Ashton Court parkrun in Bristol has been part of the parkrun family since April 2011 and is famous for its unique course and friendly atmosphere.
One of the regular Run Directors, Niall Hoskin tells us more about the parkrun he calls home…
My daughter heard about the very first event at Ashton Court parkrun, so we went along… and were hooked! I soon started volunteering and I’ve not looked back since, going on to become Co-Event Director.
Among all the things I love about our parkrun, I particularly like seeing new runners progress from their first timid encounter with the course, to becoming hardened regulars.
Ashton Court parkrun takes place in Ashton Court Estate, just across the River Avon from Bristol city centre. The course is an out-and-backer, and very much a parkrun of two halves!
We start at the bottom of a hill, and you climb for almost the entirety of the first 2.5k. Thankfully there is a deer park to distract you from the steep bit, a variety of surfaces (tarmac and gravel), plus a plateau with seasonal skylarks.
The good news is, the second 2.5k is straight back down again, offering great scenery as you descend before the final sprint finish.
We have a couple of famous landmarks along the way. The first may be a nondescript post at marshal point 3, but that’s where you see the best panoramic view of Bristol and its surroundings.
That is followed closely by the Green Man sculpture: near to where our marshal 1 stands each week.
For our post-parkrun coffee we have the wonderful Ashton Court Mansion café is in the stable block of the house. They cope with a big invasion of parkrunners and do breakfast as well as hot and cold drinks.
We’re the longest-established event around Bristol and we have a high profile in the community. We frequently have groups from Couch to 5k programmes doing their ‘graduation’ run with us – they’re from all over Bristol and further afield: there are often contingents of ‘Chew Valley Snails’ from North Somerset.
We’ve linked up with different GP practices who are partnering with us; and we’ve worked with groups from the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, as well as having lots of young volunteers through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and the International Baccalaureate.
Oh, and we have lots of parkrunners helping out at Race for Life, Bristol Half and 10k and other events.
We’re proud of our reputation of being a friendly and welcoming event – even by parkrun standards! We like to celebrate the achievements of regulars and visitors. You can get a flavour of that from our Facebook page and our run reports.
Our Facebook guru Rich (above right) produces all sorts of fascinating summaries and news items, and spots landmark runs even before the parkrunners themselves. The run reports and photos every week are worth special attention.
There’s also a succession of parents with babies and toddlers involved, so much so that we often have a walking group at the back of the field along with the Tail Walker.
Romance is common at Ashton Court! To date (ha ha!), four couples who met through our parkrun have married, all of them running with us on their wedding day.
We are a great course for parents running with toddlers strapped securely in running buggies and have several of these most weeks, including the children of two of our couples who met here; the second generation of Ashton Court parkrun devotees!
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