It's the one day of the week we've never had a parkrun at Ashton Court. And we shan't be until 2026 at the soonest, unless we take that year off, in which case it might not happen until 2032. Or 2037. Or even, maybe, not until 2043!
But never mind all that! Happy New Year! And Happy New parkrun Year too. Although we “only” had three parkruns taking place in the Bristol area today, those three events were enjoyed, we hope, by 1,994 finishers. So, with some big numbers flying around, we must all be very grateful to the fabulous teams of volunteers we're all blessed with. 34 of them at Eastville, 29 at Chipping Sodbury and 25 at Ashton Court. Here at AC we’d anticipated a large crowd and asked 6 volunteers to scan barcodes (instead of our usual 4), in an effort to clear the queues more quickly and give those who wanted it the opportunity to get to Eastville parkrun in plenty of time. It looked as if it worked.
Just a few of the amazing volunteers we're so fortunate to have at Ashton Court parkrun (photo: Rich Kenington)
Here at AC, 565 parkrunners took part in our 388th event. 291 of them, plus some of our volunteers, then disappeared across the river to Eastville parkrun, to take part in their second 5k of the year. Up north in Chipping Sodbury, where parkrun started at the same time as we did, there were 488 finishers, and then the 10.30 event at Eastville was completed by a whopping 941 parkrunners, the biggest ever attendance at a parkrun in Bristol since 679 of us enjoyed Eastville parkrun’s first event in November 2017, and the 3rd highest attendance in the UK today!
Here's why we ask you to stand opposite the Run Director during the briefing. It's a struggle to hear the megaphone if you're outside this zone (photo: Rich Kenington)
97 of our participants were visiting Ashton Court for the first time, with 23 running their first ever parkrun and the remaining 74 being visitors from other parkruns. 32 of our first-timers were also first-timers at Eastville parkrun. 32 is too many to list individually, but a special parkrun welcome must go to Mel Kee, Martin Ross and Kellsey Thomas, who ended last year having never run a single parkrun between them and have now each run 2 already! Taffy Long, who usually runs at Minehead parkrun, also gets a mention because he’s the first Taffy to ever cross our finish line here at Ashton Court.
Sarah Bogg came to see us for the second time from her home at Eastville parkrun, which is where she went as soon as she'd finished here, with Martin Ross, one of our small group who had never run a parkrun before but who ran twice today. Martin is also the first member of Skegness Coasters Running Club to have run at Ashton Court parkrun (photo: Geoff Keogh)
At Ashton Court we saw 77 pbs achieved, and 6 of those pbtastic parkrunners then went across to Eastville parkrun and recorded a second pb! This super six are Andy Bush, Doug Ward, Jenny Chakravarty, Peter Barber, Sarah Pugh and Will Bristow – double congratulations to each of you!
Here's the first ever Taffy to take part at Ashton Court parkrun, Taffy Long (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Sadly no-one managed to run the same time at both events, or not according to our timekeepers anyway, and they’re the ones that matter! However, 22 of you did manage to run times that were no more than 10 seconds apart, which is almost as good, especially amongst the large crowds you were part of.
Here's the 22 runners whose times were no more than 10 seconds apart (graphic: Rich Kenington)
If there were a prize for this, Dan Hooper would receive it, having run 21:25 here and 21:26 at AC. Paul Hodges, one of our RDs, ran 26:19 at home and 26:21 away, Ross Anderson also had a 2 second split with 26:26 and 26:28, the latter an Eastville pb, but my favourite is one of our juniors, Ishbel Bird, who finished in 25:39 and 25:42, dragging her mum Lucy round in 25:40 and 25:43. Amazing consistency by everyone – well done all!
Dan Hooper is this New Year's Day's Mr Consistency, with Tim Ginns treating us to one of his flying waves just behind (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Andrew Nortrop employed a different model, finishing in 22:44 at AC and 24:44 at Eastville. That’s got to be difficult to achieve!
Second placed finisher Tom Kabala, with John Cox (3rd) and Matthew Robinson (4th) chasing after him (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Praise too for another junior, Alex Parsons, who finished first at AC in 17:12, and first at Eastville in 17:31. Alex finished 68 seconds ahead of Tom Kabala, our second finisher, and 11 seconds ahead of second placed Fred Hawker (another junior) at Eastville. All the first 3 at Eastville (Matt Langdon was 3rd) were taking part there for the first time.
Sean Gregory certainly enjoyed his 200th parkrun (photo: Geoff Keogh)
This was Alex’s 2nd run at AC, and he achieved a pb this morning, 3 minutes 48 seconds quicker than when he first visited in September 2015. 2nd placed Tom Kabala was also running here for the 2nd time, and also ran faster than before, beating the time he ran in June 2017 by 38 seconds. John Cox was our 3rd finisher, the 5th time he’s finished in that position.
Our 1st 1st female finisher of the year, Emma Kiernan, with Matthew Grimwood to the left and Adam James Muir, who ran a pb, to the right (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Our 1st 1st female finisher of 2019, running here for the 1st time, was Emma Kiernan, who usually runs at Longrun Meadow parkrun in Taunton. 2nd placed Lucy Ellis’ time of 20:58 took her under 21 minutes for the first time since June 2016, and a second visitor from Longrun Meadow parkrun, Caroline Norris was our 3rd female finisher, with a time that was 99 seconds quicker than on her previous visit.
Age grades remind us of birthdays, and Gemma Portis prepared for hers the following day with a parkrun. No better way, surely? Happy Birthday Gemma! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Age grades – our usual suspects in this category weren’t with us today and so there’s a new look at the top of this table. 4th finisher Matthew Robinson’s time of 18:29, when combined with his age category of VM50-54, gave him a score of 81.79%. In complete contrast, the 2nd best score was achieved by Estelle Lowe (of whom more in a moment or two), who as a JW10 couldn’t be in a lower age group. Estelle’s time of 21.34 gave her a score of 81.38%.
Matthew Robinson, who finished 4th and scored the top age grade of the day (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Right behind Estelle, and 3rd in this age grade thing, is Tracy Allan, scoring 81.19% with her time of 22:36 and her category of VW55-59. Our 1st finisher Alex Parsons is 4th, with a score of 80.91%, and to complete the list of those achieving more than 80%, the 5th best score belongs to VM80-84 Michael Coupe, who finished his 50th parkrun in a time of 26:54.
Running his 50th parkrun and achieving the morning's 5th best age grade - Michael Coupe (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Joining Michael in our list of landmark achievers today were Jennifer Griggs, who also ran her 50th parkrun, and celebrated with a pb, and Sean Gregory, Tim Neal-Hopes and Fran Upshon, who all ran their 200th parkruns. Tim ran his 150th parkrun on the same day last year, also at the first run of the double. I think we might all hazard a guess when he hopes to run his 250th! Fran is our contact at one of the GP practises now associated with AC parkrun, and always gets a mention in my reports ever since I discovered that her first parkrun was on the same day as my 100th! And now Fran’s only 50 behind me, how did that happen?
Congratulations to Jennifer Griggs, not only for her pb, and for completing her 50th parkrun, but also for coping so well with not being in the initial results on such an important morning! A subsequent delve deep into the data showed that Jen's barcode hadn't scanned properly, and we were all able to breath a sigh of relief! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Well done the five of you. No new t-shirts for Sean, Tim or Fran but at least you know the next one’s just a year or so away! Fingers crossed that red parkrun t-shirts are in stock for Jennifer and Michael and that we can admire them soon, and of course, you two too are just a year or so from your next t-shirt!
Tim Batchelor ran his 49th parkrun here today. Less than 2 hours later he'd finished his 50th! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Now, with the option of 2 parkruns that count towards t-shirts on the same day, this statty business could get a little bit messy! But I think we also need to congratulate the following: Tim Batchelor, who ran his 49th and 50th parkruns ~ Steve Speak, who ran parkruns number 149 and 150 ~ Ashton Court homer Martin Dunne, who did the sensible thing, had a lie in and then popped down to Eastville to run his 250th parkrun ~ and finally, one of our pioneers, Michelle Edgell, who ran in our first ever parkrun. We didn’t see Michelle today as she ran at Chipping Sodbury before Eastville, but today Michelle completed her 200th parkrun. Congratulations also therefore to Tim, Steve, Martin and Michelle.
Bravo Tamsin Lock! First ever parkrun and flying! Come back to see us again soon! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
We saw the old year out on Saturday with a new age category record in the VW75-79 group, Linda Masters bringing the best time in that band down to 38:41. How appropriate that we start the new year with an age category record from the opposite end of the age spectrum. Estelle Lowe’s time of 21:34 being 59 seconds faster than the previous best, run by Ellen Hakam-Grey in June last year. I love the coincidence that the holder of the best time in this group at this time last year, Lottie Livesey, ran her 100th parkrun just last Saturday.
Hannah Parton enjoyed being back home, and why not - she got inside 25 minutes for the first time here. We hadn't seen her since July, and since then Hannah's run in parkruns in Italy, France, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Nottinghamshire! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
It's said that this time of year is a time for families to get together if they’re able to, and for many of us parkrun feels like family. So it’s been great to see so many family groups including parkrun as part of their Christmas and/or New Year routine – it’s just what we do isn't it? Again, there are far too many different groups to mention but one does deserve inclusion here, because we had 4 generations of one family take part this morning. I use the term “take part” a little loosely, because as we’ll see, one of them was propelled in her buggy, but I’ve no doubt she played her part in navigation and steering.
Lucy Davies with tantrum free Nora having a great parkrun morning (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Let’s begin with Great Grandma, Patricia Burgess, who together with her daughter (aka Grandma) Karen Macey, was taking part in her first parkrun. Karen’s two daughters, Charlotte (aka Auntie) and Lucy Davies (aka Mum) were also running, not for the first time, and Mum pushed 19 month old Nora up and down the hill, and Nora stuck to her new year resolution and didn’t have a hilly tantrum at all! It was great to meet you all, do come back again when you can please!
Grandma, Great Grandma, Mum, Nora and Auntie Charlotte (photo: Rich Kenington)
I wonder what the 74 parkrunners who’d never run here before thought of our course. It’s a hill, which seems to put some folk off, but only half of it goes up so those of us who can’t imagine not running here don’t see the problem. I suppose it comes down to your views on hills, and I love the view from ours! Many of the 74 were from elsewhere in the Bristol area, and with only a choice of 2 to choose from at 9 am and Ashton Court being closer to Eastville than Chipping Sodbury, they came, saw and at last, conquered!
Ed Nelms started coming to parkrun last year and seems to be making a habit of it! Today was his 10th event. To the right is Rosie Schultz, running here for the 10th time, in her 16th parkrun (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Where did our first time visitors come from, and from how far away? Well Dan and Lindsay Frater had the longest journey home, with their home event at Druridge Bay parkrun being 449k away as the crow flies. Tristan Featherby’s home event, at Heslington parkrun in York, is 364k away, assuming it’s the same crow. The next furthest homeward journey awaited Alison Bennett, whose Holkham parkrun home is 289k away, up at the top of Norfolk, just around the corner from the Wash, and finally, in terms of really long drives home, is Clare Evans’ journey back to Folkestone parkrun on the south coast of Kent, 267k away.
Please note that no actual crows were employed or exploited to make these calculations.
449k from home is Lindsay Frater, with David Guest and Andrew Holliday close behind (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Five first time visitors came down from Cheltenham parkrun ~ Gary Smith, Mike Smith, Stephen Wade, Rachel Fargher and Charlie Haward. A quorum of 4 popped in from Bushy parkrun (you know, the one where this all started) ~ Danny Norman, Hannah Albrow, Aviva Stein and Alastair McGeoch-Williams. Brett and Rose Baker came from Bexley parkrun, Steven Ramek and Beverly Gow from Kingston parkrun.
One of two first time visitors from Kingston parkrun was Steven Ramek (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Kate and Norman Driskell travelled from parkrun number 2, Wimbledon Common parkrun, to join us, Mick Brown came from Raphael parkrun, Darren Roberts from Seaton parkrun, Alice Clilverd from St Albans parkrun, Heather Impey from Thurrock parkrun and Mark Galpin from Upton House parkrun.
Alice Clilverd, from St Albans parkrun, and Hannah Albrow from Bushy parkrun, both visiting us for the first time. They crossed the finish line together here, but not at Eastville parkrun (photo: Geoff Keogh)
One last thing about visiting other parkruns and new year doubles. Some of you have perhaps read about the Scandinavian double that was made possible this morning. The first event was at Denmark’s oldest, at Amager Fælled parkrun in Copenhagen, which began at 9 am, followed at 11 am by Malmö Ribersborg parkrun in Sweden. Copenhagen and Malmö are connected by the Øresund Bridge and the Drogden Tunnel, an amazing engineering feat, consisting of an 8k long bridge and a 4k long tunnel. The start times were set so that it was possible to use public transport to get from one to the other.
Regular readers will know that each week we have a "What took you so long" award (no prize, it's just for fun), and this is Danny Norman, who had run 622 parkruns elsewhere before coming along to experience Ashton Court! A record that's unlikely to be broken very often, if ever. And whilst we've seen plenty of blue t-shirts on the hill before, we've never seen one with "500" on the back before. Something for us to aspire to, or dream of, perhaps? (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Three Ashton Court regulars ~ Marie, Andy and Matthew Malloy ~ made the journey to Copenhagen and made the most of this opportunity. Marie finished 11th overall, and 3rd female, in both events, with times of 20:13 and 21:16. Andy finished 15th overall, and 12th male in 21:12 in Copenhagen, and 17th overall and 14th male in Malmö. Matthew, in his buggy, will have finished just in front of Andy.
Who can resist these smiles? Alice Irwin, running her 131st parkrun, Dawn English, running her 3rd, and Emma Withers her 313th showing what they think of the new year so far, as well as giving those of us who like the coincidence of those run totals something to cheer. And there's more: Dawn finished in 27:33, Alice in 27:55 and Emma in 28:00 (photo: Geoff Keogh)
As a postscript to this particular tangent, the second female at both these Scandinavian events, Katrine Louise Svane, was once first finisher at Ashton Court, when she was a student in Bath and ran at Bath Skyline parkrun most Saturdays.
Desmond Jones goes into the New Year having run every single on of our 2018 parkruns. He's the only one to achieve that, and indeed, he ran the last 40 events of 2017 too. Des' current streak therefore stands on 92. The nearest current streak we can find is Shaun Pople's 14 events. On the right of the photo is Fran Upshon, in her 200th parkrun (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Back to our event today. I apologise to the visitors I’ve not mentioned by name - it was just as good to see you as it was everyone else! Thanks for coming to run with us, I hope you enjoyed our parkrun and that we see all of you again before too long. After all, now you have a target, you need to know if you can beat it!
Which brings me back, at last, to the morning’s 77 personal bests. We can’t all get one each week of course – what would be the fun in that – and indeed 345 of you didn’t this time. But let’s spare a thought for Jane Blazeby, who missed a new best time by 1 second. In other words, Jane equalled her pb. Next time Jane, next time!
Enjoying some pb consolidation, here's Jane Blazeby (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Back to those who did run faster than ever before here on the hill. There are far too many to mention, which is a nice problem for me to have. Eddie Jones, 15-17 junior, reduced his best by 26 seconds to 19:29. In the same age bracket, Seb Bird took his time down from 21:50 to 21:31. Mary Ulicsak beat 25 minutes for the first time with a great run, moving from 25:10 to 24:44. Beating 26 minutes for the first time was Anna Pleasance, who dropped from 26:48 to 25:33 in one big jump!
Mary Ulicsak finds time to wave on the way to her fab new best time (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Rachael Hill, visiting for the 8th time from Burnham and Highbridge parkrun, was on tenterhooks in the café afterwards, not knowing if she’d achieved a pb or not. And she did! Rachael shaved 6 seconds off her previous best with her 33:23 finish time. Currently one of the tiniest of our parkrunners, Bori Farkas-Kiraly took part for the 6th time today and achieved her first pb! Bori finished 58 seconds faster than before in 37:39. And however Brian Crumpton chose to celebrate New Year’s Eve it didn’t slow him down. In fact, quite the reverse, as Brian moved down from 32:03 to 30:16 with a great run.
Rachael Hill came along and beat her pb by 6 seconds, and brought her brother Christopher with her, all the way from Florida! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Congratulations to everyone who achieved a personal best. How you managed it in that big crowd I’ve no idea. And really, congratulations to everyone who made the effort to come along and start the year with us at Ashton Court. It was great to see you all, and what a fab start to the new year we enjoyed!
One of the best views of Ashton Court parkrun, whatever the weather or time of year (photo: Geoff Keogh)
I’ll post a look back at some of 2018’s AC parkrun numbers in the next week or so, but before then, it feels right to look ahead and anticipate what might take place over the next 12 months. We’ll do our best, weather and other events permitting, to bring you 50 more parkruns. One of them will be our 400th parkrun, and another will be our 8th birthday. On a personal note I’m looking forward far more than I thought possible to wearing my 250 parkrun t-shirt for the first time on Saturday, to being at heaps more Ashton Court parkruns and to running some more Australian parkruns later in the year. Fortunate me. Good luck with your goals and aspirations, I do hope you achieve them and that parkrun continues to play a significant part in all our lives.
Paul Jefferson ran his 250th parkrun on December the 8th. Great t-shirt, Paul! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Enjoy the rest of the week, and on Saturday, wherever you may be, may your barcode go with you
This is me, almost forgetting to scowl for the camera! (photo: Geoff Keogh)
Report by Rich Kenington
Many thanks to the fabulous team of volunteers who made this week's event happen. Although AC parkrun has a great crowd of enthusiastic volunteers we're always looking out for more people to join the team and spread the load, and if you'd like to sign up as a volunteer, we'd love to have you. Please opt in to receive volunteer emails (via "manage my profile" on any result or newsletter email) and contact AshtonCourtHelpers@parkrun.com to offer help.
Don't forget to follow us on these news pages, on Twitter (@ashtonctparkrun) or on Facebook (Ashton Court parkrun) for the latest news and information. You can also find us on Instagram too, where we try to post something a little different from time to time.
This week's full results and course records are here.
Geoff Keogh found a great way to start the new year, taking photos and being at parkrun! You'll find his fab photos, together with our entire photo archive, by following this link (or this one if viewing on an iOS device).