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