Bolton parkrun – 2017 A Year In Review

Bolton parkrun - 2017 A Year In Review

2017, what a year for Bolton parkrun. 3,025 different runners completed 15,394 runs covering 47,721 miles - or almost twice around the Earth! All this supported by a team of volunteers 326 hi-viz strong. Wow, absolutely amazeballs – a huge Bolton parkrun THANK YOU to every single one of you for making this such a fabulous event.

Along the way a number of records were broken too, with the 400 mark being smashed not just once but 3 times in the year and the new highest attendance standing at a whopping 448 runners. For the first time ever we also broke 50 volunteers at a single event and the course record was smashed to smithereens with a sub 16 minute finish, just 3 minutes off the World Record for 5k which of course does not include 2 trips up Cruella!

A huge 2,285 new Personal Best times were set in 2017 you speedy bunch and we welcomed 1,535 first timers – welcome to you all and hope you enjoyed your visit. 976 runs were completed by the unknown runner, including 7 first placed finishers – Don’t Forget Your Barcode!!!


So, the year started with our usual New Years Day event, also coincidentally our 300th event before January’s schedule was hit by the weather and we had to implement an alternate route during the work on Cruella.

73 runners tried Bolton for the first time in January with 12 still looking to complete the difficult second appearance – hope to see you all again sometime soon. A first timer was also the first lady home in January with Lindsey Brindley of Horwich RMI Harriers also taking the accolade of first lady on all 4 visits to Bolton this year.

Given the conditions, post-Christmas blues and excess shedding, 62 PB’s across the 3 events was a fine effort


February, as it generally does brought about our anniversary and the 6th birthday for Bolton parkrun, with 350 runners and 23 volunteers came together to celebrate along with 31 first timers and runners keen to get to the cake setting 52 PB’s.

Here we can see many of the core team in high spirits just before 9am on a Saturday morning! How can we celebrate this year’s 7th birthday?

Paul Johnson became the latest member of Bolton parkrun to hit the 250 run milestone at our birthday event, come the end of 2017 we have 12 members of the 250 club.

We also had our first guide runner volunteer helping a visually impaired runner take on the course in February – parkrun is all inclusive and if you have anyone who needs any help or support to take part please shout up and we can support where possible.
117 first timers took part in February including 2 visitors from Hyde Park Harriers who have amassed over 800 parkruns between them and now counting Bolton in their 122 different events completed!


In March we welcomed a great bunch from 1 Foot On The Track who provided a team of pacers every 2 minutes from 20 minutes up to 36 minutes helping runners in their quest of a new benchmark time. The pacers included Gareth, Linda and Mark who all went on to complete 100 runs in April.

We also had a large team of Darwen Dashers joining us to celebrate Barry Shackleton’s 300th run.

The Dashers have a group of new starters join us every 10 weeks as part of their graduation of couch to 10k. In fact, 19 Dashers made their Bolton debut in March as part of a total 115 first timers at Bolton.


The course record of 16.06 had stood since October 2011 and was on the old course too. Step forward Michael Cayton on event 314 on 22nd April 2017 not only to break the record, but to smash it out of sight. 15.46 is the new benchmark. Michael’s only other visit in 2017 was in February when a 16.09 may have given an indication of what was to come!

Siobhan Pimlott had a great milestone in April, having volunteered at parkrun 100 times. A regular helper at both Bolton and the Queens Park Junior event, Siobhan is also a keen volunteer at a number of other local events and is always one of the first to arrive at Leverhulme to set up.

Paul McGreavy became the newest Bolton runner in the 250 club.

3 of April’s 5 events are in the top 12 attendance of all time, including event 315 on the 29th which equalled the then record of 384 runners. There were also more first timers (209) and PB’s (a massive 384) in April than any other month.

April also saw the introduction of the run/walk pacing looking to encourage new participants by offering support and a 1 minute run 30 second walk to get around the course in around 40 – 45 minutes. We will look to put more of these on in 2018.


On 6th May Josh Birmingham ran his 3rd run, finishing in 3rd place and setting a new PB, the 12,000th PB set at Bolton since we started.

New records were set for number of runners, with the 400 barrier being broken for the first time as 416 of you took part at event 318 on 20th May, a record that stood for only a couple of weeks! Can you guess the recipient of the then first use of token 416? Answers on a cowbell or horn please :)

We also set a new record for volunteers at an event the very next week with an astonishing 51 hi-viz heroes supporting you around the course, thanks in large part to take over event by the guys from 1 Foot On The Track.

Brian Tull joined the 250 club in May – a regular runner who’s wife Shirley is your regular barcode scanner – Team Tull, parkrun legends.


We started June with the sad news of the passing of Eileen Royle who ran with us at Bolton 174 times and volunteered 27 times, dating back to event 13 in 2011. 39 members of Radcliffe AC attended on the 3rd June for a fitting tribute.

This was the day that the new attendance record was set with 448 runners attending, a record that will take some beating but we are sure it can be done.

2 more Bolton regulars joined the ever growing 250 club, congratulations to Peter Johnson and Judith Bonnar, Judith having the additional distinction of all 250 runs being completed at Bolton.

134 newbies joined us and an impressive 232 PB’s were set.


The Gremlins came out to play on 1st July with the results needing some TLC to fathom out – it can sometimes take real time, effort and dedication from the core team to sort the results and we do appreciate your patience and support on the rare occasions there are issues.

It was a nice coincidence that a Bolton United Harrier, who’s home is Leverhulme Park was the 70,000th finisher at Bolton parkrun, with junior runner Harry Aldred taking the honours.

Our Founder Rowan Ardill was one of the many Boltonian’s who competed in the Ironman in town in July, along with brother David, another of the core team.

We were also privileged to receive our very own event defibrillator, courtesy of AO. We will be forever grateful.

Neil Bonnar joined the 250 club, just following his wife Judith by a couple of events – a great family achievement.

July ended with a slight variation to the route when we had a tree down blocking the route to Dave Hitchen’s corner. Rumour has it that Dave could be heard shouting “Starjump” at the tree with little impact!


The first event of August was a take-over by the NHS Health Trainers who turned up in their droves and spread the message of their work:

Zoe Chadwick, a Health Trainer and regular parkrunner said: "One of the main aims of the Health Trainers is to prevent heart disease, strokes and diabetes and one of the ways we do this is by offering free NHS health checks to people between the ages of 40 and 74. Checks are free and can be booked at your GP surgery.”

133 newbies joined us and 205 new PB’s were set.


We saw the latest entrant to the Bolton 250 club, really keeping it in the family, Anthony Johnson helped this collective bunch well over 1,000 collective runs – keep up the good work guys!

Our old friend “Unknown Athlete” completed an unwanted double in September, claiming the Number 1 token in consecutive weeks – what a timely reminder – DFYB!


The 13th anniversary of the first parkrun when 13 runners turned up at Bushy Park and the now global phenomenon began! It was International parkrun day!

We also celebrated Restart A Heart day on the 16th October safe in the knowledge that Bolton is included in the over 97% of UK parkrun events with a defibrillator – the goal is every event will have one by the end of 2018.

We saw our first timers dip below 100 for the first month since January and also the first month since January without a single event topping 300 runners.

November & December

The Gremlins were back with a stopwatch failure and major problems in connecting the second stopwatch meaning Rob Short lost most of his Saturday sorting through results in between the small matter of the cross country event that followed us at Leverhulme! Cheers Rob, above and beyond!

Although it seems to surprise us each year, November really is the start of winter and the conditions start to change, which we saw more so towards the end of the month as Jack Frost paid his first visit to the park.

As always, please keep your eyes peeled on social media in times of inclement weather conditions – the event may be cancelled even right up to the start should conditions changes. We do make the decision as soon as possible to allow runners to head to another local event if possible.

We finished the year in fine style, despite a couple of cancellations, with our annual Christmas fancy dress event, which this year we also doubled up with our first collection to donate to the local foodbank. You guys really delivered on both fronts, with some fantastic efforts on the outfits and a truly astounding 36 full bags of food, demonstrating once again that Bolton parkrun really is THE place to be on a Saturday morning. THANK YOU!

Taking advantage of the additional Christmas Day run at our neighbours at Worsley Woods, Rob Short became the final Bolton entrant into the 250 run hall of fame.

Facts Figures And Other Points Of Note


Let’s start with our wonderful volunteers, without whom we cannot make any event happen. We need a bare minimum of about 15 volunteers to make a Saturday morning go ahead, which means each year we need to fill about 800 positions.

In 2017 we averaged 30 volunteers per event but all too often have to put out appeals for help and on odd occasions even have to ask during the run brief. We have been as low as 19 and as high as 51 this year.

We are lucky to have a good core of volunteers, with 14 volunteers who would have earned their purple 25 tee this year alone! These guys filled over 450 of the 800 positions needed.

Can you help fill one of these lovely highly desired hi-viz bibs in 2018? Drop us a line if you can.

Huge thanks must go to those volunteers who turn up regularly just to volunteer, never running – the likes of Mick Entwistle, Dave Hitchen, Malcolm Pittock, Shirley Tull, Marisa Frot, and Team Allmark, the father – daughter team of Gareth and Heather. 194 volunteer credits to this amazing bunch in 2017 – thank you guys and gals, you rock!

Mick Entwistle tops the charts in 2017, having been at 41 of our 49 events this year – dedication personified. Siobham Pimlott (38) and Shirley Tull (37) make up the top 3.

151 people volunteered for just one event, thank you – if every one of 2,679 runners who have completed more than one run volunteered just once a year we would average over 50 volunteers per event!

38 volunteers came and helped out as tourists from other events, an amazing gesture and our appreciation is immense.

We averaged 12 marshals per event in 2017 – it would be great to give these guys some more company in 2018.


Maurice Halliwell takes the accolade for being the only ever-present runner at Bolton in 2017 with a full house of 49 events. The last event Maurice missed was back in October 2016. A New Years Day 2018 PB was fitting reward!

Nigel Smith missed just 2 events, Ethan Wallace and Judith Bonnar just 5, with Judith volunteering on 2 of those occasions.

The average time to complete the course in 2017 was a very respectable 30.08 – a time delivered by 20 runners at 18 events in 2017.

A massive 1,036 of you delivered at least 1 PB in 2017 – great work! The average time for a PB was 26.36 – wow, much quicker! Jenni Partington led the way with a huge 14 PB’s, closely followed by Adrian Walker with the unlucky 13.

Our First Timers smash out a decent effort of 32.07 – great work from everyone giving it a go and taking on Cruella for the very first time. If you are attending for the first time, please make sure you attend the first timers briefing for course and vital information

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parkrun remains all-inclusive, with the recent change of the final volunteer position to Tail Walker reflective of the drive to attract participants of all abilities and encourage more people to join us in walking the course. The average finishing time of our Tail Walker in 2017 was 57.30, so please bring along friends and let them know they will not be last or too slow – come and give it a go (hey, see what I did there!).

Club Runners

163 different running clubs were represented in 2017, with 956 of our participants attached to a club and 2,090 of you who are not.

Burnden Road Runners lead the way with 153 members running a collective 1536 times with us in 2017, Darwen Dashers had 93 runners complete 436 runs and Bolton United Harriers 77 ran 436 times between them. In their first year as a club Ramsbottom Running Club had an impressive 51 members complete 283 runs – superb achievement.

79 of the clubs represented only had a single participant – spread the word around your club and remember we always welcome a club takeover!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this and look forward to seeing you all back at Leverhulme in 2018 for more records, fun, running and volunteering.


Mike G