Saturday 1st February 2020

The Early Bath (Skyline parkrun)

Written by Nicholas Sheard

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I left at 6 am from Oxfordshire to drive the 72 miles to the Bath Skyline parkrun. A day of firsts, it was the first of February, the first day after we formally left the EU, the start of the 6 Nations Rugby, and also my first Bath Skyline parkrun. I usually cycle or run to my local parkrun, so taking the car listening to 80s classics felt like a guilty pleasure, and arriving early there was plenty of parking available at the BMI Bath Clinic. I jogged out onto the course into Long Wood with Born to Run still ringing in my ears. A sign on the ‘Elf and Fairy Foray’ indicated I might meet ‘North Pepperfly’ or ‘Bold Saturnleaf’, among others - “Seek out the doors to the homes of 15 elf and fairy folk, set among the trees on each side of the path for 400m”. I didn’t immediately see any elves or fairies, but I did pick up the yellow parkrun signs and soon caught up with three gents (not obviously elves or fairies) setting up the course and marking out the route through the muddy top field.

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After the parkrun my Strava feed told me that “This was harder than your usual effort”. I don’t know what counts as my “usual effort”, but having done 21 different parkrun courses over the past couple of years I have to say that Bath Skyline is easily in my top 5, with a lovely variety of sketchy uneven descent, steps, grass, muddy field, and woodland trail. Looking left after the steep early descent there’s also a fantastic view of Bath itself, although I didn’t linger to stop and take a photo for fear of being involved in a recreation of the Mufasa Lion King death stampede scene with 400 or so parkrunners behind me.

A big shout out to the wonderful volunteers who were so welcoming and friendly before the event and so encouraging when out on the course. Also to the 22 minute pacer who paced it superbly and who I couldn’t quite keep up with. And also to Matt, for his first time as Race Director. Well done, Matt!

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Looking at the results it always astonishes me just how rich and varied parkrun is in terms of age and experience and a wonderful variety of visitors and regulars rubbing shoulders with each other. As a first timer at Bath I felt so warmly welcomed by all the volunteers. Special mention this week goes to Jane Evans, a first timer who finished 3rd overall, was first female, and who also registered the best age graded result of the day. And at either end of the parkrun experience spectrum we had Bath Skyline local Janyce Holmes running her 273rd parkrun and Matthew Brinkworth (6th overall) who was taking part in his very first event. If the other first timers enjoyed Bath Skyline as much as I did they’re bound to be back.

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