Witton parkrun – Run Report – Event #134

Witton Park Run report for the 30/06/18 #134


This week at park run was the first for a while where we didn’t have a fancy dress, and the feelings of completing a normal park run and striving for a new PB was a legitimate thought compared to wearing a stethoscope and scrubs or even a wedding dress. However, no week at park run is the same, and the wonderful runners were met with the tropical weather reaching almost 27 degrees and a free cycling event that started after the run.


With forest fires currently devastating Winters Hill and Saddleworth moor, I was somewhat slightly nervous in case some of the top athletes attending park run would set the course ablaze with some blistering pace. Joshua Crowther, thankfully failed to do so, but still managed to finish first in a respectful 20:02 seconds, 7 seconds clear of Mark Almond in second and Fraser Snape rounding off the top 3 in 20:56.


Jane Magee was the first female finisher this week, in a wonderful time of 24.55, and this was her 10th parkrun in total, 7 of them being a Witton. Julia Rushton was the second female across the line in 27:46, closely followed by Witton first timer, Sacha Cooper 5 seconds behind. Witton Park run was Sacha’s 11th location to complete a parkrun, a very impressive record that I’m sure she will continue to build on.


This week, 11 people set a new PB. I would be biased to praise myself for being the first person to get a PB this weekend knocking a massive 1 second off for 23 30 as I heroically paced my way to the finish line, so I am going to pass over it.


Also to join the #NewPBClub was Dustgeer Garda knocked a whopping 54 seconds off his previous time of 24:32 to achieve 23:38 and Phil Morton also achieved 24:36, knocking 40 seconds of his time. David Hilton also joined the club coming in 24:40.


Other honourable mentions include Witton’s own parkrun prodigy 8 year old Liam Bennison hauling Ian Gaskell round the beast to PBs of 24:47 and 24:48, and Miriam Hamilton who PB’ed at 30:08 and is edging ever closer to her 2018 new year goal of a Witton Sub 30.


Other members of the #NewPBClub for the 30/06/18 included:
Gary Blackburn
Susie Duerden
Dustgeer Garda
Phil Morton
Karen Shorrock
Kayley Almond


Following on from the #NewPBClub, some people have achieved various milestones:
Gary Blackburn joined the #40ParkRunsClub
Mick Pomfret and Miriam Hamilton joined the #30ParkRunsClub
Dusteer Garda joined the #20ParkRunsClub
Jane Magee joined the #10ParkRunsclub


Due to cancellations of Witton Park Run, we may not get the chance to celebrate some on the cusp of milestones in person next week, but shall instead be celebrating alongside them in our minds as our athletes may go on tour to complete these. These athletes include:
Mark Almond – 49 Park Runs
Karen Shorrock – 49 Park Runs
David Hilton – 48 Park Runs
Ian Brodick – 39 Park Runs
Khurram Shah- 29 Park Runs
Sandy Woods – 19 Park Runs


Following on from the achievements of this week, some were greeted by the start of a free cycling event in Witton as some were treated to smoothies, free bike rides and the chance to ride a penny-farthing – well done if you did.
This week also so the loss of some of our own Witton loyals who attended a 12 hour Trail Blaster at Towneley Park, Burnley involving 5k relay laps for a whole 12 hours. Those attending included Anwar Khan, Lorna Pickup, Scott Smith and Matthew Vernon. From an astray Facebook post, it appeared they had a successful session so well done to you guys!


73 awesome athletes attended to run, jog or walk the course. 12 of them were first timers and 11 achieved PB’s, but none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the 22 awesome volunteers who made it happen. As a park run lover, I couldn’t recommend enough volunteering once every so often to make parkrun happen. Its great fun and you get a volunteer credit to work towards the lucrative 25 Volunteers Parkrun t-shirt. Thank you to the 22 Hi-Vis heroes who are:


Sarah WATKINS • Jon CARBERRY • Joshua CROWTHER • Peter MURPHY • Ahmed HASSAN • Sean PROCTER • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Anne Marie RUSTIDGE • Daniel HAMILTON • Emily SNAPE • Ian GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Julie PRICE • Lorna PICKUP • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Dorothy MYERS • Debbie ASHTON • Corinne SURKITT
Enough of my ramblings, well done to all who volunteered or graced the beauty of the beast at Witton Park Run this morning. Get your friends, Mums and Dads, your Grans and Grandads, your Uncle and Aunties or Nieces and Nephews or just your mate from down at the pub and get them down to Parkrun. I personally think it is one of the best ways to get fit and healthy, enjoy some social cohesion, and feel great about smashing new PB’s.
Until next time, Happy Park Running.
Daniel Hamilton
This word document has been read and proof read by Miriam Hamilton.



Witton parkrun Run Report for Event #133

WITTON PARKRUN #133 – 23rd June 2018


Well, the longest day has been and gone and Witton returned after a week off with a return to normality after recent celebrations and commemorations, when 84 people came to run, jog and walk the Beast on a bright June day, though it began somewhat cooler than we’ve been used to in recent months.


First to cross the line this weekend was Ribble Valley Harrier Stephen Hall in a speedy 17:55. This was Stephen’s 6th run at Witton and his 8th parkrun overall and he has finished in first position on all 6 runs with us. His time this weekend was a new PB, knocking 19 seconds off his time from Event 111 in December, and he now holds the 9th fastest time ever seen on the Beast, as well as the 23rd fastest time seen on any layout at Witton. Well done Stephen! Second to finish was a Witton first timer, James Michael Mulvany in 18:50. Wesham Road Runner James was running his 31st parkrun at his 11th different venue, with 9 runs at Blackpool parkrun his most visited event. Third to cross the line was returning Wittoner James McLeod, who finished in 19:39. This was James’ 77th parkrun and 57th with us at Witton, although it was his first visit to us since Event #128 at the start of May. It was also his fastest parkrun at Witton since last September but remains a minute outside his PB set at Event #80 last May. Well done to all our speedy men this weekend!


First female was Blackburn Harrier Joanne Nelson in 6th position in exactly 21 minutes. This was Joanne’s 3rd consecutive parkrun at Witton, taking her up to 15 runs with us in total and, more importantly 50 parkruns in total! More on that shortly. This was her fastest run of the last three she’s done, which are her only parkruns done so far in 2018. Second female was returning Wittoner and fellow Blackburn Harrier Hannah Cookson in 9th position in 22:52.


This was Hannah’s 22nd run at Witton and her 53rd in total, with 27 at Preston still her highest at a single event, although Witton is quickly catching it up! This was her first parkrun in 2 months, which also came with us at Event #126. It was also a new ‘Beast PB’ for Hannah, knocking 8 seconds off her time from Event #113 in January. She has only run faster twice at Witton, both on our older, easier course and is now a little over a minute off being able to set a new Witton PB course – keep going Hannah, great work! Third female was Jane Magee in a new PB of 24:13. This was Jane’s 9th parkrun and 6th with us at Witton, all in our last 8 parkruns and was the second time she has finished as third female finisher with us. Well done to all our speedy ladies this weekend!


Milestone time and yet more t-shirts on offer as we go through a purple patch at the moment. Three different colours awarded this weekend and I get to start with a very special one as my best mate Scott Smith earned his black milestone t-shirt for his 100th parkrun…on the very same weekend he wore his newly-arrived red 50 t-shirt for the very first time! Scott began his parkrun journey at the very same time as me, in fact, it was at my suggestion that he agreed to come along and have a go at running 5k at this new thing called ‘parkrun’ that was starting in Witton Park. We both sidled along for Event #4 way back in September 2015 and quickly got the bug. Scott’s first parkrun was completed in 29:41 and by the end of November it was already down to 25:14. He didn’t run again in 2015 and by 2016 our course had changed to our fearsome ‘Beast’ and his time immediately fell again to 28:09 in January but by May he had managed to better his old course PB and lower it to 24:51. His most recent PB was in June last year when he set a new mark of 23:29, over 6 minutes knocked off in less than 3 years! In total, 87 of Scott’s 100 parkruns have come at Witton, putting him in joint-4th position in the list of most experienced Witton parkrunners. His other 13 runs have come at Preston (4 times), Burnley (once), Pendle (once), Haigh Woodland (twice), Cuerden Valley (twice), Hyndburn (once), Bolton (once) and, most recently, Clitheroe Castle last weekend. His parkrun PB stands at an agonising 23:01, run at Preston in November 2016 and I know Michelle is keen to nab him a new PB soon – be warned Scott! Scott’s also taken up 10ks since starting parkrun and has run 4, including 3 runs at the Crazy Cow in Preston. His most recent run there came just last weekend when he lowered his mark to an astonishing 46:37, 2 minutes faster than his 10k PB. Work commitments have meant Scott hasn’t been able to parkrun on quite as many Saturdays as I have, which is why despite starting at the same time it has taken him 6 months longer than me to get to 100 parkruns, but well done mate, it’s been great to see your progress and let’s see what parkrun’s got in store for us next! Now get that black t-shirt ordered!


Second milestone goes to Blackburn Harrier Joanne Nelson, who completed her 50th parkrun with us after her third consecutive run at Witton, starting with our Run for Norman at the start of the month. Joanne has run 15 times at Witton, just three less times than her most visited parkrun, Bolton, although her last 10 runs have all been with us dating back to August 2016 and our first birthday. She has also run at Cuerden Valley parkrun (5 times), Burnley (4 times), twice at Preston, Rushcliffe (near Nottingham) and Pennington Flash and once each at Watergrove parkrun near Rochdale and Pendle. She has yet to earn a PB at Witton, having set an incredibly speedy 19:28 way back at Event #2 on our old course. She has yet to break 20 minutes on the Beast, with her best time of 20:03 coming way back in January 2016. She earned her 50 t-shirt with a time of exactly 21 minutes, the fastest time she has run over her recent 3 runs, but I am sure there is more to come from Joanne – congratulations on your achievement, and we hope we’ll see more of you at Witton as you seek that elusive PB!


Last but not least goes to Darwen Dasher Viki Walsh. Viki completed her 75th parkrun with us on Saturday, her 35th at Witton but more significantly she tail walked, allowing her to complete her 25th volunteering credit earning her a purple 25 volunteer t-shirt. 25 is the only t-shirt available to volunteers at parkrun and Viki’s roll of honour consists of 11 stints at Tail Walker, 10 stints as Marshal, twice handing out Finish Tokens and a stint clearing up afterwards and another taking photographs. Well done Viki, welcome to the Witton 25 Club, we hope recent weeks have shown you how much we care about you and that you continue to visit us regularly. Poignantly, this weekend’s achievement puts you one ahead of Norman and we all know he’d be looking down on your doing his favourite volunteering role and saying ‘good on you, love’.


Others running notable parkrun numbers this weekend were:
Francis Washington – 160 runs
Anwar Khan – 140 runs
Kate Pomfret (Blackburn Road Runners) – 80 runs
Peter Nicholson – 75 runs
Julie Price (Blackburn GroupRun) – 70 runs
Mark Welch – 40 runs
Tim Keely – 20 runs
Gemma Stringfellow – 1 run
Denise Lawson – 1 run
Katie Lawson (Hyndburn AC) – 1 run
Jonathan Watts – 1 run
Patrick Walsh – 1 run
Libby-Kate Neal (Blackburn Harriers) – 1 run


And those who will be hitting milestones with their next parkrun include:
Irene Slater (Blackburn Road Runners) – 74 runs
Eric Arnott – 49 runs
Ian Gaskell – 39 runs
Simon Nicholas Woods (Ossy Joggers) – 39 runs
Michael Blacklidge (Blackburn Harriers) – 39 runs
Mick Pomfret – 29 runs
Karlyn Forrest (Preston Harriers) – 29 runs
Miriam Hamilton – 29 runs
Olivia Keighley – 9 runs
Jane Magee – 9 runs
John Hughes (Blackburn Harriers) – 9 runs
Fred Lynch (Red Rose Road Runners) – 9 runs


This weekend saw 25 more Personal Bests earned, nearly 30% of Saturday’s attendees. This was the highest percentage since Event #118 in February. No PB for Liam Bennison this weekend, but doubtless he’ll be back to it soon, and in his stead dad Benny got in on the act with his second PB at Witton in his 3rd run with us, knocking a whopping 5 minutes off his time from Event #132 to set a new mark of the pleasingly symmetrical 33:33. Mick Pomfret set a magnificent 7th PB in a row, knocking 15 seconds off his time from last time out, while the aforementioned Jane Magee set her 5th PB in a row on her way to third female finisher! And a host of Witton regulars got in on the act: David Hilton set a third PB in 5 visits, lowering his mark to exactly 25 minutes, Irene Slater lowered her mark from February by half a minute to 32:47 while my mum Lynda Vernon earned an astonishing 20th PB in 84 Witton parkruns and her 5th in 8 runs at Witton lowering her mark from last time out by 6 seconds to 37:39. Benjamin Livesey earned a 4th PB in 8 parkruns and 11th in 24 visits to Witton reducing his time by another half a minute to 23:17 and last but not least Tim Keely earned an 8th PB in 15 visits to Witton and a third PB in successive runs, knocking 10 seconds off his time from Event #132. Well done to everyone who boarded the PB Express this weekend!


This weekend’s volunteer roster was a bit of struggle, for the first time in weeks. Friday night came around and for a while it looked like we’d be short on numbers but you lot came through in the end, albeit some marshal spots were left unmanned for once. There were 20 hi-viz heroes this weekend who were:
Jess ORMEROD • Sean PROCTER • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Viki WALSH • Lisa MORAN • Nickie OHARA • Ian GASKELL • Julie GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Julie PRICE • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • George WOODBURN • Lorna PICKUP • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Patricia PROCTER


This weekend was a reminder of how we always need people to volunteer and generously give up their time for parkrun to happen. If you think you can help us in the coming weeks, email wittonhelpers@parkrun.com or contact us on Facebook, we’d be happy to have you and you’ll get all the support you need.

Not much in the way of news to write home about, but an early warning that Witton is cancelled on 14th July for an event in the park. I think the early frontrunner for the Witton gang is Worsley Woods parkrun on the outskirts of Manchester so if that interests you, get in touch and let’s see what we can arrange.

As for me, I will be a non-attendee at Witton on Saturday, the first time I haven’t been present when Witton’s been on since Event #28 in April 2016 (I can’t believe that stat myself and I’ve just looked it up!) Me and a group of other Wittoners, including regulars Anwar Khan, Lorna Pickup and Scott Smith, are taking part in the Trail Blaster event at Townley Park in Burnley and as it begins at 10am, it is incompatible with a Witton parkrun unfortunately. So most of us are doing Burnley instead! The event itself consists of 12 hours (yes, hours) of 5k loops in a relay format. We have 6 team members and take it in turns to complete the lap as many times as we can in the 12 hours. I have no idea what is in store but it should be a lot of fun with some great people.


In my absence, it would be good for someone else to step up to write the run report who has actually taken part in Saturday’s run. It doesn’t have to be as long as these always seem to end up and can be in any form you like – write a poem, tell your personal story or experience of parkrun or just give us an idea of what happened at Saturday’s run! Michelle will give you any help you need so don’t be shy – let’s hear what you’ve got to say!

I’ll miss you all on Saturday – but keep on parkrunning! See you again soon.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Witton parkrun – Run Report – Event #132

WITTON PARKRUN #132 – 9th June 2018

Rule #1 about fancy dress parkrun: Always get the biggest size, regardless of what the internet says.
Rule #2 about fancy dress parkrun: Be prepared to sweat. A lot.

Michelle told me after the run that she ‘had a feeling’ this week’s run report was going to be a feel good one, so I will do my best, as there was plenty of positivity around this weekend. After last weekend’s sombre events for Normrun, this weekend was a celebration of the people who did so much to try to save Norman’s life: the tireless men and women of the National Health Service. With the NHS celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, it teamed up with parkrun UK to put on a series of events across the country celebrating all areas of the healthcare profession and Witton got in on the act, with doctors, nurses and physios gamely turning up wearing overalls, stethoscopes and even a shirt and tie! There were also a few dodgy looking surgeons wandering about…

In total, 109 people ran, jogged or walked the Beast this weekend, continuing our strong form from last weekend with only our 7th attendance of over 100 in the last 12 months and our joint-20th highest attendance ever, aided by the visit of some of our friends from the Preston parkrun core team, who chose to join us due to a cancellation of their home run.

And it was one of the Preston gang who was first finisher this weekend, with Preston’s very own Event Director, Andy Whaley of Preston Harriers speeding round the Beast in 19:38 on his very first attempt at the course! As with most Event Directors, Andy is often too busy with the administration of parkrun to actually get to run it himself, and he has only completed 35 parkruns since he started in October 2015. 30 of his runs have come at his home course, with tourist runs at Blackpool, Forest Rec parkrun in Nottingham, Lytham Hall and Bolton before his visit to Witton this Saturday completing his set. Second place went to returning Witton core team member Sean Procter in 21:07, a minute and a half behind Andy. Blackburn Harrier Sean’s work arrangements have changed, meaning more Saturdays spent working instead of with us at parkrun, but we hope it will not be the case for long. This was Sean’s 45th run at Witton and 64th parkrun ever, but his first run on the Beast in 2 months, although it was his fastest time on our course since last September!

Third place went to our first female, for the first time since Eleanor Bolton at Event #127 two months ago. This time around it was Blackburn Harrier Joanne Nelson, finishing in a time of 21:21. This was Joanne’s second consecutive run on the Beast, having not run with us previously since September and this weekend she was 36 seconds faster than last week, so well done Joanne! It also puts her on 49 parkruns total, after her 14th visit to Witton and there are rumours her 50th will come with us very soon… It was a strong day for the Blackburn Harriers, with another representative John Cookson finishing in 4th position as 3rd male finisher in 21:40. This matches John’s highest finishing position at Witton, both overall and as a male finisher in his 38th run at Witton and 82nd parkrun overall. He has now run one less time at Witton than at our neighbours in Preston (39) with 4 runs at Cuerden Valley and 1 at Burnley making up his numbers. He’s also in rich form at the moment: this is the 4th time in 6 Witton parkruns that John has run 21:40 or lower on the Beast, and his Beast PB currently stands at 21:35 set at Event #128 at the end of April – come on John, there’s a PB and a sub-21:30 Beast around the corner I’m sure!

Second female was Julia Hartley of Accrington Road Runners, who finished in 6th position in 22:53. This was Julia’s 8th run at Witton and her first with us since September last year, while she has only run one previous parkrun in 2018, at Heaton Park in Manchester in February. This weekend saw Julia set a new Witton PB, besting her previous best from Event #88 last July by 3 seconds – well done Julia! Third female was Jane Hodkinson in 9th position in 23:10. This was Jane’s second visit to Witton, 5 months after her first, and only her third parkrun at all, with her first parkrun taking place way up at Inverness parkrun in February 2017. This weekend she was a minute and a half faster than on her previous visit to Witton, although on her previous visit, paradoxically, she was second female, rather than third. Well done to all our speedy ladies and gents this weekend!

Milestone time! And there were not one, not two but three t-shirts awarded for runs at Witton this weekend! First up was little Liam Bennison who ran his 10th parkrun, all at Witton, which as a junior entitles him to a white parkrun milestone t-shirt. Liam celebrated by finishing in 18th position in 25:11, which means yet another PB for the young man, knocking a whopping 19 seconds off his time from last weekend! Liam’s first parkrun was in March this year when he ran the Beast in 31.20. Since then, he has lowered that to 28:35, 26:49, 25:47, 25.37, 25.30 and now 25.11 – 6 PBs in 10 runs, and when it’s considered that finding someone to actually run with him proved difficult in early weeks, he’s quickly got up to speed with the help of Anwar Khan and in particular Ian Gaskell, while reciprocally helping both to new Witton PBs in the process. How much longer Ian can keep up with Liam is up for debate, but as the youngster is only 8 and parkrun rules say minors under 11 must run with a responsible adult, it looks like we’re going to have to find some fast feet to follow Liam for quite a while yet! Well done Liam – next stop 50!

Next up was regular Wittoner Julie Gaskell, who finished in 42nd position in 28:40. This marked Julie’s 50th parkrun, entitling her to a red milestone parkrun t-shirt and was her 44th run with us at Witton. Julie ran her first parkrun with us in June 2016 where she ran a time of 33:22. In the next 3 months, she achieved 6 PBs over 12 parkruns which reduced her time to exactly 29 minutes. Since then, she has continued to improve, although her most recent PB was last July, when she ran the Beast in 28:35 at Event #82. That seems to have been in her mind this weekend, with her time this week marking her fastest time since that PB, just 5 seconds outside it – that would have been some way to mark your 50th Julie! Her other 6 runs consist of 2 runs at Haigh Woodland, 2 at Cuerden Valley, 1 at the Forest of Dean parkrun and 1 run at Keswick. In addition to running, Julie has also volunteered 40 times at Witton in a variety of different positions and already possesses a purple 25 volunteer milestone t-shirt. Well done Julie! Now to add some red to your purple!

Last but not least of the milestones was another Witton regular, Jacqueline Dwyer, who finished in 94th position in 41:51 to complete her 50th parkrun. This comes just a few months after husband and fellow Wittoner Bill completed his 50th parkrun with us. Both came for the first time to us in April 2016, and Jackie’s first parkrun at Event #30 saw her finish in 117th position in 47:39. She soon set about improving it, and 3 parkruns later, after 3 successive PBs, her time was down to 43:50. Another PB came a few weeks later, reducing her time to 41:30 at Event #39 in June 2016, but then came a long PB drought, ended relatively recently in February 2018 when she got her time down to 41:02. A month later, she improved it further to her current best of 40:50, so clearly there’s more to come for Jackie! Jackie and Bill are usually found at Witton, aside from their regular holidays and Jackie is now on 48 Witton parkruns to boot, with just 2 runs at Stretford completing her 50. Unfortunately for Jackie, it appears she took a tumble on Saturday, which has left her very sore in the ribs area. She is taking some well-earned rest and may not be running for a few weeks, but Bill assures us she’ll be marshalling again as soon as she’s able and is very proud of her achievement – well done Jackie!

Others hitting notable numbers with us this weekend were:
Sean Sweeney (Preston Harriers) – 160 runs
Matthew Vernon – 125 runs
Suzanne Ferrandino (Blackburn GroupRun) – 90 runs
Sally Hupfield-Smith – 60 runs
Catherine Karn (Red Rose Road Runners) – 60 runs
Alex Proffitt (Preston Harriers) – 40 runs
David North (Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club) – 30 runs
Lea Mellody – 25 runs
Paul Allen – 20 runs
Julia Hartley (Accrington Road Runners) – 20 runs
Grace Shorrock – 1 run
Hayley Smith – 1 run
Izabel Forrest – 1 run
Cheryl Forrest – 1 run
Stephanie Ashton – 1 run
Caroline Waterworth – 1 run
Niamh Catlow – 1 run
Cathy Hatch (Blackburn Road Runners) – 1 run

8 more first time parkrunners this weekend – welcome to parkrun, we hope you found us a friendly bunch, enjoyed the challenge of our course and join us again soon!

Those hoping for a notable parkrun soon were:
Viki Walsh (Darwen Dashers) – 74 runs
Julie Price (Blackburn GroupRun) – 69 runs
John Dey – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Joanne Nelson (Blackburn Harriers) – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Ahmed Hassan – 29 runs
Anya Townsend (Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club) – 29 runs
John Livesey – 24 runs
Sarah Denver – 19 runs
Sarah Randall – 9 runs

21 more PBs today including more for the usual suspects! We’ve already mentioned Liam Bennison and ‘responsible adult’ Ian Gaskell was similarly pulled round in another PB, his third in 4 parkruns, which has reduced his personal best from 26:05 to 25:11 – a whole minute. Well done Ian! Mick Pomfret set an astonishing 6th consecutive PB, knocking no less than 37 seconds off his time from last weekend and recording his first 50%+ age grading. Nice one Mick! Another Wittoner, Tiyra Slaam is not far behind, having recorded her 5th PB in a row with us, reducing her PB from last week by another 19 seconds. And others are sneaking up too! Rebecca McCarroll made her first appearance at Witton in 10 months and her fifth in total and successfully continued her run of always improving on her previous visit, knocking three quarters of a minute off her time from last August. Similarly, Jane Magee improved on her time from last weekend by nearly a minute, which marks her 4th PB in a row since her first visit at the end of April. Darwen Dasher Sophie Atherton set her third PB in a row this weekend, each time a minute faster than her previous over the last 3 Witton parkruns, reducing her time from 32:36 to 30:25 – well done Sophie! And a mention for frequent Wittoner Tim Keely, who set his second consecutive Witton PB, which marks 7 PBs from his 14 visits to Witton, a return of exactly 50% - well done Tim! And lastly (because I’m writing it), my mum Lynda Vernon knocked 6 seconds off her time from last month, her 19th PB in 83 Witton parkruns – impressive stuff mum! Well done to everyone who boarded the PB Express this weekend – all this nice weather’s doing wonders for your times!

Another 23 volunteers this weekend at Witton, our thanks as ever go to our hi-viz heroes:
Jess ORMEROD • Joshua CROWTHER • Sean PROCTER • Simon TOWNSEND • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Viki WALSH • Hazel BAXTER • Anne Marie RUSTIDGE • David HILTON • Lisa MORAN • Anwar KHAN • Ian GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Julie PRICE • Matthew VERNON • Lorna PICKUP • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter NICHOLSON • Debbie ASHTON

No new names on the parkrun volunteer roster this weekend, but only 9 of the 23 have volunteered over 50 times at Witton and 8 had volunteered less than 20, which shows an increasing number of people helping us out increasingly often. If you want to get involved, email wittonhelpers@parkrun.com or contact us on Facebook, we’d be happy to have you and you’ll get all the support you need. It really is a rewarding part of parkrun.

Following on from Aimie Wormald’s return to parkrun last weekend after her baby (for the record, she smashed her ‘mummy PB’ from last weekend this week, finishing in 34:46, knocking nearly 3 minutes off!), this weekend saw the return of another familiar Witton face after a long absence. Witton 50 Club member Tony Duckworth made his first appearance at Witton since February after a long spell of ill health. It was great to see him getting back up to speed and he made it round in a perfectly respectable 43:21, a long way short of his parkrun best, but given the last time we saw him he could barely make it from the car park to the finishing funnel, his progress has been remarkable. And wife Christine came round with him too, with Tony leaving her for dust in the closing stages as she completed her second parkrun and first with us in a leisurely 46:56. Well done to both of them and I hope we see them back again soon.

From a personal perspective, as I alluded at the start, it was a relatively slow affair in a rather restrictive and very warm surgeon’s outfit, complete with hair cover, face mask and latex gloves. The face mask made it around the first smaller loop, but was then slipped down to my chin for the rest of the run, returning for the run through the woods to the finish. The latex gloves stayed on for the entire run and I apologise to Miriam Hamilton, who had the unfortunate honour of chatting to me while I tried to take them off, resulting in her witnessing the stream of sweat which poured out as I removed them at the end of the run! Yuck. But it was all for a good cause and I wasn’t the only one, with my dad, Alan and Blackburn Road Runner Irene Slater also turning up in similar get-ups and entering into the spirit of things.

And that just about wraps it up for Event #132. Please be aware Witton is once again CANCELLED next weekend, due to the Muddy Maniacs event in Witton Park, so we shall be back in two weeks on June 23rd. Michelle and Bryan are taking a well-deserved week off from parkrun next weekend, but several of us are planning to head over to our new neighbours at Clitheroe Castle parkrun for their 5th event. Parking is at a premium in Clitheroe, so car sharing is encouraged, as is taking the train, which arrives very close to the start. If you want help getting there, please get in touch, there’s a few people going who I’m sure have space if you need a lift. The course consists of five laps, and does include a hill apparently, so if that doesn’t sound your cup of tea, why not try out one of other local options: Cuerden Valley near Preston (a similar course to Witton but finishing uphill rather than down!), Hyndburn in Accrington (a trail run which is flatter than Witton), Preston (3 laps, all tarmac, one hill), Haigh Woodland near Wigan (an out and back loop through the woods, gentle downhill for the first half, gentle uphill for the second), Burnley (a flat two-lap loop of Townley Park), Bolton (starts and finishes on the running track but the rest is on a trail, often tarmacked) or Pendle (two laps of the football fields and two runs down and up the hill) or maybe somewhere else entirely! Parkruns really do come in all shapes and sizes so whatever you fancy, there should be something to cater to it! Wherever you end up next weekend, I hope you have a great time.

See you again at Witton in a fortnight,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Normrun Run Report – Event #131

WITTON PARKRUN #131 – 2nd June 2018


It was an emotional morning at Witton Park as a Beast record of 230 people came down on an overcast June morning to remember and celebrate one no longer with us. Witton was a sea of yellow and black as those who came to run, jog and walk Witton’s 131st event commemorated the life of Norman Walsh, Darwen Dasher and 70-time Witton parkrunner who died a fortnight ago at the age of 65.


Witton expected a large turnout. Michelle had prepared 125 yellow and black ribbons to give to attendees, a number which would comfortably break anything since Christmas Day and really anything since the 171 Witton saw for our second birthday last August. That so many turned up so relatively early on a Saturday morning is testament to the esteem in which Norman was held not just at Witton parkrun but across the Blackburn with Darwen running community, with Blackburn Harriers and particularly Blackburn Road Runners showing solidarity with their bereaved Dasher brethren with their increased numbers.


The day began with the pre-run briefing, although this took a slightly different appearance to usual. First, we held it on the main path into the park, rather than at the start line, to allow people to gather round more easily. Second, for one of the few times in Witton history, it was delivered by someone other than Michelle. Clearly badly affected by the loss of one of our parkrun family, Michelle asked if I would mind doing the pre-run briefing this week instead and, while nervous, I was happy to step up. Despite a few technical hitches (it’s harder using a loudhailer than you might imagine it turns out!) I think I did alright.


Apologies if you had trouble hearing – it’s hard to gauge volume with a megaphone – but I remembered all the key notices and the tribute to Norman seemed to go down well, given the kind words people said to me later. I know Michelle has posted video of the speech on Facebook for those who couldn’t hear it or weren’t able to be present, and she also posted a news item on our parkrun page with the text about Norman if you want to read it here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/witton/news/2018/06/02/norman-walsh-parkun/


We had a superbly observed minute’s applause in memory of Norman, with all the marshals present and then while the marshals got in position, Fran Bury conducted the rather unusual topsy-turvy first timers briefing before we got underway around 9.08am. A crowded field meant a little more jostling for position than Witton is used to, but it was all good natured, with a gentle lift provided when Michelle panicked that little Liam Bennison had been left unchaperoned at the front of the field only for her yell to be replied by a bemused Ian Gaskell (Liam’s ‘responsible adult’ for the day) a few metres further back with ‘He’s here!’ pointing right next to him! Despite being first finisher in 4 of the last 8 Witton parkruns, including 2 of the last 3, there would be no repeat for Blackburn Road Runner Joshua Crowther, who turned up on Saturday morning very much overdressed for running and sporting a very fetching protective boot shielding a recent football injury! Strictly marshalling duty for Josh this weekend.


This left the way clear for returning Wittoner Joe Gebbie, who completed his first parkrun of 2018 with a first place finish and a new PB to boot. Blackburn Harrier Joe has completed 26 parkruns in total, all at Witton and this was the 4th time he was first finisher and the first since November last year. His time of 18:16 was a full minute and 13 seconds faster than his previous PB from November. More importantly, it means Joe now holds a faster Witton PB than brother Leo, who’s Witton PB remains his 19:21 last July. Doubtless Leo will be back this summer to see what he can do about that! A minute down the road was fellow Blackburn Harrier Nicholas Smith, who finished in 2nd position in 19:18. This was Nicholas’ 12th run at Witton, his 16th parkrun in total and also his first of 2018. His PB at Witton remains the 18:53 he ran at our 100th event last October.


Third person across the line was the first of our many Darwen Dashers, James France in 19:36. This was James’ 7th run at Witton, but his first ever conquering of the Beast, with all 6 previous visits taking place in our first 16 events on the old course. His time was unsurprisingly the slowest he has run at Witton (with the Beast a good one or two minutes plus slower than the old course) although he was still only a minute outside his Witton PB set on his last visit to us, Christmas Day 2015! James has only run 4 parkruns in the interim, with a single run at Preston and 3 runs at Bolton the latest of his 25 parkruns to date. Well done to all 3 men this weekend.


First female was Blackburn Harrier Joanne Nelson in 15th position in 21:57. This was Joanne’s 13th run at Witton and 48th parkrun in total and was her first parkrun anywhere since she ran at Witton last September. All Joanne’s last 8 parkruns have been at Witton, but these cover a period of nearly 2 years! I wonder when she’ll qualify for her red 50 parkruns t-shirt?! Second female was Darwen Dasher Janine Fallon who finished in 22nd position in 22:40. Like Joanne this was Janine’s 13th run at Witton and 18th overall, and her first parkrun anywhere since she ran at Preston in January 2017!


This was also a special run for Janine, as she broke her Witton PB, set on the old course, of 22:41 – by one whole second! Great effort Janine. Third female was Blackburn Road Runner Emma Wright, who finished in 34th position in 25:06. This was Emma’s 3rd run at Witton of 4 parkruns completed and her first in a year since she ran at Burnley parkrun last June. Her time was nearly a minute and a half down on her PB set last time out at Witton of 23:45 last June. Well done to all 3 ladies and good to see so many Witton returnees this weekend!


Milestone time, and just the one notable parkrun milestone hit this weekend for a very surprised Sharon Cocker, who joined son Matty in the Witton 50 Club. Sharon becomes the 34th person and 17th female to have run 50 Wittons, meaning we have an even 50-50 split of men and women who have run 50 times at Witton for the fourth time (after 4-4, 5-5 and 15-15). Sharon ran her first run with us at our inaugural event in August 2015 and ran 22 times with us in our first year. Year 2 was beset by injury for Sharon, limiting her involvement in the running side at Witton, but she volunteered regularly and has now completed 25 volunteering credits at Witton to go alongside her 50 runs with us. Sharon completed her 100th parkrun with us at Event 115 in January and completed her 49th run at Witton in March. Since then, she has been spending the last few months as a parkrun tourist, taking in 5 runs at our near-neighbours Hyndburn and one each at Bolton, Blackpool, Lytham Hall, Preston, Burnley and Ormskirk before finally returning to Witton to say goodbye to Norman and thus earn her 50 Wittons membership. Well done Sharon, I’m sure Norm would be the first to say: Welcome to the Club!


Others celebrating notable general parkrun numbers this weekend were:
Cameron Ashton – 125 runs
Kerry Elliott (Darwen Dashers) – 120 runs
Jim Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 120 runs
Anne Marie Rustidge (Darwen Dashers) – 110 runs
Alison Mercer (Red Rose Road Runners) – 90 runs
Pat Procter – 70 runs
Sarah Suthers (Darwen Dashers) – 40 runs
Stanley Hilton (Blackburn Harriers) – 30 runs
Tina Kuczer (Darwen Dashers) – 30 runs
Paul Fourie (Hyndburn AC) – 30 runs
Alex Buckland (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs


Khurram Shah – 25 runs
James France (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs
Lenny Kay (Blackburn Road Runners) – 25 runs
Alfy Kirkley – 25 runs
Matthew Connell (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs
Chris Cooper (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
Wayne Rushworth (Blackburn GroupRun) – 20 runs
Denise Sykes – 20 runs
Tina Glover – 20 runs
Jean McDonald (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
Richard Marsden (Darwen Dashers) – 20 runs
John Clayton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 10 runs
Michelle Steer – 10 runs


Tracey Vester-Hodgson (Blackburn Road Runners) – 10 runs
John Randall – 10 runs
Joel Freeman (Darwen Dashers) – 10 runs
Sarah Gabriel (Darwen Dashers) – 10 runs
Christine Whittle (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Susan Asher (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Faye Huddart (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Donna Burrell (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run


Leo Harrison – 1 run
Paul Harrison – 1 run
David Barnes (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Rebecca Wogden – 1 run
Iain Asher (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Lorna Blake – 1 run
Simon Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Berrin Sturgess (Darwen Dashers) – 1 run
Nichola Jennings – 1 run
Ollie Huddart (Datchet Dashers) – 1 run
Kerri Ray – 1 run
Orla Wilson – 1 run
Collette Unsworth – 1 run

A magnificent 17 first time parkrunners came to Witton this weekend, comfortably breaking our run of 10s in recent weeks. Indeed, 17 equals the number of Event 68 back in February 2017, which was the highest number of first time parkrunners seen at Witton since our first birthday back in August 2016. It is the 11th highest number of first time parkrunners ever seen at Witton (unsurprisingly most of those came in our first 10 events) and is the 5th time 17 first timers have come on the same weekend. Many of these were Darwen Dashers who’d never completed a parkrun before, but there were also a sprinkling of those who maybe haven’t done much running before so welcome! We hope you enjoyed the parkrun experience, it’s not usually quite so busy and emotionally charged as it was this weekend, and we hope you’ll come back for more. I noticed Nichola Jennings on Facebook is already planning on setting a new PB next Saturday!

And those on the cusp of a notable parkrun soon were:
Matthew Vernon – 124 runs
Fran Bury – 109 runs
Suzanne Ferrandino (Blackburn GroupRun) – 89 runs
Catherine Oakes – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Jacqui Dwyer – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Julie Gaskell (CSSC Sports & Leisure) – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Louise Oldfield (Darwen Dashers) – 39 runs
Lea Mellody – 24 runs
Hannah Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 24 runs
Michael Clucas (Blackburn Road Runners) – 24 runs
Jan Taylor (Darwen Dashers) – 24 runs
Sharon Sinkinson – 19 runs
Launa Bibby (Darwen Dashers) – 19 runs
Neil Fraser (Blackburn Road Runners) – 9 runs
Liam Bennison – 9 runs (t-shirt alert!)
Rowena Doherty (Blackburn Road Runners) – 9 runs
Mark Bamber (Darwen Dashers) – 9 runs
Trevor Jowett (Blackburn Road Runners) – 9 runs


Three regular Wittoners are looking at t-shirts next weekend (it’s been a while since that was the case!) Both Jacqui Dwyer and Julie Gaskell are one run away from being able to order their red 50 t-shirts and Liam Bennison’s next run will be his 10th, meaning as a junior he will be eligible for the white 10 parkruns t-shirt! And will Catherine Oakes be inspired to return to the Beast and earn her red t-shirt too? Catherine has run 7 times at Witton but this was her first visit since last March. It was only Catherine’s 2nd parkrun of 2018 – could she follow it up with another next Saturday and earn her t-shirt? Come on Catherine, you know you want to. ;)


There was a swelling of the volunteering ranks this weekend too, with those unable to run more than happy to give up their time on the sidelines for Norman, with marshals around every corner. We had a wonderful 30 hi-viz heroes this weekend, the highest number since we had 31 at our 100th event in October. It marks our joint-10th highest total of volunteers, and means nearly 250 people were in Witton Park remembering Norman this weekend. This week’s full list of hi-viz heroes were:

Joshua CROWTHER • Francesca BURY • Hayley Louise DUCKWORTH • Tina KUCZER • Simon TOWNSEND • Michelle SEARBY • Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH • Bryan SEARBY • Emily SNAPE • Reanna EVANS • Janet GREENHALGH • Andy MCALLISTER • Anwar KHAN • Annika HALSALL • Nicola HALSALL • Ian GASKELL • Julie GASKELL • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Sarah GABRIEL • Charlotte LINGARD • Matthew VERNON • Cathy KILSHAW • Lorna PICKUP • Gary BLACKBURN • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Debbie ASHTON • Dylan GRINDLEY • Berrin STURGESS


120 different people have now volunteered at Witton in 2018, and this weekend saw 6 new names added to the Witton Volunteers Hall of Fame, with 340 different people having helped us in our 131-event history. Our thanks as always, we actually couldn’t do it without you.


We had a few technical difficulties with the results this weekend, something that might have provided Norman with a chuckle, but eventually it seems Michelle ironed out most major issues on a day when time was really of little significance. That said, many times were still very notable. Given the increase in numbers, it is perhaps not surprising there were 35 personal bests recorded on the Beast, but in actual fact this is a Beast record, outstripping the previous record of 32 from Event #80 last May (although that day, 32 represented over a third of the field, compared to just 15% this weekend!). This is actually the highest number of PBs seen on a single day at Witton since Event #9 in October 2015 – well done everyone!

Astonishingly, all but one of the people mentioned in the PB section of the last Witton run report set new PBs again this weekend! What are you lot eating?! Spurred on by disappointment last time out, Liam Bennison put it right with a time of 25:30, a PB by 7 seconds from 2 events ago.


And of course, where Liam gets a PB, so does Ian Gaskell, dragged around to a new PB of 25:31, again 7 seconds better than 2 events ago! How much faster can Liam go? And, more importantly, how much longer can Ian hold on to his coat tails?! Brother Jake got in on the act again too, with a 10th Witton PB on his 30th visit to us, knocking a whopping minute and a half of his time from last time out, now down to 27:13! Well done Jake! Mick Pomfret completed a 5th consecutive Witton PB, knocking 7 seconds off his time from last time out and thus recording his first ever sub-30-minute Witton parkrun, with a time of…29:59! Nice one Mick! Meanwhile, Tiyra Slaam recorded her 4th consecutive PB by 2 seconds, while Katie Haworth, fresh from her first visit to Witton in a year last time out decided to return again and set another new PB, knocking over 2 more minutes off her time from Event 130! And what of 5-time consecutive PB earner and new Wittoner Jason Duckworth? Unfortunately, Jay has picked up an injury and is out of action for a couple of weeks, but with Mick equalling his run of 5 consecutive PBs and Tiyra just one behind, it’s all to play for on his return! Well done to all those who boarded the PB Express this weekend, apologies I don’t have time to look into more – I’m sure with all the returnees there were some fascinating stories waiting to be discovered!


It was also terrific to see the return of Witton’s most experienced female parkrunner, Aimie Wormald, 5 weeks after the birth of her first child, Jaymes and 7 weeks since she last ran with us – although I’m sure she’d argue there wasn’t much running involved!


Aimie was hoping to run sub-40 and she more than achieved that, completing her first parkrun as a mummy in 167th place in 37:37 – well done Aimie, great to have you back!

Notices coming up: This coming Saturday (June 9th), parkrun UK are celebrating 70 years of the NHS and Witton is getting involved, so if you have any friends of family working in the NHS, bring them along! Perhaps they’d be prepared to run in their uniforms? Or if they don’t fancy running, drop us a line on Facebook or via wittonhelpers@parkrun.com and get them involved in the volunteering side!


There’s plenty of roles available and lots of friendly faces ready to help if they’re nervous. As for the rest of us, fancy dress is encouraged! Lots of options are open to you – be a patient, nurse, doctor, porter, surgeon, first aider, it’s entirely up to you! What are you brave enough to run in..?

The week after, June 16th, Witton is CANCELLED due to the Muddy Maniacs event in the park and many Wittoners are heading to our brand-new neighbours at Clitheroe Castle parkrun for what will be their 5th event, so if you want to join us, please do. Be aware, parking is not extensive, so you may want to consider car sharing or taking the train, which lands just 5 minutes from the start of the run.


And that just about wraps up this very special Witton parkrun. The last word, of course, must go to Norman. No less than 79 Darwen Dashers turned out to commemorate their friend by running, a Witton record dating back to our very first event in August 2015. Norman’s popularity extends way beyond the running club he loved and his parkrun family will miss him just as much as anyone. Who knows what outfit he would have planned for our NHS theme this weekend. Come on, be honest, we can all see Norman in a nurse’s outfit and a big blonde wig, can’t we? His mischievous sense of humour and ever present toothy grin will live long in the memory and the number of people who’s lives he touched and who have a warm memory of him, even if they did not know him very well is something his family can be very proud of. Our thoughts at this time remain with Anne and Viki, as well as the rest of Norman’s children and grandchildren, many of whom were present to see the reaction his death has brought on Saturday and it is safe to say Norman will always be part of the Witton parkrun family as, we hope, will Viki and Anne. God bless Norman, we hope you liked our tribute to you and rest in peace fella.

As for the rest of you, thanks as always for reading, and I’ll see you at Witton again very soon.

Have a good week,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun #loveNormy



Norman Walsh parkun

From Michelle –

Today was a day I have both been dreading and looking forward to.

You guys have made me so proud and I’m sure Normy will be looking down (or up) on us and smiling with that big toothy grin.

I loved Norm and he loved us and Witton. He was our #1 supporter and always offered to help if we were stuck. He favourite roll as a volunteer was Tail Walking. You’d not miss him as he always wore those ridiculous socks. Bright yellow and black with the words DANGER written on them LOL I could never help myself by sing “Danger, danger. High Voltage” as he passed me (there’s an ear worm for ya)

230 people came and said goodbye which is so wonderful, god help them at the Chapel as the Dashers headed off in their masses to have a celebratory Breakfast and pint of Guiness.

There is so much more I could say, but I will end here and leave you with Matthews speech.

Matthew, you have a wonderful way with words and it’s a great privilege to have you on our team, writing for us each week.

For those who could not hear or anyone who wasn’t there, here it is.

I shall upload the videos I took later.

Run for Norman – Witton parkrun event #131

Good morning and welcome to Witton parkrun #131. I’m standing in for Michelle this morning as a favour. As many of you are aware it’s a very special parkrun this morning.
Today is a very important Witton parkrun as we remember one of our own who is sadly no longer with us. It’s great to see so many people here today to remember our Norman.
Norman Walsh was many things: a parkrunner, a Darwen dasher, a Blackburn rovers fan, a devoted family man and the life and soul of more than one party to name just a few.
His naughty smile was almost ever present in photos and his loss will continue to be felt for a very long time around these parts and not just at parkrun.

Norman completed 135 parkruns, 70 of them with us at witton.
He’s been a Wittoner since event #4 and was present for our first and second birthdays, our 100th event and all 3 Christmas day parkruns here.

In august 2017, Norman became the 4th dasher, 9th man and 14th person to join the witton 50 club, on the same day he ran his 100th parkrun.

Who can forget his fetching collection of Christmas pyjamaware? Or when we had our superhero-themed event?
We had Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin…and Norman. Dressed in his Darwen Dashers gear, carrying an iron and ironing board.
Who was he? Iron man. Obviously!!!

Nothing sums up his mischievous nature better than that – always game for a laugh, always trying to bring some sunshine to someone else’s day, always with a kind word of advice or encouragement for his fellw reunners.

The outpouring of shock, sadness and love that has marked his passing is testament to the man and we all know he’s somewhere up there finding all this rather ridiculous.

He was a devoted family man, loving partner of anne, adoring father to Cheryl, Viki and David, doting grandad to Gemma, Jai, David and Adam and he was also our friend.

Norman was one of the very best of us and I hope you’ll join me in a minute’s very raucous applause for one of our own – to Norman!

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