All the volunteers at Bolton parkrun are awesome; that goes without saying. Without them, we wouldn’t get to do our weekly parkrun. A lot of them give up their chance to run so that the rest of us can take ours. And the remaining volunteers who either don’t or can’t run give up their time to make the event work smoothly and safely. We shouldn’t forget that if we as runners look out the window on a Saturday and think “I don’t fancy it. It’ll probably be cancelled anyway”, the volunteers all turn out regardless
But I want to take this opportunity to highlight one particular individual who for me epitomises parkrun in general, and Bolton parkrun in particular. And this appreciation is even more deserved since I read in the 2017 Review that he topped the appearances table with an amazing 41 out of 49 events
My favourite bit of the Bolton parkrun course is the flat section between the bottom of Cinder Hill and Cruella. It gives me a chance to settle into a regular rhythm and enjoy the view of the meadow and the river on my right. After a while we come to a signpost which to my reckoning is about half way round the 5k run. The green space between the path and the river narrows away to nothing and is replaced by a metal railing fence. Right at this point I can hear him shouting at the top of his voice, encouraging all the oncoming runners regardless of their progress. “Keep going, you lucky people. It’s a beautiful day for running. PB’s are there for the taking!” or perhaps “Watch out for this muddy bit. Take care on the steps, boys and girls”. I’ve developed a routine whereby I move over to the right beside the railings and take a wide curve to the left towards the steps. He always spots me coming, mainly when I shout “Miiiiiiiiiiiiick!!!!” and we exchange horizontal fives
On my second lap he’s still going strong. “You lucky lucky people. You can’t fool me, you’re loving it! I can see it in your faces” etc. I’m usually too tired to even acknowledge him but he still makes me smile and he always encourages me by name
The wooden staircase is his chosen Marshalling station. He never gets to see the start, as he needs to be there before the speed merchants arrive. That means he never gets to hear the applause for the Volunteers that we give every week at the end of the Run Director’s Briefing. So I just want to say to the legend that is Mick Entwistle: Thank you. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by this runner, and I’m sure by every single person who has passed by your station
I’ll even forgive him for occasionally calling me Marcus. It’s a pity about that hat though. Shouldn’t someone tell him that’s not how you spell Bolton?
83 completed Bolton parkruns
Bolton parkrun footnote - Martin is not averse to volunteering himself, with half a dozen stints in 2017, thank you too