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






It's quite cold - have you noticed? It's been mentioned once or twice on the news...


Conditions aren't set to get any better so in the interest of everybody's safety there will be no Bolton parkrun on Saturday 3rd March.


Rest up, stay warm and stay safe!


The Beaumont Hospital Takeover

So, this Saturday, 3rd March 2018, Bolton parkrun will see its first health takeover of the year, as The Beaumont Hospital celebrate their 35 years of service and take the helm for the first time.

For those of you new to this game, takeovers involve a group, typically a local running club but this time a health organisation, helping out with various volunteer roles, running in their club colours, and providing information about who they are and what they do.

The takeover was the brainchild of Sales & Marketing Manager Alice Halfpenny. We caught up with Alice to find out more about The Beaumont Hospital.

First and foremost - who are you and what do you do?......

Hi, I'm Alice Halfpenny, Marketing Manager - BMI The Beaumont Hospital. I promote our services to the local community, this includes GP’s and potential patients.

And what does BMI The Beaumont Hospital Offer?......

Located just off Chorley New Road, The Beaumont Hospital offers orthopaedics, general surgery, women’s health services, cosmetic surgery and much more. Patient care is supported by our on-site diagnostic imaging and physiotherapy suite, both of which have recently been refurbished. Whether you choose to use private medical insurance or fund your treatment yourself, as a patient at The Beaumont Hospital you will benefit from fast access to treatment and experienced consultant care throughout.


Where can we find you?.......

Old Hall Clough, Chorley New Road, Lostock, BL6 4LA

On our website www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/beaumont
Or our Facebook page www.facebook.com/BMITheBeaumontHospital

What are you celebrating?.........

BMI The Beaumont Hospital is celebrating 35 years of service.

At our Bolton parkrun takeover we will be handing out refreshments and dishing up birthday cake to celebrate our 35th anniversary.

Make sure you say hello to the BMI team to grab yourself a free water bottle.

There will also be a photographer out on the course snapping parkrunners, make sure you wave!


14 Things Only a Bolton parkrun Run Director Can Relate To


14 Things Only a Bolton parkrun Run Director Can Relate To



SPOILER ALERT: This article contains some soppy thank you messages.


1. Checking your phone after two minutes of putting it down to see an insane number of unread Whatsapp messages isn’t unusual.

giphy (3)


2. You’ve suddenly realised after 10pm on a Friday night that you forgot to sort more than 400 finish tokens.



3. You have a socially unacceptable number of photos in your Whatsapp message history detailing the quality of and/or weather impact on tarmac paths in Leverhulme park.



4. There's nothing quite like the feeling of handling the bollard covers and hi-viz jackets when they've been sat moist for a week in a container...



5. You’ve received an email from a runner urgently instructing you to change their finish time because it’s two seconds slower than the time recorded on their Garmin.

Excuse Me


6. Swear words you didn’t know existed can be muttered when trying to put a gazebo together, with a hangover.



7. Your better half has come close, on more than one occasion, to causing actual bodily harm on account of the volume of parkrun equipment that needs to be taken home / washed / sorted / take up otherwise nice space in your home.

Find you


8. The struggle for volunteers on a Thursday night is real...



9. You accept that Rob Short’s contributions in the Whatsapp group will be intermittent and at best divisive…



10. There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing someone smash their parkrun PB.



11. You no longer believe anyone can do fancy dress better than Emma Donaldson (not even this dog dressed as a panda).



12. You’re aware of some sort of joke about Andy Patterson and cakes but you’re not really sure what it actually is or where it originated.



13. 30 hi-viz waistcoats hanging to dry on your washing line is a totally normal scene in your back garden…



14. You make a unique face when you hear the words “someone didn’t take a token”

Angry Results




Seven years of Bolton parkrun. 8,592 people have taken part. 842 people have volunteered. Unbelievable, Jeff (that’s one for the Sky Sports Soccer Saturday fans amongst you – for everyone else, Jeff’s just a lad in a suit and tie who get excitable about football news).


Some of you reading this may have been stood at the start line on that flippin’ miserable rainy February morning in 2011 for Bolton parkrun Event #1. Some of you may have taken part with us for the first time today or in the last couple of weeks (hiya!).





Whether you’re old or new to parkrun, let’s make sure we shout about something loudly: this event is put on and managed entirely by volunteers (*pauses for effect…).


A great local organisation (Get Active) funded our start up costs to pay for training and our equipment (our scanners and timers have all since been replaced, but our tank of a laptop is still going strong!). Since then, every single aspect of Bolton parkrun has been coordinated solely through the efforts of volunteers who get involved for fun, to make a difference to our town, and sometimes because there’s nothing else to do…


Each Saturday morning, somewhere in the region of 20-30 people turn up to volunteer so that a free, timed, 5km run/jog/walk can take place. To all of our incredible volunteers who turn up come rain or shine, to make Bolton parkrun happen, we’ll never be able to thank you enough. Some events it rains from start to end, and you head home wondering what on earth you’re doing. Other days the sun is shining and you float home on a little cloud of happiness (with a touch of sun burn to boot…).




Mike Gregson wrote an article summarising 2017 at Bolton parkrun (read it here!), and he calls out some of the more recent regular volunteer heroes there. It would be remiss of me not to give a personal shout out to Dave Hitchen and Mick Entwistle who are nine times out of ten the first to arrive at the park to set up the course each week. These two guys embody the spirit of parkrun in their drive and commitment – having volunteered way more times than they’ve ever ran here. They typically have most of the hard work done before 8:30am every week and so smoothly, it’s very easy to take it for granted. Lads – thank you.

However, I wanted to use this article to talk more about the behind the scenes – the hi-viz curtain of mystery if you will.
I think it’d be really difficult to truly convey just how much work has to go on behind the scenes to keep the Bolton parkrun wheels turning week in, week out. That responsibility falls to a core team of nine individuals: myself and Mike Gregson act as Event Directors for Bolton parkrun, as well as occasionally acting as Run Director on Saturday mornings alongside Andy Patterson, Ann Butler, Dave Ardill, Louise Geoghegan, Rob Short and Rowan Ardill. There’s also one Emma Donaldson - Event Director of Bolton’s junior parkrun event (Sunday mornings in Queen’s Park – check it out!) and giver of moral support/much bants in our Whatsapp group.


We all typically volunteer as Run Director once every six to eight weeks, but you’ll also usually find us volunteering in another role if we’re not having a run on our “weeks off”.
For us though, most of our parkrun time starts Saturday afternoons and goes through to bed time on Fridays. We’re responsible for processing results, ensuring we’ve got enough volunteers to help out at the next event, checking the emails, keeping our social media channels up to date with engaging and fresh content, sorting the sweaty finish tokens, cleaning the sweaty finish tokens, planning club takeovers, washing and drying the hi-vis gear, fixing or replacing broken timers and scanners, managing complaints, designing alternative routes when paths get closed, emptying local supermarkets of all remaining mince pies for Christmas events, reviewing and updating the course risk assessment, printing out the non-scanning barcodes sheets, boiling our kitchen kettles 3-4 times to fill the hot drinks flasks and much more.


Our situation isn’t unique – the hundreds of parkrun events across the country will all have their own core teams who keep the lights on for their events. I’m beyond proud of our core team here at Bolton.
I’ve been involved alongside Rowan since day one of our little event. Back in the day, Row and I never had a plan of “we must recruit a team” (we never really had any plan if truth be told – we’re as surprised as you are that this thing is still going…). The team we have today has naturally evolved, with parkrun as the constant that has brought us all together. Like-minded people who enjoy parkrun and who are only a few stages away from being classified as “not quite right."


The team has grown slowly, with Dave and Andy on board within the first couple of years, followed by Rob. Emma joined not long after, before going on to start Queen’s Park juniors, then the rest of the Butler-Geoghegan-Gregson rabble stepped into the ring in the last two years.
We all manage full time careers alongside our parkrun commitments. Andy, Emma, Lou, Ann, Row and Mike somehow find the time to manage family lives too. Some weeks we’ll put almost all of our free time into parkrun. Other times we might not lift a parkrun-related finger while we focus on other commitments. We share the awesome times when we leave an event buzzing from the positivity, or we receive a message from a first-timer saying thank you. We’re an outlet to vent to one another for those occasional moments where something hasn’t gone to plan. It’s a brilliant group of people who genuinely want to help each other, and help create a happy, safe event for Bolton parkrunners to take part in.


This post isn’t intended to blow our own trumpets, or intended to be a glorified self-congratulatory piece - honest. I simply want to share some insight into what happens behind the scenes, and show some of the personality that I think makes our team so special, and the Bolton parkrun experience so unique. Without character and personality, it's just another run where people turn up, some run, some volunteer, we all go home and repeat again the following week like a machine.
None of us do this for praise or to be in the limelight - and believe me, after you’ve done your fair share of volunteering at events over winter months, trying not to cry in the cold or rain, you know ‘limelight’ isn’t coming anywhere into play… We never talk about trying to get noticed by people or in local press, and we don’t really care how many likes we get on the Bolton parkrun Facebook page.


Something intangible sits within each of us that’s simply a desire to build and maintain an environment that helps people in so many different ways. Getting fitter, socialising, recovering from injury, coming to watch a friend or family member be awesome at what they do, or banking time towards a Duke of Edinburgh award.


We rarely see each other all in the same place, so a couple of weeks ago when we had to last cancel, we seized the opportunity to all meet up for breakfast and celebrate Louise’s milestone birthday (21 again!). This is the first photo together we’ve ever had:



Guys – thank you for making (most of) my experience of Bolton parkrun what it has been, currently is and no doubt will be. You’re wonderful friends and I count myself lucky to be able to enjoy this ride with you.






A regular run says “Thank you Mick and the other volunteers”

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?

Martin Smith

83 completed Bolton parkruns

Bolton parkrun footnote - Martin is not averse to volunteering himself, with half a dozen stints in 2017, thank you too :)


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

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