On what should have been our first parkrun of a bumper August schedule, we instead marked an astonishing 20 weeks since we last all met at Witton in mid-March. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know where the year’s going, last time I looked it was March and now it’s August! Lockdown has blurred all the lines. Speaking of lockdown, as I went to press last week, the government announced late on Thursday night that a huge section of the north of England, ranging from Blackburn and Burnley to Bradford to Manchester and Wigan, has seen increased lockdown measures reintroduced. Meeting with other households is no longer allowed to happen in our houses or gardens but is still permissible in an outdoor environment such as a park with social distancing measures in place. While pubs and restaurants remain open (with the government also introducing the Eat Out to Help Out 50% off scheme), households must sit individually and not mix. All of this had a huge impact on local Eid celebrations, although traditional mass gatherings had already been cancelled, just another victim of this relentless virus.
Across the nation, easing of coronavirus restrictions has been paused, while in Blackburn, and other parts of the northwest, restrictions have been re-imposed and the threat of a second lockdown remains possible
Nevertheless, parkrun HQ have been working hard to facilitate a return to our favourite Saturday hobby as soon as reasonably possible and have had plans approved by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which will be shared with the public on Friday, alongside a discussion on the Free, Weekly, Timed parkrun podcast. This does not mean a return for parkrun is imminent, but it will hopefully provide a little more clarity on how a return might be possible and when that might be. This information comes from the latest parkrun HQ blog, which you can find here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/08/04/covid-19-coronavirus-update-4-august/ and I’ll bring all the details of the new proposals in next week’s update.
New Zealand parkruns like this one, at East End, have been back for a month now, but while the rest of the world may take some time yet, we may know more by next week!
(not)parkruns – Week 7
A decent week’s weather saw another 11 parkrunners record (not)parkrun times this week, headed by our only (not)parkrun first timer this week, David HURN, in a speedy 21:17, the fastest of two (not)parkruns David ran this week. David is a relatively new parkrunner, joining us for the first time on the 1st February at Event #205 and running with us in 5 of the next 6 weeks too, his entire parkrun career so far, brought to a sudden stop by the shutdown. Nevertheless, he has continued running and his (not)parkrun time is faster than the PB he set at our last event by a minute and a half – I suspect your (not)parkrun route didn’t involve the Beast though, David!
A first (not)parkrun appearance for David Hurn – and a first first finish too!
Second this week, in a symmetrical 24:24, was Witton 50 Club’s Peter NICHOLSON, his second successive second place and fourth podium finish in his four outings so far! Third, for the third consecutive week, was Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON in exactly 28 minutes, the fastest of two runs this week – well done, Karen!
The third third place in a row for Blackburn Road Runner Karen Rishton!
Just behind Karen was fellow Blackburn Road Runner, Kate POMFRET, returning after not submitting a time last week. To make up, she ran twice this week, recording a best time of 29:34. Just behind her was another Blackburn Road Runners, Matt CHESTER, maintaining his record of submitting a time every week thus far with 31:53 this week! Just behind Matt was friend of Witton Cameron ASHTON, returning after 4 weeks away with a time of 32:58 – good to see you back, Cameron!
A return for Witton 100 Club member Kate Pomfret after not submitting a time last week!
Next comes Witton 50 Club member Ian BRODRICK, returning for a second successive week in 34:23, closely followed by Isobel HOLLINGS in 34:41 and Blackburn Road Runner and Witton 100 Club member Ian GOODLIFFE in 35:43.
Ian Goodliffe (right) submitted 2 more (not)parkrun times this week, putting him on 7 in total – the joint-3rd most for a Wittoner!
They were followed by Witton 50 Club member Jackie DWYER in 43:50 and Paul BOOTH of South East Lancs Orienteering Club in 48:15, his third (not)parkrun and first in 4 weeks. 11 (not)parkrunners in total, one less than last week, with 15 (not)parkruns completed in total, the same as last week. Unusually, this was the first week since (not)parkrun began that none of you set a new personal best, but I’m sure you’ll fix that soon enough! David, Karen, Kate and Ian ran twice this week, while Karen’s best time came on Monday, Matt ran Tuesday, Jackie ran Wednesday, Peter ran Thursday, David’s best time came on Friday, with the others recorded Saturday, barring Cameron who ran on Sunday. Well done to this week’s (not)parkrunners!
Paul Booth (left) submitted a (not)parkrun time at Witton for the third time this week – once more than he’s actually run the Beast!
Another 5 parkrunniversaries this week in what is a bumper time of the year. First up, we have Ian COOTE, who ran his first parkrun on July 27th last year at Warrington parkrun, joining us at Witton for his second run at the end of August. Ian has now run 26 parkruns in the past 12 months, exactly half (13) of which have come at Witton, with 10 runs at Warrington, 2 runs at Hyndburn and one at Cardiff parkrun in south Wales completing his set. Ian was another one who joined us on our final run before lockdown and I’m sure he’s keen to get back to it when we’re allowed. Happy 1st parkrunniversary, Ian!
Ian Coote has run half of his parkruns at Witton, including this visit on New Year’s Day!
Second is one of our young parkrunners, Cameron DOLAN, who ran his first parkrun at Event #136 on July 28th, 2018! Cameron is the son of Witton 50 Club member Helen Dolan, and a cousin of Wittoners Liam and Jake BENNISON. Cameron has run 25 parkruns in total now, halfway to a red milestone t-shirt, with 24 of those coming at Witton, alongside a single run at Preston. He earned his white junior milestone t-shirt on his 10th parkrun at Witton, Event #159 in January last year and has since turned 11 meaning he can run off on his own without needing to run alongside his mum, Witton 50 Club member Helen. This has seen 5 PBs in his last 7 outings at Witton, for a best of 25:11 in October last year – his last parkrun to date. Happy 2nd parkrunniversary, Cameron!
Young Cameron Dolan sprints for the line encouraged home by cousin, Liam Bennison!
Next up is one of the more unlikely Wittoners, given her previous reticence towards parkrun, but we’re delighted she ‘saw the light’, I speak of course of Christine DUCKWORTH, wife of Witton 100 Club member, Tony! Christine’s first parkrun came on July 29th, 2017 at Leamington parkrun in the south Midlands. This was not the start of her parkrunning career as such, she was tailwalking alongside Tony’s elderly mother, and we had to wait nearly another year for her to return to make her Witton debut. This came at Event #132 in June 2018 when, in a similar situation, she accompanied Tony who returned after a nasty spell of bad health, walking around with him, and returning the following week. Tony being Tony, he wasn’t taking it easy for long, soon sprinting off ahead towards the end and getting back up to speed, but Christine continued coming, running 19 times in total during the rest of 2018 and kicking of 2019 with a parkrun on New Year’s Day no less! She has improved 12 times on the Beast, for a current best of 40:11, and is often seen with friend Andrea Cottam, chatting and jogging, or with daughter Heather, who has also become a familiar Witton face. Then, in the middle of December last year, this reluctant parkrunner earned her red 50 t-shirt, further proof if it were needed that parkrun really can be for anyone – happy 3rd parkunniversary, Christine!
Look! A previously reluctant Christine Duckworth now smiles when she’s doing her parkrun!
Another Witton 50 Club member up next but one who, as far as a generation of Witton newcomers is concerned, is better known as a volunteer rather than a runner, I speak of former Witton speed machine and more recent Witton marshal extraordinaire, Bernie JOHNSON, whose first parkrun came at Witton on July 30th, 2016 at Witton’s 45th event. He quickly became a regular face, running 16 times out of a possible 20 Saturdays during the rest of 2016 and in 2017 he ran a staggering 49 parkruns during the year, not far off the maximum possible of 55 (52 Saturdays, two on New Year’s Day and one on Christmas Day for the completists amongst you!) He earned his red milestone t-shirt on our second birthday, Event #95 in August 2017 and ended the year with a Witton PB of 20:10 and a parkrun PB of 19:05 at Worsley Woods on the outskirts of Manchester. 2018 began in much the same way, 9 parkruns by the end of February, including a first New Year’s Day run and more PBs, inching his Witton best down to 20:04 and obtaining his first Witton first finisher credits at Events #115 and #118, after previously enjoying a years-long duel with fellow Witton 50 Club member Justin Collighan. Then, suddenly, it all stopped.
A previously familiar Witton scene, as Bernie Johnson is hunted by old foe Justin Collighan – Bernie came out on top this day at Event #118 in February 2018 – and set his current Witton PB too!
Bernie felt crippling pain in his calf and, suspecting a strain, he took it easy for a few weeks, except the pain remained. Numerous medical and physio appointments ensued with conflicting and contradictory medical opinions frequent, but all the while, Bernie continued to come to Witton, taking up roles on the volunteering side, mainly as marshal but sometimes in other roles such as timer. He volunteered for 25 weeks out of 26, whilst trying to get to the bottom of his issue, doing strengthening work and exercises to try and repair the damage and frequently going on long bike rides. Happily, in October, he felt strong enough to return, and did so, running 11 times before the end of 2018 and getting within 20 seconds of his Witton PB, including another first finish at Witton for Event #151 in November. Unfortunately, however, recurrences of the issue have continued and the medical advice continues to be inconclusive, with diagnoses of blood clots which then have seemingly disappeared, scarring that may or may not be irreparable and all the while Bernie has continued to be an encouraging and welcome face at Witton, with just 4 more parkrun credits to his name since the end of 2018, a brief spell in September and October 2019, surrounded by another 37 marshalling and volunteering credits. He last appeared at Witton on New Year’s Day, taking some time off as the cold winter weather disagreed with his injury and, unfortunately, he hasn’t had the opportunity to return in warmer weather as we were cancelled. Hopefully, the lockdown has done him some good and a return to parkrunning may be possible for Bernie, stranded just 8 short of his black milestone t-shirt and just over 20 short of joining the Witton 100 Club but in the meantime, bittersweet though it may be, happy 4th parkrunniversary, Bernie!
With his injury woes, it would be easy for Bernie to sit at home feeling sorry for himself, but instead he’s come down to marshal for us most weeks, racking up 70 volunteering credits in total, the joint-13th highest in Witton history!
Completing the set is someone celebrating their 5th parkunniversary, step forward Darwen Dasher and Witton 50 Club member Matty COCKER, who ran his first parkrun on Saturday, August 1st, 2015 at Heaton parkrun on the outskirts of Manchester! We mentioned last week that Matty was present at the first Witton test event at the end of July, and was seemingly keen to get some practice in before the off, with two runs at Heaton Park and one at Burnley all coming before his Witton debut at our inaugural event at the end of August 2015. He was a regular at Witton for a long time, running 75 times up to October 2018 and becoming the 9th person to join the Witton 50 Club at Event #84 in June 2017, but he has run just three of his 136 parkruns total since then, at Clitheroe Castle in December 2018, Pendle parkrun in January 2019 and a return to Burnley in February 2020, his most recent parkrun to date. I know part of this is explained by Matty having spent a considerable amount of time in Australia in the past couple of years, but you do know they have parkruns Down Under too, Matty?! Anyhow, we look forward to seeing you back at Witton soon – happy 5th parkunniversary!
Matty Cocker was last seen at Witton for Event #148 in October 2018 – this is his only picture that day!
This Week in Witton parkrun…
Event #45 on July 30th, 2016 was a quiet affair. Anwar Khan was the only one of the top 3 male Points Competition leaders to run, opening up a 120-point lead over nearest rival Matthew Taylor with just 3 weeks of competition left. No milestone t-shirts were awarded but my mum, Lynda Vernon, and Blackburn Road Runner Irene Slater both ran their 10th parkruns – both have well over 100 parkrun credits to their name now! Meanwhile the sad news reached us that Blackburn Road Runner Andrew Boardman, who had run at Witton on 3 occasions, had died suddenly and Event #46 the following week was dedicated to his memory.
Blackburn Road Runner Andrew Boardman finishes Event #30, one of three parkruns he completed, all at Witton. Rest in Peace, Andrew.
Event #91 on July 29th, 2017 was another quiet affair, although Witton 100 Club member Suzanne Ferrandino remembers it fondly, as she became the 21st person to earn her purple volunteering t-shirt at Witton, for 25 separate volunteering instances, on that particular day as Volunteer Co-ordinator. Meanwhile, excitingly, on the same day the Witton parkrun Blog Page went live, sharing stories from some of our regulars both past and present of how they got into parkrun and why they keep coming back for more. It’s a wonderful read, and if you’ve never looked it’s well worth checking it out. Michelle did float creating a new blog during lockdown, but whether it’s brand new or new additions to the original, if you think you’d like to share your parkrun experiences and perhaps encourage others to join us then don’t wait for us to ask you, write down a few thoughts and send them into us: email@example.com and we’ll get about compiling them! They can be long or short, funny or poignant, they come in all shapes and sizes, rather like our parkrunners! And if we think you do have something to offer, we may encourage you to share you story, so beware! You can read all the blog posts at anytime here: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/witton/news/2017/07/29/welcome-to-the-witton-parkrun-blog-page/
A rare solo photo for Suzanne, from Event #90, rather than her milestone event a week later!
Event #136 on July 28th, 2018 dawned with it absolutely pelting down, which thankfully cleared up before the parkrun got underway. A most unusual event, with no Michelle to be seen as she was at the Kendal Calling Music festival (still got her volunteering credit by washing the hi-vis vests though!) and for the first time in Witton history, I was left in charge – gulp. A notable event for all kinds of reasons: my mum, Lynda Vernon, ran her 100th parkrun and combined it with her usual role of Post-event Close Down, which also earned her a purple volunteering t-shirt at the same time! Darwen Running Group’s David Hilton, meanwhile, earned his red milestone t-shirt with his 36th run at Witton and his 50th overall, and Darwen Dasher Barry Shackleton returned to Witton for his 373rd parkrun, setting a new record for the most parkruns seen at Witton, besting Susan Esslemont’s 369 from Event #108 in December 2017. His record would last just 4 weeks – more on that at the end of the month! Even after parkrun was over there was more excitement: the Riversway Road Runners paid a visit to Witton in the early evening as part of their challenge to run 10 parkruns in a single day: we were Stop 8 on the journey, with just Preston and Cuerden Valley to follow. They were very friendly and complimentary about our course and set-up! Finally came the news that Michelle and Bryan has been nominated in the English Athletics Volunteer Awards later that year – a superb and well-deserved recognition of their efforts, not just for parkrun but in a range of roles.
David Hilton (pictured with son Stanley) earned his red t-shirt, Barry Shackleton set a new Witton record and mum, Lynda Vernon, earned both black and purple t-shirts (top row) while in the afternoon, we were visited by the Riversway Road Runners who came to run our beautiful course (bottom row) – all this week, 2 years ago!
This time last year saw our final cancellation of 5 in 6 weeks during a busy summer period at Witton Park. Wittoners tooks advantage of the lovely weather to scatter to an array of locations across the North West in search of their parkrun fix. The usual haunts saw healthy turnouts: Preston was visited by Blackburn Road Runners Gary Blackburn and Sandra Snape, Darwen Dashers Kerry and Bruce Elliott and Witton 100 Club member Pat Procter. At Bolton, Darwen Dashers Sue Duckworth and Barry Shackleton were joined by Witton 100 Club members Julie Price, Diane Harrison-Leeming and Suzanne Ferrandino.
Sue Duckworth looks happy on a visit to Bolton, the scene of her very first parkrun!
Burnley hosted Blackburn Harrier John Cookson, Blackburn Road Runner Cathy Hatch as well as Wayne Haworth and Andrea Eccles, while Hyndburn saw Accrington Road Runner Glen Goodwin, Blackburn Road Runner Madeline Haworth, Darwen Dashers Sharon Cocker and Chris Cooper and Witton 50 Club members Andrew Wisdom, Terry Gray and Robert Crompton – this is, to date, Robert’s only non-Witton parkrun, having become the first male to earn his red milestone t-shirt solely at Witton!
Madeline Haworth was one of the Wittoners on Tour for our last cancellation of last summer – she visited Hyndburn!
The Vernons and Scott Smith went to Haigh Woodland near Wigan, Peter Nicholson and Tim Keely were among the field at Pendle in Colne, Red Rose Road Runner Sarah Watkins went to Clitheroe Castle and Daniel McCombs and Peter Craine visited Watergrove parkrun in Rochdale. A few made it even further afield: Witton 100 Club member Ian Goodliffe went to the seaside at Morecambe Prom parkrun, Witton core team member Lorna Pickup followed suit, satisfying a weird urge to visit Fleetwood Promenade parkrun, while couple Cameron Ashton and Janice Parker and Darwen Dasher Andy Haworth found themselves at the new Tawd Valley parkrun in Skelmersdale. The prize for furthest Witton travellers went to Blackburn Road Runners Daniel and Miriam Hamilton, who visited Brierley Forest parkrun, approximately halfway between Sheffield and Nottingham!
A slightly damp-looking day for Lorna as she ran at the seaside, at Fleetwood Promenade parkrun!
And there we have it for another week. Keep an eye out for the update from parkrun HQ on Friday which should give us more information and if you miss it, don’t worry, I’ll give you the headlines next week. Otherwise, have a good week, read the Witton parkrun blog to learn more about some of our regulars and perhaps put some names to faces too and if you fancy sending us your own stories then we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Follow the local advice and stay safe. We are getting through this, together.
Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun
Hopefully parkrun hugs can return one day!