Burnden Road Runners Takeover 10 August

Before this weekends takeover event we caught up with Paul Christie who gave us the low down on the club.

so Paul, tell us a bit about Burnden Road Runners

In 1983, Vince Regan, a former international runner approached John McGovern (manager of Bolton Wanderers) to run in Bolton’s own Adidas British Marathon. John rose to the challenge and invited others to join him. Many responded and completed the marathon as members of the Wanderers Lifeline Team. Following the event a small nucleus decided that the group should continue to run and raise money for local charities, thus the Lifeline Running Group began. In 1985, the group became a fully-fledged athletics club whose name was a nod to the then home of Bolton Wanderers, Burnden Park; the ‘roadrunners’ part being inspired by one of its early members renowned for his participation in events dressed as the original roadrunner with feathered tail flowing and klaxon blaring.

What a great history, how many members does the club have now?

At the moment we have a membership of 133, with ages ranging from 20 years old to 76 years young!

Quite a mix, when do you get together?

We train on a Monday evening from Smithills Sports Centre and a typical summer session would include an off-road run of between 5 – 8 miles or an interval session up at Smithills Hall or the nearby Moss Bank Park. Sometimes the faster guys (and girls) will do a fast road run instead. We also train on a Wednesday evening up at Leverhulme Park with the ‘1 foot on the track’ team (usually Gareth or Howard).

And how do new runners get involved?

Anyone is welcome to join us on either night you don’t need to be a member. Twice a year we also run a 10-week beginners group were people new to running, or those returning after a long break, can build up to eventually completing a local parkrun; or as in some case doing much further distances.

What type of runners does the club have?

Within the club we cater for runners of all abilities. It is no surprise when one of our members wins a prize, especially in the vet categories or our ladies team. It’s also quite common for our members to be bringing up the rear of a race as well. But first or last there is always a cheer from our travelling supporters (usually injured members).

You have a well known local race and we see plenty finisher t-shirts at Bolton parkrun, tell us a bit more

Burnden host a testing 5 mile trail run, usually the first Sunday in March, on the paths and roads around Smithills Hall.

Thanks Paul, and thank you to all the members who have filled our volunteer roster for your takeover event. See you Saturday


***Winter Weather Checks***

As we've been well and truly hit by winter weather this week, we wanted to give you notice of our process when we have a forecast that may cause us to cancel the event. Ice being the most significant issue.

The safety of both runners and volunteers is our primary concern and all decisions will be taken accordingly.

We will take notice of the forecast and updates from Leverhulme locals on a Friday and will have volunteers checking the course by 8am on Saturday so we can make a decision as quickly as possible.

We aim to notify you of a cancellation as early as we can to prevent unnecessary journeys, but depending on the situation we may have to cancel close to the start time if conditions deteriorate.

Cancellations will be advised on our FB page https://m.facebook.com/Boltonparkrun/  and will show in RED on our homepage http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bolton/

We will have a volunteer in person to advise anyone who hasn't seen other messages and would appreciate your help in sharing information particularly if you know someone who doesn't use social media.

If a cancellation is declared it is parkrun's policy NOT to reverse that situation even if the weather conditions improve, this is to ensure there is no confusion during the process.

Please note, for safety reasons and to support with any tweaks we make to the course we may also need additional marshals on the day and would appreciate your flexibility (bring your big coat, hat and gloves in case we need you).

As ever, we ask for your patience and support and if you are in a position to support with course checks or as an extra marshal on the day please let us know by emailing boltonhelpers@parkrun.com


Festive Events

The Festive Season is almost upon us.

As usual, Bolton parkrun will be putting on an extra event on New Years Day with a 10am start time.

Look forward to seeing you all bright and breezy for the first run of 2019 :)


A day in the life of a parkrun tourist visiting Bolton

85 – Better Soon


Bolton parkrun #383

Nigel Harding visited Bolton parkrun on 15th September. Nigel, home run down in Poole, gives his account of his day and visit - thanks for stopping by Nigel, hope you enjoyed your visit.

‘Things will look better soon.’ The label catches my eye. Several hundred messages are tied to the barrier. As I realise the flyover doubles as an unlikely shrine, the lights change to green.


I had a slight spasm in my back as I loaded the car. I’m not sure I’ll be fit to run when I arrive. Am I doomed not to run this parkrun? I came here in April, but everything was wrong during warm-up so I didn’t start.


It was clear when I set out, but now there’s heavy rain - so stereotypical of this area.

That message might be right, though. Within minutes of reaching the park, drizzle is clearing.


Warming-up gingerly, I come through a steep descent to a river and a stiff climb through woodland without ill effect. I cross a grassy clearing, called ‘Our Back Field’. This was a drift mine in the 1800s. A long, but finally successful campaign has prevented it becoming a car dump. Beyond allotments, I spill out of the park into cobbled streets of terraced houses. How far is Weatherfield? I glance at my watch and double back. I mustn’t miss the start.


*                       *                       *


‘Bolton United Harriers & Athletic Club – Running, Jumping and Throwing since 1908,’ proclaim banners surrounding the running track. I’d rather run further than battle for position. I stand in the outside lane halfway round the bend. The run director catches me unawares. I fumble with my watch. I have missed the start!


I ease down the back straight, conscious that I mustn’t begin too quickly just because this is my first parkrun on a running track. Running anti-clockwise feels like a warm-up. Conventional racing is clockwise - ‘left hand inside’ as the rule book prosaically puts it.


Gradually I move inwards. By the bottom bend, I’m neatly tucked into lane two. A lady in pink adeptly squeezes past on my right, scarcely infringing the coned-off inner lane. The local ‘keep left’ rule can’t be intended for the track. Mental arithmetic seems strangely taxing, but 2:06 for 400m is close to 25 minute pace. It’s unsustainable on this course, but I’ve started well.


The surrounds of the gateway are padded, but it chicane barely impedes my flow. I turn right onto tarmac. Curving left beyond five-a-side soccer pitches onto a narrower stony path, I’ve switched from track to road run, then to cross-country, all within a hundred yards. The purple figure-of-eight flowers could be Himalayan balsam – very pretty, but highly invasive. Small sycamores and hawthorns laden with bright-red berries hem us in on the right. I can’t avoid all the puddles.


Our route darkens beyond a chicane of bollards swathed in high-visibility yellow. There’s a silver birch among taller trees shading us. After ducking beneath an arching hawthorn branch, I begin overtaking as the path widens and steepens. There are a few purple rhododendrons left near the bottom.


A right turn at a T-junction and suddenly, we’re in the open. On the right there’s a bank with more purple flowers, nettles and a rowan tree. The left is dank grassland with dock leaves and spiky clumps of drier grass. An orienteering point and a post with Run England 3,2,1 logos mark the corner. We turn left and take the left-hand track. A right fork makes for the strong, stone buttresses and delicate-looking metal span and railings across Bradshaw Brook.


I dodge the larger stones in the rough pathway. Past some metalwork which might have once been winding gear for a sluice gate, we emerge into a second field. The brook, at its highest level for months, meanders off behind willow trees to the right. We run past a metal bench, crossing the base of a triangle of grassland. We skirt to the right of two aspens and a sycamore. Two oaks are screening a narrow pond.


The stream along our left is barely a trickle after the long summer. A green-painted, metal railing guards a steep drop where the meandering water has returned from our right. The River Tonge, which Bradshaw Brook has joined beyond the trees, plunges loudly over a weir.


Tall beech trees dominate the track as I sense the turning point is close. A marshal in blue and yellow directs us.


‘Careful on the steps. They’re slippery.’ There are a handful of wooden-faced risers. The last, highest and most hazardous, is painted yellow. Out onto a tarmac track, there’s a brief glimpse of six cottages in a terrace and the massive stone piers of a viaduct. A tall, redbrick factory chimney scarcely seems to reach from the valley floor to the top of the plateau. It has survived Fred Dibnah. The steeplejack and demolition expert is interred in Tonge Cemetery, just north of here.


I lurch to the left and continue the sharp climb. I hug the left-hand gutter. Runners spread across the wide tarmac track. Overtaking is difficult for those few who can find the energy. More than half-way up, the road through the woods turns right. At last I can see what’s passing for daylight near the top of the climb. A lady in a red 50 club shirt resumes her run after a walk to catch her breath.


Nearing the top, the trees open out. Smaller bushes line the lane. A number of different species demonstrate a wide spectrum of colours. The top leaves of a maple have turned purple, while lower ones remain green. A century from now this will be a magnificent avenue. Though the gradient is easing, we’re still climbing. Looking left, beyond the redbrick village I reached during warm-up, I view a distant Pennine ridge, slate gray against a slightly lighter sky.

We turn left at a cross path, then curve right just before the lane reaches a more mature avenue of trees. Darcy Lever Hall, a half-timbered sandstone building dating from about 1641, stood at the other end, where the car park is now.


Lever has been both a place and a family name in this area since the Middle Ages. William Hesketh Lever was the son of a Bolton grocer, who with his brother James, diversified into soap manufacturing and founded the model village of Port Sunlight on the Wirral.


As Lord Leverhulme, he bought land to form the park as a gift to the town just before the First World War. In 1919, he was co-opted as Mayor of Bolton and opened the initial 68 acres. Thomas Mawson was engaged as landscaper and garden designer, but not all his plans had been completed when the benefactor died in 1925.


*                       *                       *


Ash trees front the solid woodland on our left. Horse chestnuts dot the open parkland to our right, where there’s a slide and a climbing frame. A marshal yells for us to keep left. We’re overtaken by a swift stream of pink-clad cyclists on a charity ride.


Almost back at the track, we turn left and plunge downhill. The lane is narrower between beeches on the left and sycamores right. I make up a few places down the right before we emerge near the brook to start our second loop.


A white logo shows we’re on the Kingfisher Trail, which extends 14 miles from Salford to Jumbles Reservoir, five miles north of here. The blue and orange birds seem to be having a lie in today. One hawthorn is a mass of berries, but the next has scarcely any at all.


The 30 minute pacer passes me. Have I been taking it too easy? I’m not having that.


‘Come on, Lass, make him work,’ the marshal encourages. The lady in black responds. The man in blue falters on the top step. I almost run into the back of him. The climb is even more gruelling and relief at the top is short-lived.


*                       *                       *


‘The third hill is the easiest,’ he told us at briefing. In theory, that’s true. Up through the woods to the five-a-side courts isn’t as steep or as far as the long drag by the viaduct. With the first two climbs still in my legs, though, it’s every bit as demanding. Several people I’ve overtaken downhill surge back past me. One brave lady I catch has her rhythm affected by a plaster cast on one arm.


Some of the footballers remembered by names on the courts, Moore, Pele and Best, have gone. In contrast the endurance athlete whose feats dominate the honours board in the leisure centre will turn eighty in ten days’ time.


I remember a BBC television report of the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games Marathon, which Ron Hill won in his career best 2:09:28 ahead of Scotland’s Jim Alder. No pictures in those unsophisticated days. It seemed miraculous when they patched through a reporter in a telephone box beside the course. Maybe a seed was sown that one day I’d try that.


I barely ran within an hour of Hill’s fastest marathon, but he continued to race into old age, so I beat him on both our encounters: Dorset’s equivalent of a fell race and the memorable day in 2011 when the English National Cross-Country Champion of 1966 and 1968 turned out for one final championship appearance.


Hill celebrated running every day for 50 years by completing Heaton parkrun on 20th December 2014, finally breaking his sequence at 52 years and 39 days. He has 66 parkruns to his credit, his best was 25:11 at age 73 and his sole visit here took 29:12.


Hill wasn’t just a role model as an athlete. His alter ego, a materials technologist, determined what we wore, pioneering synthetic fabrics for running gear; and helped keep us safe with reflective strips developed initially for his personal use.


*                       *                       *


The final stage would be enjoyable if I had anything left to give. Turning left across a bridge we aim for a rocket-like spire, its base hidden by trees. Reaching a bowls pavilion after a few hundred yards, we retrace our steps, now with slower runners chasing us.


The grandstand gradually comes closer. Through the gate and onto the track, I’m trying to hold on, but a lady in the black and grey of Ramsbottom Running Club outsprints me.


*                       *                       *


Walking the course afterwards, I realise the viaduct is caged in as if it has a walkway. Exploring the south edge of the park I follow a lane along the edge of the old Bolton-Bury railway cutting. Beyond ‘Top o’ th’ Gorses’, a couple of isolated terraces, I find my way onto one of England’s oldest lattice girder bridges to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the park. From here I can see stone stepping beside the weir which was used for washing and bleaching some of the cotton from three adjacent mills.


No wonder it was my third slowest parkrun. I climbed to this height twice from way down there. As an opener for my cross-country season, though, things do look better from here.

© 2018 Nigel Harding






Bolton parkrun have had more than their share of cancellations during this dreadful winter when nature seems to be reserving its worst weather for Friday night/Saturday morning, so although it was pouring down at 8:30 am, there was some relief that it was 6℃ and the course wasn't covered in snow or ice. The rain actually stopped about ten minutes to nine which was welcome, but the course was still under a little water in places, especially straight after the track and along the bottom.


Among the announcements at the start we had a presentation to Dave Hitchen who has volunteered over 200 times (did I hear that right?) and travels every week to do his duties at Leverhulme Park from York (did I hear that right too?) Anyway, even if I have got those wrong, what I haven't got wrong is that Dave has been recognised as Volunteer of the Month by parkrun UK and Vitality. Well done Dave. Well deserved.

Among those running anniversary runs (more of them later) there were lots of First Timers from the two Darwen Running Clubs (the Dashers and Running Group).


We don't know the time of the first placed runner this week but I know he was fast. When you are running at 37-minute pace (as I was) you get to see the front people as you are running down from Cruella for the first time (and they are running downwards for the second time) and I can confirm that the leader was moving very quickly. Josh Birmingham was inspired to run a Personal Best in second place taking 28 seconds from his time of last week in his 12th parkrun, half of which have been at Bolton. James France was one of the 45 Darwen Dashers who ran and he finished in 3rd position, his 3rdtop 3 finish in 15 Bolton parkruns.


The first lady to finish was Vicki Hamer of Burnden Roadrunners who was running at Bolton for the 79th time.


There were 15 runners who managed to run a Personal Best time, taking advantage of the weather improvement. All aboard the PB Express for Josh Birminghan, Simon Taylor, Mick Taylor, Kirk Webster, Robert Pilling, Neil Wharmby, Matthew Connell, Jane Wardle, Leslie Greensitt, Jan Taylor, Karen Johnston, Daniel Guest, Natalie Waite, Hugh Williams and August Aldred.


CATEGORY RECORDS: There were no new Category records set this week.


129 runners were ladies and 182 were men, and there were 30 juniors. Don't forget that while we love the youngsters running with us, if the junior is under the age of 11 they MUST be accompanied at all times during the run by an adult, which doesn't have to be a parent, but should ideally be someone they know.


There were 43 First Timers who joined the parkrun party at Bolton of which 31 were running a parkrun for the very first time and joining the ever growing parkrun family. Now you have done that first run why not come back next week and set a new Personal Best time. At Bolton we average 24 First Timers every week, so well over the average this week.


On Saturday there were 14 runners who were shown as 'unknown'. It's terrible to have a brilliant run, maybe get a Personal Best, maybe even finish in FIRST PLACE (!) and then fail to have it recognised because you have no barcode. PLEASE .... Don't Forget Your Barcode. Need a new barcode? Or would you like your result as a text? Follow the link to your profile from your latest results email. And remember please don't take home the finish tokens. They are not souveniers ........  DON'T BE A TOKEN MAGPIE. Also, just a reminder that you cannot produce your barcode as a photograph on a mobile telephone which is not one of the many official ways of having your time recorded. There are not many rules at parkrun but due to the nightmare of administrating people who don't have a barcode, there are no exceptions: no barcode – no time.




The Burnden Roadrunners are closing in on having 10,000 finishers at Bolton parkrun, far more than any other running club. They are currently on 9,775 and I think they should reach that milestone by mid May. Who will it be?

On Saturday the Darwen Dashers became the first and only running club in Bolton parkrun history to have more than 250 different appear at Leverhulme Park.


Runners celebrating milestones with us this week:

Brendan Connaughton - 175 runs, of which 160 have been at Bolton. Brendan ran at Bolton for the first time in March 2013 and has broken his Personal Best 13 times.

Louise Geoghegan – 100 runs, of which 94 have been at Bolton. Louise gets herself a jet black 100-run commemorative T-shirt for this milestone. She first ran at Bolton in October 2013 and has broken her Personal Best on 12 occasions, the current PB set almost 4 years ago.

Helen Varnom – 50 runs of which 44 have been at Bolton. Helen gets herself a Cardinal Red 50-run commemorative T-shirt .

Daniel Guest – 10 runs with all 10 having been run at Bolton. Daniel gets himself a junior white 10-run T-shirt and has got the bug having completed his 10 in the last 15 weeks. To celebrate his 10th run he ran a Personal Best (his 8th in 10 weeks) taking 3 seconds from his time of 2 runs ago.


And those who are knocking on the celebration door include:

Neil Bonnar – 274 runs

Brian Mather – 199 runs

Timothy Green – 199 runs

Vicky Spencer – 124 runs

Ethan Wallace - 99 runs

Joanne Larke – 74 runs

These runners are just 5k short of their personal milestones.


Number of Commemorative T-shirts on show today:

Junior White (10 runs) – 10 runners

Cardinal Red (50 runs) – 51 runners

Jet Black (100 runs) – 64 runners

Green (250 runs) – 10 runners

Blue (500) – 0 runners


The top 5 attendees this week were:

Barry Shackleton (Darwen Dashers) 353 runs

Kenneth Warner 309 runs

Ian Riggs 298 runs

Karen Shackleton (Darwen Dashers) 298 runs

Paul McGreavy 286 runs

These five runners have completed 1,544 parkruns between them.


Keep in touch with the latest goings-on at Bolton parkrun using one of the following media:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/boltonparkrun

Facebook: www.facebook.com/boltonparkrun

Flickr:  www.flickr.com/groups/bolton-parkrun

There are some brilliant photos on Facebook and Flickr, mainly taken by Dave Hitchen so if you are on one of them, feel free to copy it for your personal collection.


Want to give feedback? Have anything to say or want anyone mentioned in future run reports?  Are there any corrections needed to this report? Please e-mail boltonoffice@parkrun.com


IS IT YOUR BIRTHDAY? We have an "It's my Birthday" bib which you can wear on the way around the course so that the marshalls and other runners can shout nice things as you run past. And you're certain to get your photo taken and a mention in the report. So, if it's your birthday, make it known to the Race Director before the run starts.


FANCY being a pacer? We have a range of waistcoats if you wish to do a service to some fellow runners by getting them around the course in a certain time. And get yourself a volunteer credit at the same time?


VOLUNTEERS – REMEMBER that parkrun can only take place weekly because of the volunteers and marshalls who give up their time on a Saturday morning. If you want to get involved, email boltonhelpers@parkrun.com. This week, we had 32 credited volunteers so thank you all, and we hope you enjoyed the less cold atmosphere.

And potential runners remember that to officially take part at Bolton (or any other parkrun anywhere) you need to be registered at www.parkrun.org.uk but you only need to register once and the barcode they give you will be needed each week when you have finished the run. DON'T FORGET YOUR BARCODE.


Bolton parkrun started on the 5th February 2011 with 60 runners and 8 volunteers. The course record was set on 22nd April by Michael Cayton in 15:46, and the female course record was set by Elizabeth Greenwood in March 2012 at 18:22. There have been 8,686 different runners on the course, representing 392 different running clubs, and they have completed 79,720 runs. THIS MEANS it is almost certain that the 80,000th finisher will cross the line this weekend. The average attendance is 223 every week and there have been 13,747 Personal Bests. Our attendance record is 448 which was set in June last year, and Bolton parkrunners have completed 398,600Km and have been running for 4 years and 153 days.


And that's it for the report for run #355. If you fancy writing a run report, and putting your slant on it, get in touch. We would love to hear from you. See you all again in a few weeks.


Barry Shackleton


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