Come rain, come shine, there’s always a smile . .

A wet parkrun at Ashton Court used to be the exception rather than the rule but in recent months it’s become the norm. Climate change or has our luck changed? I don’t know.

But come rain, come shine, our parkrun’s always full of sunny smiles. The smiles of people happy to be in beautiful Ashton Court, pleased to catch up with friends, pleased to have completed their first parkrun, pleased to have finished, pleased to have run faster than last time, pleased to have finished ahead of someone in particular, pleased to have got it over and done with, pleased to have completed a landmark run, and in the case of those in hi-vis, pleased to have helped make another parkrun happen.

I hope David Tonkin went home smiling. He finished 1st for the 3rd time this morning. 67 seconds behind David came Martin Hunt, taking part here for the 1st time. Ours is the 5th different parkrun where Martin has finished 2nd. And just 3 seconds behind Martin came Stefano Dalcanale, finishing 3rd, in his 3rd parkrun, for the 2nd time.

41 seconds and 6 places behind Stefano came Hannah Steeds, running here for the 14th time and the 1st female finisher for the 11th time. Hannah finished 1 second behind her pb. Our 2nd female finisher, Tanya Chowdhury, equalled her pb! Having run here 214 times, this was Tanya’s 20th 2nd female finish. And 11 places further back was Emma Pemberton, finishing 3rd female for the 6th time in her 25 runs here.


All set to go - half a Leo Ikin to the left (sorry Leo!), Tom Dunn in the singlet. First male David Tonkin is centre stage in the cap, with first female Hannah Steeds in grey just over David's left shoulder, and the morning's first buggy on the right, piloted by Phil Craske (photo: Rich Kenington)
1st in the age grade scores was Shirley Clegg, with a score of 82.67%, a score only ever beaten here by 18 other parkrunners. Maggie Salter was 2nd highest scorer – her score of 77.16% being the 18th occasion Maggie’s scored 75% or more, and 1st finisher David Tonkin scored the 3rd highest with 76.26%, his 2nd highest age graded score here.

10 people took part in their very first parkrun – 2 of them aged under 11, 1 over 60, the other 7 somewhere in between. 9 of them were male, and they were spread across the finishers from 4th place to 403rd. That last one was Barnaby Holmes, close behind his daughter Ffion, who looked very pleased with herself when she crossed the finish line. And quite right too!

I hope that all 10 of you enjoyed your first parkrun and that it’s not long before we see you back again for another go!

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We were flattered to see 47 parkrunners come and visit us for the 1st time today. Our highly sought after “what took you so long award” (no prize it’s just for fun) is shared by a husband and wife once again – Roy and Hazel Starling. Roy had run 345 other parkruns before coming to Ashton Court, Hazel 293. Roy and Hazel’s home event is Roundhay parkrun in Leeds. Roundhay is one of our twin parkruns, having staged their first event on the same morning in 2011 as we did. Leamington parkrun is the other, to save you looking it up.

Amongst our other guests were Paula Robinson and Neil Edwards from Aylesbury parkrun, and Cathy and David Woodall from Bushy Park parkrun. Cathy has a 4 digit parkrun number – we don’t see very many of them here!

We also welcomed Sarah Cavanagh and James Saget from Killerton parkrun; Declan Conway and Jerome and Jordan Lin from Norwich parkrun, and Ania Wronski and Clare Davies popped in from Reading parkrun. Darren Holland and Jo Connolly’s home is Trelissick parkrun, and furthest from home were Sam Watson, from St Andrews parkrun, and Johnny Phatbuoy from Antrim parkrun.

I was told that we had a visitor from Australia who I’ve not been able to identify in the results.

Thanks to all of you, and those I’ve not mentioned, for coming to see us. I hope you enjoyed our parkrun, and I’m sorry the views weren’t as spectacular as they usually are. But please don’t take my word for that – come back and see us again to find out!

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33 parkrunners ran faster than they ever had before here today. 2 of them, George Taylor and Jason Carter, just scraped under their previous best by 1 second! Rees Cooper managed to double that margin.

Carl Keenan celebrated his 150th parkrun with a 29 second improvement, and his girlfriend Laura Hodge joined in by beating her best by 10 seconds.

You may remember that Steve Parsons was out on the course volunteering for the 200th time today, and his grandson Brennan Elphick celebrated with a 78 second pb, while another under 11, Arthur Allen, beat his best by a whopping 3 minutes 24 seconds!

Ruby Thorn ran her 3rd pb in 4 runs, Lee Masters his 7th in 8 runs (and has brought his time down from 35:02 to 30:52 in the process). Robert Stewart ran his 4th pb in 5 runs and Tamar Preston ran her 3rd consecutive pb.

Well done to these 10 and the other 23 on running faster than ever before!

I mentioned a couple of landmarks just now and there are more to celebrate: a junior parkrunner, Maddy Johnson, finished her 10th event; a second junior, Kieran Butler, ran his 50th parkrun (and apologies for omitting you from the list of names called out before the run); Vikki Thomas completed her 100th parkrun, and one of our 2 brilliant volunteer coordinators, Janet O’Connell, completed her 200th parkrun. And Steven Swan completed his 50th Ashton Court parkrun as well.

Many congratulations to our milestone marvels on these wonderful achievements!

One of the smiley things about parkrun is the support we receive from one another, and it was heartening to see 14 members of Steve Parsons’ club Great Western Runners take part today, with several others volunteering or just there. There were also 10 members of Blaise Runners at Ashton Court to help celebrate Vikki Thomas’ and Carl Keenan’s landmark runs.

There were lots of other clubs and organisations represented as well, of course – again, far too many to mention. Although I do wonder if the 5 members of Lonely Goat Running Club need an introduction?


Resplendent in Raspberry - Blaise Runners: Andrew Thomas, Carl Keenan, Vikki Thomas, Laura Hodge, Gemma Kennedy, Frank Clark, Mark Hayes, Fran Upshon and Peter Coombs, with Lucy Staple and Aude Bouillet in the front (not sure who to credit for the photo - but thanks to Mark Hayes for sharing it)
We’re often asked after the results have been published why someone’s finish position doesn’t match the number on the finish token they had scanned. Although there can be other explanations, usually, it’s this. We have 2 means of accounting for people as they finish parkrun. The first is we time them crossing the line, the second is we hand them a finish token. We hope at the end of the run that our number of times equals the number of tokens issued.

Yesterday it wasn’t. We had 411 times, but our final tail walker was handed token 409. This suggested that 2 parkrunners crossed the finish line but escaped from the finish funnel before being handed a token, so somewhere we had to add 2 unknowns to the results.

But where?

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This is why we manually record the times of some finishers – about 1 each minute if we can, and why we use a timing device that takes photos. Having uploaded the result data, we compare the recorded times with the samples and when we find a discrepancy, work backwards through the finish line photos until for example, we find a male where a female ought to be, or vice versa.

We had to do that twice yesterday. It probably added about 15 minutes to the result processing. Not every run director enjoys this aspect of the role of course, but some of us do. I certainly enjoy the challenge of forensically going through all the information we have to get the results exactly right, and yesterday we made CSI look like Inspector Gadget!

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Whether we enjoy delving so deep into the data or not, we'd all prefer not to do it and that everyone who crosses the finish line took a finish token, as then the result processing would work like a dream! So please, if you have a bad run one morning or you forget your barcode, always take a finish token.

If you don’t want the run recorded, you can put the token in the bucket provided and then you won’t disrupt the results processing.

You may have noticed some new faces amongst our Run Directors recently. We invited them to join the group a few months ago and since then they’ve been shadowing the established members of the team, building up an understanding of the role, especially in terms of briefing the volunteers before parkrun. And they’re all great!

We’ve had 16 year old Elena and 12 year old Poppy run direct recently, so we know the future of Ashton Court parkrun is in safe hands. Yesterday, 2 more of our apprentices joined me as Run Directors, and if anything, it’ll be me that’s fired before they are! Alice and Louise both did really well, as have the others before them, and that’s why I end this report with a photo of the morning’s 3 RDs!


Two roses, one thorn - Louise Nikou, Rich Kenington and Alice Irwin - Run Directors de jour (photo: Elena Nikou)
Have a great week, and wherever you may be at 9 o’clock next Saturday, may your barcode be with you!

Report by Rich Kenington, Run Director

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 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.

No photos today but you can find all our photos by following this link.