WITTON’S FESTIVE PARKRUN BONANZA – PART 4: NEW YEAR, NEW DECADE!
“We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne…”
Witton’s first parkrun on the road to 300 came just 4 days after parkrun #200, with our third annual New Year’s Day event. New Year’s in parkrun circles means far more than the dawning of another year: it is the only day in the parkrun calendar where the fabled New Year’s Day Double is allowed, where parkruns team up to offer events at different times and runners are allowed to run at two different events and record times and credits at both. In 2020, Witton’s event was hosted at the slightly earlier time of 8.30am, leaving a two-hour gap to run and get to venue 2 before a raft of 10.30am starts for parkruns nearby.
A record New Year's turnout at Witton!
It was quite a morning at Witton too: a beautiful morning to start the year, crisp and clear with golden sunshine streaking across the sky. And though there may not have been a great deal of sleep after a fun-filled late evening the night before, a stonking 206 of you decided to ring in the New Year by taking on the Beast on Wednesday morning, with over 140 of you then going on to a second event straight after!
The one working ticket machine was in high demand!
The early start, the large attendance and the fact that one of the ticket machines in the car park wasn’t working meant a number of runners were on the minutes for an event that had to start on time and, as planned, Run Director Dan had finished the run briefing with about 30 seconds to go and, having waited the allotted time, set the field off with an unusual ‘On your marks! Get set! Go!’ before we mopped up the late arrivals, reassuring them that they’d only just missed the field and would soon catch the tail walkers up. Among their number was Witton 50 Club member Kate Pomfret and regulars Claire and Lucy Eastwood, with Claire assuring me that this was the first of two in the morning and time was irrelevant anyway!
Clare and Lucy Eastwood were in good spirits despite just missing the start!
First to finish on our first parkrun of 2020 was Witton 50 Club member James McLeod in 19:49. This was Accrington Road Runner James’s 128th parkrun and 67th at Witton, but his first visit to Witton since Event #193 in November and only his 6th since last New Year’s Day. Since running his first parkrun at Witton in 2016, events more local to James at Hyndburn and Clitheroe Castle have started up, which means we don’t see him as often as we used to, but he still pops by from time to time and it’s always nice to see him. This was the 21st time James has been first finisher at Witton, extending his own male record and putting him 4 ahead of Blackburn Road Runner Josh Crowther – great to see you, James, don’t be a stranger in 2020!
James gets his New Year off to the perfect start as Witton's first first finisher of the decade!
Our second finisher of 2020 was unknown! It’s always such a shame when you put in the effort and don’t get rewarded with a time or a credit so please – don’t forget your barcode! Our second-place finisher was one of only 3 unknowns for our New Year’s Day event and in 2019 we only had 5 unknown podium finishers at Witton, including 2 in second place.
Third place went to August Frew in 20:40. When Vegan Runner August approached me for barcode scanning at the finish, I confidently suggested he was the first August to ever complete Witton, but I was wrong! Well, actually, I was right, he was the first and indeed only August to run with us, but this was not his Witton debut! He first joined us for our Christmas Day parkrun in 2017, 91 events ago! This was August’s 229th parkrun overall, with 69 at South Manchester parkrun being his most visited venue, although that will shortly be overtaken by what appears to be his new home run: Haga parkrun on the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden, where he has run 64 times! Thanks for visiting, August!
August Frew finish third on his second visit to Witton!
Fourth finisher was Blackburn Harrier John Horrocks in 20:42. This was John’s 25th parkrun, halfway to a milestone t-shirt, and although he’s a Blackburn Harrier this was John’s first time at Witton, with 19 runs at Cuerden Valley his only repeat venue. Welcome to Witton, John, that’s a great time for your first visit, fancy trying to better it in 2020?
John's first time at Witton was a successful one!
First female was a blast from the past: Accrington Road Runner Sarah Ridehalgh in 12th position in 21:53. This was Sarah’s 65th parkrun and 13th at Witton, with Hyndburn her most visited venue with 26. Sarah, however, was a regular in our early days, attending 7 of our first 15 events and joining us a further 4 times in early 2016. After that, her most recent visit, prior to Wednesday, was for Event #106 in November 2017! Just like that day, she was first female at Witton, this being her 6th time overall, moving her up to joint-8th in the Witton ranks, alongside Horwich RMI Harrier Suzanne Budgett and Ribble Valley Harrier Eleanor Bolton. Great to see you back, Sarah, I wonder if we’ll see you again in 2020?
Sarah's first visit for 2 years was as successful as her last one: first female! (And this picture is proof that it's no easier for the fast ones than it is for the rest of us - sorry, Sarah!)
Second female was Vegan Runner Jo Armitage in 16th position in 22:18. This was Jo’s third run at Witton and second in succession after visiting us on Saturday and was her 86th parkrun overall. Jo was first finisher on her first visit to Witton and again on Saturday, but Wednesday saw her 100% record over after she finished 25 seconds behind Sarah. Never mind, Jo! We hope to see more of you in 2020.
Finally I have a picture of Jo, on her third visit to Witton!
Third female was Frances Cathcart Burn in 31st position in 24:15. This was only Frances’s 8th parkrun and her second at Witton after visiting us just before Christmas. Incredibly, she was just one second slower than the time she set that day – so close to a new PB, Frances! Witton becomes only her second repeat venue, behind her 3 runs at Bath Skyline parkrun, where she ran her first parkrun in October 2019. Here’s to many more parkruns in 2020, Frances!
Another great Witton performance, Frances!
Apologies to young Blackburn Harrier Kate Cookson, who I told in the scanning queue was third female: either in the haze of barcodes I’d miscounted or Kate came to me ahead of one of the above three ladies: Kate was right behind Frances in 32nd position and consequently 4th female! I’m sure there are plenty of Witton podium finishes ahead in 2020, Kate!
4th female for Kate on New Year's Day, not quite on the podium - oops!
Milestone time!!! And we had 2 new t-shirt holders cross the line in 3 finishers on Wednesday! First to do so was Lions Running Community member Malcolm Alderton who finished in 90th position in 28:57. Malcolm was running at Witton for the 9th time and was running his 50th parkrun overall, earning his red milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ! Malcolm started parkrunning a few months before Witton began, in June 2015. He ran twice in a row at Preston parkrun, before running 6 different events in his next 6 outings, taking in nearby Cuerden Valley, Northallerton parkrun in Yorkshire, Pennington Flash parkrun near Leigh, Warrington parkrun, Preston for the third time and then making his Witton debut in October 2015. In total, he ran 14 times during 2015, with 5 of those coming at Witton, including our first ever Christmas Day run. 2016 only saw 6 runs, with 5 new venues including a visit to Darlington South Park on Christmas Day and a single visit to Witton in February, and 2017 saw only 4 runs, with 3 of those coming on a trip to Canada where he took in Richmond Olympic parkrun (twice) and Whistler parkrun. 2018 saw 6 more parkruns, including a return to Witton for our 150th event and 3 runs at Preston, including Christmas Day, plus a trip to Germany and Hasenheide parkrun. This left Malcolm on 30 runs at the start of 2019 and a first New Year’s Day double, first at Witton and then at Haigh Woodland kickstarted a year that saw 19 parkruns to put him on the cusp of his first milestone t-shirt. This saw first runs at a host of local venues, plus a visit to Queen’s parkrun in Glasgow and two visits to the home of his first run, Preston, in December. He chose to attend Witton on New Year’s Day to complete his 50th, joined by a host of his Lions friends, and we’re very glad to have had you, Malcolm, especially since you brought sweets to celebrate which you were handing out to the scanning queue – as well as a grateful barcode scanner! In total, Malcolm has run at 28 different venues to obtain his 50 t-shirt and Witton just edges Preston as his most visited venue, with 9 runs to 8. Congratulations on your milestone, Malcolm, we look forward to seeing you back at Witton soon enough!
Finally! Malcolm looks delighted to complete his 50th parkrun!
Just two places behind Malcolm, in 92nd position, was Vegan Runner Paresh Patel in 29:16. Paresh was one of our visitors from Bolton parkrun, who were not holding a New Year’s Day event this year. He had run 73 times at Bolton, but this was his first visit to Witton, his 21st different parkrun venue, but it was here that he celebrated his 100th parkrun and earned his black t-shirt from parkrun HQ! Paresh was parkrunning long before Witton started, making his debut at Bolton’s 102nd event in February 2013. He made rapid improvements, setting new PBs on 6 of his first 7 returns to Bolton before beginning his tourism with a visit to Brighton & Hove parkrun on the south coast. He ran a whopping 35 parkruns in 2013 and didn’t miss a weekend between the end of May and the middle of December. He only ran 4 times the following year, however, and none at all in 2015. A return to parkrun in 2016 saw 8 runs and his 50th parkrun finally came at Preston parkrun in January 2017. In total, Paresh ran 24 parkruns in 2017, his most productive year since his first year of parkrunning, including a first Christmas Day parkrun at Worsley Woods parkrun on the way to Manchester. Another 20 followed in 2018 before an interrupted 2019, with 3 parkruns between January and May and then a further 5 between November and December, including a second Christmas Day parkrun at Bolton, put him on the brink at 99 parkruns. Unusually, Paresh has now earned two milestone t-shirts but despite 73% of his parkruns coming at Bolton, his two t-shirts have both ended up being earned away from Leverhulme Park, on his first visits to Preston and Witton respectively! I wonder how many other parkrunners can claim that particular feat! Congratulations on your achievement Paresh, we’re pleased you chose Witton to complete your milestone and here’s to many more parkruns in the future!
A 100th parkrun completed by Paresh and a second t-shirt earned away from Bolton!
Others celebrating milestones at Witton on New Year’s Day included:
Sue Porter (CSSC Sports & Leisure) – 260 runs
Caroline Sidery (Lions Running Community) – 260 runs
Ani Das (Swinton RC) – 175 runs
Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ramsbottom Running Club) – 170 runs
Andrew Bailey (UK parkrun tourists) – 130 runs
Irene Slater (Blackburn Road Runners) – 120 runs
Lee Wakefield – 90 runs
Jonathan English (Rossendale Harriers) – 80 runs
Elizabeth Watton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 70 runs
Joe Curran (Accrington Road Runners) – 40 runs
Ian Patterson (Preston Harriers) – 30 runs
Julie Graves – 25 runs
John Horrocks (Blackburn Harriers) – 25 runs
Ryan Shanks (Community Church Blackburn) – 25 runs
Suzanne Peaker (Veteran Runners UK) – 20 runs
Adam MacQuarrie – 20 runs
Jennifer Ramsden (Run Mummy Run) – 10 runs
Matthew Hayes – 10 runs
Sajid Patel – 1 run
Imraan Rawat – 1 run
Imran Patel – 1 run
Ashley Hartley – 1 run
Steven Reid – 1 run
Emma Riley – 1 run
Simon Dalley – 1 run
Ryan Shanks (l) and Julie Graves (r) are both halfway to a red milestone t-shirt!
And those who’ll run a milestone next time out include (note: this is after New Year’s Day, whether they only ran at Witton or ran somewhere else after):
Scott Smith – 174 runs
Gary Firth (Astley & Tyldesley Road Runners) – 174 runs
James McLeod (Accrington Road Runners) – 129 runs
Antony Duckworth – 129 runs
Kate Pomfret (Blackburn Road Runners) – 129 runs
John Cookson (Blackburn Harrier) – 124 runs
Dan O’Malley – 124 runs
David Parkinson (Red Rose Road Runners) – 119 runs
Barry Hurst – 109 runs
John Hacking – 89 runs
David Smith – 89 runs
Adam Wright (#FriendsThatRun) – 74 runs
Mike Aylott (Sowerby Bridge Snails) – 69 runs
Steven Doxey (Swinton RC) – 59 runs
Susan Elliott – 39 runs
Matt Withers (Lostock AC) – 29 runs
Kenny Goodliffe (CSSC Sports & Leisure) – 29 runs
Tom White (Ramsbottom Running Club) – 24 runs
David Croll (Deeside Runners) – 19 runs
Matt Lovick – 19 runs
Al Hodkinson – 19 runs
Geoff Shanks (Community Church Blackburn) – 19 runs
Samuel Jack Sutcliffe (Ramsbottom Running Club) – 19 runs
Lucy Eastwood (Blackburn Harriers) – 19 runs
James Wisdom – 9 runs
Frances Cathcart Burn – 9 runs
Witton regulars Tony Duckworth and Kate Pomfret both completed their 129th parkruns on New Year's Day - over halfway to the fabled green t-shirt!
We had a wonderful 19 volunteers who crawled out their bed early on New Year’s morning to come down to Witton to help us put on the event for the 206 runners we welcomed. This is considerably more than the 12 we managed with last New Year’s Day and they were all experienced Wittoners who have volunteered before. The full roster of hi-vis heroes who kicked off 2020 were:
Sarah WATKINS • Jon CARBERRY • Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Daniel HAMILTON • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Antony DUCKWORTH • Christine DUCKWORTH • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Ian GOODLIFFE • Corinne SURKITT • Miriam HAMILTON • Niamh ROBERTSON • Emma HAYES
Witton ED Michelle (l) was able to tail walk on New Year's Day for the first time, accompanied by Diane Harrison-Leeming (yellow hi-vis) and Christine Duckworth!
But don’t think you need to be experienced to be a volunteer at parkrun! We welcome new faces every week and in 2019, 67 new people came forward to volunteer at Witton for the first time, contributing 205 separate volunteering stints at Witton over the course of the year. That’s over 4 volunteers a week towards our weekly total! Just think if the same happened every year with new people coming forward. Indeed, 3 of our volunteers on New Year’s Day had never volunteered at parkrun before 2019 and now they’re helping to run our 2020 New Year’s Day event!
Young Niamh Robertson had never volunteered before this year - she's now done it 13 times in all the core roles!
It’s a great way to give something back to parkrun every once in a while. Occasionally, we ask for donations, either for the food bank or sometimes of money to finance something new for the parkrun but genuinely, the most valuable thing you can offer is your time. Once every couple of months, pop your name on the roster. There’s loads of different roles available requiring a variety of skills. If you want to ease yourself in gently, why not try marshalling? You get to admire all the runners taking on the Beast, from the speedy ones at the front to the determined faces at the back and lots of smiles in between. Your most important job is to be encouraging and vocal in support of your fellow parkrunners: as anyone who’s ever taken on the Beast knows, it’s a course where every shout of support is gratefully received! Then there are the core roles: we need two timers every week, to double-check the results and safeguard against one of the stopwatches malfunctioning (as it did for poor Emma on New Year’s Day!), we need someone to hand a finish token to every person who crossed the line and passes through the finish funnel (even if they don’t want to take one!) and we need someone to scan all the barcodes and finish tokens to link the two together for the results. Some of those may sound daunting but you’ll always be given any guidance you need beforehand and there’s always someone who’s more experienced close-at-hand if you have any questions during the event.
Run Director Dan Hamilton channels his inner Freddie Mercury...
Brilliantly, we’ve already got a decent-looking roster for our first Saturday event of 2020 on January 11th, but there’s plenty of room for the rest of the month! I’m pleased to say we already have four first-time volunteers on the roster for our 11th January event and another two signed up for the 18th January event, which is great to see, and it really is a great thing to be part of. Dan Hamilton, our Run Director on New Year's Day, came up to me mid-run and said, “I’m going to put it out there: volunteering on New Year’s Day is better than partying on New Year’s Eve!” and personally I’d agree. I scanned 203 of the 206 people who came to Witton (the other 3 were unknowns, and I spoke to two of those too, who passed me their tokens!) and spoke to pretty much every one of them: I’d had interactions with over 200 people by 10am on the first day of 2020! There’s not many places you can say that! In parkrun’s survey of health and wellbeing last year, a massive 84% of people who volunteer at parkrun said that doing so made them feel happier, so what are you waiting for?! You can get in touch with us either via our Facebook page (Witton parkrun), where we also post regular updates on volunteer numbers and what roles we’re looking for, or alternatively send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org giving us information on what role you’re interested in doing, what date you’d like to put your name down for and you parkrun barcode number (the one beginning with “A”). We look forward to hearing from you!
A bumper roster for Saturday - can you help with the rest of the month?
Be prepared for an avalanche of statistics on what was a record-busting day for Witton parkrun! First up, we have the headline figures: 206 runners was our 4th highest attendance ever after Events #1 (273) and #2 (263) in August and September 2015 and Event #131 (231) in June 2018 – our first Run for Norman. It was also only the 4th time in history that we broke through the 200-barrier. This was helped immensely by the 78 first timers we welcomed on New Year’s Day. This was the highest number of people attending their first Witton parkrun since Event #4 in September 2015, when we had 81. Of those 78, 71 were people who had previously run somewhere else and were visiting Witton for the first time: this goes back even further in the record books, to Event #2 when 77 first time Wittoners were attending only our second event. The remaining 7 were running their first ever parkrun! This is a massive increase on the single person who ran their first parkrun on New Year’s Day last year – welcome to you all! I hope you enjoyed your first experience of parkrun and visit us many more times in the coming year: we all started with number 1!
Plenty of colour was on show on New Year's Day!
Our 206 followed attendances of 173 on Christmas Day and 150 at our 200th event on December 28th, giving a total attendance for the 3 parkruns of 529 parkrunners. You have to go all the way back to Events 2, 3 and 4 in September 2015, over 4 years ago, to find a higher total for 3 consecutive runs, when we managed 618 in our early days (all our first 10 events had over 150 attendees as people came to try our venue out for the first time or tick it off their list). Our increase of 56 parkrunners on last Saturday was the 10th highest increase in runners in our history from one event to the next too.
Witton first timer Christine Pendlebury and Witton 100 Club member Ian Goodliffe were both enjoying their run!
In addition to our 78 first timers, a total of 115 of our 206 attendees were running their third or fewer time at Witton. This goes up to 132 of 206 who were doing their fifth or fewer and a whopping 156 of 206 were doing their 10th or fewer. Or to put it another way: only 50 of the 206 attendees at Witton had done 11 or more parkruns at Witton! This included 13 of the 53 members of the Witton 50 Club and 6 of the 12 members of the Witton 100 Club.
Joe Lambert was among a great many at Witton caught checking their watch!
Among our number on New Year’s Day were three runners who all entered our Most Experienced parkrunners ever seen at Witton’ table, two of them on their first visit! Kenneth Warner was running his 397th parkrun with us, catapulting him straight up to third place in the highest numbers we’ve ever seen and the second highest number we’ve seen from a Witton first timer. The wonderfully named Egg Cameron of GoodGym was running her 351st parkrun, the 12th highest total we’ve ever seen and the 9th by a Witton debutant: it’s incredible to think you now need to have run 350 parkruns just to enter the top 10 for the most experienced parkrunners seen on debut at Witton! Meanwhile, Clayton-le-Moors Harrier Martin Brady was running his 327th parkrun with us, the 19th-highest total we’ve ever seen. What makes his case slightly more interesting is that Martin has visited us 6 times before and this is the first time he’s run enough to make it on our list – well done, Martin!
Our three parkrun obsessives: Kenneth Warner, Egg Cameron and Martin Brady
In slightly smaller numbers, Witton 100 Club member Scott Smith ran with us on New Year’s Day to record his 20th consecutive run with us without missing an event. This is only the 5th time in Witton history that a streak of 20-or-more has been recorded and Scott becomes the 4th person to join the club, after Anwar Khan (twice), Bernie Johnson and Liam Bennison. I wonder how many he’ll manage before he misses one!
Scott's on quite a run at Witton!
Robert Taylor of Run Sandymoor joined us for the first time on New Year’s Day, visiting from his home parkrun of Phoenix in Runcorn. The reason I mention it is because he has unwittingly provided the latest name to join our list of duplicate names seen at Witton, following the 2 appearances by Red Rose Road Runner Robert Taylor, who visited for Events #95 and #106 in 2017. Our first Robert Taylor was an SM25-29 while our latest Robert Taylor is a mature VM45-49. This becomes the 40th name to see repeat barcodes at Witton and the 29th by a male runner. Robert now joins Ian, Emma, Andrew, Mark and Jane as Taylors who have seen more than one attendee at Witton!
The second Robert Taylor to grace Witton parkrun!
OK, onto the meat of the New Year’s Day Double and of the 206 attendees on New Year’s Day, an astonishing 140 of you (68%) went on to run a second time somewhere else later in the morning. The vast majority (74) made the short trip to Hyndburn parkrun in Accrington for their second run. These included first finisher James McLeod, first female Sarah Ridehalgh, Witton 100 Club member Pat Procter, Witton 50 Club members Sue Duckworth, Tony Duckworth, Kate Pomfret, Ian Goodliffe and Vicky Spencer, regular Wittoners Matt Lovick, Gary Blackburn, John Kearney, John Dey, Hayley Duckworth, Geoff Shanks, Elizabeth Watton, Jeanette Whitham, Asif Garda, Matt Chester, Stacey Feeney, Suzanne Peaker, Julie Graves, Erica Doyle, Christine Duckworth and Event Director Michelle Searby.
Witton regulars who doubled with Hyndburn: (l-r) Vicky Spencer, Matthew Chester, Asif Garda and Stacey Feeney
A further 15 were doing their first parkruns at both venues on New Year’s Day, including Philip Whitham, Kenneth Warner, Richard Crompton, Dan O’Malley, Sarah Goodman, Amy H, Sue Porter, Emily Hrycan, the O’Brien family – Carrie, Kevin and Shirley – and Graham Cameron. Special mentions for Lizzie Kershaw, for whom Witton and Hyndburn were venues 182 and 183 she had visited and Egg Cameron who was astonishingly visiting venues 251 and 252 on New Year’s Day, making her a member of the very exclusive Freyne Club, named after parkrunner Paul Freyne who was the first person in the world to run at 250 different venues. Egg is 37th on the worldwide Most Events table with 253 following Saturday 4th January – it can get addictive this parkrun lark! And it would be remiss of me not to mention David Thompson who was also running for the first time at both Witton and Hyndburn to start the year. These were his 14th and 15th different venues, but significantly on his 14th and 15th parkruns! This means David’s first 15 parkruns have all been at different venues, putting him on course to join the Hoffman Club, named after Roderick Hoffman, the first parkrunner in the world to run his first 50 parkruns at 50 different events! Good luck, David!
My memory is that Kevin O'Brien found his run at Witton 'challenging' much to Carrie's amusement (photo 1), but Shirley seemed to enjoy it (photo 2), while I wonder how many venues Lizzie's dog has visited and how many different runs in a row David can manage!
Meanwhile, a further 26 of you headed to Haigh Woodland parkrun near Wigan for your second run of the morning. These included second female Jo Armitage, 50 t-shirt earner Malcolm Alderton and wife Fiona, Preston Harrier Julie Tyrer and Lions Running Community husband and wife Howard and Caroline Sidery, who have a combined parkrun total of 486 runs. 100 t-shirt earner Paresh Patel was running at both venues for the first time, as was Ravindra Patel, Cliff Utting, Adele McCaffery and Heather Whalley. Adele was also running her 3rd and 4th parkruns and her first away from Cuerden Valley, while Heather was completing parkruns 5 and 6, with the rest all coming at nearby Preston. We hope you enjoyed your first tourist runs, ladies!
(l-r): Lion's Running Community's Howard and Caroline Sidery were among those running the Witton-Haigh Double, alongside Adele and Heather who were both enjoying their first trips to new parkruns!
The other venue to see a sizeable number of Witton runners visit for part 2 of their double was Clitheroe Castle, the 5-lapper in the nearby market town that was hosting its second New Year’s Day event. In total 21 people who had previously run at Witton that morning descended on the Castle, including regular Wittoners Clare Eastwood and daughter Lucy. It was a notable event for both, with their runs there marking their first events away from Witton, with Clare’s first 19 and Lucy’s first 17 all coming with us, alongside an impressive chunk of volunteering. Those running for the first time at both venues included the aforementioned Robert Taylor, Sarah Louise Sutcliffe of Ramsbottom Running Club (husband James and sons Benjamin and Samuel only ran at Witton and presumably cheered mum on at Clitheroe!) and the Dempsey family visiting from nearby Heaton parkrun on the outskirts of Manchester. All four were running both Witton and Clitheroe Castle for the first time and all four have run over 50 different events, with New Year’s Day providing dad Tim’s 57th and 58th venues and daughter Lara’s 55th and 56th venues, while daughter Tess was running at her 54th and 55th different venues alongside mum Ruth who added an impressive 89th and 90th venues to her name!
A family affair at Clitheroe: Sarah Sutcliffe was joined by her sons and husband at Witton, before running her second at the Castle, while the Dempsey family, father Tim, daughter Lara, mum Ruth and daughter Tess all completed both runs!
Other venues saw limited traffic from Witton pass through. 6 people followed their visit to Witton with a trip to Pendle parkrun in Colne to take part in their 300th event celebrations. Among them, 4 were completing first runs at both events, including Jonathan and Robert English, who usually run at Burnley parkrun and Mark Jackson and Tracy Berry, who were some of the only visitors from nearby Bolton parkrun (who weren’t holding a New Year’s Day event) to run a second parkrun. These were Tracy’s first runs away from Bolton! The remaining two at Pendle were Clayton-le-Moors Harriers husband-and-wife Alan and Carol Life who were both visiting us for the 4th time, while Alan was running for the 8th time at Pendle, his most visited venue, to Carol’s 5th appearance.
The English boys, Jonathan and Robert, ran at both Witton and Pendle for the first time, while Alan and Carol Life have visited both venues on more than one occasion!
There were 5 visitors from Witton to Pennington Flash parkrun near Leigh. Nobody was completing a new event double here, but Bolton regular David Foster ran only his 5th and 6th events away from his home run in 112 events completed, with a first run with us and a second at Pennington. Meanwhile Red Rose Road Runner Jon Royle and daughter Daisy, who usually run at nearby Cuerden Valley parkrun on the outskirts of Preston, made their first ever visits to Pennington Flash, and we had a little bit of role reversal, with Pennington Flash regulars Gary Firth (143 runs there) running for the third time at Witton and Barry Hurst (71 runs there) visiting us for the first time.
David Foster (l) was on a rare run away from Bolton, while Gary Firth (c) and Barry Hurst (r) were both touring to Witton before returning home to Pennington Flash!
The remaining 5 who went elsewhere travelled further afield. 3 men took on Stretford parkrun after Witton, with Bolton regular Ani Das running at both venues for the first time, Steven Doxey, whose 22 runs at Bolton just outstrip his 18 at Worsley Woods, running for the first time at Witton and second time at Stretford, and third finisher August Frew running his 43rd parkrun at Stretford after his second at Witton. Two men went even further though. Andrew Bailey of the UK parkrun tourists group ticked off venues 103 and 104 by travelling 25 miles in around 45 minutes to go from Witton to Southport parkrun, while Witton regular Andrew Wisdom ticked off a 10th new parkrun venue by travelling an impressive 36 miles in around 50 minutes to travel to Morecambe Prom parkrun and earn the crown of the furthest double completed from Witton this year! That’s some commitment, Andrew!
Andrew Bailey (l) and Andrew Wisdom (r) both made impressive New Year's Day doubles journeys!
And there could have been even more. Witton timer Bryan Searby tail walked with wife Michelle at Hyndburn in his second visit to parkrun of the morning, while after marshalling at Witton, recent 50 t-shirt recipient Corinne Surkitt joined partner Gary at his home run of Pennington Flash. New Year’s Day Run Director Dan Hamilton and wife Miriam, who was marshalling for us, both took a first trip to Clitheroe Castle straight after for a parkrun, where they were joined by husband and wife Jon Carberry and Sarah Watkins who also marshalled for us on New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, an under-the-weather Suzanne Ferrandino gamely marshalled at both Witton and Hyndburn, while friend Diane Harrison-Leeming marshalled in solidarity at Hyndburn after tail walking at Witton beforehand.
Witton Run Directors Bryan Searby (pictured with wife Michelle) and Dan Hamilton both got a run in after volunteering at Witton first, at Hyndburn and Clitheroe Castle respectively
And then there’s those Witton regulars for whom 8.30am was simply too ungodly an hour on New Year’s Day to be getting up to run, but did, however, make it for the second runs of the morning at 10.30am! Step forward Witton 100 Club member Aimie Wormald and 50 Club member Peter Nicholson, who both joined the crowds at Hyndburn parkrun; Witton 50 Club members Tim Keely and Jane Magee who headed to Pendle parkrun’s 300th celebrations and the most experienced Witton parkrunner, Anwar Khan, who didn’t drag himself out for our 8.30am event, but did make it all the way to Oldham parkrun in time for 10.30am! Special mentions too for Witton 50 Club member Andy Haworth, who took in Lytham Hall parkrun then made the short trip to nearby Blackpool, while 50 Club member and fellow Darwen Dasher Sharon Cocker first ran at Burnley parkrun before joining those at Hyndburn for her second!
(l-r): Aimie Wormald (and bump!) and Peter Nicholson made it to Hyndburn, while Tim Keely and Jane Magee were found at Pendle and Anwar Khan got all the way to Oldham!
Some of you may have noticed I have not mentioned myself there, nor did my mother Lynda Vernon or friend Scott Smith appear among the New Year’s Day doublers above. Well our New Year’s Day plans went slightly awry on the journey from venue 1 to venue 2. Having helped pack up at Witton and set off around 9.45am, we were feeling comfortable about making the journey to Haigh Woodland parkrun in good time for mum and Scott’s second run of the morning, my first run after barcode scanning at Witton and my dad’s second stint of marshalling of the morning. We were approaching the end of the M65, about to make the turn off onto the M61 when a large, low-flying bird made a sudden, unexpected appearance as a flash of colour spotted on the edge of the bonnet of the car at 70mph. It was impossible to avoid; we saw it literally seconds before impact and after a large thud, followed by a bump, everything seemed to be ok. Nothing could be done for the bird, but the car seemed to be unscathed, at least mechanically, and we could check the cosmetic damage once we arrived. As we exited the slip road onto the M61 however, a loud, scraping noise suddenly erupted and given the circumstances we had no option but to pull over to the hard shoulder to take a look: the bird had missed the front right headlight, which was intact and there was also no dent in the side panel. It appeared to have collided on the right-corner bumper and as it had rolled under the car, had pulled the plastic away from the metal, leaving a piece flapping in the wind, which was rubbing against the right front tyre. This was impossible to fix where we were so Scott phoned his parents who came to rescue us, I messaged Haigh Woodland parkrun to apologise for our non-appearance (and their loss of a marshal!) and our parkrun morning ended far more abruptly than expected! I should note that all passengers in the car were absolutely fine and Scott’s dad was able to make the car roadworthy by taping up the offending plastic to bring the car home. Oh well, these things happen! Quite a start to 2020!
Rowan McArdill gamely pushed a pram around Witton on New Year's Day! He didn't run a double though!
Finally, notices and first, away from Witton on New Year’s Day a member of the Witton family earned a parkrun t-shirt. Darwen Dasher Viki Walsh ran at Blackpool parkrun for her first run of the morning and this also coincided with her 100th parkrun, earning her black milestone t-shirt. Congratulations, Viki, a great way to start the year and I’m sure Norman is very proud of you.
Well done on your century, Viki!
New Year usually means resolutions and some of you may have made resolutions regarding getting healthier, which may be why you are reading this if you are thinking of coming to or returning to parkrun in the coming weeks and months. I can certainly recommend it as a wonderfully inclusive, supportive community made up as much, if not moreso, by casual runners, rather than exceptional club runners (although they occasionally join us too!) But even once you’ve done a fair few parkruns, you’ll still have new goals to aim for: maybe running further, with 10ks or Half Marathons; maybe to improve your personal best to a certain mark, earn a t-shirt or join a certain parkrun club. Well, Event Director Michelle asked for Wittoners to reveal their parkrun resolutions for 2020 and we had a smattering of interesting plans. Some were after t-shirts, with Ian Coote chasing his 50 this year, Isobel Hollings, Elouise Sylkie Pemberton and John Kearney aiming for 100 (with John also looking to join the Witton 50 Club soon too!) while Janice Parker is aiming to follow her 200th last weekend by earning her green t-shirt for 250 runs by the end of 2020. Others were aiming for tourism goals: Dean Howard is looking to visit some new venues, while following his 450th parkrun at Witton on Christmas Day, uber-parkrunner Barry Shackleton is looking to finally complete the North West and earn ‘Regionnaire’ status, by completing the 5 venues he hasn’t yet done locally. Even more ambitious targets are in the sights of Ribble Valley Harrier Chris Barnes, who is aiming to do 52 different parkruns this year (which he openly describes as ‘difficult’ – understatement of the year so far, Chris!) and Andrea Bolton and Simon Banfield are aiming to become ‘alphabeteers’ by completing an A-Z of parkrun by visiting venues beginning with every letter of the alphabet – with Witton being their ‘W’ of course! (Note: there are currently no parkruns in the world beginning with the letter X, but there will be eventually, I’m sure!) Michelle herself has a modest ambition: to be able to take part in her own event once a month and complete 12 in 12. When you consider the numbers some of us rack up, it certainly puts it into perspective. She will be helped in her quest if Anthony Furnell is successful with his own resolution: to encourage as many people as possible to partake in parkrun volunteering! A noble cause, Anthony! As for the other posters, there was a common theme which many of you may wish to join in with: simply to run! To come along on Saturday mornings and be part of the parkrun family. To leave the warmth of bed and come out and run 5K instead! Or alternatively, to keep coming if it’s become a habit! I wish you all success in your quests!
Plenty of smiles on display at Witton to start 2020!
Another useful resolution to consider is not to be a parkrun funnel ducker. We had a hugely successful New Year’s Day parkrun: the 3 unknowns were all known to us during the run, the timers timed everyone across the line, the right number of finish tokens was handed out and every barcode scanned with none needing to be written down. In theory, this meant it was perfectly feasible for Michelle to upload the results in double-quick time before heading off to Hyndburn for her second run of the morning. However, naming no names, we had a single gremlin that threatened to cause a major headache. One participant in Wednesday’s run crossed the line but ducked out of the funnel (hence the name) before taking a token from Niamh, who was handing them out at the other end. At some point, they then obtained a token, but this small mistake, which may seem very insignificant, made a simple task of uploading the results much more complicated: Michelle was watching Youtube videos, trying to remember how to fix this particular issue, we were all wracking our brains to try and figure out in our own heads what exactly had gone wrong and why the system wasn’t happy with the information it had been given and, thankfully, after around 10 minutes of musing a solution was found and the results were published as planned. But all that came from one, small mistake! Imagine if there’s 2 or 3 during the course of the run: it can make the results a nightmare. So please, if you do join us in 2020, don’t be a funnel ducker. If you run at Witton, please cross the finish line just ONCE. If you go back later to run in with a friend or relative, that’s absolutely fine with us, but just make sure you indicate that you’re not crossing the line and run wide of the finish funnel – don’t rely on the timers remembering your face, they’ll have seen plenty of others in between! If you have been timed across the line, please take a finish token. The tokens correspond to your position on the timer so time number 26 across the line belongs to finish token number 26. That is then linked to your own parkrun barcode, which gives us a complete picture of your run to create the results from. (Time 26: 28:42; Finish Token 26: John Smith; in the results: 26. John Smith, 28:42). If you don’t have a barcode, or have forgotten it, don’t worry! You’re not in trouble, you just won’t get a time. Please still take a token and just bring it over to the scanning table and hand it in to our token sorters. That way, your position in the timer is still covered and everyone who follows you will be in the correct spot. And please don’t take our finish tokens home with you: they’re not souvenirs of your run, we need them for the next event! We understand that accidents and mistakes happen, but the more these can be kept to a minimum, the better the experience for everyone and if everyone is aware of these procedures, we can all help each other to follow them!
And with that, we’re done! I hope you all had a pleasant start to 2020 and if you ran on Saturday, I hope you all got PBs!
How Hayley Duckworth had this much energy on New Year's Day I'll never know!
I’ll see you by the pavilion at around 8.45am on Saturday – Witton parkrun is back!
See you then,
Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun
Happy New Year from the Vernons!