploaded the data to the Relive app which created a nice little fly-by video, which can be found here: Tonbridge junior parkrun fly-by video. It was a nice venue for the event and expect it won't be the last time we visit, especially if her friend is keen to do it again.

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