After 16 months of writing the same thing every week about the pandemic and “no parkruns”, and slightly less months reporting on (not)parkruns, what a joy it is to be able to write a report about an authentic parkrun that genuinely took place, with proper parkrunners on a perceptible hill, with documented times and factual finish tokens.
And now, after 8 days that have included 2 parkruns, we’ve seen 757 parkrunners complete a free, timed 5k here in beautiful Ashton Court estate. We’ve seen 40 people complete their 1st parkrun ever, and 139 parkrunners who have come along and visited us for the first time.
The one first-timer at our final parkrun before the Big Pause who came back last week to parkrun a second time, was John Duncan (in the dark blue). Today then was John's 3rd parkrun and he achieved his first pb, of 23:23 (photo: Pete Davey)
We’ve seen 42 first time visitors come over from 9 different parkruns in Wales. Much as we love you coming over here to see us, I’m sure we all hope you can be back running your own home parkruns before much longer. Not least so that we can come over and enjoy them with you!
Gareth Howell and his family came to see us from Pontypridd parkrun, where he's one of the Event Directors. In Facebook Gareth had this to say: "Traffic on M4 ✔️ 6 minutes late ✔️ Brutal course ✔️ Buggy run with Thomas ✔️ Loads of fun… heck yeah!" (photo: Pete Davey)
Julie Gould popped across from Penalta parkrun to for her 104th run. Thank you to Julie and all the parkrunners who visited us from elsewhere ~ it was great to see you all and we're particularly grateful for the many kind things you've said in social media. But we would be, wouldn't we! (photo: Pete Davey)
We’ve also seen 78 personal bests ~ so someone’s been training hard during lockdown! Congratulations to all of you!
Hazel Popel rewarded her return to parkrun action with a pb! Hazel improved by 45 seconds to get below 26 minutes for the first time! Charlotte Hayden's in the green of Southville Running Club (photo: Pete Davey)
We’ve seen 48 different parkrunners volunteer, 5 of them for the first time, while 2 of these volunteers have helped to make a parkrun happen for the 50th time, and another for the 25th.
Having enjoyed her 21st birthday on the day of our return to parkrun, Eloise Morton reduced her pb by 12 seconds to beat 31 minutes for the first time! Great stuff! (photo: Pete Davey)
We’ve seen 8 children aged 10 or less complete a 5k parkrun, together with another 17 young people from the ages of 11 to 19.
At the other end of the scale we’ve seen 16 parkrunners in their 70s taking part, 9 of them faster than I ~ a spritely 67 year old ~ could manage! And today we met Chris Hall, aged something between 80 and 84, who came along and ran his first parkrun anywhere ever, in a very respectable time that was less than half his age!
Here's Caroline Harvey, one of today's Tail Walkers. Caroline was aged 69 when she took up parkrunning, and this was her 50th parkrun at Ashton Court and her 150th parkrun overall! Not only that but Caroline was volunteering for the 70th time! Looking forward to number 200, Caroline! (photo: Pete Davey)
We’ve seen plenty of new buggies, and we’ve seen familiar buggies with new children in them. Congratulations to all our new mums and dads!
We’ve also seen friends and familiar faces who we had been used to seeing every Saturday, and who we’ve not seen since March last year. How nice that’s been. It almost feels as if we’ve never been away and yet ..
We saw 2 familiar faces leading the way today. Robbie Stewart was first finisher here for the 19th time, missing his pb by 15 seconds, while Kelly Dicks went one better and was our first female finisher for the 20th time, 28 seconds outside her pb. Thank you both for showing us the way! (photos: Pete Davey)
Meanwhile today's two inspirational highest age grade scorers were Stuart Ellis, whose 21:52 was 30 seconds outside his pb, and Anne Dockery, who missed her pb by 59 seconds with her finish time of 26:42. Both Anne and Stuart are in the 70-74 age group (photos: Pete Davey)
We’ve seen how important parkrun is to all of us. It doesn’t mean the same thing to all of us, but it’s special in some way, be that as a means of maintaining fitness or keeping in touch with friends, for example.
At a rough guess there are 42 family groups of at least 2 people in today’s results (yes, 42 again!). How I wish that something similar, for all sorts of us of all sorts of ages and abilities, had existed when I was growing up. And thank goodness that physical activity is available to almost everyone if they choose to take part, and not just to those who are “good at it”.
Anna Bassett's part of a parkrunning family ~ her mum, dad and brother all being parkrunners as well. Only mum Emma was here today to see Anna knock over 2 minutes off her previous best, finishing in 31:03. Great running Anna! (photo: Pete Davey)
We think of ourselves as a family here at Ashton Court parkrun. Since April 2011 a community of lovely people has developed here and it will continue to do so, as parkrunners come and go. Although we could never imagined such a situation beforehand, our parkrun community was a huge positive in helping many of us find a way through some of the difficult days of the past 16 months.
Of course in all families, roles and dynamics change, as some of us find new things to do, or some of the old things require more time and attention. That’s what’s happening in our family at the moment.
A happy parkrun family ~ Katrina Darke, with Barney and Maddy, and Juno, who makes up for having very short legs by having four of them! Barney was another of our personal best achievers, and Juno was a first-time parkrunner! (photo: Rich Kenington)
I’m sure you know that no matter how wonderful our volunteers are, they need co-ordinating each week to ensure we don’t have 25 parkrunners turn up all expecting to be Tail Walkers! In recent years this role has been shared on a month on, month off basis, by Janet O’Connell and Isie Bates. Earlier this year, Isie retired from the role, and Janet is now taking care of things on her own.
So far Isie has volunteered at 121 different Ashton Court parkruns, and I’ve no doubt there’ll be many more occasions to add to that in the future. One of my favourite parkrun mornings was in October 2016, when Isie was Run Director for the first time, alongside me. That was a laughter filled morning! In total Isie co-ordinated our volunteers prior to 73 different parkruns, between April 2017 and March last year. Thank you, Isie!
Here's Isie Bates, who couldn't be with us today so here she is, smiling far too broadly for someone who's just run up that hill, at event 225 (photo: Rich Kenington)
In common with many parkruns, we operate with 2 Event Directors, who are responsible for ensuring our event is delivered appropriately, for maintaining relationships with the City Council and the team that work at Ashton Court estate, and for liaising with parkrun HQ.
Maggie Salter became one of our 2 EDs in 2017, when Geoff Keogh stepped down. At first Maggie partnered Niall Hoskin until the time came, in 2019, when he too chose to take a step back, and I was invited to join Maggie as co-ED.
Now Maggie has decided the time is right for her to move on, which is sad for all of us at Ashton Court parkrun, but exciting for Maggie as she looks forward to some new adventures.
It’s been great fun working alongside Maggie and while she’s had to be very patient with me and my wilder notions and “what ifs”, we’ve had a lot of fun and a great many laughs in our 2 years sharing the role of “head of the family”.
Here's Maggie Salter, running her 184th Ashton Court parkrun, her 254th altogether. Add them onto the number of parkruns that Maggie's volunteered at and you get a lorra lorra parkruns! Hope you can get some rest Maggie! (photo: Pete Davey)
As well as her 4 years of Event Directing, Maggie’s fulfilled 208 different tasks at 115 Ashton Court parkruns. These include Run Directing 48 different parkruns, and Tail Walking and Run Report Writing 12 times each.
Fortunately, Maggie will continue as one of our Run Directors, so she’ll soon have fulfilled that particular role at least 50 times and we’re not losing her completely. Thank you, Maggie, for the time, thought and care you’ve given to our parkrun community, not just as Event Director, but ever since you first came along to Ashton Court parkrun in September 2011. See you soon!
Although Sarah Hext isn't the biggest fan of our course, she's run 34 of her 37 parkruns here. Sarah seems to have found a way to overcome her dislike of our hill by running quicker every time. Having beaten 31 minutes for the first time on her last visit (10 parkruns ago for us) Sarah really got a move on today, improving by 103 seconds to beat both 30 and 29 minutes for the first time! Sarah was one of the group of lovely Chew Valley Snails who came to support landmark reaching Caroline Harvey (photo: Pete Davey)
Now we’ve another exciting parkrun to look forward to. There’s a lot of empty boxes in our volunteer roster though. Have a look at it here and if there’s a box you’d like to see your name in, please e-mail Janet and let her know.
And speaking of landmarks, here's Andrew Tipper, running his 50th parkrun! Another Ashton Court parkrunner Arusha Preece, also completed her 50th parkrun, while Susie Howells ran her 150th. Visiting us for the first time, Barry Island parkrun's Sarah Britton completed her 100th parkrun, and Andrew Mostari from Castle Park parkrun in Bishops Stortford ran his 50th, as did Olivia Marshall, a junior visiting from Belton House parkrun, which is close to Grantham in Lincolnshire. Similarly, 2 Ashton Court parkrunners on the road ran their 50th parkruns ~ Simon Allen at Riddlesdown parkrun and Will French at Shepton Mallett parkrun. Congratulations from all of us to all of you! (photo: Pete Davey)
Have a good week, and wherever you find yourself at 8:50 next Saturday morning, may your barcode be with you!
Report by Rich Kenington, Ashton Court parkrunner number 1,817
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 email@example.com to offer to help.
You can see our volunteer roster on our website to find out what roles are available
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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.