WITTON PARKRUN #158 – 12th January 2019

Witton’s first Saturday parkrun of 2019 dawned chilly but dry and, as a result, I made sure to wrap up in several layers for my third stint as Run Director. There were concerns over car parking, due to the start of the Couch to 5k programme also happening in the park but when we got there, unusually early due to the parking concerns and the fact I was technically in charge, it was busy but manageable. We were perhaps helped by the fact that unlike many other parkruns across the country, we did not see an extraordinary horde descend on Witton to test our mettle. Local neighbours Cuerden Valley saw their attendance record smashed from 273 in November to 348 on Saturday, while Preston parkrun broke their attendance record for the second Saturday in a row. Having previously stood at 464 from May 2016, it increased first to 468 and then an astonishing 495 last Saturday – it must have been cramped under that railway bridge at the start! Witton on the other hand, having been cancelled for the first Saturday of the year, welcomed 83 people to run, jog and walk the Beast, including 14 who were enjoying their first taste of parkrun.


There was a familiar look at the top end of the field last weekend, with the top 3 having completed over 100 Witton parkruns between them. First to cross the line was Witton 50 Club member James McLeod in 19:28. This was James’s 62nd run at Witton and 102nd parkrun in total and was the 17th occasion he has been Witton first finisher, putting him one clear of Blackburn Road Runner Josh Crowther. It was his first time as first finisher since way back at Event #91 in July 2017! Well done, James!


Second to finish was Witton frequenter Mark Almond in 20:35. Blackburn Harrier Mark was completing his 37th run at Witton and 58th in total and completed his fastest run with us since last June. Not far behind Mark was third finisher Andrew Heys in 20:46. This was Andrew’s 18th run at Witton and 45th in total – closing in on a milestone t-shirt now, Andrew!


First female was returning Wittoner Hannah Cookson in 13th position in 24:15. This was Hannah’s first run with us since June, although she has had some injury issues since then and has volunteered at Witton. It was her 8th time as first finisher at Witton, putting her joint-2nd on the female list, alongside Lynne Clough and Jane Magee and she has completed 23 runs with us in total out of 54 parkruns total.


Second and third females were both Witton first timers. In 24th position, Nikki Roberts finished in an excellent 26:44 in her second-ever parkrun, just 2 and a quarter years after making her debut at Cuerden Valley parkrun in September 2016! In 30th position, Charlotte Duxbury finished in 28:16 in only her third-ever parkrun, with both of those runs also coming at Cuerden Valley parkrun in August and September last year. Excellent running ladies, and we hope to see more of you at Witton in 2019!


Milestone time! And the big celebration this week was for Witton 50 Club member Pat Procter, who this week completed her 100th parkrun, earning her a black milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ! As many of you know, Pat is the mum of Witton Core Team member Sean Procter and first came to parkrun for Event #49 in September 2016. She was unsure as to whether parkrun would be for her, but here we are – 100 events later! 87 of Pat’s 100 parkruns have come at Witton, but she and Sean frequently tour when we’re cancelled and she’s run at 9 other venues in the area, including Preston (3 times), Bolton and Cuerden Valley (twice) and Haigh Woodland near Wigan, Ormskirk, Hyndburn, Lytham Hall, Birkenhead and Burnley parkruns (all once). From a first visit of 58:08, Pat has run 14 PBs at Witton, culminating in a time of 39:42 in September 2017. Her parkrun best came a year later; at Preston parkrun in June 2018, she ran 38:26 – 20 minutes faster than she started! She’s also volunteered at Witton on 24 occasions, putting her just one away from a purple 25 milestone parkrun t-shirt! Congratulations, Pat, soon enough you’ll be joining the Witton 100 Club too!


That was the only milestone t-shirt awarded on Saturday, but we did have a new entrant into the Witton 50 Club: Helen Dolan became the 42nd person and 23rd woman to run 50 times at Witton. Helen first joined us for Event #67 in February 2017 and quickly became a regular visitor every other week. Her first run was in 34:09 and she quickly reduced that to 30:23 by September the same year, but hasn’t improved since. Recently, she has been running with son Cameron, but as he improves I’m sure her times will rise again too. Helen reached 50 Witton parkruns in 91 events, which is the fastest rate since Dorothy Myers who joined the 50 Club at Event #139 last August. Congratulations, Helen, you’re part of a select bunch now!


Others running notable numbers this weekend included:

Mick Pomfret – 40 runs

Dean Howard – 25 runs

Steve Hutcheon – 20 runs

Kieran Howard – 1 run

Paddy Higginson – 1 run

Warren Eastwood – 1 run

Sharon Tyrell – 1 run

Geoff Shanks – 1 run

Liam Challenger – 1 run

Christine Norman – 1 run

Daniela Thompson – 1 run

Rachel Cummings – 1 run

Adedji Odelola – 1 run

Rebecca-Lily Dowd – 1 run

Laura Rushton – 1 run

Katie Duxbury – 1 run

Julie Holland (Blackpool Freedom Runners) – 1 run


As mentioned up top, we had 14 first time parkrunners at Witton on Saturday, our highest number since our special Run for Norman at Event #131 in June last year, when we had 17. For a regular week, you have to go back even further, to Event #68 in February 2017 for so many parkrun newcomers in the same week. Welcome along, we hope you enjoyed it and come back for more! As Run Director, I obviously saw more of you than I usually would running and there were lots of smiles and enjoyment, which was great to see. The Beast is a tough but rewarding course and we’re a friendly bunch with lots of encouragement so come along, and watch your times tumble!


Those close to notable milestones include:

Ian Nicholson (Rushcliffe AC) – 124 runs

Liam Dobson – 29 runs

Cathy Hatch (Blackburn Road Runners) – 29 runs

Cameron Dolan – 9 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)

Luke Bennison-Moore – 9 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)


For our first Saturday parkrun of 2019, we had a great roster of marshals and volunteers which made my job as Run Director a very placid affair. In total, there were 19 hi-vis heroes who were:

Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Elouise Sylkie PEMBERTON • Annika HALSALL • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Lorna PICKUP • Helen READ • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter CRAINE • Dorothy MYERS • Lucy EASTWOOD • Clare EASTWOOD • Alice EASTWOOD


Young Alice Eastwood became our 377th different volunteer at Witton and there’s a decent chance we’ll hit 400 during this calendar year – could it be you? If you’ve never volunteered at parkrun, then it’s easy to do. Just get in touch, either via Facebook or wittonhelpers@parkrun.com and let us know when you’d like to help out. If you don’t fancy any huge responsibilities, then you can come and be a marshal and guide people in the right direction, encouraging them as they go, or if you want to do one of the core jobs but aren’t sure how there’s always someone on hand to help you out. You could be a timer, the person who hands out finish tokens or the barcode scanner. You could deliver the first timer’s briefing to new parkrunners or take photographs. Interested? Be nosy post-parkrun, we’re a friendly bunch and will explain how each role works as we’re doing it. Volunteering is as much fun as running and you get a great sense of satisfaction in giving something back. I would really encourage anyone to give it a go!


This weekend saw 11 parkrunners achieve a New Year’s PB at Witton. Picking out a few of those stories, Paul McKenna (not the hypnotist I’m pretty certain) set his 4th consecutive fastest time at Witton in 4 visits, although these have come over 15 months! Similarly, Jason Kay visited for the first time since July and continued with a third consecutive PB, knocking 50 seconds off his previous visit. Recent Wittoner Wayne Haworth achieved his first PB since early December and his 6th in 10 visits to Witton. This time, Wayne reduced his time from 26:29 to 25:48, an astonishing 41 seconds faster, and he’s improved his time by an amazing 8 minutes and 11 seconds since just last August, when he first ran with us – brilliant progress Wayne!


Similarly, Blackburn Road Runner Karen Rishton has made big gains since she started coming to us. 12 of Karen’s 13 parkruns have come at Witton and Saturday was her 9th PB already! From an initial 34:01, Karen’s most recent improvement took her from 28:53 on Christmas Day to 28:29 on Saturday, another 24 seconds! Peculiarly, Karen’s PBs are following a distinct pattern. Her first run was followed by 3 consecutive PBs. A week where she didn’t improve was followed by another 3 consecutive PBs. Another week off the PB Express and she’s had 3 more consecutive PBs! Will she break the trend or match it with her next visit?!


Finally, recent Wittoner Dean Howard managed an 8th PB in 19 visits on Saturday, for a second consecutive PB, knocking 36 seconds off his time from the end of 2018 to reduce his PB to 25:16. This has reduced his time from his first visit in March last year by 3 minutes and 3 seconds, great effort Dean. Dean’s time is even more notable as it marked the 2500th personal best achieved at Witton parkrun in our history! We have now had 2505 PBs with more to come on Saturday I’ve no doubt…will you be one of them?


I must just mention my friend Scott Smith on this front. Scott has been in great form recently. A parkrun PB of 23:01 was smashed twice in quick succession at Burnley parkrun on New Year’s Day and Haigh Woodland parkrun on January 5th, where he ran an astonishing 22:03. His Witton PB has remained stubbornly at 23:29 since June 2017, although in recent weeks his times have certainly threatened it. Even the fact he runs with young Liam Bennison is not an excuse now, with Liam’s new PB set at the end of December of 23:34 right in the ballpark. Scott’s previous 3 runs at Witton were 5 seconds, 5 seconds and 10 seconds off his Witton PB respectively and following his 2 superb times away from Witton and the fact there was no Liam on Saturday as a variable and the conditions seemed favourable, it looked likely that this would be the week! Scott seemed to run well, but had no idea when he crossed the line whether he had done it or not. Once the results came in…23:30. ONE SECOND!!! That time has got to fall soon…hasn’t it?!


I suppose we’ll find out on Saturday. Next week, we should have a special tourist run report from Jane Tew, who’s visiting us from Hove Promenade parkrun in Brighton for the first time!

 Have a wonderful remainder to this week and I’ll see you Saturday.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun



‘Should old acquaintance be forgot..?’

Certainly not where parkrun is concerned as 146 people clambered out of beds they had probably only made it into some 6 or 7 hours earlier, perhaps a little the worse for wear, to start their 2019s off in the perfect way – by running 5 (and in many cases 10) kilometres on a fresh, dry New Year’s morning – hurrying down for an earlier than usual 8.30am start at Witton Park to run, jog and walk the Beast, with many then heading straight off to another parkrun to do it all again! That’s right, this was Witton’s first participation in the annual parkrun New Year’s Double and it was a largely successful effort!

For the uninitiated, New Year’s Day is the only day in the parkrun calendar where parkrun HQ configures to servers to record two results for the same runner on the same day. Parkrun events are encouraged to pair up with other local events to give parkrunners of all abilities the opportunity to run two events if they so choose to. Last year, Witton held its first New Year’s Day parkrun at 10.30am, but with no local partner to pair up with, chances for New Year’s Doubles were slim (Witton’s most experienced runner, Anwar Khan, travelled all the way to Blackpool parkrun for their 8.30am start last year before travelling back in time to complete the double at Witton – that’s dedication for you!) This year, Michelle was able to arrange a nominal pairing with nearby Burnley parkrun, which had scheduled its start for 10am. This meant a super-speedy turnaround at Witton (and a bang on 8.30am start time) to give everybody enough time to hot foot it across to Towneley Park in Burnley for a second parkrun fix of the day. The success of this effort was largely dependent on people remembering that Witton was starting half an hour earlier than usual, a detail that looked dangerously unlikely when 8.15am arrived and aside from Michelle, Bryan, Diane and Peter the park was deserted! Suddenly, Witton sprang into life, as 146 people came to run, jog and walk the Beast on the first day of 2019, including an astonishing 62 Witton first timers, one of whom was starting the New Year by running her first ever parkrun with us!

First to cross the line was Witton first timer Simon Robinson in 19:25. This was Simon’s 47th parkrun, quickly followed by his 48th at Burnley an hour later. Simon used this opportunity to visit two parkruns he’s never run before, with 21 runs at Preston and 10 at nearby Cuerden Valley his only events in double figures. His runs at Witton and Burnley mean Simon has now run at 10 different parkrun venues: halfway to a cow cowl!

Second to finish was another Witton first timer, Chris McCarthy in 19:36. Chris is a vastly experienced parkrunner, with Witton being his 219th running credit and he also followed it up immediately with a 220th run at Burnley. 184 of his runs have been with our friends at Heaton Park in Manchester, and he has now run at 14 different events. Third place went to Witton 50 Club member James McLeod in 19:51. This was James’s 61st visit to Witton and 99th parkrun in total and he followed it up with the magic 100 soon after at Burnley – more on that in a minute!

First female was down in 19th place this week, Horwich RMI Harrier Janet Rashleigh in 22:21. This was Janet’s first run at Witton and only her 8th parkrun ever. 6 of those parkruns came in 6 successive weeks from the 3rd December 2016 to the 7th January 2017, all at Rhodes parkrun in Australia! Her next parkruns have been a week apart, both on special parkrun days, having run at Dishley parkrun in Loughborough on Christmas Day and then with us on New Year’s Day. Whether you’ve moved to the UK or are visiting relatives, we hope to see you again at some point, Janet!

Second female finish in a statistical dead-heat with Janet, Preston Harrier Jenny Wren also in 22:21! Like Janet, this was Jenny’s first run at Witton and, indeed, it was her first ever run anywhere other than Preston, where she has run 16 times. Like many, she followed it up with an 18th run at Burnley shortly afterwards, her second run away from her Preston home. Third female was Witton regular Jane Magee in 24th position in 23:06. This was a 28th run at Witton for Jane, with her 9 other runs all coming at nearby Hyndburn and continued her stunning recent run of form by earning a 6th PB in 7 weeks, knocking another 14 seconds off her time from Saturday – she has now lowered her mark by 38 seconds since Christmas Day alone!!! Congratulations to all our speedy men and women on Tuesday.

Milestone time, and while there were several milestones for parkrunners at Witton, there was only one truly achieved at Witton this Tuesday: familiar face Julia Rushton became the 41st person to join the Witton 50 Club. Julia’s parkrun journey began at Bolton in March 2014, and she first ran at Witton at our inaugural event in August 2015. Since then, she has only run 7 parkruns away from Witton and is closing in on her milestone t-shirt, as she currently sits on 95 parkrun completed. She is a frequent volunteer too, usually in the role of tail walker. She becomes the 22nd female to join the Witton 50 Club and our first inductee of 2019! Well done, Julia!

Another significant milestone achieved at Witton, although it rarely makes any lists, came from Jason Spear of Lions Running Community, who completed his 200th parkrun at Witton on Saturday! The vast majority of those have come at Preston parkrun, where he has run 150 times and this was his 5th visit to Witton, soon followed by a 3rd visit to Burnley and 201st parkrun! Great achievement Jason, and this time next year you could be earning your green 250 milestone t-shirt!

I also want to mention 5 other people, none of whom achieved their milestone t-shirt at Witton on Tuesday, but who set up their milestone later in the morning elsewhere by first running at Witton. First, we were visited by Stuart Taylor who ran for the first time at Witton since our inaugural event to set up earning a 250th milestone parkrun t-shirt at his home parkrun of Burnley. 217 of Stuart’s parkruns have come at Burnley since his debut at Preston parkrun in August 2012. Congratulations, Stuart! A hard earned reward!

Then, the most special from a Witton perspective: 50 Club member James McLeod earned his black 100 milestone t-shirt at Burnley parkrun shortly after running with us. 61 of James’s 100 parkruns have come at Witton, though recently, his runs have been divided between recently established events more local to him, with 23 runs at Hyndburn and 11 at Clitheroe Castle in the past 12 months or so. He still ran at Witton 10 times in 2018, and has begun his year with us in 2019 – congratulations on your achievement James, we hope to see plenty more of you in the coming year!

Then, a trio of new parkrun 50 club members: Darwen Dashers Alison Abbott and Brian Morris both ran at Witton on Saturday before heading to nearby Bolton parkrun to complete their half century. Alison has run 9 times with us at Witton and 28 times at Bolton to reach her milestone, with her other 13 runs divided between 8 different venues. Similarly, Brian has run 10 times with us at Witton and 26 times at Bolton, with his other 14 runs coming at 7 different venues – well done Dashers! And finally a very special visit from Chris Griffiths, who ran at Witton for the first time on Tuesday before heading to Haigh Woodland parkrun in Wigan to complete his 50. What made this extra special was this was Chris’s first parkrun anywhere other than Haigh, where he has run all 49 of his other parkruns – great dedication to your home event Chris, and congratulations on your achievement!

Others who celebrated notable parkruns at Witton on Tuesday were:

  • Caroline Sidery (Lions Running Community) – 220 runs
  • Scott Smith – 125 runs
  • Shona Taylor (Wigan & District Harriers) – 120 runs
  • Ben Carter – 80 runs
  • Mark Walsh (Trawden AC) – 75 runs
  • Karen Hurrell – 70 runs
  • Lorna Pickup – 70 runs
  • Robert Mansfield – 40 runs
  • Peter Craine (Blackburn GroupRun) – 20 runs
  • Andrea Hopwood (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
  • David Morris (Blackburn Harriers) – 10 runs
  • Paul Jeffries (Blackburn Harriers) – 10 runs
  • Andrew Wisdom – 10 runs
  • Natasha Blows – 1 run

And those who were on the cusp of something notable at Witton on Saturday were (those who achieved it the same morning are mentioned in brackets):

  • Yvonne Johnson (Red Rose Road Runners) – 274 runs (275 achieved at Burnley)
  • Ian Fairey – 239 runs (240 achieved at Burnley)
  • Chris McCarthy – 219 runs (220 achieved at Burnley)
  • Lynda Vernon – 124 runs (125 achieved at Burnley)
  • Carl Carey (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) – 119 runs (120 achieved at Burnley)
  • Stacey Cooper (Rossendale Triathlon Club) – 109 runs (110 achieved at Burnley)
  • Andrew Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 89 runs
  • Jonty Taylor – 69 runs (70 achieved at Burnley)
  • Esther Stanier (Red Rose Road Runners) – 69 runs
  • Louise Short – 59 runs
  • Asif Garda (Blackburn Road Runners) – 59 runs
  • Ian Patterson (Preston Harriers) – 19 runs (20 achieved at Pennington Flash)
  • Paul Brogden (Freck and Walton Running Club) – 19 runs (20 achieved at Burnley)
  • Angela Terry – 9 runs

Congratulations to recent Wittoner Peter Craine, who marked the New Year and his 20th parkrun with a huge parkrun PB, knocking nearly 2 minutes off his time from Event #153 before heading over to Burnley to complete a New Year’s Double. Well done, Peter!

I’d also like to mention Clare Eastwood who has run 4 times in the past 8 Witton events, as well as volunteering for us twice in non-running roles. Clare ran on Tuesday, without daughter Lucy for the first time, and set a 4th consecutive Witton PB, reducing her time from just before Christmas by a further 22 seconds to 30:18. Great work, Clare, we hope to see much more of you in 2019!

New Year’s Day is not the most obvious day to volunteer, with many recovering from the night before. It was also tougher than last year to find participants due to the chance of the New Year’s Double. However, Witton coped as always, helped by the lack of need of some volunteers due to a very tightly packed parkrun, with no token sorting and a hurried post event close-down to aid getting over to Burnley in time. This all resulted in a tiny volunteering roster of just 12 hi-vis heroes, the lowest total since we had the same number for Event #45 in August 2016. By comparison, we only had 14 volunteers for New Year’s Day 2018, so the numbers are comparable. This Tuesday’s heroes were:

Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Kate POMFRET • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Lorna PICKUP • Alan VERNON • Julie TYRER • Bernard JOHNSON • Benjamin TYRER • Corinne SURKITT

If you want to become a hi-vis hero in 2019, then please contact us either via our Facebook page or on wittonhelpers@parkrun.com. As Michelle regularly points out, if every person who comes to Witton volunteers once every 12 events, we’d never have any concerns about our roster. It’s a great feeling, you get to see parkrun in a different way and after 25 volunteering events, you will receive a special purple milestone t-shirt. So if you want to give something back, are feeling under the weather or injured and don’t want to run, or are simply coming down to accompany or support a friend or family member, why not get yourself signed up at https://www.parkrun.org.uk/register/ and send us your details to pop you on the roster, grab a hi-vis vest and join the Witton family – there are roles to suit everybody, we’re a friendly bunch and will offer any guidance you need and best of all, you’ll be allowing nearly 100 people a week to do something great for their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – what could be better?!

Volunteering at Witton didn’t stop Michelle, Bryan, Alan or Corinne from heading over to Burnley for a second dose of parkrun and although Michelle’s poorly foot stopped her taking part, Corinne did and so did Alan, although his memory issues meant dad took far longer than he should have and was last home with the tail walkers in 1:10:37.

In total, a whopping 109 of the 146 parkrunners at Witton ran two parkruns on New Year’s Day, including 17 Witton regulars. Of these 109, the vast majority (75) headed to join us at the much flatter Burnley parkrun, while 22 headed to Wigan to join Haigh Woodland parkrun at 10.30am. A further 9 made their way to nearby Bolton parkrun (including Vicky Spencer and Sean and Pat Procter), with 3 taking the longer journey to Pennington Flash parkrun near Leigh, also at 10.30am, while one parkrunner (none other than recent Wittoner Suzanne Budgett) chanced her arm by heading to Sale Water parkrun near Manchester, a journey taking between 40 and 50 minutes depending on traffic, for a 10.30am start time! I’m sure this was a situation where Suzanne’s speedy 24 and a half minute Witton time was hugely helpful!

Witton finished when tail walkers Benjamin and Julie Tyrer crossed the line in 45:59 and 46:02 respectively, unsurprisingly our fastest parkrun since Event #133 in June last year as both Tyrers were among the 3 heading over to Pennington Flash for a second dose of parkrun. After quickly packing away the cones and heading back to the cars, it was a quick journey down the M65 to Burnley for parkrun #2. We were (predictably) last to arrive of the Wittoners, but still got there just about in time. Towneley Park saw 377 parkrunners turn up for some New Year’s Day action, with 75 coming for a Double from Witton and 9 making the same trip from Watergrove parkrun in Rochdale, leaving nearly 300 parkrunners just doing a New Year’s Day single.

A quick run-down of how regular Wittoners got on elsewhere...

  • James McLeod finished his 100th parkrun in 14th position in 19:27.
  • Scott Smith finished in 71st position, and got his New Year off to a superb start with his first sub-23 minute parkrun, finishing in an excellent 22:39! In 3 successive Witton parkruns in the past week, Scott has been 5, 5 and 10 seconds respectively off his Witton PB and clearly the speed is there, with a PB knocking 22 seconds off his parkrun best of 23:01 at Preston way back in November 2016!!!
  • Peter Nicholson completed his second parkrun of the morning in 23:58 in 97th position.
  • Jez Turner did his first parkrun of 2019 and his 149th overall in 120th position in 25:18.
  • Andy Pickup, husband of Witton regular Lorna, ran a new PB of 25:21 on his only outing of the day.
  • Recent Wittoner John Dey completed his 15th parkrun in England and second at Burnley in 25:21 after running at Witton earlier.
  • Fellow Blackburn Road Runner Gary Blackburn finished in a symmetrical 25:25, but was annoyingly 127th not 125th!
  • David Hilton ran his first ever run at Burnley and second of the morning in 26:07 in 144th position.
  • Anwar Khan finished a far shorter New Year’s Double journey than last year in 26:43 at Burnley.
  • John Kearney backed up a solid Witton run with a new Burnley PB, knocking a whopping 6 minutes and 20 seconds off his only other visit to Towneley in July last year – his first ever parkrun, superb improvement in just 6 months, John!
  • Lorna Pickup, who unlike her husband had already completed 5k at Witton before travelling to Burnley, finished in an excellent 27:44.
  • Witton 100 Club member Aimie Wormald didn’t quite make it to Witton in time, but joined us at Burnley and ran an excellent 28:28, her fastest parkrun since giving birth to baby Jaymes and, in fact, her fastest parkrun since Witton Event #86 in June 2017! Phenomenal run, Aimie!
  • Witton 50 Club member Tony Duckworth has put ill health firmly behind him to complete an excellent New Year’s Day double, finishing his second run of the day in 29:19 on his first visit to Burnley. This (his second run of the day don’t forget) marked his fastest parkrun time since July 2017 at Leamington parkrun, and his third fastest parkrun ever – what did you have for breakfast, Tony?!
  • I myself will profess to being stuck in the pack at the start but made up a little ground on the way round, finishing in 29:29. Although this did not consist of catching Tony, I did complete my 2 fastest parkruns since early November and my fastest time at Witton since May last year – happy with that!
  • I chatted a little with Blackburn Road Runner Matt Chester on the way round, who only joined us for the trip to Burnley, finishing just behind me in 29:32.
  • New Witton 50 Club member Julia Rushton also joined us at Burnley too, finishing in 31:15 in 276th position.
  • Blackburn Road Runner Irene Slater completed her second parkrun of the morning in 35:02, comfortable in the knowledge she’d done more than enough exercise to start the New Year off.
  • Corinne Surkitt followed her marshalling spot at Witton with a solid run of 36:44 at Burnley, her 30th parkrun.
  • Lynda Vernon ran more than 5k for the first time, finishing in 40:22, just 12 seconds slower than she managed at Witton an hour earlier.
  • Tony’s wife and recent Wittoner Christine Duckworth followed up supporting him at Witton by running at Burnley and finished in 357th position in 40:53.
  • Peter Craine followed his excellent performance at Witton with another solid run at Burnley, finishing his first run at Towneley in 46:32.
  • Sean Procter, fresh from his 1000 miles in 15 weeks challenge, made short work of 10k in 2 hours, finishing 11th at Bolton parkrun in 20:34.
  • Vicky Spencer also made the short trip from Witton to Bolton, finishing her second parkrun in 36:07.
  • And Sean’s mum, Pat Procter, finished her second 5k of the morning in 44:20 to move onto 98 parkruns total – close to the milestone 100 now, Pat!

Well done, everyone!

Final bits on Witton: many thanks for all the kind messages we received on Tuesday after the run, it’s nice that you appreciate what we put on every week and were all very complimentary about the support you got on the way round and the challenge our beautiful but energy sapping course provides. Special mention to Gareth Davies, who joined us with his wife and son all the way from Riversfront parkrun in Newport. Having previously visited Bolton and considered it tough, he was astonished to find Witton tougher again – Riversfront’s 25ft of elevation somewhat dwarfed by Witton’s nearly 400ft! Son Ioan apparently took a tumble on the first lap, but muddy hands didn’t put him off and all 3 finished in good times, Alison in 34:26 and Ioan and Gareth both in 37:09. Gareth sent us a very nice message on Facebook so thanks for that, but also, his appearance marked another occasion in quick succession of a duplicate name appearing at Witton. Gareth Davies has also appeared 3 times at Witton, most recently way back at Event #51 in September 2016 and this becomes the 24th duplicate name seen at Witton and 19th definite occasion of 2 different people with the same name both having run Witton!

Our 61 first time Wittoners was the most seen since our SECOND EVER event, when we had 77. Our inaugural event unsurprisingly is way out in front, with 174 previous parkrunners running at the first possible opportunity at Witton. The combined 62 first timers including our sole first-time parkrunner Natasha Blows, was our highest combined total since Event #4 which saw a combined 81 people take on Witton for the first time. As our first 17 events were on a different layout, both numbers are records for our Beast route. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Finally, notices and the main one this week is that Witton is CANCELLED this coming Saturday (January 5th) for a cross country event in the park. Some Wittoners will be heading over to Haigh Woodland parkrun near Wigan so feel free to join us. If you’ve never been before, it’s a lovely out and back course, with the first 2.5km heading downhill and the second 2.5km returning gradually up the slope back to the finish. It’s a pretty fast course and you go through some beautiful woodland, past a climbing wall and mini golf course, over a miniature railway track and past some pigs (although rumour has it the pigs may have moved…). If you’re looking to go elsewhere, I believe all local parkruns are open for business this weekend, so take your pick!

And Witton Core Team member Sean Procter successfully completed his 1000 miles in 15 weeks challenge on December 31st, finishing on just over 1003.5 miles, a phenomenal achievement. Sean is keeping his Just Giving page open for a few more weeks as he looks to raise as much money as possible for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, who do great work allowing parents of seriously ill children to live close to the hospital looking after their child and live as normal a life as possible in difficult circumstances. Sean has currently raised £223 but it would be great if we could raise him a little more in the next few weeks for what was an incredible feat involving running at least a half marathon most days. To find out more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities or donate to Sean’s cause, please follow the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sean-procter1

And that’s about it: a successful New Year’s Day Double. Same again next year? We’ll see. Our thanks to all who came to Witton, and to those at Burnley parkrun who helped make this possible. From everyone at Witton parkrun, we hope you have a very enjoyable and prosperous 2019 that involves plenty of parkrunning and at least a few visits to us at Witton!

But that will have to wait until next Saturday: this week, I’ll see some of you at Haigh Woodland on Saturday!

See you there,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


WITTON PARKRUN CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA: EVENTS #155 and #156 – 25th and 29th December 2018

With all the festivities over the Christmas period and parkruns every 4 days for 2 weeks, getting run reports out on time with the right amount of detail has proved difficult. With that in mind, on the suggestion of Michelle, I am going to attempt to combine reports of our annual Christmas Day run with our final parkrun of 2018 on the following Saturday, so please bear with me, I’m sure we’ll get there in the end!

Christmas Day parkrun 3

Despite lots of weather reports of a ‘wet Christmas’, Christmas Day itself dawned dry, encouraging 137 people to kick off the big day with a spot of festive parkrunning. Christmas Day parkrun has been a staple part of Witton’s calendar since the very beginning, with this our 4th such event since our start in August 2015, with 2018 marking a third consecutive increase in our Christmas Day attendance, up from 127 twelve months ago.

Gebbie photobombing

First to cross the line was Joshua Boyle in a speedy 17:27. This was Cambuslang Harrier Josh’s second visit to Witton, both this December, and although he matched his finishing position from Event #152, he was 26 seconds slower than on his previous visit, which still marked the 5th fastest time ever seen on the Beast and 12th fastest time ever run at Witton – great work, Josh! Second across the line was returning Wittoner Joe Gebbie in 18:37. Blackburn Harrier Joe is one of a select group of parkrunners to have done more than 10 events who have run all their parkruns at Witton, with this his 28th outing on the Beast. It was his first visit since August, when he ran a PB and although he was nearly a minute slower on Christmas Day, it was his third fastest parkrun ever – well done, Joe! Third went to a Witton first timer: Joe Chubb in 19:26. This was Joe’s 33rd parkrun, with 10 of those coming at South Oxhey parkrun in Watford, while Witton was his 18th parkrun venue – close to earning your cow cowl now, Joe!

At the start

First female was down in 20th position this week, Katherine Baines in 23:34. This was Katherine’s second run at Witton, with her first coming two years ago, again on Christmas Day and how she has improved in those two years, with her time marking a near-14 minute improvement from 2016 – wowee, Katherine! She has completed 237 parkruns total, with 169 of those coming with our neighbours at Bolton parkrun. Second was Witton regular Jane Magee in 24th position in 23:44. This was Jane’s 26th run at Witton and 35th parkrun total and marked a 4th personal best in 5 parkruns, taking 8 seconds off her time from 10 days earlier. More on Jane shortly… Speaking of personal bests, third female was Darwen Dasher Karen Shackleton in 33rd position in 24:46. Aided by Kyla the dog, this marked an improvement of 10 seconds on their last visit to Witton in September – well done ladies!


Ordinarily, I’d be moving on to milestones now, but instead I’ll try and give the headlines from our final event of 2018…   There was an unexpected amount of wind swirling as I opened the front door to head to parkrun on Saturday. I anticipated a tough run, but surprisingly the course seemed well sheltered and even on the exposed parts the headwind was nowhere near as bad as might be feared or has been experienced before. Our healthy Christmas numbers continued, with 96 people coming down to run, jog and walk the Beast with us for the final time in 2018.

Before the off

First across the line was Witton first timer James Titmuss in 18:52. Even more impressively, this was Horwich RMI Harrier James’ first parkrun ever and we’re glad he picked Witton to do it! We hope to see you back again soon to start lowering that PB, James! Second to finish was Blackburn Road Runner David Birtwistle in 20:05. This was David’s 21st parkrun, with 15 of those coming at Witton and was only his second parkrun of 2018, with his first coming with us at Event #118 in February, and he was faster this weekend than he managed that day. Third man home was fellow Blackburn Road Runner James Rippingale in 20:25. This was Jason’s 72nd parkrun, with 26 of those coming with us at Witton, more than any other venue. His time this weekend was the third fastest he’s ever run at Witton, and just two seconds off his personal best on our Beast course – great effort, Jason!

Front runners

First female was Blackburn Harrier Carly Edwards in 10th position in 22:17. This was Carly's 39th parkrun and 9th at Witton and her first with us for exactly a year. It marked a huge Beast PB, with only her runs at the first two Witton parkruns on the old course faster than she managed this weekend – brilliant job, Carly! Second female was once again Witton regular Jane Magee, except this week Jane excelled herself, knocking no less than 24 seconds off her time from Christmas Day to set a new PB in 15th position of 23:20 – amazing work, Jane!!! Third female was another Witton first timer in the shape of Burnden Road Runner Isaline Elizabeth Kneale in 20th position in 23:43. This was Isaline’s 42nd parkrun, with 19 of those coming at Worsley Woods and 11 at Bolton and marks an 11th new parkrun venue. Well done to all our speedy men and women in Christmas week!

Scott and Liam

Milestone time and the festive season is always a popular point for people to work towards their yearly goals and, as a result, our Christmas Day parkrun was laden with notable milestones, so many that Michelle forgot to mention some of them! By comparison, our next event was a more sedate affair, with just a single red milestone t-shirt awarded so let’s delve into it…

Let’s start with the biggest official milestone of the week: Blackburn Road Runner and Witton 50 Club member Ian Goodliffe ran his 100th parkrun at our Christmas Day event! This means Ian will soon be able to order a black milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ to recognise his achievements. Many of you are aware of Ian’s running history, starting with Couch 2 5k, and derailed by a massive heart attack soon after. Mercifully, he recovered better than ever and has this year celebrated 3 years of his ‘second life’ post-attack. Ian first joined us at Witton for parkrun in September 2016 at Event #49, just after our first birthday. Since then, he has been a regular face, running 82 of his 100 runs with us and achieving no fewer than 21 personal bests on the Beast, reducing his initial time of 46:11 to an amazing 31:47 in September this year. Aside from Witton, he has run at 14 other venues including Haigh Woodland (3), Preston (2), Cuerden Valley (2) and single outings at Clitheroe Castle, Keswick, Bolton, York, Ormskirk, Huddersfield, Hyndburn, Skipton, Burnley, Brighouse parkrun in Bradford and has even joined the international parkrunner club with a run at parkrun Wroclaw in Poland! Congratulations Ian, you are a true inspiration and we look forward to “The Continuing Adventures of Papa G” into 2019 and beyond!


Onto our other milestone t-shirts awarded and we have had no less than 4 new red t-shirt milestones reached at Witton over the past two events, unusually with none of them by regular Wittoners! First to finish was Dylan Grindley of Chorley Triathlon and Athletic Club. Christmas Day was Dylan’s 5th run at Witton, all since December last year, and he was very much looking forward to running his 50th with us at what he describes as one of his favourite local parkruns – thanks, Dylan! A frequent tourist, Dylan has run at 22 different parkrun venues, with only 11 runs at Cuerden Valley and 7 runs at Hyndburn besting his 5 outings at Witton. The rest of his parkruns are spread across the North West, from Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria, all the way down to Wythenshawe parkrun in South Manchester to Southport parkrun on the west coast – you get about, Dylan! Congratulations on your achievement and we hope to see you again in 2019!

Nice shirt

Christmas Day also saw a very special celebration for mother and daughter Jan and Hannah Taylor, with the Darwen Dashers both running their 50th parkruns with us at Witton. Junior Hannah has run all her 50 parkruns since May last year, when she made her parkrun debut at Bolton. In September, she ran her second parkrun at Blackpool and hasn’t looked back since! In total, 12 of her runs have come at Blackpool, with another 7 coming at Fleetwood Promenade parkrun. 4 runs at Bolton and 2 with us at Witton are her only other multiple events, while she has completed a further 26 events on a single occasion. This marked her first return to Witton after making her debut in June for our very special Run for Norm and she celebrated her milestone by knocking over 6 minutes off her time from that day! Mum Jan’s parkrun journey is very similar. She began in September 2017 at Bolton parkrun and has run most weeks at the same event to Hannah, with 12 runs at Blackpool, 6 at Fleetwood Promenade and 3 at Bolton joining her two visits to Witton, alongside a further 28 single visits to parkrun events. Like Hannah, she first joined us for our Run for Norm in June and also bested her original time on Christmas Day, although by the more modest margin of 15 seconds – brilliant achievement ladies, and we hope to see more of you in 2019!


Not wishing to be left out, another milestone was reached on Saturday: Darwen Dasher Gareth Taylor (no relation) achieved his own 50 t-shirt, with a second Witton run in 4 days. Gareth’s parkrun journey actually pre-dates Witton, with his debut coming at Preston parkrun in April 2014. He ran 26 times at Preston before Witton started, and attended our inaugural event in August 2015. Since then, he has only run a handful of parkruns each year, with 35 of his runs now coming at Preston and 13 at Witton. The remaining two were tourist runs, once at Conwy parkrun on the North Wales coast, and one at Mile End parkrun in London. He did not celebrate his milestone with a new PB, but a time of 21:34 in 7th position is pretty impressive nonetheless – congratulations, Gareth, hopefully we’ll see more of you in 2019!

Jeanette and Mick

That’s it for t-shirts but the milestones keep on coming! Witton regular Aimie Wormald became only the 5th person and 2nd female to join the Witton 100 Club on Christmas Day. Despite baby Jaymes arriving this year, Aimie has still been a regular face at Witton, and even managed an appearance on Christmas Day, at partner Chris’s urging. Impressively, given months of parkrun ‘maternity leave’, Aimie completed her 100 Wittons in 155 events, with her second 50 coming from 77 events, one LESS than she took to get to 50 at Event #78! There will be many more Witton 50 Club members joining the 100 Club in 2019 I am sure!

Aimie ish

On a personal note, on Christmas Day, I achieved my 150th parkrun, a year and 2 days after running my 100th. I suspect my rate may slow down a little going forward as I take on more of a role in the Witton Core Team. I remember looking in awe at people on 150 parkruns as I started out in late 2015, but I can confirm it is definitely achievable, all it requires is that you keep coming back for more!

A turkey

Uber tourist and parkrun legend Barry Shackleton was back again on Christmas Day, extending his record as Witton’s most experienced parkrunner by running his 395th event with us. More significantly, however, Christmas Day marked Barry’s 100th consecutive parkrun without any missed events. Fittingly, it ended where it started, beginning as it did in February 2017 at Witton and culminating on Christmas Day 2018 at the same venue. Darwen Dasher Barry is well known in parkrun circles for his touring and just before Christmas ran at the new Fletcher Moss parkrun in Manchester to join the elite Cowell Club of people who have run at 100 different parkrun events worldwide. And where should he finish on this momentous day? Position 100 of course!

100 for Barry

Joined by wife Karen, she moved up to 7th in the most experienced parkrunners at Witton list, having now completed 337 runs, and fellow Darwen Dasher Brian Tull became the joint-11th most experienced parkrunner at Witton having completed 321 runs on his 5th visit to Witton. Just the 1053 parkruns between the 3 of them!


Others achieving milestone runs over our past two events were:

Anne Marie Rustidge (Darwen Dashers) – 120 runs

Lana Owens – 110 runs

Ann Butler (Ramsbottom Running Club) – 80 runs

Nigel Owens – 80 runs

Sean Procter (Blackburn Harriers) – 75 runs

Matt Chester (Blackburn Road Runners) – 70 runs

Karen Shorrock – 60 runs

Martin Snelling – 20 runs

Luke Townsend – 10 runs

Tom Kirkham – 1 run

Will Kerry – 1 run

Ellie Livingstone (Winchester and District AC) – 1 run

Stephen Alberts (Blackburn Harriers) – 1 run

Simon Maughan – 1 run

Matt looking festive

Irene Slater (Blackburn Road Runners) – 90 runs

Andrew Aspden – 30 runs

Matt Campbell – 30 runs

Christine Duckworth – 20 runs

Jeanette Baron (Blackburn Road Runners) – 20 runs

Liz Hopley (Burnden Road Runners) – 20 runs

Dave Almond (Blackburn Road Runners) – 20 runs

Vikas Gupta – 10 runs

Joe Campbell – 1 run

Anna Croll – 1 run

Emma Rushton – 1 run

Andrew Carruthers – 1 run

Gail Bamber (Blackburn Road Runners) – 1 run

Mark Sloan – 1 run

Danny McKinlay – 1 run

James Titmuss (Horwich RMI Harriers) – 1 run

Irene and Julie

We had no less than FIVE people complete their first parkrun on Christmas Day – that’s commitment! A further 8 joined us on Saturday, meaning over 1275 people have started their parkrun journeys at Witton. With New Year round the corner, will you be joining them? It will be one of the best decisions you ever make: runs are friendly, supportive, non-judgmental and free. Come once or come every week, it’s entirely up to you. We get a healthy dose of some of the fastest young athletes around, but the core of our community are people with no history of running, doing so for health and wellbeing reasons and enjoying the community atmosphere. Our Event Director, Michelle, has put a great post on our Facebook page about New Year’s Resolutions – if you’re tempted, why not check it out?!


Others closing in on milestones at Witton this past week have been:

Martin Brady (Cardiac Athletes) – 279 (280 achieved at Pendle on Saturday)

Stephen Shackleton (Accrington Road Runners) – 159 (160 achieved at Burnley on Saturday)

Janice Parker – 149 (150 achieved at South Manchester on Saturday)

Helen Hyde (Great Britain Underwater Hockey) – 124

(125 achieved at Heaton Park on Saturday)

Emma Owens (CSSC Sports & Leisure) – 109 (110 achieved at parkrun Poznan (Poland!) on Saturday)

Tom Stratton – 89 (90 achieved at Pennington Flash on Saturday)

Viki Walsh (Darwen Dashers) – 79

Carol Life (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) – 24

Amy Hasler (Darwen Dashers) – 19

Peter Craine (Blackburn GroupRun) – 19

Andrea Hopwood (Darwen Dashers) – 19

Anna Maciejkowicz – 19

Dominic Maskell (University of Southampton AC) – 19

Viki and friend

Scott Smith – 124 runs

Lorna Pickup – 69 runs

Julie Gaskell – 59 runs

Carly Edwards (Blackburn Harriers) – 39 runs

Corinne Surkitt – 29 runs

Ben Kirkman (Rossendale Harriers) – 19 runs

David Morris (Blackburn Harriers) – 9 runs

Andrew Wisdom – 9 runs


The Christmas period is obvious a busy time for many people, but that didn’t stop many of you giving your time up for us to run this week, with 38 volunteers across our two events and 31 different people among their number. Parkrun really cannot happen without the volunteers so thank you to everyone who has helped out in 2018 and we hope to see lots of you again in 2019. Our Christmas Day hi-vis heroes were:

Karen SHACKLETON • Julia RUSHTON • Simon TOWNSEND • Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Alison CHANTREY • Joanne MCLEAN • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Rosie GEBBIE • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Clare GEBBIE • Debbie ASHTON • Jane MAGEE • Rachel AINSWORTH • Stephen SEARBY


At Event #156 on Saturday, our hi-vis heroes were:

Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Ian GASKELL • Julie GASKELL • Kate POMFRET • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • George WOODBURN • Amanda SLOAN • Lorna PICKUP • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter CRAINE • Dorothy MYERS • Mick KIRKMAN • Lucy EASTWOOD • Clare EASTWOOD

Special mention to Witton regular Julie Gaskell, who a few weeks after joining the Witton 50 Club volunteered for the 50th time at Witton as Tail Walker! She becomes only the 15th person to achieve that milestone. Congratulations Julie, you’re a model parkrunner: running and volunteering in equal measure!


A couple of final pieces of trivia to round this off before we get to notices. Our Christmas Day parkrun threw up two oddities among its number: first, for only the fourth time in Witton history, we had two parkrunners with the same name run the same event! Andrew Taylor finished in 9th position…and then again in 68th position! Funnily enough, both men have run at Witton before, Andrew Taylor 1 on no less than 20 occasions and Andrew Taylor 2 on 3 occasions, but their paths have never crossed before. Both were mentioned when I did my round-up of duplicate names in my stats for the 150th event and now they’ve joined us on the same day, probably without knowing it! It is the first time it has happened at Witton since Event #113, our second run of 2018, when we had two Simon Moores join us, while it previously happened at Event #29 in April 2016 (Richard Smith) and at our very first event in August 2015 (Sarah Walsh)!

Road Runners

And on a very similar theme, Christmas Day also saw Mark Butler of Burnden Road Runners join us for the first time. Yet, three events earlier, at the start of December, Mark Butler also joined us for the first time – 2 different men within a month! Mark Butler 1 has run 162 parkruns, with 118 of them coming at Heaton Park in Manchester. Christmas Day Mark Butler (Mark Butler 2) has run 65 parkruns, with 40 of those coming at Bolton parkrun. It becomes the 18th genuine occurrence of the same name/different people running at Witton and will doubtless become ever more common as more and more people visit Witton. I wonder how long it will be before the 4 other Matthew Vernons signed up to parkrun rock up at Witton..?


I thought a good way to sign off the main report would be a quick round-up of those who visited us most often in 2018. Below is a list of the 10 highest Witton runners this year. While some are familiar names, some show new regular faces to visit us this year:

Lynda Vernon – 41 runs (out of 45)

Anwar Khan – 37 runs

Matthew Vernon – 37 runs

Pat Procter – 35 runs

Scott Smith – 35 runs

Tim Keely – 34 runs

Liam Bennison – 30 runs

Ian Goodliffe – 29 runs

Irene Slater – 29 runs

Kate Pomfret – 27 runs

Peter Nicholson – 27 runs

Sandra Snape – 27 runs

Jane Magee – 27 runs


Of course, some are regulars who volunteer a lot too. Attendance at the most Witton parkruns regardless of role this year are:

Bryan Searby – 45 events (out of 45)

Michelle Searby – 44 events (while Michelle has also volunteered at all 45 parkruns this calendar year, she did not appear in person at Event #136 while she was at Kendall Calling!)

Diane Harrison-Leeming – 43 events

Pat Procter – 43 events

Bernie Johnson – 43 events

Alan Vernon – 42 events

Anwar Khan – 42 events

Lynda Vernon – 42 events

Matthew Vernon – 41 events

Scott Smith – 37 events


Finally, onto a couple of notices. As most of you are by now aware, Witton parkrun is hosting a special event on New Year’s Day at the slightly earlier time of 8.30AM. This is due to the unique circumstances of New Year’s Day parkrun in that parkrun HQ allow not one but TWO runs to be recorded on this day only. This means neighbouring parkruns are encouraged to pair up with different start times to allow parkrunners time to get from one to the other. Witton has partnered up with our neighbours at Burnley parkrun, where things will get underway sometime around 10am. This should give all parkrunners enough time to complete their first parkrun at Witton and then, if they so wish, make the short trip down the M65 to Towneley Park for a second dose of parkrun! To ensure we can all make it in time, Michelle is being unusually strict in that Witton will SET OFF at 8.30am ON THE DOT. You are welcome to join if you’re a little late, but obviously your time will suffer and you will need to catch and overtake the tail walker to be counted. Then it’s pack away and head off to Burnley! They are expecting us, so don’t worry about missing the start, no need to speed down the motorway, I imagine they’ll be a little more generous about their start time! If you’ve never been before, Towneley is the perfect partner to Witton, in that it is virtually flat, with only a slight incline up to the hall. Having tackled the Beast, it will be a much gentler challenge to finish your day off with! If you don’t fancy Burnley, there are a few other events locally that may be of interest. You can check them all out on the parkrun Christmas Compendium, which can be accessed here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/special-events/


Witton is CANCELLED on the first Saturday of January – the 5th, due to a cross country event in the park. While Michelle is having a day off from parkrun (she’ll be helping with the cross country instead), some of us are planning to head to Haigh Woodland parkrun in Wigan. It’s a friendly and popular course, about as old as Witton and consists of one out-and-back lap. The first 2.5km are largely downhill before you then start on the gradual climb back up the other side! It’s a picturesque route through woodland and well worth a visit if you’ve never been before. If you’re planning to go somewhere else, start planning! Witton will be back in business on the 12th January – we hope to see you there.

Viki and co

And Witton core team member Sean Procter is nearing the end of his mammoth effort to run 1000 miles in 15 weeks, which ends tomorrow (New Year’s Eve). Tomorrow, Sean must complete 9.04 miles to reach this milestone, a phenomenal achievement. He is raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which enables the families of seriously ill children to live close by and live as normal a life as possible in the process. Sean has raised over £200 now but it would be great if you could spare a few pounds at the end of this holiday season to support his efforts. If you want to find out more information about the Ronald McDonald House Charities or donate to Sean’s cause, you can visit his Just Giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sean-procter1

Sean and Pat

And that’s about it for a bumper Christmas edition. I’ll be back sometime after New Year’s Day with a round-up of our New Year’s doubling exploits so stay tuned for that and I’ll see some of you at Witton bright and early at 8.30am for the first part of the New Year’s celebrations!

See you then,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun

I look happy


Witton parkrun Run Report – Event 154

Witton parkrun
Event number 154
22nd December 2018


On a cold and soggy Saturday morning, 70 of you ran & we had 20 hi-vis hero’s Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • David HILTON • Ella TURNER • Annika HALSALL • Ian GASKELL • Julie GASKELL • Mick POMFRET • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Julie PRICE • Scott SMITH • Lorna PICKUP • Alan VERNON • Peter NICHOLSON • Peter CRAINE • Dorothy MYERS • Debbie ASHTON • Corinne SURKITT • Jane MAGEE, well done to you all for turning out.

Well done to Callum & Nichola for best male/female finishers.

Big kudos to Kate Pomfret & Holly Turner for reaching 100 parkruns.


Upcoming milestones –


  • Matthew Vernon (149)
  • Jez Turner (146)
  • Ian Goodliffe (99)
  • Chris Ingham (49)


Welcome to all those who ran Witton for the first time.


  • William Hoyle
  • Lisa Faunch
  • Martin Petry
  • Callum Davidson
  • Bethany Reid
  • Thomas Corrigan
  • Bridget Jepson


And welcome 1st timer @ parkrun


  • Isaac Smith


Well done to all you that got PB’s

22:06 - m - Chris Ingham

41:34 -  f  - Christine Duckworth

30:40 -  f  - Clare Eastwood

20:27 - m - Dan Sutton

29:13 - m - Ian Dodds

24:11 - m - James Castillo

29:32 - m - John Kearney

29:08 -  f  - Karen Rishton

23:58 - m - Liam Bennison

20:51 - m - Pete Hopley

21:56 - m - Russell Moorhouse

21:55 - m - William Moorhouse



That’s it for news this week, but for all of you stats nerds out there, hold on here we go J


The male record is held by Unknown ATHLETE who recorded a time of 15:49 on 31st October 2015 (event number 10).
The female record is held by Unknown (F) who recorded a time of 18:43 on 26th August 2017 (event number 95).
The Age Grade course record is held by Maureen LANEY who recorded 87.13% (22:16) on 5th September 2015 (event number 2).

Witton parkrun started on 29th August 2015. Since then 3,203 participants have completed 14,217 parkruns covering a total distance of 71,085 km, including 2,441 new Personal Bests. A total of 370 individuals have volunteered 3,318 times.


Biggest UK parkruns: Bushy Park (1310), Poole (858), Southampton (826), Bromley (681), Bramhall Park (655), Edinburgh (646), Coventry (623), Black Park (619), Peterborough (615), Cannon Hill (608),

Smallest UK parkruns: Foots Cray Meadows (31), Dolgellau (31), Beckton (31), Gainsborough (28), Fort William (28), Millom (27), Rostrevor (26), Clifton (22), Lower Drummans (21), Hilltop (17), Girvan Prom (17), Wayland (13), Parc (13), Black Combe (12), Bickershaw (10),


In the UK there were 8 new attendance records set: Bedgebury Pinetum (278), Bramhall Park (655), East Brighton (112), Isabel Trail (210), Porthcawl (458), Springhill (45), St Albans (595), Woolacombe Dunes (65),




13,842 people got their parkrun barcode this week

8,934 people became parkrunners this week


1,351 parkrunners joined the 50 club


658 parkrunners joined the 100 club


269 parkrunners ran their 150th parkrun this week


Exactly 169 parkrunners ran their 169th parkrun this week


126 parkrunners ran their 200th parkrun this week


59 parkrunners joined the 250 club


36 parkrunners ran their 300th parkrun this week


10 parkrunners ran their 350th parkrun this week


3 parkrunners ran their 400th parkrun this week


2 parkrunners ran their 450th parkrun this week


1 parkrunner joined the 500 club



1 parkrunner ran their 550th parkrun this week


Lot of numbers for you there, now if you have made it through that, then here is the last bit of news for you, if you check the upcoming roster you will see we are not running on 5th January so to help you decide where to go, here’s a handy guide to tourism https://touristtool.mybluemix.net/#gcw32yn4w708


Last stats for you

Out of the last 10 weeks, this week's attendance was the 6th highest.

Attendance in the last 10 weeks:






excluding 2 cancelled runs


273 (29/08/15)


In North West England, Witton was 45th out of 63 parkruns in terms of attendance.

In the U.K., Witton was 438th out of 564parkruns in terms of attendance

Peter Craine


WITTON PARKRUN #153 – 15th December 2018

Listening to the wind howling outside the window, I was all set to forego my weekly parkrun fix this weekend. But of course, in a parkrunning household that’s not really an option, so I dutifully donned my Christmas jumper and made my way down to Witton Park for Witton parkrun #153 – our annual Christmas Jumper Day event. I was not the only one bouncing up and down on the spot to keep warm while Michelle did the usual pre-run briefing and for once the Christmas Jumper was welcome given the temperature outside! There was an array of snazzy knitwear on display among the 71 hardy folk who came to run, jog and walk the Beast this weekend.


First across the line this weekend was returning visitor Robert Walsh of Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club in 19:41. This was Robert’s third visit to Witton and his second first place finish with us and his 55th parkrun overall. It was especially pleasing that he was first finisher while also participating in our theme for the event, wearing a reindeer/Santa hybrid jumper!


Second to cross the line was returning Wittoner Alfy Kirkley in 20:27. This was Alfy’s 11th run at Witton and 31st parkrun in total and was his 4th consecutive visit to parkrun after a quiet summer. Third place went to Miras Eskander of Northern Veterans AC in 20:58. Miras has run Witton once before, in September last year, and this marked a massive PB as on his previous visit, he went round in a rather more sedate 49:47!


First female was recent Witton regular Jane Magee in 11th place in 23:52. This was Jane’s 33rd parkrun, with 24 of those coming with us at Witton and this actually marked a third straight PB for Jane, impressive after so many runs with us, this week taking 3 seconds off her time from last Saturday – well done Jane! Jane has also now moved level with Lynne Clough as the female with the second-most first finishes on 8, still a little way behind Joanne Nelson’s current record of 13!


Second female was right behind Jane, Rebecca Sharples of Accrington Road Runners in 24:10. This was Rebecca’s 6th run at Witton and 34th parkrun total and was comfortably her fastest parkrun with us since her first visit, at Event #5 in September 2015 – held on the easier, flatter course. She is now less than a minute off this time – could you beat it yet Rebecca?! Third female was Darwen Dasher Holly Turner in 26th position in 27:46. This was junior Holly’s 24th run at Witton and 99th parkrun and she’ll be celebrating her 100th milestone with us at Witton very soon!


Unsurprisingly, given the weather conditions on Saturday, nobody was too keen to hang about in the cold, with tail walker Chris Cooper crossing the line in a very speedy 46:09. This was the ‘fastest’ Witton parkrun since Event #133 in June, when fellow Dasher Viki Walsh crossed the line in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 44:54!


Milestone time and another busy week on the Witton front! First is a very special celebration for regular Wittoners Paul and Oliver Thompson. Finishing, aptly, in 29th and 30th positions in the exact same time of 28:29, Clayton-le-Moors Harrier Paul and son Oliver both completed their 50th parkrun with us last Saturday, meaning they should soon be able to sport a brand new red milestone t-shirt each. The Thompsons have each completed 29 of their 50 runs with us at Witton and, although each has run once without the other at Witton, their parkrun journeys began together with us in March last year at Event #73. Quick progress was made on their PB, with improvements in each of their next 3 visits from an initial 28:37 to a speedy 26:28. Young Oliver has achieved a further 4 personal bests with us, most recently on his previous visit to this one at Event #149 when he ran a superb 25:46. Paul’s PB took a significant upturn when he came alone for Event #129 and ran the Beast in a brilliant 20:56, showing his true pace. It’s wonderful that the two (almost) always run together and they are a real father and son team. Both have been frequent tourists at local parkruns with only a couple of small differences between them. They’ve both run at Cuerden Valley on 7 occasions, 2 runs at Hyndburn parkrun, 2 at Lyme Park parkrun in Cheshire and single visits to Worsley Woods parkrun in Manchester and Brockwell parkrun, Herne Hill in London. Paul has run 3 times at Preston parkrun to Oliver’s 2, while Oliver has run twice each at Pendle and Burnley parkruns to Paul’s once. Paul has also sneakily checked off the international parkrun badge by running at Clermont Waterfront parkrun in Florida in August this year – without Oliver! Congratulations guys, onwards now to your 100 milestones and perhaps 2019 will be the time you both join the Witton 50 Club!


Speaking of the Witton 50 Club, we had our 40th inductee to this esteemed company this weekend in the shape of Blackburn Harrier John Cookson. John has run 95 parkruns and is closing up on his 100 milestone t-shirt and over half of those have been with us at Witton. John first ran at Witton on the old course at Event #8 in October 2015. He ran 4 times on the old course, including being one of the resilient 38 who braved the Boxing Day floods of 2015 to parkrun. His personal best at Witton was set on that course, unsurprisingly, at Event #10 when he ran 20:17 but his consistency on the Beast has been remarkable. His Beast PB was set in August this year at 21:19 and he has never run slower than 22:58 on our tougher course. John is a familiar sight at Witton and while many at the front end seem so serene, John leaves you in no doubt of the effort required to gain these remarkable times, with a regular, sharp breathing pattern emanating from him like a steam engine all the way round! Fantastic achievement John, it’s great that you’ve become such a regular fixture this year, with half your Witton total achieved in 2018, here’s to many more to come for you and your increasingly speedy daughters!


Others celebrating notable parkruns this weekend were:

Lynda Vernon – 120 runs

Sarah Roberts (Darwen Running Group) – 75 runs

John Shorrock – 70 runs

Peter Murphy (Darwen Running Group) – 60 runs

Richard Slater (Blackburn Road Runners) – 40 runs

Liam Bennison – 30 runs

Dean Howard – 20 runs

Rachel Ainsworth – 10 runs

Karen Rishton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 10 runs

Peta Davies – 1 run


Those on the cusp of notable parkrun milestones are:

Kate Pomfret (Blackburn Road Runners) – 99 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)

Holly Turner (Darwen Dashers) – 99 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)

Jacqueline Dwyer – 59 runs

Paul Jeffries (Blackburn Harriers) – 9 runs


Special mention to Peta Davies for joining us on the coldest weekend of the winter so far for her first ever parkrun! We hope you enjoyed it and promise it’s not always quite so cold!


The only thing worse than running in the freezing conditions of Saturday was to stand around volunteering (especially if, like Lorna Pickup, you forget your gloves!) so special thanks to this weekend’s hi-vis heroes. A slim-line look to this week’s volunteers with just 16 names on the roster but still 5 marshals at all the key points. This week’s full roster were:

Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Ian GASKELL • Julie GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Lorna PICKUP • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter CRAINE • Dorothy MYERS • Chris COOPER • Lucy EASTWOOD • Clare EASTWOOD


Special thanks to mother and daughter Clare and Lucy Eastwood who, fresh from completing their first two parkruns with us at Events #151 and #152, joined our volunteering team for Event #153, with Lucy acting as Bryan’s joint-timer and Clare handing out finishing tokens. I was especially impressed with her attention to detail, desperately trying to hand out a token to young Liam, not realising he had already finished and was running with his cousin! It’s that level of attention to detail that makes a results processor’s job much easier Clare – thank you!


Special volunteering milestones keep coming up at the moment too. This weekend it was core team member Diane Harrison-Leeming who became the seventh Wittoner to volunteer at 100 Witton events and, as Diane hasn’t volunteered anywhere else, this is also her 100th parkrun volunteering credit! Frequently Witton’s volunteer co-ordinator, Diane has done a range of roles. As part of our core team, she’s been Run Director on 7 occasions, including for her 100th milestone, while she has also been tail walker at Witton on 21 occasions. Almost always one of the first two arrives, she helps set up and close down and has been the first time briefer, finish token hand outer, barcode scanner, a timekeeper and a marshal! If you want to know about a parkrun role, a good place to start would be Diane! Congratulations on the milestone, here’s to the next 10!


Finally, the notices. Witton is planning a Christmas Day parkrun, as allowed by parkrun HQ and this will be held at our usual time of 9am, allowing everybody to head off and get on with the day’s festivities straight after. It’s usually an enjoyable morning with lots of friends and family home for the holidays joining in the fun. Christmas pyjama-ware is encouraged attire – who wants to bother getting dressed in running gear on Christmas morning and take a look at the pictures on our Facebook page of previous years if you don’t believe me!


Likewise, Witton is planning a New Year’s Day parkrun at the slightly earlier time of 8.30am. Unlike most weeks, when we’re anything but strict about timings, this will be starting at BANG ON 8.30am, as New Year’s Day is a special day in the world of parkrun. It is the only day in the year when you can legitimately parkrun at two separate locations and have both runs recognised by the parkrun gods. Thus, many nearby parkruns partner up so runners can run at one location, travel to the second and double up, with both runs counting towards your total parkrun total. With Witton starting at 8.30am sharp, this should allow parkrunners enough time afterwards to take the short trip down the M65 to our neighbours at Burnley parkrun, who are starting at 10am. Get your fix of hills out of the way before taking on the much flatter route at Towneley Park for a gentler second 5k! It’ll be my first parkrun double and I think lots of Wittoners are planning on it this year, so why not join us? Don’t fancy Burnley, check out the other options later in the morning on the parkrun website here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/special-events/


While many of us are solely focused on Christmas preparations, Witton core team member Sean Procter is closing in on the finish of his challenge to run 1000 miles in 15 weeks, ending on December 31st. With less than a fortnight left, Sean has 116 miles left to go in his effort to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. That’s over 10 miles a day! Sean has currently standing on £168 but it would be great to get him a significant amount more for what is a very worthy cause and an extraordinary effort in the process. If you wish to donate to Sean’s cause or find out more about the work of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, please visit Sean’s JustGiving page below: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sean-procter1?utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_content=sean-Procter1&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=5jwqv8YX8&fbclid=IwAR3pGgypt7ZstRwtYQkv3UzLXV_y2lAHBonfDThsBpDJrfZngbgGefZ63bU

A somewhat late report this week – where is the time before Christmas going?! Next weekend, I am enjoying a rest from report duty, with Peter Craine eager to give it a go. I’ll leave you in his capable hands in preparation for the post-Christmas rush.


See you on Saturday when hopefully it will be a little warmer with less chance of showers!


Enjoy the end to your week,


Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun

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