Today’s event in one word: COLD! This was definitely the coldest Parkrun for a long while, the near-zero temperature was enough to convince some people to stay indoors, which meant we had a lower than normal field of 94 runners. Even the dogs didn’t fancy it this morning, this was the first time I can remember that there were no four-legged runners at the start line.

We have been running the “winter route” for a few weeks now, which is three shorter laps instead of two, missing out all of the grass sections, a slippery wooden bridge and some sections that don’t get a lot of sun on winter mornings and are icy. The winter course is 50% pavement and 50% gravel track, with one small wooden bridge to cross – most of the course got some sun this morning and there were only a few icy puddles to go around.

Run Director Lisa Horwood got us underway at 9am sharp, and we were happy to get going as everyone was hopping around at the start trying to keep warm. It’s always difficult to get the kit right in cold weather, you don’t want to be too cold pre-race but you also don’t want to wear too much and be sweating it out half way around. The first stage of the winter route goes past the football pitches and is the gravel track section that had some icy puddles, most of went around either side of the ice but I was amazed to see one lady run over every puddle, she didn’t crack any, didn’t break stride and she didn’t slip either. After the gravel and a short half-loop around the lake the rest of the lap is on tarmac, smooth and flat.

There was an impressive 13 PBs today, made all the more impressive by the weather. By lap 2 I was thinking more about getting home to the warm and a cup of tea than quickening and going for a fast time. Special mentions to Lynda Wakefield who knocked 2:20 off her previous PB, Rebecca Bowles who smashed her previous best by 2:02 and Samantha Hogan-Henry, who’s trainers must have been on fire as she beat her previous PB by an amazing 3:57.  Obviously some other people were less focused on the tea than I was.

12 runners were making their Bicester debut today, 9 of whom were also running their first Parkrun.

As with any Parkrun, the volunteers are the real heroes and without them there would not be an event. Thank you to Chris Blake, Chris Curtis, Clair Prout, Elkie Ward, Emma Jane Gould, Jane Ebberson, Jay Vignoles, Kathryn Andrews, Lisa Horwood, Naomi Lilwall, Natalie Nicoll, Patrick Grindley, Paul Groves, Rachel Bowen and Sharyn Eilertsen – who all turned out today in freezing weather. A special mention to the little helper who was stationed by the tree just before the bridge and who spent the whole time furiously waving her fairy wand and jumping up and down – I reckon some of that fairy wand magic got in to Samantha’s shoes and helped her to the awesome PB.