Event #89 – a Special Day ❤️

We have a special Run Report this week, written by Witney regular Liam Walsh. Thanks to Liam for taking the time to write these lovely words. All our love and thoughts are with the Walsh family ❤️

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Thankfully our weather fairy sprinkled some magic and allowed us to go ahead this weekend, for Witney parkrun #89 was a special and a sunny one for me.

Last week our Witney parkrun team posted a request for volunteers to help at a Celebration Service for my son Patrick on Friday.

We know that parkrun prides itself on community, inclusiveness and wellbeing, and the way that you have embodied those values to support at such a tough time is humbling and heartwarming.

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parkrun is so much more than the effort of a 5k or the volunteering itself: it’s about the friendships and spirit and connections that develop from it. And I’m so so grateful for that. That so many people have said that the service was beautiful is such a credit to our parkrun helper heroes, working alongside other community friends from Witney Music Festival and Libfest.

It simply couldn’t have happened without you.

So special thanks in no particular order to the following Witney parkrunners (and to everyone else with a hug or message or smile), who kindly gave their time on Friday:

John Honour
Peter Rose
Gill Sherwood
Punam Owens
Tamsyn Wymer
Dan Wymer
Kate Prinsep
Fraser Howard
Sally Howard
Ruth Trout
Matt Keeble
Eric Marshall
Marli Buckridge
James Field
Rupert Macfarlane

Roll on to Saturday and after our stop-start winter it was lovely to see so many familiar hivis heroes catching up and preparing for action - 30 heroes this week. Soon Run Director Bertie was in full flow with his familiar ‘not on my watch’ refrain sending us cheerily and safely on our way.

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After the usual first lap dance through the mud and puddles, we had our much awaited woodland surprise to look forward to. And, as if the sight of snowdrops and the promise of daffodils wasn’t enough to raise spirits and hint of spring, there before us was a glorious woodchip carpet. Thank you so much indeed to the tremendous Witney Woodland Volunteers - there’s our fabulous community in action again - not only does it look fantastic, it made struggling through the woods that much more bearable! I almost looked forward to the final lap and visiting again!

For me it was also special to see friends, some old, many new in a familiar comforting place amongst the 214 finishing faces, with Ruth ensuring no-one finishes last at parkrun. There were 47 first timers, and somehow, pretty miraculously 13 personal bests. If getting our parkrun up and running 2 years ago was a 1,000 piece jigsaw, it was special to be able to introduce one of those pieces - all the way from Brisbane. Special to welcome visitors from Bury St Edmunds and Sheffield and special to share our story with others from Leeds and Woking and Newport and Ashbourne.

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Fingers crossed that the weather fairy is back on duty this week, and that between us all, we’ll find new reasons to feel special at parkrun next week.

#loveparkrun

Run Report: Liam Walsh

Photos: Derek Hall, Trish Davies

 

EVENT CANCELLED – 4th January 2020.

***EVENT CANCELLED, January 4th***

Hello everyone, an early course inspection this morning has resulted in an event CANCELLATION for tomorrow.
The overnight rain has compromised our starting point and the majority of the field is waterlogged.
We are all very disappointed but safety is always our first priority.

In case you wish to tourist tomorrow, please check this link for cancellations before you travel:

https://www.parkrun.org.uk/cancellations/

We hope drier weather over the next few days will help the course recover in time for the 11th.

A big thank you again to everyone who stepped forward to volunteer. We appreciate you greatly!

#loveparkrun

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NYD Special 2020 – Event 87. A new decade…and still lots of mud

Well now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  And if there were a few bleary eyes and even a smudge or two of the night before’s make-up, no one was looking.

As one cheery runner called across the carpark, what a way to start the decade.  And there was no shortage of people ready to get the decade off on the right foot, or the left foot if that’s your thing: 192 parkrunners and 25 volunteers were assembled to start 2020 in style, a happy mass of people catching up with friends, or enjoying a few moments to themselves.  It was a chilly morning, and perhaps there was a thought here and there that this had seemed a better idea a few days ago, but as Punam stepped up to start proceedings those doubts ebbed away.  It was a new day, a new decade and parkrun time.

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parkrunners celebrated their 10th (George Boswell, Louis Poole) and 50th (Jonathon Smith, Martin Bate) milestones, and an amazing 47 first timers were enthusiastically acknowledged. (Editors note: not everyone wished to be photographed)

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Welcome to Witney parkrun, you will have seen the best and worst of the course at this new year’s special.  At this time of year generally muddy, often slippery, sometimes wet – but always the sense of achievement at the finish line, the buzz of achievement, the inspiration of those super speedy finishers, and the support of the people; the runners, walkers and volunteers on the way round.    It’s a resolution worth keeping, and come the summer, when the mud-bath is a distant memory, and the sun is shining, you won’t remember Saturday mornings any other way.

Actually, while we’re on the subject of resolutions and putting in a regular appearance, there’s one member of the team who has been a bit fickle of late.  Yes the parkrun Weather Fairy, we’re looking at you.  Your efforts in November and December have been frankly woeful, but the soft skies of January 1st were a welcome sight (might that even have been a glimpse of sunshine at one point?), so if you could add yourself to those making Witney parkrun their new year’s resolution that would be great.

No concerns over the rest of the team though – as always thank you to the volunteers who got out of bed and made event 87 possible.  Special mention to Liam Walsh who joined the volunteers 25 Club by giving the first timers’ briefing (no mean feat that with 47 people).

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The encouragement on the way round, the congratulations at the finish line and at the barcode scanning makes a world of difference.

The mud did swallow a shoe here and there, and it was undoubtedly slippy and sticky for much of the course, but in the spirit of gentle happiness that was pervading the atmosphere it was drier underfoot than it has been for some time.  Three parkrunners defied the conditions to produce PBs, very well done to them; and indeed well done to everyone who chose to embrace the first morning of the roaring twenties on a chilly field in West Witney.  Happy new year, happy new decade, and very many happy parkruns. #loveparkrun

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Author: Rachel Pollard

Photos: Deborah Jackson

 

End of Year run report Event #86: you will get muddy and you will get wet!

Following the awful rainfall which led to virtually all the Oxfordshire parkruns being cancelled last week, the Witney course inspection team were able to add a few tweaks to avoid the most water logged areas and gave us a thumbs up for event #86 to go ahead.

The social media announcement that the event was on created a huge response of likes, loves and smiley emoji’s!

With a shout out for volunteers, our wonderful community again stepped up to fill all open slots in a matter of just a couple of hours.

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It’s been said before, our volunteers are a true gift. Whether they give up their own walk, jog, run to allow others to participate, or join us for their own personal reasons, we  cannot do it without them. Thank you to you all whether you work behind the scenes or show up every week to allow us to experience the “power of parkrun”

If you have not yet read “The 2019 parkrun year in review”, it well worth a read: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2019/12/27/the-2019-parkrun-year-in-review/

Here are some highlights:

“Over the course of 2019 more people than ever before discovered the magic of their local parkrun”

 “An incredible 84% of volunteers said parkrun improved their happiness”

 “This year the average finish time at parkrun was 32:31, compared to 32:28 last year. Slower finish times reflect success in our ambition to be inclusive and truly welcoming to all, no matter your ability, age or background. You are all welcome and it is a privilege to have you with us”

Witney parkrun has had its share of “magic moments” throughout the year. The friendships which have formed have been incredible. The achievements, be it that PB, a first parkrun, or just getting to the start and overcoming your anxiety or hidden illness, or the parkrun community supporting you as you grieve for a loved one, or as a tonic to help you recover from injury and indeed finding a way to continue, buoyed by the community spirit, the shouts of well done and the cheers of you can do it or simply a hello and how are you doing?

This week Witney parkrun was no different. Kicked off by RD Bertie, be careful he said, you will get wet, you will get muddy, you must be careful. We don’t want any incidents…not on my watch!  The crowd acknowledged the message with a cheer :)

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Our hi-viz heroes were in particularly good spirts this week, still in the festive spirit and many participants in festive attire too!

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This week 179 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 42 were first timers. We welcomed tourists from Bicester, Maidstone and Crawley to name a few.

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A huge congratulations to Anna Flory and Jonathan Smith for joining the 50 club. (Editors note: we didn't capture a photo of Jonathan!)

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The event was made possible by 32 volunteers:

Paul THOMAS • Ian FOWLER • Dan WYMER • Fiona SHAW • Allison MAYBREY • Tamsyn WYMER • Kim MARSHALL • James FIELD • Suzanne REEVE • Linda FIELD • Matthew LOCK • Punam OWENS • Jason JAMES • Martin CRABB • Jacob LILL • Chris GARDENER • Kate PRINSEP • Kevin COLLINS • Julia LAWLEY • John HONOUR • Sara WILD • Ruth TROUT • Owen EDWARDS • Ally JONES • Julian SOANES • Lynn WALLEN • Allan JENKINS • James O'BRIEN • Beth SOANES • Cereta DREWETT • Chloe WILD • Callum MCKEOWN

Reflecting on the success of Witney parkrun as 2019 comes to a close, there are a few thoughts which come to mind:

There is much to be thankful for:

The incredible core team who work tirelessly behind the scenes with landowners, ensuring our course is safe, managing social media/emails, risk assessments, and a lot of paperwork, all in their spare time and yet we still see many of them most Saturday's as well.

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The inclusive and diverse culture the event fosters. All are truly welcome and it is an absolute privilege to have so many on this journey of mental and physical wellness be it as a walker, jogger, runner or volunteer.

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Our volunteers, often called one of the friendliest, with their pom poms, cowbells, huge smiles and encouragement. It is a very rare occurrence to have open slots on the roster. The commitment and support of everyone who volunteers whether its once in a while or every week is truly appreciated.

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Last but not least, councils, councillors and landowners who work with the team to enable the event to be sustainable. They have supported the growth of the event, for example the county council grant award Witney parkrun received for the storage container aka “the Green Goddess”, the Mayor’s award for the PA system and the team is also thankful to the Bartlett Trust who have also supported the event and allowed the team to purchase the milestone bibs which many run in each week celebrating their achievements.

Since Witney parkrun started on 10th March 2018, and incredible 4,801 participants have completed 21,010 parkruns covering a total distance of 105,050 km, including 4,485 new Personal Bests. A total of 478 individuals have volunteered 2,766 times. Well done and thank you.

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So, with the last event of 2019 over, the first thought? Will it ever stop raining!

A New Year’s Day special will kick off the new decade, weather and course conditions permitting. 2020 will also see the event celebrate its 100th and of course its 2nd birthday in March. A note to our cake bakers...the return of the “Great Witney Bake-off” would be awesome!  There will also be De-Fib training coming up in February in partnership with First for Safety and Wood Green School and it is hoped some more parkrun “takeovers” supporting local community causes.

There will also be many, many more magic moments and my hope in writing this is that the event continues to inspire others. Whatever your reason to parkrun, you will never look back. Personally, I have never experienced such a phenomenal concept where there are no barriers: physical, generational, background, capability or other and never in my wildest dreams did I think Witney parkrun would positively impact so many near and far.

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Wherever you choose to parkrun, in Witney or around the world, you will be welcomed, you will be encouraged, supported and inspired.

Thank you to you for making it a great 2019!

Wishing you a very Happy New year!

#loveparkrun

Punam (Co-Event Director)

Photography credits: Cereta Drewett; Trish Davies

 

 

Run Report: Event #85. Great to be back, dry weather and milestones galore…

Well, thankfully the weather fairies were much kinder to us this week, blessing us with crisp, cold days allowing the course to dry out enough for us all to get our parkrun fix in Witney again, albeit with a few slight route tweaks.

(Editor’s note: Thank you to John Hickman and Witney Town Council for spending time out on the course this week to help with said tweaks.)

As part of the core team setting up Chipping Norton School parkrun, I have been spending most of my Saturdays in the last few months getting volunteering experience rather than actually running and suddenly realised that my quest to run my 50th parkrun in 2019 was -ahem- running away from me.  Well, in that case, I thought, I’ll go for my 25th volunteer milestone instead!

So, this morning was volunteer stint number 22, barcode scanning using the very user-friendly new app.

First Timers Briefing was delivered by Dan to possibly the smallest group ever – two people!  Followed few minutes later by a second briefing as a few more people arrived.

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Run Director Fraser then gave his briefing and we welcomed tourists from Newcastle and Bristol.  Congratulations to Stephen Bright and Sarah Fry who were celebrating their 50th milestone and two of our young parkrunners who achieved their 10thmilestone today. Also, congratulations to Ruth who did her 25th volunteer stint today.

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Martin Crabb then paid touching tribute to Andrew Simpson, one of the founder members and dedicated committee member of Witney Roadrunners who sadly passed away this summer.  This run was dedicated to Andrew and his family.

Then event number 85 got under way.  We applauded runners streaming past us after completing the first short lap and marvelled at the array of Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and Milestone t-shirts.  After just under 20 minutes of chat with the lovely Martin, Phil and Julia (AKA the Barcode Queen!) our first finisher arrived at the finish line and scanning could commence!

Over the past few months I have discovered that not only can you get the endorphins flowing by running but also by volunteering.  Having now tried my hand at all the volunteer roles at parkrun (Run Report writing being the last box to tick) I can honestly say that there is not one role which is “difficult” and it would be hard to pick a favourite role.

Volunteering at parkrun has given me so much more confidence, particularly when speaking to larger groups of people, something which I have always actively tried to avoid in the past. I’ll never forget the nerves I felt before delivering my very first First Timers Briefing , but I can now do this with only a slight quiver of trepidation, which will hopefully stand me in good stead when I take on the Run Director role for the first in time in Chipping Norton!

There is a wonderful community feel here at Witney parkrun and I have met so many lovely people in the past few weeks – I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has welcomed me and the rest of the Chipping Norton team and we very much look forward to welcoming any of you who would like to pop over and visit us for a bit of local “tourism” in the near future!

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This week 146 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 17 were first timers and 7 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 18 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 30 volunteers:

Fraser HOWARD • Ian FOWLER • Dan WYMER • Sarah WHATMAN • Sarah LACKMAN • Philip HALL • Chris COLBECK • Tamsyn WYMER • Tracy LAWRENCE • John ABRAMS • Punam OWENS • Martin CRABB • Jacob LILL • Trish DAVIES • Jacqueline HATHAWAY • Chris GARDENER • Kate PRINSEP • Guy DAVIES • Julia LAWLEY • Ruth TROUT • Christopher WALTON • Ally JONES • Benjamin DAVIES • Allan JENKINS • James O'BRIEN • Neil O'BRIEN • Cereta DREWETT • Jill SUDDABY • Peter SUDDABY • Callum MCKEOWN

#loveparkrun

Author: Tracy Lawrence

Photography: Trish Davies

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