Back in August last year we were asked by Alice James if it might be possible to organise a volunteer takeover of one of our parkruns by staff members of the North Bristol NHS Trust. How could we say “no”? Today saw Alice’s idea come to fruition, and what a great success it turned out to be!
North Bristol NHS Trust is the largest hospital trust in the South West. The Trust provides acute, specialist, maternity and outpatient services at both Southmead and Cossham Hospitals. Providing all these services requires a huge number of people, all with different skills, interests and abilities, who all have one common passion – our health and well-being. Where would we be without such people?
Over 20 of them volunteered to help make today’s parkrun happen, and all of us at Ashton Court parkrun are grateful to them for doing so. Many of their colleagues and friends came along to take part. Lots of these volunteers and participants had never been to parkrun before and I hope that some of them at least are inspired to make parkrun a regular thing.
Ivan Kisyov hands out finish tokens with a big broad smile, as Alice James and Olivia Donnelly look on (photo: Pete Davey)
Alices in parkrunland
Our Run Directors this morning were Alice, Alice and Alice. We’ve seen 89 different Alices take part in our parkrun, although it wasn’t until our 25th event that we saw the 1st one. The 5th Alice was Alice Doggrell, who joined us at our 75th parkrun and has now run here 236 times. Alice James was the 7th Alice to come along, to our 80th event. Alice J has run here 5 times, a number which will begin to grow now that she’s made her home here in Bristol. Our 11th Alice, Alice Irwin, first came along to our 153rd event. Alice I has run here 35 times now, having also – like Alice J – spent a lot of time since that first visit away from Bristol.
Last week at our 441st parkrun we welcomed Alice number 89, Alice Hall from Cardiff parkrun. Today no Alices took part in the run, nor (to my dismay) did anyone visit us from Alice Holt parkrun.
Meanwhile, devotees of AA Milne may like to know that although we enjoyed the company of 4 Christophers and 2 Robins this morning, Christopher Robin was not amongst our finishers. Which was probably just as well because by the time our Alices had wrapped the results up, the guard at Buckingham Palace had been changed for the day.
One of the morning's 4 Christophers is on the left - Christopher Elliott - not on the way to Buckingham Palace. Neither was Ben Jefferson alongside him (photo: Pete Davey)
Association Football news
4-4-2 was the formation we deployed today and up front we were led by Gavin Dale and Claire Hammett, who both achieved pbs.
Our swashbuckling midfield comprised debutant David Pudner in the 347 shirt, Peter Burns (wearing 351), Kathryn Ayres (352) and Neville Taylor (353). Excellent performances in particular from Kathryn and Neville who also both achieved a new best time.
The back four did particularly well, given that they were a makeshift quartet put together at the last moment. I was one of the four and Tail Walker 2, Emma Stanley, another. Emma had made one appearance while on loan to Eastville parkrun a fortnight ago, and this was her first time at her home event.
Between Emma and I were Sarah Jane Tucker and Laura Kate Steward, and we’re grateful to Walsall Arboretum parkrun for lending Sarah and Laura to us this morning and hope they enjoyed their away day. You’ll have noticed that I’m the odd one out of quartet as my name doesn’t end in ‘a’.
Sarah Tucker and Laura Seward, on loan from Walsall Arboretum parkrun (photo: Pete Davey)
Staying with Association Football, a number of us were concerned that the appearance of a pirate ship in the sky so close to Ashton Gate might be seen as a little provocative, especially given the amount of hot air that accompanies footie these days. Fortunately, Captain Morgan’s rise and fall passed without incident! (For those unfamiliar with the area, Ashton Gate is home to Bristol City. Their rivals Bristol Rovers are sometimes known as “The Pirates”).
Here's the pirate ship Captain Morgan in flight, with Bristol City's home of Ashton Gate in the left background (photo: Rich Kenington)
We’ve never had so many pairs of feet cross our finish line as we did today. Before today our largest number of finishers was 678 – now it’s 698! Of those 698, 62 were taking part in their very first parkrun. Another 84 had run a parkrun before, but this was their first time at Ashton Court. Unfortunately, 98 finishers didn’t have a barcode with them, and of the remaining 454 who did have a barcode, 108 finished faster at Ashton Court than they ever had before.
Now we know what 698 parkrunners looks like (photo: Rich Kenington)
Rosie Hattersley’s personal best was especially significant, because her time of 19:11 moved her up from being the 29th fastest ever female here to the 15th.
I’ve already mentioned 1st female finisher Claire Hammett’s pb. Despite improving her time Claire remains our 9th fastest female, but her Ashton Court pb is now equal to that of four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion Chrissie Wellington. Now there’s an incentive for Claire to chip at least another second from her pb!
This is Rosie Hattersley, on her way to becoming our 15th fastest female ever (photo: Pete Davey)
I can’t possibly mention all the pbs, but I do like Steve Dyke’s style in reducing his best by just 1 second! But imagine the anxious moments waiting for the results to be published!
Joe Butler has run so many pbs in recent months that I almost don’t need to check. I don’t know how Joe spent his summer holiday but since August 31st he’s run here on 12 occasions and has achieved 10 pbs. Today saw an 8 second improvement down to 20:36.
In the middle of this synchronised trio is Tom Farman, flying to his pb. Tim Ginns leads the way and James Leith is close behind. When they finished their order was reversed, and James had also beaten 20 minutes here for the first time. Gerard Watson is on the left in the 250 t-shirt, taking part in his 50th Ashton Court parkrun (photo: Pete Davey)
Emily Tanner moved from 33:25 to 32:56, and Arusha Preece improved from 27:22 to 26:07, while Paul Turner took his best down from 22:27 to 21:58.
One of our juniors, Ishmael Bradley, improved from 20:33 to 19:30 and in fact it’s great to see so many juniors improving. Dylan Peters, Luca Salt, Martha Harrison, Luke Staddon, Ffion Allen, Ruby Priscott and Arthur Allen are all juniors who achieved pbs today.
Pb-tastic Arusha Preece is all in grey, on the right (photo: Pete Davey)
We enjoy milestone runs at Ashton Court just as much personal bests. Today we saw Isla Shipway, another of our juniors, run her 10th parkrun. Sally Derrick completed her 50th parkrun, and Jennifer Griggs her 100th. It takes at least 5 years of park running to complete 250 parkruns, and 3 parkrunners did so today. Maggie Salter, Sean Gregory and James Hawke all reached the magic 250 parkrun mark, while Marie Malloy finished her 350th parkrun exactly 350 days after her 300th!
Jennifer Griggs is on the right, running her 100th parkrun, Sally Burns is to the left with Amelia Jephson in-between. Katriel Costello is following (photo: Pete Davey)
Mike McBeth ran his 150th Ashton Court parkrun, and Gerard Watson ran here for the 50th time
Going a little bit bonkers in the middle of the shot is Maggie Salter! And why not? It's not every day you run your 250th parkrun after all! (photo: Pete Davey)
While I’m patting people on the back, how about those 62 brand new parkrunners? From 5th finisher Nick Pestell to Kath Kaboutian in 693rd, they all came along and tried something new on a Saturday morning. Having kept Kath company for the final kilometre I know how much she enjoyed herself, and I hope the other 61 newcomers did so too.
First time parkrunner, and first time volunteer - tail walker Kath Kaboutian had a great morning (photo: Pete Davey)
84 parkrunners visiting us for the first time would be a lot on a summer Saturday morning, so to see so many in January came as quite a surprise.
For example, Owen Spacie, Simon Hughes, Felicity Brooks, Danny Corder and Tomos Rees popped across from Cardiff parkrun. Newport parkrun’s Chelsea Dennison and Peter Olivier weren’t quite so far from home.
Anna Lord, Claire Fleming and Lucy and Robbie Chandler came along from Lydiard parkrun (the parkrun formerly known as Swindon). Jo Kingston and Sam Cliffe came to see us from Bushy Park parkrun, where it all began.
Here's Marie Malloy after 349½ parkruns. Baby Alice, sleeping soundly in her papoose is probably the youngest person out on the course, while close behind is Jan Moody, the 2nd oldest participant, in her 25th parkrun (photo: Pete Davey)
Furthest from home was Madeleine Woods, all the way from Sydney’s St Peters parkrun, and the winner of this week’s “What took you so long” award (no prize, it’s just for fun) is Akshay Kumar Joshi, from one of my favourite events, Bedfont Lakes parkrun, who had run 211 parkruns elsewhere before coming along to Ashton Court.
Mike McBeth's the one in the 100 club t-shirt, running here for the 150th time. In the Bristol 10k top is Nicola Stephen, on her way to a 5th pb in her last 6 runs at Ashton Court (photo: Pete Davey)
Finally, it was nice to meet and have a brief chat with Leonie Roberts and Andre van Mierlo from Cwmbran parkrun. Andre is a Dutchman, this was his 1st parkrun, and of course later this year (29th of February in fact) the Netherlands will become the 22nd country in the parkrun family.
Another look at the Captain's stern, and indeed those of many of our first-timers as they listen to Poppy's first-time briefing (photo: Pete Davey)
Have a great week, and wherever you are at 9 o’clock next Saturday, may your barcode be with you.
Report by Rich Kenington, born in the NHS
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.