Witton parkrun – Run Report – Event #125

WITTON PARKRUN REPORT #125 – 14th April 2018

What a difference a week makes! Saturday dawned to surprisingly warm sunshine for the 79 parkrunners who made their way to Witton to run, jog and walk Event #125, marking a century and a quarter of Witton parkruns.


And the sunshine brought out some faster runners for an early morning run, with six parkrunners ducking under 20 minutes at Witton, matching the figure of Event #109 on December 23rd. First to cross the line was Stephen Hall of Ribble Valley Harriers in 18:15.


This was Stephen’s 6th parkrun in total and 4th at Witton and his first of 2018. His time was agonisingly one second(!) the wrong side of the PB he set on his last visit to Witton at Event #111, but he has yet to be beaten at Witton, coming home as first finisher on all 4 occasions he has run the Beast.

Stephen’s performance bested fellow Ribble Valley Harrier Ben Walmsley, who came home 2nd in 18:32. This was Ben’s 7th run at Witton and 10th parkrun overall, and his second visit to Witton in 2018.


Although he was almost a minute faster this weekend than on his last visit last month, he was still 7 seconds off the PB he set at Event #100 in October last year and dropped a position compared to his last visit when he was first finisher. Third home was frequent Wittoner and Accrington Road Runner Glen Goodwin a full minute behind Ben in 19:32. This was Glen’s 23rd run at Witton and 41st parkrun overall and his third run at Witton in 2018, besting by 5 seconds his time from Event #122 and setting a new personal best time in the process. Well done Glen!

First female was another Ribble Valley Harrier, Louisa Powell-Smith in 5th position in 19:54. Louisa is under the weather at the moment, which accounts for the fact that her third visit to Witton was over a minute slower than her previous visits.


She formerly held the course record at Witton, which has since been bested by 4 seconds, but I’m sure she’ll be back to try and regain it soon! Second female was, for the second week in a row, Horwich RMI Harrier Suzanne Budgett in 18th position in 25:13.


This was Suzanne’s 4th visit to Witton and 27th parkrun overall. Third female was frequent Wittoner Elizabeth Sullivan in 26th place in 27:04. This was Elizabeth’s 31st run at Witton and 45th parkrun in total and marked her fastest run on the Beast since June last year and Event #86. Well done to all our speedy ladies and gentlemen this weekend.


Another quiet week, with no t-shirts to be handed out but the following people were celebrating notable numbers at Witton this weekend:
Andrew Cooper – 140 runs
Francesca Smith (Accrington Road Runners) – 40 runs


Gary Blackburn (Blackburn Road Runners) – 25 runs
Khurram (formerly known as Shaheen) Shah – 20 runs


Morgan Mullen (Trawden AC) – 20 runs
Benjamin Livesey (Blackburn Harriers) – 20 runs


Ben Walmsley (Ribble Valley Harriers) – 10 runs

I thought it was about time I started counting some others into those milestone numbers too. So huge congratulations to the following three who completed their first parkrun at Witton on Saturday:
David Aspin – 1 run
Jason Duckworth – 1 run
Ahmed Karolia – 1 run



And those about to hit notable numbers are:
Dominic Howell – 124 runs
Katy Thompson (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) – 119 runs
Diane Harrison-Leeming (Blackburn GroupRun) – 79 runs
Kate Pomfret (Blackburn Road Runners) – 74 runs
James McLeod – 69 runs
Fraser Snape (Trawden AC) – 59 runs
Dorothy Myers – 39 runs
Corinne Surkitt – 19 runs

Well done to all who took part in Event #125 this weekend.

Witton parkrun relies on our volunteers to allow us to take place this week, and I’m pleased to note that volunteer numbers have been very healthy over the first quarter of 2018. Let’s try and keep this up for the rest of the year! This week’s hi-viz heroes were:
Kevin DOHERTY • Sean PROCTER • Vicky SPENCER • Michelle SEARBY • Alexandra MULLEN • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Hazel BAXTER • Ian GASKELL • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Julie PRICE • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Lorna PICKUP • Josh WOODSTOCK • Helen READ • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Debbie ASHTON • Zoe MULLEN • Julie GRAVES


Thanks to you all.


And that’s about it for Event #125. Just a couple of things to update you on before I close. First, Michelle has posted on our Facebook page to remind everyone of parkrun’s responsibilities. We pride ourselves on having only three rules:
1. No Barcode, No Time, No Exceptions
2. Dogs are one per parkrunner and must be kept on a short lead
3. All under 11s must be accompanied by a responsible adult

Witton welcomes runners of all ages and abilities, but if you’re under 11, you must be accompanied by a responsible adult to ensure you stay safe. Witton is largely a trail route, with plenty of obstacles and two large, wooded areas where it is easy to get lost or separated if attention isn’t properly paid. We understand that some parents have children who are much faster than they are capable of and if you are unable to find a suitable adult to run with your child, we will try and help you out if we can. However, it is a child safeguarding issue, and repeat offences will lead to times being deleted from the records. Obviously, this isn’t something we want to do, so please, if you’ve any concerns or questions, do get in touch. Thank you.

Second, three regular Wittoners took part in the Manchester Marathon last weekend. Blackburn Road Runner Matt Chester completed the 26.2 miles in 5:31:37. Meanwhile, Suzanne Ferrandino and Julie Price, who both started running through the Couch 2 5K programme less than 4 years ago, also made it around. Having started together, Suzanne had a little more left in the closing stages and finished 3 seconds under her target time, in a superb 5:59:57. Julie was only a little way behind, finishing in a creditable 6:13:08. Both Suzanne and Julie volunteered at Witton on Saturday and are well on the way to recovering. Both enjoyed the experience but suspect it may be their once-in-a-lifetime marathon! Well done to all three!
Finally, as of Sunday morning, Witton regular Aimie Wormald is still awaiting the arrival of her little bundle of joy, despite being due on Friday. I’m sure everyone connected with Witton will want to send Aimie all our love at this exciting time – details as and when we have them!

And that wraps it up for another week. Next weekend sees the re-arranged Ron Hill Accrington 10K as well as the Bolton 10K, so if you’re planning to take part in either and fancy giving your legs a rest on Saturday, why not offer to volunteer and give a little back to parkrun? I’m sure Michelle will find you something to do.

Have a great week and see you next Saturday,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


From Michelle:

Good Luck Chris who is running 26.2 miles next week at London Marathon!



Witton parkrun Run Report – Event #124

WITTON PARKRUN #124 – 7th April 2018

April already! Where is the year going? And as we made our way to Witton I was reminded of the old Disney song ‘Drip, Drip, Drop Little April Shower’ as the rain fell. Helpfully though, parkrun was largely dry, if a little muddy, before the rain returned as we packed up and returned to the car park. The weather didn’t put as many off as I suspected either, with 75 parkrunners coming to Witton to run, jog and walk the Beast this Saturday, the most for three weeks.

First to cross the line this weekend was Blackburn Road Runner Josh Crowther in 19:21. This was Josh’s second successive parkrun at Witton and sixth time as first finisher, although he was nearly a minute slower compared to his time last week. It was actually Josh’s second slowest Witton parkrun ever, only surpassed by his very first run on the Beast in April 2016 when he finished in 20:40. I think we’ll let him off though, since I spied Josh jogging to Witton at about ten to nine to make the start!

Second across the line was returning Wittoner James McLeod in 20:20. This was James’ 53rd visit to Witton, but only his third of 2018, with seven runs this year with our neighbours at Hyndburn parkrun topping his list. This was only six seconds off the time James set on his last visit to Witton in February and like that day he finished in second position. Third place went to new regular Alfy Kirkley, who bounced back from last week’s failure to record a PB by setting a new PB of 20:31 on his 5th consecutive run on the Beast. Well done to him.

First female this weekend was also first junior: Horwich RMI Harrier Isabella Merritt, who finished in an impressive 24:31 in 12th place. This was Isabella’s first visit to Witton, along with the rest of her family, and her 80th adult parkrun in total. 54 of her 80 parkruns have taken place with our neighbours at Bolton parkrun, with 12 junior parkruns at Queen’s Park junior parkrun (also in Bolton) her next highest total. Second female was one place behind Isabella and a little over half a minute down the road: fellow Horwich RMI Harrier Suzanne Budgett in 25:04. This was Suzanne’s third visit to Witton and first since Armistice Day last year. It was her 26th parkrun in total over a span of more than 6 years and she has run at 10 different venues in that time, with none run at more than the 5 she has completed at Cuerden Valley, near Preston. Third female was Clayton-le-Moors Harrier Katy Thompson, running with her family, and finishing in 20th position in 27:34. This was Katy’s 15th run at Witton, 5 of which have been since the start of December last year, and she has completed 118 parkruns in total, with 41 runs at Bolton by far her most (her 15 runs at Witton are now her second highest total anywhere). Special mention to fellow Clayton-le-Moors Harrier and frequent Wittoner Julia Rushton who crossed the line in 21st position as fourth female in exactly the same time as Katy – 27:34! Well done to all our speedy lads and lasses, of all ages, this weekend.

No significant milestones were hit again this weekend, although I assure you there are plenty in the offing in coming weeks. Those who did hit notable numbers at Witton on Saturday were:
Sarah Watkins (Red Rose Road Runners) – 125 runs
Isabella Merritt (Horwich RMI Harriers) – 80 runs
Mick Pomfret – 20 runs
Miriam Hamilton – 20 runs

And those about to get there are:
Ian Gaskell – 29 runs
Gary Blackburn (Blackburn Road Runners) – 24 runs
Morgan Mullen (Trawden AC) – 19 runs
Shaheen Shah – 19 runs

Well done to all those completing Witton this weekend. As it’s a quiet week, I thought I’d mention those heading towards notable Witton milestones in coming weeks. This weekend actually saw the top 5 members of the Witton 50 Club complete the same Witton parkrun for only the third time in 2018 and the first in 9 events back to January. This was largely due to the appearance of Peter Toogood, who completed his first parkrun of any sort since January and his 81st at Witton and the unexpected appearance of Witton’s most experienced female, Darwen Running Group’s Aimie Wormald, who tail walked with sister Jen on what may well be her last chance before giving birth, being – as she is – nine months pregnant and due next week! This was Aimie’s first parkrun since hitting 150 with us at Event #117 in February and she got round in a very creditable 56:39 – well done Aimie!

The top 10 Witton attendees of all time as of Event #124 are:
Anwar Khan – 106 runs
Matthew Vernon – 102 runs
Aimie Wormald (Darwen Running Group) – 84 runs
Peter Toogood – 81 runs
Scott Smith – 80 runs
Isabel Chadwick – 77 runs
Suzanne Ferrandino (Blackburn GroupRun) – 77 runs
Lynda Vernon – 75 runs
Diane Harrison-Leeming (Blackburn GroupRun) – 73 runs
Matthew Cocker (Darwen Dashers) – 72 runs

Those hitting notable numbers of Witton parkruns this weekend were:
Scott Smith – 80 runs
Lynda Vernon – 75 runs
Stanley Hilton (Blackburn Harriers) – 20 runs
Autumn Barlow (Darwen Dashers) – 10 runs

And those heading for the Witton 50 Club in upcoming weeks are:
Sharon Cocker (Darwen Dashers) – 49 runs
William (Bill) Dwyer – 49 runs
Peter Nicholson – 48 runs
Lorna Pickup – 47 runs
Jacqueline Dwyer – 45 runs
Sean Procter (Blackburn Harriers) – 43 runs
Fraser Snape (Trawden AC) – 42 runs
Sandra Snape (Blackburn Road Runners) – 42 runs
Julia Rushton (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) – 41 runs

Special mention as well to Witton regular Ian Goodliffe. Ian, as you may recall, celebrated 3 years since he suffered a potential life-ending heart attack during his early days of running on Good Friday by completing a 3 mile run with friends and well-wishers at Witton, and in last week’s run report I recounted Ian’s journey and how he had improved his time over the last few years at Witton setting a new PB last August of 32:58. Well, whether he read the run report or not, Ian decided it was time to obliterate that mark and set a new PB of exactly one minute faster – 31:58 on his 67th parkrun and 61st at Witton! A true inspiration to us all, well done Ian!

Another 4 parkrun newcomers joined us at Witton on Saturday – welcome to the party and I hope you enjoyed your experience! There were also 5 unknown runners this week, matching our highest total in 2018 so far – remember folks – no barcode, no time, no exceptions, and it has to be a physical barcode, not an athlete number or a photo or screenshot on your phone! There’s nothing more annoying than running a good time and not getting recognition for it so – Don’t Forget Your Barcode!

As always, huge thanks go to the volunteers who help make Witton parkrun happen every week. Michelle put out the call and you all stepped up again – with Jen Wormald, Aimie’s sister joining her for tail walking duty, that takes the total number of first time Witton volunteers in 2018 to 20, not bad going since we’ve only had 13 parkruns so far this year!

This weekend’s hi-viz heroes were:
Sean PROCTER • Aimie WORMALD • Michelle SEARBY • Jen WORMALD • Bryan SEARBY • Daniel HAMILTON • Ian GASKELL • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Julie PRICE • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Lorna PICKUP • Irene SLATER • Andy HAWORTH • Matthew CHESTER • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter NICHOLSON • Debbie ASHTON • Julie GRAVES • Hazel BAXTER

Thanks to you all.

Huge congratulations to those of you who have taken part in the Manchester Marathon on Sunday. I know that Matt Chester, Julie Price and Suzanne Ferrandino are all there representing Witton parkrun and apologies if there’s anyone I’ve missed – it’s a phenomenal achievement to get round!

If 26.2 miles seems a bit too far for your liking, then good news! Witton parkrun offers a far more benign challenge of just 5k and better still it’s free, friendly and every Saturday morning! How about joining us for Event #125 on Saturday 14th April? Come on, you know you want to. ;)

Have a good week.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Witton parkrun – Run Report – Event #123

WITTON parkrun REPORT #123 – 31st March 2018

It’s been a bumper March for parkrun, with no less than 5 Saturdays this month, the last falling on the very last day of the month which this year also happened to be Easter Saturday. Despite the fact we’re officially well into Spring and the Easter Bunny is out and about, this Saturday saw the weather take a turn for the chilly again, with a touch of snow on Monday and this combined with the weekend’s festivities (plus a double bank holiday long weekend) saw Witton’s numbers shrink to just the 66 who ventured out to run, jog or walk the Beast this weekend.

Not that that matters! A fun time was had by all and there was the usual mix of seasoned club runners at the front and a variety of familiar faces and parkrun newcomers through the field. First person to cross the line was Blackburn Road Runner Joshua Crowther in a speedy 18:34. This matched – to the second – Witton’s fastest time of 2018 so far, joining Blackburn Harrier Joshua Holgate’s effort from Event #113 on January 13th. Maybe Joshuas are genetically built to be fast! This was Joshua’s 8th run at Witton and 12th parkrun overall. It was his first visit to Witton since October last year, and he has only run two parkruns since then, most recently last month at Ruchill parkrun in Glasgow. His time of 18:34 was his second fastest ever on the Beast, just 13 seconds off his PB set back in August last year at Event #92.

Second across the line was recent newcomer Alfy Kirkley in 21:24, just the 10 seconds short of 3 minutes behind Joshua! This was Alfy’s fourth successive Witton parkrun and the first time he has failed to set a new PB – it had to happen sooner or later Alfy, I’m sure there’s plenty more to come. Third was Witton first timer David Swinburne in 21:29. This was David’s 126th parkrun and this weekend he ticked off his 27th different venue in that time. Based Manchester-way, David has run 31 times at South Manchester parkrun, 30 times at Burnage parkrun in Stockport and 23 times at Stretford parkrun, and he hasn’t run any of the remaining 24 parkruns on his list more than 5 times. Welcome to Witton David, we hope you enjoyed your run on the Beast and that perhaps you’ll visit us again someday! Well done to all three men at the front this weekend.

Rounding out the top 10 was this weekend’s first female, Darwen Dasher Fran Bury in exactly 26 minutes. This was Fran’s first run at Witton since Christmas Day, but she has run 8 parkruns since then at 7 different venues! This was Fran’s 22nd run at Witton and 106th parkrun in total. Having finished her run as first female, she then picked up a volunteer credit by sorting the finishing tokens as they were returned! This is probably one of the reasons Fran’s one of the four people in this weekend’s Witton results to benefit from parkrun’s new logo representing those who have volunteered 25 times and earned their purple t-shirt! Thanks Fran!

Right behind Fran was Saturday’s second female, Kim Sherrington in 26:51. This was Kim’s 5th visit to Witton, all since last August, and she has now done 18 parkruns overall, spread evenly with 5 at Witton and Preston and 4 at Hyndburn and Cuerden Valley. Third female was Witton regular Elizabeth Sullivan in 15th place in 27:21. This was Elizabeth’s 30th parkrun at Witton and 44th overall since making her parkrun debut with us in October 2016. Well done to all our speedy folk this weekend!

This weekend was a very special Witton parkrun…because there were absolutely NO milestones! Nobody earned a t-shirt and nobody joined the Witton 50 Club. Nobody even joined the Witton 25 Club, I’m scrabbling around for scraps this week! Those who hit personal milestones were:
John Cookson (Blackburn Harriers) – 75 runs
Sean Procter (Blackburn Harriers) – 60 runs
David Hilton (Darwen Running Group) – 40 runs
Autumn Barlow (Darwen Dashers) – 10 runs

And those on the cusp of a milestone are:
Mick Pomfret – 19 runs
Miriam Hamilton – 19 runs
Margaret Morley – 9 runs

Another 7 genuine parkrun first timers took part at Witton this weekend – welcome, I hope you enjoyed your experience and felt a sense of accomplishment at the finish! Hopefully we’ll see you again soon.

Another healthy roster of volunteers at Witton this weekend saw another parkrun pass without incident. Our thanks go to:
Francesca BURY • Jacob WATSON • William (Bill) DWYER • Sean PROCTER • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Elouise Sylkie PEMBERTON • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Lorna PICKUP • Jacqueline DWYER • Sharon SINKINSON • Michael SINKINSON • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter NICHOLSON • Debbie ASHTON

Remember, if you want to get involved in volunteering at parkrun then please get in touch. We’re a friendly bunch and nobody will get turned away. Parkrun is equally rewarding from the other side of the fence, but there are roles that can be done while still running too as Fran showed this weekend! Get in touch via our Facebook page or via wittonhelpers@parkrun.com and we’ll fix you up with a role!

A few notices to finish with in this shorter than normal run report. First, on Good Friday a large group of Witton parkrunners took part in a 5k run from Witton Park Arena in support of Witton regular Ian Goodliffe. Ian has completed 60 Witton parkruns, putting him 18th on the all-time list and his time has reduced from 46:11 in August 2016 to a PB of 32:58 last August and this weekend he did a respectable 34:32. What makes Ian’s story slightly more astonishing is that when first taking up running with the Couch to 5K programme, he suffered a massive heart attack at Witton Park Arena following a run. Luckily, a defibrillator was on hand and not only has Ian made a full recovery, he is now fitter and healthier than before, as his times show. Good Friday marked exactly 3 years of what Ian termed ‘life after death’ and he wanted to celebrate this, not in a morbid way, but as a celebration of what can be achieved, by completing a 3 mile run at 3pm from the site of his heart attack and invited anybody who wanted to join him to do so. Around 50 people turned up to show support, comprising parkrunners, Road Runners and friends and family on what turned into a lovely, warm afternoon for a run down to Pleasington Cemetery, up Cardiac Hill and back into the park. Laughs were had, plenty of conversation and a really nice atmosphere. Congratulations Ian, here’s to 33 more years and the rest beyond!

Second, 8 Witton parkrunners – not content with running on Good Friday AND Easter Saturday – turned up for an unofficial social parkrun on Easter Monday! It was held at 9am as usual, but beyond that I have very little information as I was not present, a rarity for a Witton parkrun. At 9am on Monday, I was making my way down to Ewood Park to head off to Milton Keynes to see us seal a very tense victory over the MK Dons and return to the top of League One! But rest assured, I shall be back on Saturday for Witton parkrun #124.

Happy Easter! Enjoy the rest of your week.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Witton parkrun Run Report – Event #122

WITTON PARKRUN #122 – 24th March 2018

I can’t be the only parkrunner who woke up on Saturday morning, threw open the curtains and thought ‘FINALLY!’ as sunlight streamed through the window: a dry, bright, warm(ish) parkrunday at last, after weeks of cold, wet slogs. Conditions were set fair for a decent run and though Michelle described the course in the pre-run briefing as ‘average’ (earning an amused titter from the regulars) I think she did the course a little disservice, with conditions firm and dry underfoot for the most part, and even the mud being sticky rather than wet in the places it was still present and the 70 parkrunners who ran, jogged and walked the Beast on Saturday took full advantage with no less than a quarter of the field setting personal best times on the day.

First across the line was Ribble Valley Harrier Chris Barnes. This was Chris’ second successive parkrun at Witton and he went one step better than last week finishing top of the pile in a very speedy 19:02. Chris has run 13 times now at Witton, 12 of those times on the Beast and this was the fastest he has ever gone by 10 seconds, dating back to Event #73 a year ago (it isn’t technically a Witton PB, as he ran 17:55 on the old course back in Event #7 but who’s counting Chris?) Well done! Chris was a sign of things to come, as the next two runners across the line both set new personal bests themselves. Second was frequent Wittoner Andrew Heys. Like Chris, he was running for the second successive week at Witton and improved on his fourth place finish of last week by running 19:25 to finish second. His time knocked 4 seconds off the PB he set with us on New Year’s Day and was a whopping 33 seconds faster than he managed last weekend. This was Andrew’s 16th run at Witton and his 42nd parkrun in total. Third place went to Accrington Road Runner and another frequent Wittoner, Glen Goodwin in 19:37. This was Glen’s 22nd run at Witton and 40th in total and he marked it with a great run, bettering any of the 13 runs he did with us in 2017, as well as his sole visit to Witton up to now in 2018 in February to knock 8 seconds off his time from New Year’s Eve 2016 (Event #64). Well done to all three men on some truly impressive performances.

First female home was Witton regular and Darwen Dasher Sue Duckworth in 16th position in 25:06. This was Sue’s 54th parkrun at Witton and 145th in total and she finished as first female for the 7th time, incidentally in her slowest ever time in that position. Second female was Helen Beech in 18th place in 25:11. This was Helen’s second visit to Witton and she set a new PB, knocking over 2 and a quarter minutes off her first visit to us. Helen was pulled along with Sue and astonished herself with her performance so much that she posted about it on the parkrun discussion page on Facebook! This was Helen’s 42nd parkrun, 31 of which have taken place with our friends at Burnley parkrun, but I suspect she’ll be back at Witton for more soon enough! Third female across the line was Lesley Peters in 23rd position in 26:27. This was Lesley’s 10th visit to Witton in 55 parkruns, with only her 23 runs at South Manchester parkrun ahead of her runs at Witton. In total, she has run at 20 different parkrun venues and this was her first visit to Witton since Event #109 just before Christmas. A veteran of our inaugural event way back in August 2015, this was Lesley’s third fastest Witton parkrun, but like Chris earlier, this marked her fastest ever run on the Beast course, with her only two faster runs being in Events #1 and #4 on the old course. Well done to all our speedy men and women this weekend.

A quiet week all in all for milestones, with not a single t-shirt being awarded this weekend, so I get to talk about myself for a little bit! On Saturday, I became the second person to run 100 Witton parkruns, four weeks after Anwar Khan became the first, finishing in 34th position in 29:15. It has taken me 122 Witton parkruns to reach this total, but as I did not attend until Event #4 in mid-September 2015, this means I have actually run 100 Wittons out of a possible 119, just one more than Anwar took in reaching his mark. Unlike Anwar who has remained relatively consistent, my commitment to parkrun has increased noticeably since I started, with my first 50 Wittons being completed in 63 events (79%), and my next 50 in just 56 events (89%). I have missed running at just 22 Witton parkruns, but considering I didn’t join parkrun until Event #4 (making me the first person who started their parkrun journey at Witton to reach 100 Witton parkruns) that means of the remaining 19, I have only missed 6 more entirely, having volunteered at the other 13 parkruns I have not run at. In addition to my parkrunning, I have now volunteered 75 times at Witton. I started volunteering after injuring myself (parkrunning) in March 2016 and haven’t looked back since, first as new runner briefer, then a variety of marshalling, timekeeping and scanning roles, and more recently as writer of the run report. I have run two of the three Christmas Day parkruns, our sole New Year’s Day parkrun thus far, our first and second birthdays and our 50th and 100th events. My PB has reduced from 33.25 on my first ever run to 28.36 by the time the old course was out of use. Since then, thankfully, I have been able to improve on my time on the new course four times, first to 28:17 and most recently to 27:12 at Event #83 in June last year. I ran 12 of my 100 Wittons on the original course, with one run on the reverse Beast course for our 2nd birthday and no less than 87 runs on the Beast completing my ton. This puts me ever so slightly ahead in the race for the one remaining club me and Anwar can compete in any time soon: the 100 Beasts Club, with Anwar having run 86 times on our fearsome course, one less than myself. There’s always something to chase! I love our parkrun. I’m not the fastest, I don’t find it easy, but I feel a huge sense of achievement and pride every week at having done it. Sometimes, I surprise myself with how well I’ve done, but whatever the time, I get to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning with a wonderful group of people of all ages and abilities sharing in the very special atmosphere that is parkrun. Anyway, that’s more than enough about me!

Plenty of other people hit notable numbers on Saturday, with first time Wittoner David Atkinson of Northern Veterans RC hitting the next big non-t-shirt number of 150 parkruns, finishing in 12th position in 23:22. Well done David, 100 more to go to the next t-shirt!

Others hitting milestones this weekend were:
Chris Barnes (Ribble Valley Harriers) – 40 runs
Glen Goodwin (Accrington Road Runners) – 40 runs
Jake Bennison – 30 runs
Alfy Kirkley – 20 runs
Tim Keely – 10 runs

Others heading for a notable number were:
Norman Walsh (Darwen Dashers) – 129 runs
Nicola Perrins – 89 runs
Kevin Doherty (Sunderland Strollers) – 39 runs
Benjamin Livesey (Blackburn Harriers) – 19 runs

12 more first time Wittoners came this weekend, including another 5 starting their first ever parkrun with us. Welcome, we hope you enjoyed the experience and will join us again soon. In some ways, even huger credit goes to Vicki Harris and Tony Hopwood, who having joined us last weekend for their first ever parkrun returned this weekend for the tricky second go! You’re well underway now and before you know it you’ll be wearing red 50 t-shirts. Well done! I also want to give special mention to one of our other first time Wittoners, Poppy Woods of Ossy Joggers. Young Poppy finished in 51st place in a creditable 34:46 and crossed the line with a beaming smile on her face. When asked how she’d found our fearsome Beast she described it as ‘easy’! This was Poppy’s 6th full parkrun, with 6 junior parkruns also to her name at this young age – she’ll qualify for her first t-shirt soon too! Well done Poppy, and keep parkrunning!

With the Darwen Half Marathon taking place this weekend, the stage was set for the Darwen Dashers to fill up the volunteer roster and they stepped up to the plate as always, with no less than 6 members of that fine club filling positions on the roster, as well as representatives of the Blackburn Road Runners, Blackburn Harriers and Trawden AC too. This week’s hi-viz heroes were:
David ATKINSON • Autumn BARLOW • Francesca BURY • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Viki WALSH • Elouise Sylkie PEMBERTON • Norman WALSH • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Kerry ELLIOTT • Bruce ELLIOTT • George WOODBURN • Lorna PICKUP • Gary BLACKBURN • Andy HAWORTH • Michael SINKINSON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Lewis SINKINSON • Debbie ASHTON
Our thanks as always and if you want to do your bit in future weeks, you can pick a role on the future roster here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/witton/futureroster/ and message Michelle and the gang on Facebook or email us via wittonhelpers@parkrun.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Well done to any and all who took part in the Darwen Heritage Half Marathon on Sunday. Thankfully, you got a good day for it and it appears a good time was had by all. Put your feet up for a little while and then I expect to see you back at Witton on Saturday to tackle the Beast!

Have a good week,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Witton parkrun – Run Report – Event #121

WITTON PARKRUN REPORT #121 – 17th March 2018

Yet another week saw Witton threatened by snow, as the Beast from the East made its unexpected and unwelcome return. This time, though, snowfall was minimal and instead it was a bitterly cold wind which tried the 79 parkrunners who ran, jogged and walked at Witton this Saturday.


There was so much going on this Saturday, with parkrunners encouraged to run in pyjamas to celebrate National Sleep In Day (and try to win a mattress) but it was far too cold for any Wittoners to brave this option, although I think some people may have taken advantage of the ‘sleep in’ bit to give parkrun a miss for this week! Meanwhile it was also St. Patrick’s Day, but I think all the parkrunners I saw were behaving themselves and were stone cold sober on the day (well, except for the regular-who-shall-not-be-named who claimed to be full of Prosecco post-run!)


A quiet weekend saw some quicker runners come for a parkrun, and at the front was a fierce battle between two Ribble Valley Harriers, with Ben Walmsley besting Chris Barnes by a single second to be first finisher in 19:23. This was the fastest first finish at Witton for 8 weeks, back to Event #113 in mid-January and was Ben’s second time as first finisher at Witton in the 6 parkruns he’s done with us (out of 9 total), all in the last nine months, although his time of 19:23 was actually Ben’s slowest time on the Beast. Second placed Chris Barnes was completing his 39th parkrun, his 12th at Witton and his third of 2018. He has run his 39 parkruns at no less than 15 different locations, and his 12 at Witton is his highest number anywhere. Our third placed runner this weekend was also our only unknown runner, and was the first time in 24 events that an unknown runner has come in our top 3, dating back to Event #97 in September last year. There’s nothing more frustrating that running a good time and not having it count so please folks – don’t forget your barcode!


First female was Witton first timer Lauren Marsden of Swinton RC, in 9th position in 23:02.


This was Lauren’s whopping 241st parkrun at her 59th different venue, including now 43 of the 55 North West parkruns open to the public – I’m guessing she’s on a mission to complete the set! 138 of her parkruns have been done at her home run of Worsley Woods, but she has done no other parkrun more than 14 times and 44 she’s only done the once! Welcome to Witton Lauren, we hope you enjoyed your visit and your time was certainly no slouch on the Beast! Second female was Lauren’s fellow Swinton RC club member Rebecca Louise Mills who finished in 11th position in 24:06 on her first visit to Witton. Rebecca has completed a ‘mere’ 232 parkruns in total, 104 of which have been at Worsley Woods. Rebecca has completed 36 of the 55 North West parkruns, and has run at 42 different venues in total. Third female across the line was regular Wittoner, and Darwen Dasher, Sue Duckworth who finished in 16th position in 26:30. This was Sue’s third consecutive run at Witton, having spent February touring elsewhere and on each Witton run of 2018 (this was her fourth) she has got progressively faster. In total, it was her 53rd run at Witton. Well done to all our speedy ladies and gentlemen this weekend!


Celebration time! And we had not one but two milestone t-shirts awarded on Saturday! First to cross the line, earning his red 50 t-shirt was Ramsbottom Running Club’s Phil Morton in 15th position in 25:56.


Phil has run 35 of his 50 parkruns with us at Witton and ran his first ever parkrun with us back at Event #12 on the old course in November 2015. Since then, he ran semi-regularly throughout 2016, but has completed only 14 parkruns since the start of 2017. He has, however, already completed 6 this calendar year, so maybe Phil’s rediscovering his parkrunning prowess and his black 100 t-shirt will come much more quickly! Well done on your achievement Phil, and we hope to see you back at Witton again soon. The other milestone t-shirt was something of a surprise, with Susan Tonge completing her 50th parkrun in 38th place in 31:41 on only her second visit to Witton. More commonly seen with our neighbours at Cuerden Valley, where she has completed 36 of her parkruns, Sarah has also completed 4 runs at Echuaca Moama parkrun north of Melbourne, Australia and a bonus run at Bairnsdale parkrun also in Australia, meaning 10% of her red t-shirt was earned on foreign soil! Sarah first ran with us on our second birthday at Event #95 in August 2017 and clearly we made an impression since she returned for her 50th! Well done on your achievement Sarah, and thank you for sharing it with us.


Others celebrating notable parkruns this weekend were:
Andy Haworth (Darwen Dashers) – 70 runs
Julie Price (Blackburn GroupRun) – 60 runs
Emily Snape (Blackburn Harriers) – 60 runs
Ian Clarkson (Blackburn Harriers) – 30 runs
Robert Crompton – 20 runs
Stacy Feeney – 20 runs

There was also one other notable milestone earner this weekend, when Red Rose Road Runner Sarah Watkins became the 30th inductee into the Witton 50 Club, just one week after husband Jon became the 28th. Sarah has run 124 parkruns in total, and started parkrunning in August 2012 (in the heady days of the London Olympics!) when she completed Burnley parkrun. She soon settled at Cuerden Valley parkrun, where she has still completed more parkruns than anywhere else with 56, and was already on 47 parkruns by the time Witton began in August 2015, where she was present for our inaugural. She was an occasional visitor to Witton for our first year and a bit, but has been a regular with us since February last year. Sarah becomes the 7th inductee into the Witton 50 Club to have taken part in Witton’s inaugural event and Jon and Sarah become the third couple (after Bruce and Kerry Elliott and Norman Walsh and Anne Marie Rustidge) and fifth relations (after Chris Chadwick and daughter Isabel and me and mum Lynda) to both join the Witton 50 Club. Congratulations to Sarah on your achievement and next week should see only the second inductee into the New Order of the Witton 100 Club as I today ran my 99th Witton parkrun 3 weeks after Anwar Khan completed his century.


Others looking at milestone numbers soon are:
Gillian Malcolm – 189 runs
Chris Barnes (Ribble Valley Harriers) – 39 runs
Alfy Kirkley – 19 runs
Tim Keely – 9 runs
Ben Walmsley (Ribble Valley Harriers) – 9 runs

This weekend saw no less than 7 parkrun first timers at Witton, our highest number since Event #113 in mid-January. Welcome to parkrun, we hope you enjoyed your experience, in spite of the weather, and will return to conquer the Beast once more – once you’ve done it the first time, you’ll never look back! Well done on your fantastic achievements and hopefully you’ve caught the parkrun bug!

Another week’s poor weather once again made the job of the volunteers a trying experience, with hand warmers a must for many participants on Saturday. Nevertheless, after last weekend’s panic, this week saw plenty of volunteers step forward in good time to allow us to go ahead. Huge thanks in difficult conditions to the following hi-viz heroes:
Justin COLLIGHAN • Sean PROCTER • Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Norman WALSH • Daniel HAMILTON • Annika HALSALL • Ian GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Lorna PICKUP • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Patricia PROCTER • Elizabeth SULLIVAN • Debbie ASHTON • Julie GRAVES • Arjunpartap AULAKH

Two new names joined the volunteer roll of honour this weekend, so special thanks to regular Witton runner Daniel Hamilton for taking a week off to barcode scan and many thanks to Duke of Edinburgh Volunteer Arjun Aulakh


who stepped forward to take on the vital job of timekeeping! With the Darwen Half Marathon next weekend, it would be great if any participants were happy to give up their time on Saturday morning to run Witton parkrun instead. Please let Michelle know in plenty of time and maybe some of our core team can have a week off for once!

Finally this week, I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about new Witton regular (we hope!) Alfy Kirkley. Alfy joined us for parkrun for the first time last weekend, and impressively finished second. He returned this weekend and finished in 6th place but did manage to set a new PB in the process, knocking half a minute off his time in a week! This in itself is not particularly noteworthy, and is similar to any number of parkrunners in any given week, but what makes Alfy’s story important is that these are not his first ever parkruns, these are his 18th and 19th parkruns, and his first 17 parkruns were all completed, as I alluded to in last week’s parkrun report, at Black Combe parkrun in Cumbria.

Black Combe parkrun made headlines last year when it began in November as the first ever parkrun to take place within the grounds of a closed prison, namely HMP Haverigg, a Category C establishment (minimum security) and was seen as an opportunity to promote health and wellbeing within the prison population, while also providing a set of skills that could be of use in the wider world and provide opportunities for meaningful connections on the outside which would help rehabilitate offenders back into the community upon their release.

Alfy was an inmate in HMP Haverigg and was involved in Black Combe parkrun from its very first event, participating in all but one of the 18 Black Combe parkruns which took place before his release. Moreover, he was first finisher at Black Combe on every event from Event #3 to Event #18, setting a new PB and course record on his last weekend before release! The very next Saturday, he ran at Witton, alongside his daughter Chloe just like any other parkrunner, finishing a credible second in a very decent time. This week, as I said, he returned and set a new PB and has every intention of coming regularly. Alfy is the first inmate from Black Combe parkrun to start parkrunning on the outside and I’m sure everyone connected with Witton parkrun will offer him all the help we can on what has surely been a long and, at times, difficult road. We pride ourselves that Witton parkrun is a family, where everybody knows and supports everybody else and I can’t think of many better teams for Alfy to be joining for the next stage of his journey.


This weekend, Alfy was supported by two Red Rose Road Runners, Philip Davidson and Steve Worswick, who have both had the rare honour of being allowed to run at Black Combe despite its closed status (allowing Philip to become one of the few people to have truly completed ALL 56 of the North West parkruns!) and we’re pleased they came along to share in this.


This week, parkrun UK posted an article on their Facebook page about Alfy’s story, including a letter he wrote to a fellow inmate who got him into running in the first place. Michelle has shared it on our Facebook page, or you can read it here: http://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2018/03/16/alfys-running-release/ I thoroughly recommend giving it a read, it truly is a brave and honest account that shows the journey Alfy has already been on. Good luck in the future Alfy, from everybody at Witton parkrun.


And that’s it for Event #121, one more week of school left for some of us, but whatever you’re doing this week, I hope you have a great week, and the snow doesn’t inconvenience you too much!

All the best,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun

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