The cancellations of all sorts of sporting and other mass-participation events have been coming thick and fast recently, so there was one big question this week as Ashton Court parkrun day approached: will it go ahead or not? Countries where parkrun events have all been cancelled so far include: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Sweden and USA. Thankfully Ashton Court parkrun did take place (otherwise what would I have to write about?!), but who knows for how much longer?
Run Director Tony Myers briefs the crowd of eager runners, and not a megaphone to be seen (photo: Dan Jones)
On Saturday 422 runners and 30 volunteers decided to group-isolate at Ashton Court parkrun. Saturday’s turnout was the lowest so far this year and there were 148 fewer parkrunners than the week before. Perhaps people are making their own decisions about staying away from events, or could it be that they were resting on the day before the annual Bath Half marathon? The public health emergency seemed to have passed by one of our brave volunteers by this week. The token handler in question declined to use the latex gloves brought in specially saying that their hands “weren’t all that cold”!
Round the bend? We probably are, running up and down our hill each week, but we love it! (photo: Dan Jones)
Tony Myers was the run director using the lovely new public address sound system and he gave a very clear main briefing in his usual calm and reassuring way. It was the second outing of the ‘quiet please’ paddles – I’m certainly looking forward to being asked to parade around the start with one of those! Before we set off, we were also able to say “happy birthday” to George Nikou ,one of our newer run directors.
Birthday Boy George Nikou with 1,000 metres to go .. (photo: Dan Jones)
We welcomed 52 people who were at Ashton Court parkrun for their very first time this week, which caused me to reflect on how important a clear and informative main briefing is (thanks again Tony!). There were 8 brand-new registered parkrunners and 44 first-time visitors, including runners from Edinburgh, Chorlton, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leicester, London, Surrey and Newcastle – Australia! Remarkably, seven of the first 15 runners to finish were running at Ashton Court for the first time.
The front 4 from left to right – Caroline Vans, Maria Metcalfe, Joanna Edwards and Lorraine Ogden. Caroline and Maria’s first parkruns were last week, and we’re thrilled to see them both come back straight away and each knock 2 minutes from their times last wek. Joanna had also been here once before, last September, and found it a little tougher this time, whilst for Lorraine this was her first parkrun. Hope we see you all again soon. (photo: Dan Jones)
The rain held off at the start and the puddles on the plateaux were not quite as full as they have been – but a fine rain started about 20 minutes in. The weather and puddles were clearly not deterrent to the 67 parkrunners who achieved personal best times at Ashton Court this week (that’s 16% of everyone who was running) – so huge congratulations to them.
Fine margins: Ash Mukherjee beat his previous best by 1 second, Marian Allen and Kathryn Ayres both finished 1 second behind their best times (photos: Dan Jones)
We had some superb landmark runs to celebrate on Saturday. Neville Taylor ran his 50th parkrun. All Neville’s parkruns since he started in June 2018 have been at Ashton Court. Congratulations and well done Neville.
Two Great Western Runners completed 100 runs. Phil Harfield was the first of the two to finish, he's run 47 times at Ashton Court, having run at Bushy parkrun 37 times before moving to Bristol.
The second of the pair, Gemma Portis, has completed 61 of her runs at Ashton Court, with another 30 nearby at Pomphrey Hill, Eastville, Chipping Sodbury and Burnham and Highbridge.
Congratulations to Neville, Phil and Gemma (photos: Dan Jones)
A big round of applause and very special congratulations to the amazing Lou Neal-Hopes from Southville Running Club who completed 250 parkruns on Saturday. Lou’s parkrun journey began in August 2013 at Ashton Court parkrun event number 117 and since then she’s run with us on 77 occasions, which is more times than anywhere else. Lou likes St Albans and Eastville quite a lot too. Lou seems to have parkrun in her blood – not only has she run 250 times, but she’s also volunteered with parkrun 113 times.
Lou has also managed to fit in an incredible amount of parkrun tourism and almost conquered the parkrun tourist’s alphabet challenge, because she’s run at parkruns that begin with 24 different letters of the alphabet – she’s only missing J and Z! Last year Lou and her husband Tim ran an extraordinary 55 parkruns each in a single year, “surely that’s impossible” I hear you say – not if you run every single week and take advantage of every double parkrun opportunity at Christmas and new year it isn’t.
In the pink is Punyawee Dulyayangkul, on her way to a new best time, 48 seconds quicker than before! In the trio behind are Louise Neal-Hopes, just 1 kilometre away from completing 250 parkruns. Alongside her are Chris Whale (76 parkruns), and Tim Neal-Hopes (267). (photo: Dan Jones)
Lou’s whole family are crazy parkrunners after my own heart – her 247th parkrun at the end of February was at Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun, which sounds as though it might be somewhere in Wales, but is in fact in the Falkland Islands! Lou’s husband Tim finished 3rd, Louise 7th and their daughter Libby was 19th out of the 33 finishers. There can’t be many Ashton Court parkrunners who’ve even been to the Falklands, never mind run a parkrun there! True to form, the following day Tim and Louise took part in the Cape Pembroke Half marathon, as you do! There was an epic parkrun-themed celebration cake after Lou’s 250th parkrun on Saturday, too – well done Louise!
And Louise's cake tasted as good as it looks (photo: Mike McBeth)
One of our visitors, Tania Ritchie, is this week’s winner of the what took you so long award (no prizes – it’s just for fun!). Tania had run at 236 parkruns before arriving at Ashton Court and she finished in 23:27 – an impressive time! Tania can be forgiven for taking so long to get to us because mostly she runs at Newy parkrun, in Newcastle – that’s Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia!
However, what’s even more impressive about Tania’s parkrun journey, is the number of different parkruns that she has visited: 70 different parkruns in total! Like Lou Neal-Hopes, Tania has almost conquered the parkrun tourist’s alphabet challenge, because she’s run at parkruns that begin with 22 different letters of the alphabet – she’s only missing u, x, y and z. I imagine that now she’s on her way to Upton House parkrun in Poole, York parkrun and Zandvlei parkrun in Cape Town, Zielona Góra parkrun in Poland, or (perhaps closer to home) Zillmere parkrun in Brisbane!
Furthest from home on Saturday was Tania Ritchie, and she's flying down the middle of the road, alongside one of our junior runners. Close behind, in the pink, is Hannah Michie, who's probably second furthest from home, as her home event is Aberdeen parkrun (photo: Dan Jones)
Now to Saturday’s results. Emily Strathdee from Bristol and West AC was our first female finisher with a personal best time of 19:26 AND Emily topped the age grade table with 76.16%. This was the first time Emily has beaten 20 minutes at Ashton Court, and she immediately became our 25th fastest female ever. Our first male finisher in 18:27 was an Unknown runner – can you imagine being first finisher at parkrun? (Remember, it’s a run not a race!). Can you imagine being first finisher at parkrun and forgetting your barcode? I’d be inconsolable!
Another flyer is Emily Strathdee - the 25th fastest ever female at Ashton Court, and in the background is our 2nd female finisher, Beth Pescud, who fooled us all by finishing her first parkrun last week in 32.02 and then knocked over 10 minutes off her time. Beth won't be doing that again! (photo: Dan Jones)
Our resident statto (initials RK) tells me that there's some confusion about whether we saw our 300th first finisher on Saturday. It's all quite simple, in fact, because if we include the 24 times an unknown runner has finished first, then 299 different male and female parkrunners have finished first at Ashton Court. If you exclude them, then 304 different folk have been first to carry a barcode across our finish line.
At the foot of our results page is a summary of our parkrun's statistics and achievements. On Friday it told us we'd seen 299 different first finishers, and now it tells us we've had 300. Which must somehow mean that Joe Driscoll, who was our first barcode carrying finisher, is either our 300th first finisher, or our 304th, depending on which list you look at. Congratulations Joe (probably)!
This morning's first finisher with a barcode is Joe Driscoll from Winchester parkrun, where he's run 78 of his 96 parkruns (photo: Dan Jones)
Topping the league of most parkruns completed so far was Andrew Higgins, a visitor from Leamington who’s completed 373, while our own Marie Malloy continues to power up and down our little hill – now carrying 3 month old baby Alice - Marie has completed an incredible 357 parkruns – 246 of them at Ashton Court.
Here's Leamington parkrun's Andrew Higgins, "only" 127 parkruns away from a new parkrun club t-shirt! (photo: Dan Jones)
It’s been wonderful to welcome so many doggies to parkrun at Ashton Court recently – they really do enjoy it and they add to the all-encompassing nature of parkrun. I’ve been lobbying for parkrun to issue special bark codes for some time, but so far without success. The first dog finisher this week was your very own run report writer, running with Zoly, who’s a Hungarian Viszla.
and here's run report writer Mike McBeth, keeping up with Zoly .. or is it the other way round? (photo: Dan Jones)
Unfortunately, though, some dog handlers were a little wayward on Saturday and three of our canine running buddies were running free and off lead during parkrun, which put other runners and dogs at risk. So please remember that while we welcome dogs to Ashton Court parkrun, they must be kept on a short lead at all times during the run.
Not quite sure where our long and winding road will lead for the next few weeks - let's hope it's not long before we're all back, running round the bend, up the hill and back again (photo: Dan Jones)
So when will Ashton Court parkrun #449 take place? We know that it will be at 0900 on Saturday… but which Saturday?
Report by Mike McBeth 189 parkruns, p061
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.