Well, what a morning that was! When did we last have a parkrun quite like that? Well since you asked, it was 70 parkruns ago, in July last year, when we all set off up the hill in bright sunshine, only for the sky to change from blue to black in the twinkling of an eye, and some heavy rain and hail stones left us drenched.
But that was July, and it was warm rain. It may not have felt it at the time, but compared to Saturday, it was warm! This time it was chilly stuff, with the rain that hurts your head and a wind to match.
Here's the pre-run briefing taking place. Perhaps the clouds above should have given us a clue as to what we could expect in the hour that followed? (photo: Rich Kenington)
So well done to anybody who came to parkrun at Ashton Court on Saturday. Whether to volunteer, to take part or just to be there to support a friend or family member, it would have been far simpler to stay indoors, be that at home, in the car, or the café! Warmer too!
It took just 5 minutes for the sky to look considerably more dramatic, and from then on it just got darker! (photos: Rich Kenington)
266 parkrunners participated, 246 of them carrying barcodes! 10 of the latter were taking part in their very first parkrun – it can only get easier! 23 others had already run parkruns elsewhere and were visiting Ashton Court parkrun for the first time.
Here are Jan Moody and Martin Gillett, the morning's two representatives of the 75-79 age group. And if they're not old enough to know better than to play out on a morning like that, what chance do the rest of us have? (photos: Rich Kenington)
Of the 246, 118 were female, 128 male. 23 were aged 19 or less, 42 were in their 20s, 50 in their 30s, 45 in their 40s, 59 in their 50s, 21 in their 60s and 6 in their 70s.
As always our marshals were wonderful. Indefatigable. Unceasing in their encouragement and constantly cheerful (photo: Rich Kenington)
Somehow, despite the appalling conditions, 8 finishers achieved personal bests.
Grant Clark has run here 3 times, once last month and twice this, and this time brought his time down from 31:21 to 30:02.
Helen Trudgeon first ran here on New Year’s Day, then once in August and again in October before Saturday, when she brought her best time down from 29:42 to 28:45.
One of our juniors, Rosie Walker, completed her 10th parkrun last week. Her 1st parkrun here was in June when she finished in 31:24, and her pb is now 27:05, with a 37 second improvement this week.
6 of the morning's pb achievers - Lucas, Poppy, Zoe, Jason, Helen and Grant (photos: Rich Kenington)
Another who discovered parkrun this year is Zoe Dover, and she’s now run here 25 times. This time Zoe reduced her best by 44 seconds, bringing it down to 24:06.
Poppy Alexander is a student at UWE who first ran here in October, and on Saturday Poppy returned and finished in 23:31, 2 minutes and 4 seconds faster than before.
Another junior finished 1 second ahead of Poppy. This was Fleur Hayden’s 4th parkrun, all of them at Ashton Court, and her 4 times have been 28:07, 27:15, 23:43 and now, 13 seconds quicker, 23:30.
I do believe they really were enjoying themselves! Sharon Eaves, Emily Tanner and Jane Colman just don't care what the weatherman sends! (photo: Rich Kenington)
Congratulations to all 8 of you. Whilst I’m sure your instincts for self-preservation supplied some of the motivation to run faster than before, that can’t have been the only reason. It’s great to see you improving and I look forward to seeing your results on a good day for running!
Elizabeth Spence and Beth McMillan just missed out on pbs, by 2 seconds and 7 seconds respectively, along with 2 dozen others who were within a minute of their best. If you can get that close on a day like Saturday, then a pb on a better day is yours, surely!
Beth McMillan, who missed her pb by 7 seconds, and Nadia Kottegoda, who missed hers by a little more (photo: Rich Kenington)
It's not often we see so few pbs that we can mention everyone who achieved one. Likewise our brand new parkrunners – Ellis Chan, Claire Pearson, Alice Tomlinson, Sammy Berman, Linda Farrow, Craig White and Kay Talbot, who have all registered Ashton Court as their home parkruns, and David Hillier and Jacqueline and Gary Steinepreis, who have registered elsewhere.
Hopefully, having tasted parkrun for the first time, you’ll all make it a New Year resolution to keep coming back. Perhaps not to Ashton Court – although we’d like to think that you will – but certainly to a parkrun somewhere, every Saturday.
Ellis Chan here was running his first ever parkrun. In contrast, Louise Neal-Hopes was running her 234th (photo: Rich Kenington)
Jacqueline and Gary are over here from Perth, with their son (an unknown, and so I don’t know his name), visiting their daughter here in Bristol. It was nice to have a brief chat afterwards, and hopefully Gary’s new hip was still working today after encountering our hill for the first time!
Someone else was further from home than the Steinepreis family – all the way from Kirra parkrun in Queensland was Alice Bonham-Carter. Goodness knows what you thought of our weather, Alice, but I hoped you enjoyed your visit to Ashton Court.
Alice Bonham-Carter managing not to look as if she's missing the Queensland sunshine, with Sarah Taylor shivering along behind her (photo: Rich Kenington)
The visitor who takes this week’s “What took you so long” award (no prize, not even at Christmas, it’s just for fun) is Peter Harris. Peter’s home event is Lydiard parkrun (formerly known as Swindon) and until this weekend Peter had run 452 parkruns elsewhere before coming to see us at Ashton Court parkrun!
Very few of us were better prepared for the weather than the Steinepreis family! I don't suppose they need to wrap up quite like this very often back home in Perth! (photo: Rich Kenington)
Having said that we all deserve at least a pat on the back just for being there on Saturday, for some the morning would have an extra significance.
First of these is Hannah Eames, whose birthday it was. Hannah is another of our juniors, which is why we can’t use a photo to demonstrate that Hannah’s smile is always one of the biggest at our parkrun, especially on the way down the hill! This was Hannah’s 29th parkrun. Happy Birthday To You!
Fresh from her 100th parkrun last week, Shirley Clegg was the one person to score an age grade of over 80% (photo: Rich Kenington)
Birthdays are great until you realise that they never go backwards. Fortunately, at parkrun we have our age grade scores to help level most things out (although not the hill, obviously!).
One person just managed to exceed 80%! Congratulations to Shirley Clegg, whose score of 80.01% puts her on top of this particular tree. Pete Mountain (75.37%) and Antonia Gooder (73.98%) sit just below Shirley on the upper branches.
Eliot Haines turns from the gravel to the tarmac, with James Knight hard on his heels. 3rd finisher Rory Bennett can just be seen in the red top, next to the unknown Santa, who would finish 4th (photo: Rich Kenington)
There are other trees to aim for the top of. Eliot Haimes must have been good this year because he finally got his wish – on his 42nd run here Eliot finished 1st for the 1st time. That’s after 2 2nds, 5 3rds, 10 4ths and 3 5ths. Persistence pays – well done!
James Knight had never finished higher than 8th in his previous 7 runs here, so I hope was delighted to be 2nd over the line this time; and coincidentally, Rory Bennett had also never beaten 8th, having run here 11 times before, and so I imagine 3rd place was a good start to the weekend.
A closer look at Rory Bennett and the unknown Santa, with Dan Jones chasing, and the Tail Walkers going up! (photo: Rich Kenington)
Our 1st female finisher was Hannah Steeds, and this was her 12th 1st finish in her 15 runs here. 2nd female finisher was Tanya Chowdhury – 2nd over the line for the 21st time on her 215th run here (Tanya also has 8 1st places to call her own).
The 3rd female to cross the line was Macy Hillier. Macy’s a junior who before Saturday had run 8 parkruns, all of them at Nobles parkrun on the Isle of Man, and in each of them she’s been the 1st female finisher. She had a big smile and flying feet when she passed me, and I’d like to think that Macy and her family enjoyed their first visit here.
First female Hannah Steeds, with a nice view of the slopey thing behind her (photo: Rich Kenington)
The morning was also particularly significant for James Skuce and Dave Wilkins, who both ran their 50th parkruns.
James first ran with us at event 157 in May 2014, and has run here 48 times, having also run once each at Eastville parkrun and at parkrun Kraków.
Our 377th parkrun, in October last year, was Dave’s first parkrun, and this was his 47th event here, with his other 3 venues having been the parkruns at Somerdale Pavilion, Barnstaple and Tamar Trails.
Nothing, especially the weather, was going to spoil Dave Wilkins' special parkrun morning (photo: Rich Kenington)
Our 3rd milestone run of the morning belonged to Andrew Thomas, who now has 200 parkruns on his portfolio, 43 of them here at home. Andrew’s 1st parkrun was at Harrogate, 5 years ago, and then he became a regular at Little Stoke parkrun. Since Little Stoke has no longer been an option Andrew’s led a nomadic parkrun life, with lots of visits to Eastville and Chipping Sodbury, and also to 26 other locations, including 3 trips offshore to Medina parkrun on the Isle of Wight.
Congratulations James, Dave and Andrew, on chalking up these milestone runs. Andrew is the 81st Ashton Court parkrunner to have run so many events, and although I’m not quite sure where James and Dave sit in the table of those of us who’ve run 50 parkruns, they’re somewhere in the high 600s!
James Skuse couldn't keep his feet on the ground during his 50th parkrun (photo: Rich Kenington)
Next Saturday we have heaps of landmarks to look forward to; currently 1 of us has run 349 parkruns, 5 of us have run 99 parkruns and 9 have run 49 parkruns. I know at least 4 of these 15 will be with us at Ashton Court on our last parkrun before Christmas, and they’ve all promised cake!
And being the last Saturday before Christmas we’d like to invite you all to stay behind after next week’s parkrun and come to our Bring and Share Christmas Party. There’s no need to bring much, but some cake, some mince pies, some biscuits or some fruit would be very welcome. We’ll gather after the run in the courtyard outside the café, put what we’ve brought on one of the tables, and everyone helps themselves – in moderation of course!
Andrew Thomas looks very relaxed, with a little over 1 kilometre left of his 200th parkrun, and perhaps a little confused by the photographer, who insisted on congratulating him on his 150th! (photo: Rich Kenington)
Thanks again to everyone who came along on Saturday and were part of a parkrun that most of us won’t forget in a long time. I’ve been taking photos at runs and races for over 15 years and that was the first time I’ve ever been unable to feel my fingers on the camera’s shutter release button.
There were moments when I wasn’t sure if I’d taken a photo or not, and certainly contemplated putting my camera away and finding somewhere to get warm. But you kept on running and smiling, the marshals nearby kept on cheering you on, and so I kept on snapping. And in the end, looking back, it was actually good fun, wasn’t it!
Now here's a funny thing - the last time we had a parkrun on Saturday 14 December, Martin Blackwell was the 105th male finisher. He was this time too! (photos: Rich Kenington)
Report by Rich Kenington, photographer
Many thanks to the fabulous team of volunteers who made this week's event happen. Although our 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 are at the top of the table here with links to all our age group records and heaps of other statty stuff.