WITTON PARKRUN #131 – 2nd June 2018
RUN FOR NORMAN
It was an emotional morning at Witton Park as a Beast record of 230 people came down on an overcast June morning to remember and celebrate one no longer with us. Witton was a sea of yellow and black as those who came to run, jog and walk Witton’s 131st event commemorated the life of Norman Walsh, Darwen Dasher and 70-time Witton parkrunner who died a fortnight ago at the age of 65.
Witton expected a large turnout. Michelle had prepared 125 yellow and black ribbons to give to attendees, a number which would comfortably break anything since Christmas Day and really anything since the 171 Witton saw for our second birthday last August. That so many turned up so relatively early on a Saturday morning is testament to the esteem in which Norman was held not just at Witton parkrun but across the Blackburn with Darwen running community, with Blackburn Harriers and particularly Blackburn Road Runners showing solidarity with their bereaved Dasher brethren with their increased numbers.
The day began with the pre-run briefing, although this took a slightly different appearance to usual. First, we held it on the main path into the park, rather than at the start line, to allow people to gather round more easily. Second, for one of the few times in Witton history, it was delivered by someone other than Michelle. Clearly badly affected by the loss of one of our parkrun family, Michelle asked if I would mind doing the pre-run briefing this week instead and, while nervous, I was happy to step up. Despite a few technical hitches (it’s harder using a loudhailer than you might imagine it turns out!) I think I did alright.
Apologies if you had trouble hearing – it’s hard to gauge volume with a megaphone – but I remembered all the key notices and the tribute to Norman seemed to go down well, given the kind words people said to me later. I know Michelle has posted video of the speech on Facebook for those who couldn’t hear it or weren’t able to be present, and she also posted a news item on our parkrun page with the text about Norman if you want to read it here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/witton/news/2018/06/02/norman-walsh-parkun/
We had a superbly observed minute’s applause in memory of Norman, with all the marshals present and then while the marshals got in position, Fran Bury conducted the rather unusual topsy-turvy first timers briefing before we got underway around 9.08am. A crowded field meant a little more jostling for position than Witton is used to, but it was all good natured, with a gentle lift provided when Michelle panicked that little Liam Bennison had been left unchaperoned at the front of the field only for her yell to be replied by a bemused Ian Gaskell (Liam’s ‘responsible adult’ for the day) a few metres further back with ‘He’s here!’ pointing right next to him! Despite being first finisher in 4 of the last 8 Witton parkruns, including 2 of the last 3, there would be no repeat for Blackburn Road Runner Joshua Crowther, who turned up on Saturday morning very much overdressed for running and sporting a very fetching protective boot shielding a recent football injury! Strictly marshalling duty for Josh this weekend.
This left the way clear for returning Wittoner Joe Gebbie, who completed his first parkrun of 2018 with a first place finish and a new PB to boot. Blackburn Harrier Joe has completed 26 parkruns in total, all at Witton and this was the 4th time he was first finisher and the first since November last year. His time of 18:16 was a full minute and 13 seconds faster than his previous PB from November. More importantly, it means Joe now holds a faster Witton PB than brother Leo, who’s Witton PB remains his 19:21 last July. Doubtless Leo will be back this summer to see what he can do about that! A minute down the road was fellow Blackburn Harrier Nicholas Smith, who finished in 2nd position in 19:18. This was Nicholas’ 12th run at Witton, his 16th parkrun in total and also his first of 2018. His PB at Witton remains the 18:53 he ran at our 100th event last October.
Third person across the line was the first of our many Darwen Dashers, James France in 19:36. This was James’ 7th run at Witton, but his first ever conquering of the Beast, with all 6 previous visits taking place in our first 16 events on the old course. His time was unsurprisingly the slowest he has run at Witton (with the Beast a good one or two minutes plus slower than the old course) although he was still only a minute outside his Witton PB set on his last visit to us, Christmas Day 2015! James has only run 4 parkruns in the interim, with a single run at Preston and 3 runs at Bolton the latest of his 25 parkruns to date. Well done to all 3 men this weekend.
First female was Blackburn Harrier Joanne Nelson in 15th position in 21:57. This was Joanne’s 13th run at Witton and 48th parkrun in total and was her first parkrun anywhere since she ran at Witton last September. All Joanne’s last 8 parkruns have been at Witton, but these cover a period of nearly 2 years! I wonder when she’ll qualify for her red 50 parkruns t-shirt?! Second female was Darwen Dasher Janine Fallon who finished in 22nd position in 22:40. Like Joanne this was Janine’s 13th run at Witton and 18th overall, and her first parkrun anywhere since she ran at Preston in January 2017!
This was also a special run for Janine, as she broke her Witton PB, set on the old course, of 22:41 – by one whole second! Great effort Janine. Third female was Blackburn Road Runner Emma Wright, who finished in 34th position in 25:06. This was Emma’s 3rd run at Witton of 4 parkruns completed and her first in a year since she ran at Burnley parkrun last June. Her time was nearly a minute and a half down on her PB set last time out at Witton of 23:45 last June. Well done to all 3 ladies and good to see so many Witton returnees this weekend!
Milestone time, and just the one notable parkrun milestone hit this weekend for a very surprised Sharon Cocker, who joined son Matty in the Witton 50 Club. Sharon becomes the 34th person and 17th female to have run 50 Wittons, meaning we have an even 50-50 split of men and women who have run 50 times at Witton for the fourth time (after 4-4, 5-5 and 15-15). Sharon ran her first run with us at our inaugural event in August 2015 and ran 22 times with us in our first year. Year 2 was beset by injury for Sharon, limiting her involvement in the running side at Witton, but she volunteered regularly and has now completed 25 volunteering credits at Witton to go alongside her 50 runs with us. Sharon completed her 100th parkrun with us at Event 115 in January and completed her 49th run at Witton in March. Since then, she has been spending the last few months as a parkrun tourist, taking in 5 runs at our near-neighbours Hyndburn and one each at Bolton, Blackpool, Lytham Hall, Preston, Burnley and Ormskirk before finally returning to Witton to say goodbye to Norman and thus earn her 50 Wittons membership. Well done Sharon, I’m sure Norm would be the first to say: Welcome to the Club!
Others celebrating notable general parkrun numbers this weekend were:
Cameron Ashton – 125 runs
Kerry Elliott (Darwen Dashers) – 120 runs
Jim Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 120 runs
Anne Marie Rustidge (Darwen Dashers) – 110 runs
Alison Mercer (Red Rose Road Runners) – 90 runs
Pat Procter – 70 runs
Sarah Suthers (Darwen Dashers) – 40 runs
Stanley Hilton (Blackburn Harriers) – 30 runs
Tina Kuczer (Darwen Dashers) – 30 runs
Paul Fourie (Hyndburn AC) – 30 runs
Alex Buckland (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs
Khurram Shah – 25 runs
James France (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs
Lenny Kay (Blackburn Road Runners) – 25 runs
Alfy Kirkley – 25 runs
Matthew Connell (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs
Chris Cooper (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
Wayne Rushworth (Blackburn GroupRun) – 20 runs
Denise Sykes – 20 runs
Tina Glover – 20 runs
Jean McDonald (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
Richard Marsden (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
John Clayton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 10 runs
Michelle Steer – 10 runs
Tracey Vester-Hodgson (Blackburn Road Runners) – 10 runs
John Randall – 10 runs
Joel Freeman (Darwen Dashers) – 10 runs
Sarah Gabriel (Darwen Dashers) – 10 runs
Christine Whittle (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Susan Asher (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Faye Huddart (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Donna Burrell (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Leo Harrison – 1 run
Paul Harrison – 1 run
David Barnes (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Rebecca Wogden – 1 run
Iain Asher (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Lorna Blake – 1 run
Simon Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Berrin Sturgess (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Nichola Jennings – 1 run
Ollie Huddart (Datchet Dashers) – 1 run
Kerri Ray – 1 run
Orla Wilson – 1 run
Collette Unsworth – 1 run
A magnificent 17 first time parkrunners came to Witton this weekend, comfortably breaking our run of 10s in recent weeks. Indeed, 17 equals the number of Event 68 back in February 2017, which was the highest number of first time parkrunners seen at Witton since our first birthday back in August 2016. It is the 11th highest number of first time parkrunners ever seen at Witton (unsurprisingly most of those came in our first 10 events) and is the 5th time 17 first timers have come on the same weekend. Many of these were Darwen Dashers who’d never completed a parkrun before, but there were also a sprinkling of those who maybe haven’t done much running before so welcome! We hope you enjoyed the parkrun experience, it’s not usually quite so busy and emotionally charged as it was this weekend, and we hope you’ll come back for more. I noticed Nichola Jennings on Facebook is already planning on setting a new PB next Saturday!
And those on the cusp of a notable parkrun soon were:
Matthew Vernon – 124 runs
Fran Bury – 109 runs
Suzanne Ferrandino (Blackburn GroupRun) – 89 runs
Catherine Oakes – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Jacqui Dwyer – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Julie Gaskell (CSSC Sports & Leisure) – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Louise Oldfield (Darwen Dashers) – 39 runs
Lea Mellody – 24 runs
Hannah Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 24 runs
Michael Clucas (Blackburn Road Runners) – 24 runs
Jan Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 24 runs
Sharon Sinkinson – 19 runs
Launa Bibby (Darwen Dashers) – 19 runs
Neil Fraser (Blackburn Road Runners) – 9 runs
Liam Bennison – 9 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Rowena Doherty (Blackburn Road Runners) – 9 runs
Mark Bamber (Darwen Dashers) – 9 runs
Trevor Jowett (Blackburn Road Runners) – 9 runs
Three regular Wittoners are looking at t-shirts next weekend (it’s been a while since that was the case!) Both Jacqui Dwyer and Julie Gaskell are one run away from being able to order their red 50 t-shirts and Liam Bennison’s next run will be his 10th, meaning as a junior he will be eligible for the white 10 parkruns t-shirt! And will Catherine Oakes be inspired to return to the Beast and earn her red t-shirt too? Catherine has run 7 times at Witton but this was her first visit since last March. It was only Catherine’s 2nd parkrun of 2018 – could she follow it up with another next Saturday and earn her t-shirt? Come on Catherine, you know you want to.
There was a swelling of the volunteering ranks this weekend too, with those unable to run more than happy to give up their time on the sidelines for Norman, with marshals around every corner. We had a wonderful 30 hi-viz heroes this weekend, the highest number since we had 31 at our 100th event in October. It marks our joint-10th highest total of volunteers, and means nearly 250 people were in Witton Park remembering Norman this weekend. This week’s full list of hi-viz heroes were:
Joshua CROWTHER • Francesca BURY • Hayley Louise DUCKWORTH • Tina KUCZER • Simon TOWNSEND • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Emily SNAPE • Reanna EVANS • Janet GREENHALGH • Andy MCALLISTER • Anwar KHAN • Annika HALSALL • Nicola HALSALL • Ian GASKELL • Julie GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Sarah GABRIEL • Charlotte LINGARD • Matthew VERNON • Cathy KILSHAW • Lorna PICKUP • Gary BLACKBURN • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Debbie ASHTON • Dylan GRINDLEY • Berrin STURGESS
120 different people have now volunteered at Witton in 2018, and this weekend saw 6 new names added to the Witton Volunteers Hall of Fame, with 340 different people having helped us in our 131-event history. Our thanks as always, we actually couldn’t do it without you.
We had a few technical difficulties with the results this weekend, something that might have provided Norman with a chuckle, but eventually it seems Michelle ironed out most major issues on a day when time was really of little significance. That said, many times were still very notable. Given the increase in numbers, it is perhaps not surprising there were 35 personal bests recorded on the Beast, but in actual fact this is a Beast record, outstripping the previous record of 32 from Event #80 last May (although that day, 32 represented over a third of the field, compared to just 15% this weekend!). This is actually the highest number of PBs seen on a single day at Witton since Event #9 in October 2015 – well done everyone!
Astonishingly, all but one of the people mentioned in the PB section of the last Witton run report set new PBs again this weekend! What are you lot eating?! Spurred on by disappointment last time out, Liam Bennison put it right with a time of 25:30, a PB by 7 seconds from 2 events ago.
And of course, where Liam gets a PB, so does Ian Gaskell, dragged around to a new PB of 25:31, again 7 seconds better than 2 events ago! How much faster can Liam go? And, more importantly, how much longer can Ian hold on to his coat tails?! Brother Jake got in on the act again too, with a 10th Witton PB on his 30th visit to us, knocking a whopping minute and a half of his time from last time out, now down to 27:13! Well done Jake! Mick Pomfret completed a 5th consecutive Witton PB, knocking 7 seconds off his time from last time out and thus recording his first ever sub-30-minute Witton parkrun, with a time of…29:59! Nice one Mick! Meanwhile, Tiyra Slaam recorded her 4th consecutive PB by 2 seconds, while Katie Haworth, fresh from her first visit to Witton in a year last time out decided to return again and set another new PB, knocking over 2 more minutes off her time from Event 130! And what of 5-time consecutive PB earner and new Wittoner Jason Duckworth? Unfortunately, Jay has picked up an injury and is out of action for a couple of weeks, but with Mick equalling his run of 5 consecutive PBs and Tiyra just one behind, it’s all to play for on his return! Well done to all those who boarded the PB Express this weekend, apologies I don’t have time to look into more – I’m sure with all the returnees there were some fascinating stories waiting to be discovered!
It was also terrific to see the return of Witton’s most experienced female parkrunner, Aimie Wormald, 5 weeks after the birth of her first child, Jaymes and 7 weeks since she last ran with us – although I’m sure she’d argue there wasn’t much running involved!
Aimie was hoping to run sub-40 and she more than achieved that, completing her first parkrun as a mummy in 167th place in 37:37 – well done Aimie, great to have you back!
Notices coming up: This coming Saturday (June 9th), parkrun UK are celebrating 70 years of the NHS and Witton is getting involved, so if you have any friends of family working in the NHS, bring them along! Perhaps they’d be prepared to run in their uniforms? Or if they don’t fancy running, drop us a line on Facebook or via firstname.lastname@example.org and get them involved in the volunteering side!
There’s plenty of roles available and lots of friendly faces ready to help if they’re nervous. As for the rest of us, fancy dress is encouraged! Lots of options are open to you – be a patient, nurse, doctor, porter, surgeon, first aider, it’s entirely up to you! What are you brave enough to run in..?
The week after, June 16th, Witton is CANCELLED due to the Muddy Maniacs event in the park and many Wittoners are heading to our brand-new neighbours at Clitheroe Castle parkrun for what will be their 5th event, so if you want to join us, please do. Be aware, parking is not extensive, so you may want to consider car sharing or taking the train, which lands just 5 minutes from the start of the run.
And that just about wraps up this very special Witton parkrun. The last word, of course, must go to Norman. No less than 79 Darwen Dashers turned out to commemorate their friend by running, a Witton record dating back to our very first event in August 2015. Norman’s popularity extends way beyond the running club he loved and his parkrun family will miss him just as much as anyone. Who knows what outfit he would have planned for our NHS theme this weekend. Come on, be honest, we can all see Norman in a nurse’s outfit and a big blonde wig, can’t we? His mischievous sense of humour and ever present toothy grin will live long in the memory and the number of people who’s lives he touched and who have a warm memory of him, even if they did not know him very well is something his family can be very proud of. Our thoughts at this time remain with Anne and Viki, as well as the rest of Norman’s children and grandchildren, many of whom were present to see the reaction his death has brought on Saturday and it is safe to say Norman will always be part of the Witton parkrun family as, we hope, will Viki and Anne. God bless Norman, we hope you liked our tribute to you and rest in peace fella.
As for the rest of you, thanks as always for reading, and I’ll see you at Witton again very soon.
Have a good week,
Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun #loveNormy