Storm Callum packed far more of a punch than its illustrious predecessors Ali and Bronagh, as anyone who was around for the wind and rain on Friday will attest. Upon waking up on Saturday morning, it appeared as though things were much calmer, but by the time we arrived at Witton at 5 to 9 there was wind and rain aplenty sending parkrunners running for shelter under the gazebo and the rest under the huge tree that marks our finishing post.
The drama had already occurred by then, however, with a fallen tree blocking our course at the top of the small hill. A contingent of early rising parkrunners, led by (read: filmed by) Michelle broke the tree up with their bare hands and removed the obstacle from our route, allowing Witton to go ahead as always: we NEVER cancel for weather, rain, sleet, snow, fallen tree or no fallen tree. It isn’t our first fallen tree and it probably won’t be our last given the amount of our course that occurs in woodland. In all honesty though, our immense thanks go to Bryan Searby, Bernie Johnson, Peter Craine and John Kearney, without whom Witton parkrun #146 was in severe doubt.
Whether it was the howl of the wind and rain the night before that had people switching off their parkrun alarms, or a glance outside in the morning which saw them dive back under the covers, Witton saw 66 brave souls venture out to run, jog and walk the Beast this weekend, our lowest figure since Event #123 at the end of March. In reality, conditions weren’t that atrocious: there was a bit of rain about, but it had mostly subsided before the start and the biggest obstacle was the wind, which provided a head/cross/tailwind dependent on where you were, particularly on the start/finish straight behind the pavilion (and I use straight in the loosest possible sense, since it quite patently isn’t straight!)
First to cross the line this weekend was returning Wittoner Josh Crowther in 18:27. This was Blackburn Road Runner Josh’s 20th parkrun and 15th with us at Witton, and was the first time he has joined us since our birthday run at the end of August. Despite the conditions, his time was just 6 seconds outside his personal best, and is the fastest he has run the Beast since setting that PB in August last year – great going, Josh! Second person home was Wesham Road Runner David Taylor in 20:11. This was David’s 4th run with us at Witton and whopping 182nd parkrun in total, with 80 of those coming with our neighbours at Preston parkrun. Third to finish was Matthew Bishop in 20:55. This was Matthew’s 10th parkrun overall and 7th parkrun at Witton, with 5 of those coming in our last 11 events since July. He celebrated his 10th parkrun with a new Witton PB, knocking a whopping 46 seconds off his previous time and dipping under 21 minutes for the first time – great effort Matthew! To make this achievement even more impressive, Matthew’s previous PB came on his very first visit to us, back in September 2015 for Event #3, when we were using our original, easier course, so to knock such a margin off is hugely impressive!
First female to finish was Horwich RMI Harrier Suzanne Budgett in 14th place in 24:37. This was Suzanne’s 37th parkrun and 9th at Witton, and was the 4th occasion she has been first female. Perhaps more notably, Suzanne’s finishing time matched exactly the time set by Blackburn Harrier Kate Cookson as first female finisher last weekend! This is the first time Witton’s first female finishers have finished in exactly the same time two weeks in a row, although James McLeod managed the feat of finishing in first position overall in a time of 19:34 at both Events #55 and #56 in October 2016. Second female home was Witton regular Jane Magee in 18th position in 25:33. This was Jane’s 18th parkrun with us and 25th overall – halfway to a 50 t-shirt now, Jane! Third female across the line was Accrington Road Runner Rebecca Sharples in 21st position in 26:30. This was Rebecca’s 33rd parkrun and 5th with us at Witton, with 11 runs apiece at Burnley parkrun and Cambridge parkrun being her most visited events. Well done to all our speedy men and women this weekend.
Milestone time! And just the one notable Witton parkrun milestone this weekend, with Witton core team member Sean Procter running his 70th parkrun and 50th with us here to join the illustrious Witton 50 Club! Although present as a volunteer from the outset, Sean ran Witton parkrun for the first time at Event #4 in September 2015 and has been able to run relatively frequently compared to some of the core team, clocking up regular runs at Witton in 2017. In the past 6 months, Sean has changed job role, which has involved working on Saturday mornings, which means he has not been able to join us at Witton that often in recent months, running just 9 times at Witton since the end of March. This has delayed his membership of the Witton 50 Club, which he brought up by finishing in 10th position in 23:22 this Saturday. This is someway off Sean’s Witton best of 19:12, set at Event #51 in September 2016, but we’ll let him off, since he revealed he’d run 15 miles BEFORE arriving at parkrun on Saturday and despite living a mile from Witton Park! Congratulations on becoming the 38th member to join the club Sean, good to see you running at Witton once more.
For those interested, the full Witton 50 Club consists of:
1. Anwar Khan – 122 runs
2. Matthew Vernon – 119 runs
3. Scott Smith – 98 runs
=4. Aimie Wormald – 94 runs
=4. Peter Toogood – 94 runs
=4. Lynda Vernon – 94 runs
7. Diane Harrison-Leeming – 88 runs
8. Suzanne Ferrandino – 87 runs
9. Kate Pomfret – 80 runs
10. Isabel Chadwick – 78 runs
11. Patricia Procter – 77 runs
=12. Antony Duckworth – 75 runs
=12. Ian Goodliffe – 75 runs
14. Matthew Cocker – 74 runs
=15. Irene Slater – 71 runs
=15. Anne Marie Rustidge – 71 runs
=17. Justin Collighan – 70 runs
=17. Norman Walsh – 70 runs
19. Julie Price – 69 runs
20. Bernard Johnson – 68 runs
21. Vicky Spencer – 67 runs
22. Jon Carberry – 64 runs
23. Kerry Elliott – 63 runs
=24. Bruce Elliott – 62 runs
=24. Andy Haworth – 62 runs
=24. Sarah Watkins – 62 runs
27. Peter Nicholson – 61 runs
28. Sue Duckworth – 60 runs
=29. Chris Chadwick – 58 runs
=29. James McLeod – 58 runs
31. Emily Snape – 58 runs
32. Sandra Snape – 56 runs
33. William (Bill) Dwyer – 55 runs
34. Dorothy Myers – 54 runs
=35. Jacqueline Dwyer – 52 runs
=35. Lorna Pickup – 52 runs
=37. Sharon Cocker – 50 runs
=37. Sean Procter – 50 runs
No milestone t-shirts were awarded again at Witton this weekend, but the following people were running significant milestones all the same:
Vicky Gore (Wesham Road Runners) – 190 runs
Matthew Vernon – 140 runs
Laurence Keighley (Ramsbottom Running Club) – 140 runs
Kate Pomfret (Blackburn Road Runners) – 90 runs
Sean Procter (Blackburn Harriers) – 70 runs
Jane Magee – 25 runs
Joshua Crowther (Blackburn Road Runners) – 20 runs
Matthew Bishop – 10 runs
Eleanor Allsop (Blackburn Harriers) – 1 run
Hannah Tomlinson – 1 run
Mega kudos to Eleanor Allsop and Hannah Tomlinson who saw the weather outside on Saturday and decided it was the perfect opportunity to join the parkrun family for the first time! They become the 3073rd and 3074th different people to run at Witton and the 1217th and 1218th people to start their parkrun journeys with us – we hope you enjoyed it ladies and that we see you again soon!
Those on the verge of a notable parkrun milestone include:
Sarah Watkins (Red Rose Road Runners) – 139 runs
Bernard Johnson – 79 runs
Matthew Chester (Blackburn Road Runners) – 59 runs
Miriam Hamilton – 39 runs
John Kearney – 9 runs
Conditions were not conducive to personal bests this weekend, so huge congratulations to the five of you who managed to do so in spite of the weather! We have already mentioned Matthew Bishop’s efforts in 3rd place, the other four to do so were Wayne Haworth, Tony Whittaker, Gary Moore and Christine Duckworth. Wayne Haworth ran his second parkrun with us and third in total this weekend and knocked nearly 3 and ¾ minutes off his time from our birthday parkrun in August, reducing his time from 33:59 to 30:16 – well done, Wayne! Tony Whittaker was also returning to Witton for the first time, in his 5th parkrun and lowered his mark from Event #142 of 33:37 down to 32:44 this weekend, a reduction of nearly a minute – great work, Tony! Blackburn GroupRun’s Gary Moore was running his third parkrun overall, all with us at Witton and all in the last 4 events, and has lowered his mark on each occasion he has visited us so far, from 43:52 in his debut outing, to 42:20 last weekend to 41:33 this weekend – nearly another minute off this week and 2 minutes 20 off since he first started – keep going, Gary, that time will be sub-40 soon!
Last, but certainly not least, was recent Witton regular Christine Duckworth, who ran her 9th parkrun with us and 12th overall this weekend. Christine is the wife of Witton 50 Club member Tony Duckworth, and only recently started joining him for parkrun, ostensibly to keep an eye on him after a bout of illness. Tony was soon back up to speed and running further up the pack but Christine has continued to parkrun with us, since making her debut at Event #132 in June. This weekend marked the third time she has broken her Witton PB, lowering her mark of 44:47 at Event #141 down to 43:33 this weekend – a reduction of 1 minute and 14 seconds – brilliant work, Christine! This is now Christine’s second fastest parkrun time ever, behind only the 42:44 she ran at Leamington parkrun in August, a course which appears on a cursory glance to be considerably flatter than the Beast! Great efforts from all those aboard the PB Express this weekend, and for those who just missed it, there’s always next weekend!
It was hardly weather to be standing out and about in this weekend, so as always we are hugely grateful to the hi-viz heroes who gave up their time this weekend so Witton parkrun Event #146 could happen this weekend, and as always seems to happen, we had more volunteers in the wet than we often do in the dry, with 23 names on the roster this weekend. Our thanks go to:
Jon CARBERRY • Francesca BURY • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Viki WALSH • Elouise Sylkie PEMBERTON • Anne Marie RUSTIDGE • Annika HALSALL • Mick POMFRET • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Cameron ASHTON • Antony DUCKWORTH • Irene SLATER • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter CRAINE • Debbie ASHTON • John KEARNEY • Katie CRAINE
Our thanks to you all and special thanks to Katie Craine, daughter of Wittoner Peter Craine who joined us at Witton to take photos this weekend as part of her college photography course. As always, pictures are available to view on our Facebook page, along with a small selection in this run report, and don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know if any shots of you lot in full running mode are suddenly worth a small fortune!
Finally, this weekend’s notices. Huge congratulations to Witton 50 Club member Irene Slater, who completed the Manchester Half Marathon on Sunday in 2 hours 21 minutes and 49 seconds, a huge half marathon PB by over 19 minutes! For those who aren’t sure, Irene was volunteering for us on Saturday, on the corner by the wooden animals as you exited the first woods. Great work, Irene! Massive congratulations too to Witton core team member Annika Halsall, who also finished the Manchester Half Marathon in 2 hours 17 minutes and 28 seconds, 24 hours after competing in cross country on Saturday afternoon! Well done ladies, and to all the other Wittoners who took part in cross country on Saturday afternoon in the wind and rain! I imagine it was messy!
Be aware we’re rapidly approaching Witton’s next cancellation, which will be on November 3rd (3 Saturdays away) for the annual Witton Park bonfire so get planning your next round of parkrun tourism! A number of Witton regulars appear to be heading to nearby Bolton parkrun and it would be great to see you there. They have a hill called Cruella de Hill which they think is pretty tough – come see if you think it’s tougher than the Beast! (It isn’t )
Witton’s 150th event will be two weeks later and we’re still working on a theme so any inspired ideas are more than welcome for that. As I mentioned in last week’s run report, I will be missing Event #147 for a friend’s wedding in York and will instead be completing York parkrun on Saturday morning. As a result, Witton needs a run report writer for next weekend so if you feel like giving it a go, do get in touch!
Have a great event on Saturday and I’ll see you all in a fortnight.
Enjoy the week ahead!
Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun