What a wonderful day Saturday was. Having said goodbye to the wettest February on record, the first week of March was the driest of the year so far, with very little rain falling all week and a real feeling of Spring in the air. Saturday dawned bright and relatively warm, certainly once the run was underway, as we celebrated another special parkrun, welcoming 66 women among our field of 126 who came to run, jog and walk the Beast on the weekend of International Women’s Day, when parkrun proclaimed ‘This Girl Can’, as it tried to encourage more women and girls to make parkrun part of their weekend routine!
Witton's first IWD parkrun is about to get underway!
So, with a nod to the day, a little mix-up at the top of the report, as we deal with our speedy females first up! And first female this weekend was a return to form for Witton 50 Club member Jane Magee, who finished in 8th position in 23:15. This was Jane’s 82nd parkrun and 64th at Witton and marked the 33rd occasion on which she has been first female at Witton, extending her own record and creating a 20-event buffer to second-placed Joanne Nelson. This was Jane’s highest Witton finishing position overall since Event #187 in September, when she finished 7th but, paradoxically, she was half a minute slower that day! Well done Jane!
Jane on her way to another first place on Saturday!
Second female was last week’s first female: Diane Dudgeon in 13th position in 24:45. Some of you may remember Diane from last week’s report, where I mentioned that last week was her first ever parkrun, as she became only the 6th woman to be first female at Witton on their first ever parkrun. This week, she couldn’t quite make it two in a row with Jane’s return, but second place is still incredibly impressive and, better still, Diane scored a big new PB, knocking 57 seconds off her inaugural time last weekend now she knows the course a little better! Another impressive run, Diane – you’d best watch out, Jane!
Witton's newest star, Diane Dudgeon!
Third female was teenager Ruby Cain in 17th position in 25:19. This was Ruby’s 6th parkrun and all 6 have been at Witton, while this marked her second appearance in the Witton top 3, matching her performance at Event #204 in January. This marked a second successive PB for Ruby, following on from her previous visit for Event #205 at the start of February, and she looks to have been doing some work in the past month as she knocked an impressive 1 and a half minutes off her previous best to go under 26 minutes for the first time. This also led to her highest ever overall finishing position at parkrun of 17th, far outstripping her previous best of 31st at Event #187 in September. Great improvements, Ruby!
Ruby Cain earned a second top 3 finish at Witton on Saturday!
First male this weekend, and first overall, was returning Witton 50 Club member James McLeod in 19:46. This was Accrington Road Runner James’s 135th parkrun and his 68th at Witton, keeping his record just above 50% at Witton and extending his record number of first finishes to 22, 5 clear of Blackburn Road Runner Josh Crowther’s second-placed total of 17. It’s always nice to see James back at Witton: 47 of his first 50 parkruns came at Witton, but shortly after that two events closer to home for him opened up, first Hyndburn parkrun in Accrington in October 2017 and then Clitheroe Castle parkrun in May 2018, meaning just 21 of his next 85 parkruns (just under 25%) have come at Witton, but despite this he’s still a regular first finisher when he returns and it’s nice he hasn’t completely forgotten us, with this his first run at Witton since New Year’s Day – another strong performance, James!
James finishes another Witton parkrun!
Second male and second to cross the line was young Ben Livesey in 21:08. This was Blackburn Harrier Ben’s 42nd run at Witton and his milestone 50th overall, meaning he’s going to get another mention in this report shortly, and he was clearly keen to make this a day to remember as he recorded a first Witton podium finish, smashing his 5th placed best from Event #204 in January, and setting a huge new PB too, knocking 1 minute and 11 seconds off his previous best, also set at Event #204 in January. Brilliant running, Ben!
Ben Livesey on his way to a first top 3 finish!
Third finisher this week was unknown, meaning third male was our fourth finisher this weekend, and that – for the first time – was young Liam Bennison in 21:58! We all knew this day would come sooner or later and, sure enough, this was the week when the little Blackburn Harrier finally made it onto the Witton podium, at his 68th parkrun and 66th with us at Witton. A reminder that Liam is just 9 years old and, consequently, needs a willing responsible adult to allow him to fulfil his potential each week. This week, it was the turn of Darwen Dasher and Witton 50 Club member Bruce Elliott, who enabled Liam to run just 8 seconds off his PB set on Christmas Day 2019 – it feels like another one is just around the corner, Liam!
No front-on photos of Liam (in the Messi top) this week, but a great rear-view shot on his way to a first top 3 finish, followed by Bruce Elliot (50 shirt)!
Well done to all our speedy women and men this week!
Milestone time!!! And, goodness, you lot have kept me busy this week, with a stonking 3 new t-shirts earned this week, the most at a single event since Event #197 in December, not to mention the 59th person to join the Witton 50 Club!
Witton regular Christine Duckworth leads first-time parkrunners Stuart and Ella Flynn on Saturday!
First, to our podium finisher: he’s already had a mention but crossing the line in second place at his 50th parkrun was Blackburn Harrier Benjamin Livesey! Ben ran his first parkrun in September 2017, at our 96th Event, the week after our second birthday. As a JM10, he ran alongside dad John, who also ran his first parkrun that day, finishing it in a respectable 32:40. He ran 13 times at parkrun in total during the last 4 months of 2017, racking up his first tourist event at Hyndburn parkrun in December, and taking part in our 100th event in October and our 3rd Christmas Day parkrun. He also managed to record an impressive 6 personal bests during those initial months, including three in a row in December to take his time down to 25:38 at the start of 2018. After a second run at Hyndburn and another Witton PB of 25:14 in January 2018, Ben turned 11 in late February/early March, meaning he could now run on his own at parkrun. In total, he ran 24 times in 2018, with 18 of those coming at Witton, alongside 4 runs at Hyndburn and first appearances at Clitheroe Castle and Penrith parkruns. He managed another 4 Witton PBs during the course of the year, ending with a best of 22:32, while he recorded two PBs at Hyndburn parkrun, reducing his best there to 22:58. 2019 saw just 9 more appearances at parkrun from Ben, with all but the first coming at Witton, having started the year with a fifth appearance at Hyndburn parkrun, while he managed just one more PB during the year at Witton, running 22:31 at Event #169 in April to knock a single second off his previous best! Already in 2020, Ben has recorded 3 parkruns, all at Witton, and has managed 2 PBs already this year, culminating this weekend in a first podium placing of 2nd and a new PB of 21:08. Having just turned 13, Ben still has plenty of growing to do, so it will be fascinating to see how much more he progresses if he keeps parkrunning at Witton. Congratulations on your achievement, Ben, here’s to the next 50 and another t-shirt!
Two photos in one run report - it doesn't happen often, Ben!
Our second milestone t-shirt awarded on the day was the one that should’ve happened last week, as Witton 50 Club and core team member Lorna Pickup finished in 81st position in 36:19 to finally complete her 100th parkrun and earn her black milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ! Lorna ran her first parkrun at Witton’s Event #30 in April 2016, recording a benchmark of 33:30. She returned 3 weeks later and smashed a new PB of 3 minutes to finish in 30:25. That was the first of 6 personal bests she recorded in her first 10 visits, culminating in a run of 27:46 at Event #46 in early August 2016. This was followed by a first tourist run, at Burnley parkrun, where she recorded a new parkrun PB of 27:02. In total, she managed 24 parkruns during 2016, with further tourist runs at Pendle parkrun, Crystal Palace parkrun and Heaton parkrun joining her 20 runs at Witton, and outstripping her August Witton PB and even her parkrun PB at Burnley, first at Crystal Palace in November (running 25:46 that day) and then at Heaton parkrun in early December (recording an amazing 24:47). A frequent traveller and having a job that often requires long and late hours, she recorded just a further 22 parkruns during 2017, including first visits to Cuerden Valley parkrun in January and the brand new Hyndburn parkrun in November, alongside appearances at Witton’s 100th event and our third Christmas Day event. 2018 saw a further 23 parkruns completed, 15 at Witton and 8 tourist runs, including returns to Cuerden Valley and Crystal Palace parkruns, a new Burnley PB of 26:34, and first appearances at Clitheroe Castle and Bolton parkruns (recording times of 27:50 and 27:10 respectively) and a first 3 visits to Preston parkrun, setting an initial best of 26:24, unbeaten in her next 2 visits, with all 3 Preston runs becoming her 3rd, 5th and 6th fastest parkruns ever. At Witton, she took part in our first Run for Norman in June and completed her 50th parkrun at our Event #115 in January. 2019 saw a further 25 parkruns completed, starting with her first New Year’s Day Double at Witton and Burnley parkruns and running 15 times in total at her home event. The remaining 10 saw lots of tourism, particularly during our summer hiatus, where we were cancelled for 5 events in 6 weeks, with Lorna running somewhere different on all 5 occasions, including 3 parkrun venues for the first time. She made 2 further visits during the year to Preston parkrun and a second visit to Hyndburn parkrun, alongside her New Year return to Burnley, with new venues recorded at nearby Haigh Woodland, Watergrove, Centre Vale and Fleetwood Promenade (somewhere she REALLY wanted to go for no apparent reason!), along with Jersey parkrun while on holiday and Dulwich parkrun visiting friends in London. That year saw just one PB recorded, her most recent to date, on her return to Hyndburn parkrun, she managed 29:49, knocking 20 seconds off her previous best. She made a return to Fleetwood Promenade for her first parkrun of 2020, before completing her 96th to 100th parkruns at her home venue, originally planning it to coincide with her birthday on Leap Day, but having to postpone for a week due to ill health a few weeks ago. In addition to her running, Lorna has been a regular and reliable volunteer for Witton, currently sitting on 99 volunteering days alongside her 100 runs. She has marshalled a wonderful 23 times at Witton, been a timekeeper on 9 occasions, shown a real eye with the camera on 5 occasions, done finish tokens on 4 occasions, barcode scanned 3 times and delivered the First Timers Briefing and processed the results once each. She’s also been credited once with post-event closedown but has done it on far more occasions than that! For a while, she received a credit as our Communications Person, overseeing our Twitter and Instagram accounts for Michelle and this wealth of experience in all the key roles made her an obvious choice among all the existing Run Directors to be approached to join the team, a role she has embraced after initial uncertainty, having done so on 2 occasions thus far. Well done Lorna, it’s about blimmin’ time and just another 25 to go to join the Witton 100 Club too!
Lorna was in great spirits as she finally earned her 100 t-shirt!
Now to this week’s birthday girl and after some very careful planning, Darwen Dasher Lisa Moran ran her 50th parkrun on the same day she turned 50 years old! Lisa is an occasional parkrunner, often grumbling about the early start, especially when she has to come face-to-face with the Beast once again, but she was actually one of the first 273 people to run at Witton, running her first parkrun at our inaugural event back in August 2015! She ran 30:51 that day and returned a week later to knock over a minute off in reducing her time to 29:37. In all, she ran 6 of our first 7 events and 8 of our first 11, sandwiching a first tourist parkrun at Ormskirk in mid-October. She’d completed 9 parkruns by the end of 2015 and set a total of 3 Witton PBs, ending the year with a best of 28:32 from Event #6 in October. That was all her parkrunning until March 2016, when she took on the Beast for the first time at Event #24, and she ran 5 times in 8 weeks between March and April, ticking off a further two visits to Witton, alongside first tourist runs at nearby Bolton and Burnley parkruns. There were just another 7 runs during the rest of 2016, however, including 2 at Witton and 3 more at Bolton and a first two visits to Preston parkrun. 2017 saw a further 14 parkruns completed, 8 of which came at Witton, plus 3 visits to Bolton, another visit to Preston and first visits to Haigh Woodland parkrun and the brand-new Hyndburn parkrun, alongside a host of other Witton faces, in November. Her 10 parkruns in 2018 included 3 return visits to Hyndburn, a return to Burnley, a first visit to Southport parkrun and a first international parkrun at Hasenheide parkrun in Berlin, Germany, alongside a further 4 runs at Witton, including at our poignant Event #131, where we celebrated the life of Norman Walsh and Lisa provided immense emotional support to her best friend, Norman’s daughter Viki. Lisa didn’t run a parkrun at all between September 2018 and December 2019, when she returned to Witton for our 198th event just before Christmas. That sparked a run of 5 parkruns over the next 3 months, 4 of which came at Witton, alongside a New Year’s Day visit to Hyndburn – I bet that took some effort, Lisa, even for a 10.30 start! In total, 29 of her 50 runs came at Witton, with Bolton her next most-visited venue on 7. Lisa ran at our second birthday and both our 100th and 200th events and has volunteered for us on 6 occasions, 4 times as tail walker and twice as a marshal. Congratulations, Lisa, let’s see if we can get you to 100 parkruns a little faster than you got to 50, but well done on some great planning and a very happy birthday!!!
Lisa (r) was all smiles running with best friend Viki Walsh on Saturday and brought an excellent cake to celebrate her birthday!
Last but not least, is the latest entrant into the Witton 50 Club: step forward recent regular Andrew Wisdom! Andrew ran his first parkrun at Chelmsford Central parkrun in September 2018, a venue he has visited a few times which suggests maybe a familial connection. Just one week later, he lined up at Witton for the first time and set a benchmark of 30:25, just under 2 minutes slower than his first outing at Chelmsford. He returned a further 6 times during the rest of 2018, setting a run of 5 consecutive PBs to reduce his time to 27:56. He ran at our 150th event in November 2018, and started his New Year at Witton, running with us on New Year’s Day 2019. That was the first of 34 visits to Witton last year for Andrew, alongside a further 12 runs elsewhere and the year was packed with milestones, including running at Witton’s 4th birthday in August, our 200th event in December, running his first Christmas Day parkrun and earning his first milestone t-shirt at Event #194 in November! 2020 started with a heavy duty first New Year’s Day Double, starting at Witton and then going all the way to Morecambe Prom for part 2 and he has not missed a parkrun yet this year, including 3 away from Witton and running the remaining 9 he needed to join the Witton 50 Club, becoming its 59th member. Andrew’s progress has been impressive, reaching the milestone in just 67 events from first running at Witton, the joint-11th fastest from 1-50 so far and the fastest since veteran Terry Gray joined in just 66 events at Event #195 in November! There are now 34 men and 25 women in the Witton 50 Club as Andrew becomes the 9th consecutive male to join the club, since Miriam Hamilton evened it up at 25-apiece at Event #192. Welcome to the club, Andrew!
The Witton 50 Club's latest member: Andrew Wisdom!
Others celebrating notable milestones this weekend include:
Cameron Ashton – 220 runs
Jez Turner (Darwen Dashers) – 210 runs
Richard Blake (Burnden Road Runners) – 80 runs
Chris Cooper (Darwen Dashers) – 80 runs
Lisa Kit – 30 runs
Stephen Crowe – 25 runs
Rona Ricioppo – 20 runs
Jenna McKinlay – 20 runs
Tracy Slater – 10 runs
Sheldon Southworth – 10 runs
Mark Fletcher – 1 run
Fawad Zaman – 1 run
Kerry Thwaites – 1 run
Peter Gazdula – 1 run
Jessica Duckett – 1 run
Rebecca Potter – 1 run
Ella Flynn – 1 run
Stuart Flynn – 1 run
Samantha Duff – 1 run
Ariane Hargreaves – 1 run
Susan Taylor – 1 run
Gemma Sanderson – 1 run
Bernadette Eastwood – 1 run
June Barrow – 1 run
Sabana Valli (Woking AC) – 1 run
6 year-old Jenna McKinlay (centre) ran her 20th parkrun on Saturday!
A wonderful 15 people ran their first ever parkruns at Witton on Saturday, the most since Event #203 in January when we also had 15 and the third time in 2020 we’ve had 15 or more (equalling the number of times we’d had 15 or more between Events #51 and #200!). Fittingly, as we mark International Women’s Day, 11 of the 15 were women, joining the 35 other women to start their parkrun journey at Witton in 2020, making up exactly half of the 92 people we’ve welcomed to parkrun for the first time this year. All I can say is: welcome to parkrun! I hope you enjoyed your first experience; you picked a wonderful morning for it all-round and we hope to see you back again soon! I can promise you’ll always get a warm welcome and lots of encouragement at Witton and if you come regularly, you’ll get to know lots of new people and improve your wellbeing and fitness immensely – not to mention just watch the PB come down!
June Barrow (l) and Bernadette Eastwood (r) were among our parkrun first-timers on Saturday!
Those on the cusp of a milestone include:
David Cooper (Ackworth Road Runners) – 174 runs
Julie Price – 129 runs
Stuart Farmer (Quays Running Club) – 99 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)
Tim Keely – 89 runs
Christine Duckworth – 59 runs
Denise Sykes – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)
Katherine Jump (Blackburn Road Runners) – 29 runs
Vicky van den Biggelaar (Women on the Run) – 24 runs
Clare Eastwood – 24 runs
Molly Nicholls (Blackburn Harriers) – 9 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)
Christine Brown – 9 runs
Joyce Hill – 9 runs
Hannah Duxbury (Darwen Dashers) – 9 runs
Tim Keely will run his 90th parkrun next Saturday - here he is looking very happy in his Ron Hill 10K t-shirt!
We were truly filled to the brim with volunteers this week, with Anthony Furnell signing up a couple more Blackburn Road Runners to the roster and lots of others stepping forward too, so much so, that Michelle contacted me on Thursday night to ask if my dad fancied a week off and wanted to tail walk instead! In the end, 25 people got a volunteering credit on Saturday, the ninth consecutive event with over 20 volunteers and the highest weekly total since Event #204 when 25 people also got a credit. This week’s full list of hi-vis heroes is:
John CRELLIN • Michelle SEARBY • Donna MAZUR • Bryan SEARBY • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Bruce ELLIOTT • Helen READ • Alan VERNON • Ian GOODLIFFE • Debbie ASHTON • Claire BREWER • Kieran MCBRIDE • Dean HOWARD • Shiobhan ROGERS • Niamh ROGERS • Aoife ROGERS • Stephen LIVESEY • Rob KIT • Charlotte KIT • Anthony FURNELL • Scott DINGLE • Niamh ROBERTSON • Denise BROGDEN
Timekeepers Bryan Searby and Niamh Rogers all set on Saturday morning!
We welcomed three more first time volunteers to Witton this weekend, namely Blackburn Road Runners Donna Mazur, Kieran McBride and Stephen Livesey. They were all enthusiastic and smiley marshals around the course on Saturday and we thank them for their help and hope they come back again soon! If you’d like to follow their lead and get involved in helping parkrun go ahead every week then we want to hear from you! It takes upwards of 15 people to enable Witton parkrun to go ahead safely from start to finish, including at least 7 or 8 marshals and the 5 core positions of Run Director, barcode scanner, finish token giver and 2 timekeepers and the more people are part of the team that we can call on week to week, the more freedom everybody has to run or volunteer as they choose! So, if you’re preparing for a race, recovering from illness or injury, or just want to give something back or be involved in parkrun without running then get in touch and we can get you the roster! All we need is your name, parkrun barcode number and the week you’d like to be involved. There’s no pressure, you’ll get any advice or equipment you need before you start, and it really is great to see and encourage so many people doing something to make themselves healthier in body and mind every week. And parkrun volunteering itself has been found to improve mental wellbeing – a parkrun survey last year discovered 84% of volunteers said that volunteering at parkrun made them happier! So, what are you waiting for?! Get in touch with us via our Facebook page (Witton parkrun) or via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you started! Amazingly, as of Wednesday night, we already had a full house for this coming Saturday! You lot are stars.
Blackburn Road Runner Donna Mazur was among our first time volunteers on Saturday!
The end of another sequence of 10 events means it’s an opportunity to examine the strength of our volunteering roster over recent weeks. Between Event #201 and Event #210, we had 235 volunteers, at an average of 23.5 per week. This is considerably above Witton’s all-time average of 21.6 volunteers per event and 235 is the highest 10-event cumulative total since Events #91-100 back in July-October 2017! This puts Events #201-210 as the third-highest 10-event cumulative total ever, behind Events #1-10 (when we had an extraordinary 310 volunteers over our first 10 events) and Events #91-100, when we had 245. It would appear our volunteering is in a similarly strong position to our attendance recently – long may it continue!
The stellar Witton cheer team were all smiles on Saturday: Scott Dingle (l), Charlotte Kit (seated) and Charlotte's dad Rob!
Time for the round-up now and there’s lots of little nuggets to tell you about this week! First, another word on attendance, and after last weekend’s disappointment at just missing out on equalling the record of 11 three-figure attendances in a row, we bounced back this week with a brilliant attendance of 126. This is our highest attendance since we had 130 in the last week of January and means but for 3 pesky people last weekend, we would have broken the record! Never mind, we’ll just have to see if we can’t have 100+ people for the next 11 weeks instead! I can tell you our cumulative totals, both for 2020 and for Year 5 of Witton parkrun (from our August birthday to the next birthday) are both looking incredibly healthy and are threatening to scale heights we’ve never seen before! Our thanks to everyone we’ve welcomed to parkrun over the past few months!
The course was busy once again on Saturday, including mother and daughter regulars Sandra and Emily Snape and Clare and Lucy Eastwood!
Liam Bennison earned his first Witton podium on Saturday alongside Darwen Dasher and Witton 50 Club member Bruce Elliott. While Liam was just outside his Witton PB by 8 seconds, he does have a reputation for helping Wittoners to find unknown reserves of energy in their bids to keep up with him, helping Scott Smith to more than one new PB during their time together and enabling Anwar Khan to break his old course record from Event #7 in October 2015 no less than 121 events later at Event #128 in May 2018 – before repeating the feat 2 months later at Event #136 in July! Next on Liam’s list was Bruce, whose Witton PB stood at 22:09 from Event #15 in December 2015, just before the end of the old course on Boxing Day! At Event #128 in May 2018, Bruce got as close as he has ever got to breaking his old course PB on the Beast, running 22:19 that day, while his highest Witton finishing position came at Event #38 in June 2016, when he finished in 7th position overall. None of that phases young Liam, who tore round in 21:58, with Bruce following just a second behind to go sub-22 at Witton for the first time and break his PB by a full 10 seconds, also crossing the line in 5th position overall for good measure! Well done Bruce – and Liam!
Bruce Elliott (back) earned a Witton PB as he came to celebrate fellow Dasher Lisa Moran's birthday parkrun!
This is an International Women’s Day special edition of the run report, so we should probably have some International Women’s Day stats shouldn’t we! Happily, for this special day, among our 126 attendees we had 66 women to 52 men (with 8 unknowns for good measure), which is only the 25th event in Witton’s 210-event history where we’ve had more women than men take part. Funnily enough, the 24th occasion was last weekend for Event #209, the first time we’ve had consecutive majority female weeks since Events #131 and #132 in June 2018! 66 women out of 126 attendees is a percentage of 52.4%, the highest percentage of the field to be female since Event #132 in June 2018, when women made up 54.1% of the field of 109. In addition, we had 66 women to 52 men, a discrepancy of 14 more women than men: this is the largest difference in the females’ favour since way back at Event #8 in October 2015, when we had 23 more women than men. Interestingly, although our inaugural event had more men than women, our next 7 events all had a majority in favour of the women, before men began to make up the majority over the next 10 events and beyond. Our all-time record stands at 180 events for the men, 25 events for the women and 5 occasions where we’ve had an even number of men and women. For all events, unknown athletes have been assigned no gender. In total, 105 of our 210 t-shirts (exactly half) have been awarded to women, although this is skewed slightly because 29 of our 45 purple volunteering t-shirts (64%) have been awarded to females, compared to 9 white t-shirts (out of 31 – 29%), 44 red t-shirts (out of 107 – 41%) and 22 black t-shirts (out of 46 – 48%), while – to date – tourist Vanya Ritchie is the only person to earn her green 250 t-shirt at Witton, giving women a 100% record in this regard. Meanwhile, in the Witton 50 Club, there are currently 34 men to 25 women (from a 25-25 even split after 50 entrants!), while the Witton 100 Club currently has 6 men to 8 women (with 4 of the next 6 in line to join also being female!) Finally, we have had just 4 occasions in Witton history when there has been a female first across the line, namely Event #28, when Elizabeth Greenwood was first home; Event #62, when Louisa Powell-Smith was first finisher; Event #74, when Blythe Fourie finished first and Event #95, when our Unknown Female was first on our second birthday. Since then, women have been second home on 4 occasions without being quite able to be first, most recently when Eleanor Bolton set the new female course record of 18:36 at Event #198 in December last year! There, I think that’s a pretty comprehensive round-up, don’t you?! What it definitely proves is yes, This Girl Can!
The first Witton IWD parkrun was a huge success!
As I mentioned earlier during their respective first finisher reports, both James McLeod and Jane Magee hold Witton’s male and female records for first finishes at 22 in James’s case and 33 in Jane’s. This is the first time since Event #193 in November last year that they’ve both been first finisher in the same week and only the second time ever, as many of James’s first finishes came before Jane started her parkrun journey!
Ian Goodliffe (r) thoroughly enjoyed his parkrun on Saturday, seen here alongside Chris Cooper (l)!
We had our latest two examples of duplicate names crop up this week and they both belonged to some of our brand new parkrunners! I’m always slightly dubious when duplicate names appear from brand new parkrunners in case they’re just people who’ve lost their barcodes and signed up again, but in both cases, I am pleased to report that they’re just coincidences, and unusual ones at that! In 28th position was Mark Fletcher in 26:34. Mark is an SM30-34 and was completing his first ever parkrun with us on Saturday. But he is not the first Mark Fletcher to complete the Witton course – in fact, Mark Fletcher was one of the very first names to visit Witton, with a VM55-59 by that name running our very first event back in August 2015! Our first Mark Fletcher has yet to run a second parkrun, we hope to see our newest recruit again very soon!
The second Mark Fletcher to take on Witton!
Secondly, in 87th position, we had Jessica Duckett in 37:55. Jessica is a SW30-34 and like Mark, this was Jessica’s first ever parkrun this weekend, but also like Mark, Jessica is not the first Jessica Duckett to run at Witton. Strange though it may seem, as it is not the most common name, we had a previous Jessica Duckett join us all the way back at Event #2 in September 2015, a JW15-17 who ran a total of 4 parkruns with us between Events #2 and #32 from September 2015 to April 2016. That Jessica hasn’t run a parkrun since, so let’s see if our second Jessica Duckett can break her namesakes record of 4 visits! Mark Fletcher is the 33rd repeat male name seen at Witton, while Jessica Duckett is the 17th repeat female name, bringing our total to 50 repeat names overall, of which 36 are definitely examples of two (or in some cases more!) different people running under the same parkrun name!
I couldn't find a definitive picture of Jessica Duckett, so here's Katherine Jump and Philippa Kershaw bringing some colour to their first IWD parkrun!
It turns out that March 7th is a surprisingly notable birthday for Wittoners, as Lisa Moran wasn’t the only one celebrating on Saturday! In addition to Lisa’s 50th parkrun on her 50th birthday, Witton 100 Club member Scott Smith ran his first birthday parkrun on the day he turned 31, while Witton legend Dorothy Myers completed her first birthday parkrun too, as she turned a stupendous 75! Ever keen to keep a low profile, Dot wouldn’t let us make a fuss on the day, but it is a notable milestone, not just for Dot but for Witton, as on Saturday she became the first ever VW75-79 to run at Witton and only the 6th person aged 75 or over to run with us, most notably former regular John Minton and current regular Terry Gray, who is also the only VM80-84 to have ever run at Witton. You’re a pioneer, Dot! And a very happy birthday to all 3 of you!
The birthday gang! Lisa Moran (l), Scott Smith (centre) and Dorothy Myers (r) celebrated a collective 156 years on Earth on Saturday - I'll let you do the maths!
Notices now and after a spate of significant events in quick succession, things get back to normal for a little while with a regular Saturday parkrun this coming weekend. This Saturday sees the latest quarterly Witton parkrun meal at the Ocean Palace Chinese restaurant in Darwen, which promises to be a great event so if you fancy some good food and great company then hurry up and register your interest with Michelle so she can let the restaurant know. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your fellow parkrunners better and spend a little more time with them than the 10 minutes after parkrun finishes! And with little else to mention, I’ll throw in an early heads up that Witton will next be cancelled on Saturday May 9th 2020 for an event in the park, so that’s your next tourism opportunity if you don’t want to miss a run at Witton!
A train of parkrunners climb the foothills of the Beast!
I should also mention the current focus of everyone’s minds, the ensuing Coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping the world. As many of you will be aware, the UK has now had several hundred confirmed cases and a handful of deaths to those with underlying health conditions. It is anticipated that the epidemic will worsen over the coming weeks and months and the government is already putting in place contingency plans to deal with that outcome. These could include bans on large public gatherings, the particular details of which are unknown. To date, parkruns in heavily affected countries and areas, such as Japan and Italy, have been cancelled where necessary and parkrun HQ have released a number of updates confirming they are monitoring the situation both in the UK and across the world but for the time being the message is that we largely continue as normal, with sensible precautions if you are planning to volunteer and feel unwell, particularly with flu-like symptoms. You can see the latest statement from parkrun here: https://www.parkrun.com/news/2020/03/12/covid-19 while the advice earlier this week can be seen in the image below. There is no guarantee that parkruns in the UK will ever be cancelled due to the virus, but as you’ve probably gathered from the news, nothing about this is certain. All I can say is: take care of yourselves and follow the government advice.
parkrun's Coronavirus statement in full from earlier this week
Usually this would be the end of the run report, but if you’ll forgive me, I’d like to mention a significant personal milestone before we part, as this is actually the 100th parkrun run report I’ve ever written. I cannot believe it’s nearly 3 years since Michelle first suggested I give it a go back at Event #84 in June 2017! James McLeod was first finisher that day too! As some of the Witton veterans may remember, for much of our first 2 years, our Run Reports were written by the erstwhile Barry Shackleton, who deserves much of the credit for the basic format I still follow. However, Barry’s parkrun odyssey often meant he was writing run reports based the data, rather than his own experiences and he was keen that Wittoners take up the mantle of telling their own stories from their own perspectives. Various people gave it a go, often under duress and I confess I did quite fancy giving it a go, as I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t know where to begin! That first week, I was keen to get it written quickly, but didn’t want to seem too eager so took my time – which then meant it was barely ready in time for Friday, which earned me a telling off from Michelle! Nevertheless, my report went down well, and I wrote 11 reports in total during the rest of 2017. I don’t recall a specific conversation about me taking over the role on a more permanent basis, but with many Wittoners reluctant to give it a go, I’m happy enough to do it when required. I’m helped by my ever-extending spreadsheet, which is full to bursting with stats on almost anything you can think of counting relating to Witton, which is how I keep track of all your exploits (with occasional errors!) In total, 96 of my run reports have been written here at Witton, with tourist reports at Ormskirk, Worsley Woods, Clitheroe Castle and Bolton completing my century. Additionally, just for my own fun, and without earning a parkrun volunteering credit, I’ve also contributed a further 9 ‘Witton on Tour’ reports, 2 statistical round-ups (after our 150th and 200th events), a history of parkrun (for parkrun’s 15th birthday last year) and a special report on the test event for our reverse route ahead of our second birthday in August 2017! I’m somewhat astonished to discover that my 100 run reports have comprised of nearly 295,000 words and I apologise for making you read quite so much every week! Despite this, many of you have said very kind things over the years about my reports and I am genuinely touched by every comment and can only say I love writing about your achievements. Witton parkrun is a real community and you lot are what make it special – your triumphs, your struggles, your progress, your milestones. Thanks for allowing me to tell your stories and I’m happy to do continue to do so until you officially tell me to sling my hook – or the next Matthew comes along!
3 parkrun milestone t-shirts in one shot: Holly Turner (black), dad Jez (blue), Peter Nicholson (purple) and Robert Crompton (red)!
Now there’s a chilling thought! I’ll see you all on Saturday for Event #211.
Have a great week,
Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun #ThisGirlCan
What a blooming brilliant parkrun!