WITTON PARKRUN EVENT #202 – 11th January 2020

Witton’s first Saturday parkrun of 2020 took place in good weather. Despite impending forecasted rain, Saturday dawned dry and bright and relatively mild, with the temperature only dipping due to the cold, swirling wind, which featured strong gusts that caused headwinds in certain areas of the course. Nevertheless, conditions underfoot were very good, with the largely dry start to the year meaning firm mud and little slippage for the brilliant 140 of you who came to run, jog and walk the Beast this weekend, with an amazing 16 of you joining us for the first ever time!

First to cross the line was Blackburn Harrier Joe Gebbie in 18:24. This was Joe’s 40th parkrun and 36 of those have been at Witton, with this being his 9th time as Witton first finisher. This puts him up to joint-4th in the most male first finishes at Witton, behind James McLeod (21), Josh Crowther (17), Unknown (11) and level with Stephen Hall (9). It was also Joe’s fastest time at Witton since August 2018, when he ran 17:45 – 17 months but only 9 visits ago! This marked Joe’s third-fastest time ever at Witton – brilliant start to the year, Joe!

More significantly, Joe’s time marked the 100th sub-19 finishing time ever on the Beast! I consider sub-19 to be the benchmark at Witton for very fast times and the fact it has taken 185 events to achieve 100 sub-19 times would seem to back that up. The Beast is a fearsome opponent! A couple of stats for this: a total of 39 people have contributed times towards the 100, with 20 parkrunners achieving this mark on a single occasion to date. Only 19 people have run sub-19 on the Beast on more than one occasion. They are: Joshua Crowther (15), Stephen Hall (10), Joe Gebbie (6), James McLeod (6), Nick Gaskell (4), Phil Marsden, David Birtwistle, Jacob Boyle and Ben Walmsley (all 3) and Joshua Boyle, Nick Leigh, Rodger Wilkins, Sam Exton, Martin Rutter, Anthony Valentine, Christopher Davies, Louisa Powell-Smith, Jacob Watson and Simon Smith (all twice). Only 3 females have achieved this feat, most recently course record holder Eleanor Bolton last month, our Unknown Female at Event #95 and Louisa Powell-Smith on two occasions, while in addition to our Unknown Female, 4 male unknowns have recorded times sub-19 as first finishers at Witton. The first person to run under 19 minutes on our Beast course (which was first used for Event #18 in January 2016), was Sam Exton, who ran 18:22 at Event #26 in March 2016, following it up a week later with 17:58: his only two runs on that course. The Beast record belongs to Horwich RMI Harrier Chris Farrell, who ran 16:25 at Event #78 in April 2017: his second and, to date, last parkrun. To put that time into context, the closest anyone has got since has been fellow Horwich RMI Harrier Phil Marsden, who ran 16:58 at Event #171 in April 2019, the second of his three visits to date. Well done to all the speedy men and women who have achieved this feat over the years!

Back to this week and second finisher was Blackburn Harrier Nicholas Smith in 19:07. This was Nicholas’s 24th parkrun and 16 of those have come at Witton. It was his 5th fastest time at Witton, just 4 seconds behind his last visit in September and just 14 seconds off the personal best he set at Event #100 in October 2017 – well done, Nicholas!

Third place went to James Wisdom in 21:13. This was James’s 11th parkrun and 4th at Witton, since he made his parkrun debut with us in October 2018. It was James’s second time on the Witton podium, after he finished second on his debut, while this was his fastest time at Witton since that first parkrun, with a further half a minute to make up to set a new PB – is 2020 the year, James?!

First female was Witton 50 Club Jane Magee in 15th position in 23:18. Jane has run 58 times at Witton and 76 times in total, and this marked her 29th time as first finisher at Witton, returning to a 50% first finishing record. It is the first time since Event #197 in mid-December that Jane has been Witton first finisher, her longest drought since September-November last year. Jane extends her own record for most first finishes at Witton, now holding a 16-run lead over Joanne Nelson, while she is 8 ahead of James McLeod’s male record too. Incredible as ever, Jane!

Second female was Blackburn Harrier, Hannah Cookson in 22nd position in 23:59. This was Hannah’s 69th parkrun and 31st at Witton and only her second anywhere since the end of November. Hannah was also second female on her last visit to Witton, as well as at her single parkrun in between, at Sheffield Hallam parkrun in Yorkshire. Impressively, it was her fastest run at Witton since March last year – well done, Hannah!

Third female was a Witton first timer: Eva Ramsey in 25th position in 24:25. This was Eva’s 25th parkrun, with 20 of those coming at her home parkrun of Stevenage in Bedfordshire. Eva is a member of Fairlands Valley Spartans RC, based in Stevenage, and becomes the second member of that club to run at Witton, after Jane Whitrow for Event #38 in June 2016! Eva is used to parkrun podium finishes and has been first female at her home run as well as elsewhere – great running, Eva and welcome to Witton!

Milestone time!!! And we had another new t-shirt awarded at Witton on Saturday and it went to Jared Potter who finished in 8th position in 21:48! Jared was running his 100th parkrun, thus earning himself a black milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ, but this was only his 5th parkrun at Witton. There was good reason for his visit, however, as Jared made his parkrun debut with us at Witton in October 2017 at our 100th event. He visited throughout October that year, running 4 consecutive Saturdays, before running at nearby Hyndburn the week after (Hyndburn had just started and we went en masse for our November 2017 bonfire cancellation!) and a fortnight later, he ran at Sale Water parkrun on the outskirts of Manchester for the first time. He ran 3 times in total at Sale Water before the year was out and finished his year with 2 visits to another parkrun near there, Worsley Woods. He ran an astonishing 48 parkruns in 2018, not missing a parkrun between mid-February and early September and running his milestone 50th parkrun at Stretford parkrun, again in Manchester, in November 2018, while on Christmas Day, he ran at parkrun for the first time at Worsley Woods. His parkrunning continued in 2019, with another 41 completed to set up his first run of 2020 as his 100th parkrun and a nostalgic return to where it all began at Witton. His 5 runs at Witton still make it his 4th most-visited venue, a long way behind Sale Water, where he has run 70 times in total but not far behind Worsley Woods (8) and Stretford (7), while his total is completed by 2 runs at Cheadle Hulme and single outings at Hyndburn, Fletcher Moss, Lyme Park, Bolton, Wilmslow, Pennington Flash, Alexandra parkrun, Moss Side and Wythenshawe parkruns respectively. The fact that the vast majority of these runs are in and around the Manchester area suggests that the biggest reason for Jared’s disappearance from Witton was a change of location, and we are pleased he has found plenty of other courses to satisfy his parkrun needs. Congratulations on your t-shirt, Jared, it’s wonderful that you chose to return to Witton for your milestone and we’re happy to have you whenever you fancy a visit. At your current rate, it won’t be too long before you hit your next t-shirt in 3 years!

Others celebrating notable milestones at Witton on Saturday included:

  • Kate Pomfret (Blackburn Road Runners) – 130 runs
  • John Cookson (Blackburn Harriers) – 125 runs
  • Daniel Hamilton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 80 runs
  • Oliver Thompson – 75 runs
  • Karl Gordon (Deestriders RC) – 60 runs
  • Joe Gebbie (Blackburn Harriers) – 40 runs
  • John Randall – 40 runs
  • David Morris (Blackburn Road Runners) – 40 runs – David was also running for the 30th time at Witton!
  • Eva Ramsey (Fairlands Valley Spartans RC) – 25 runs
  • Lisa Kit – 25 runs
  • Daniel McCombs (Community Church Blackburn) – 20 runs
  • Ahmed Karolia – 10 runs
  • Andrea Cottam – 10 runs
  • Mark Schooling – 1 run
  • Paula Bateson – 1 run
  • Graeme Dawson – 1 run
  • Nina Draj – 1 run
  • Amy Caton – 1 run
  • Carol Hassan – 1 run
  • Anne-Marie Burns – 1 run
  • Karen Green – 1 run
  • Emma Holden – 1 run
  • Sheila Aspinall – 1 run
  • Myra Gazdula – 1 run
  • Kelly Wrightson – 1 run
  • Jacqueline Haywood – 1 run
  • Zoe Topping – 1 run
  • Nicola Fanshawe – 1 run
  • Isobel Cordingley – 1 run

A phenomenal 16 of you ran your first ever parkrun at Witton on Saturday! This is the highest number of new parkrunners we’ve had since Event #169 in April last year, when we also had 16, while you have to go back to our first Run for Norman, Event #131 in June 2018 for that number to be exceeded (17)! Welcome to parkrun! We hope you enjoyed your first experience at Witton and come back for more in the coming months and years. Hopefully you’ve now realised it really is as friendly and unpressured as you’ve heard, and it really doesn’t matter if you’re an 18-minute runner or a 58-minute runner. You can take as long as you need and the more you come, the faster you’ll get! First timer Sheila Aspinall contacted us via our Facebook page to share how much she, her sister and brother-in-law had loved their first runs and commented on how welcoming and supportive everybody had been. Thanks Sheila, congratulations on your first parkruns and it won’t be long before you’re earning PBs and t-shirts galore if you keep coming!

Those on the cusp of a milestone include:

  • Aimie Wormald (Darwen Running Group) – 219 runs
  • Lynda Vernon – 169 runs
  • Peter Toogood – 129 runs
  • Miriam Hamilton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 79 runs
  • Hannah Cookson (Blackburn Harriers) – 69 runs
  • Andrew Wisdom – 59 runs
  • Andrew Stewart – 29 runs
  • Paul Snape – 19 runs
  • Ady Gray – 9 runs
  • Raymond Lapa – 9 runs

Unusually, I get to mention myself in the milestones as it turns out that, on Saturday, I ran my 150th parkrun on our Beast route! I am the first Wittoner to reach this mark and it probably explains why I’m so tired! For those who don’t know, our first 17 events took place on a different course before the Boxing Day floods of 2015 damaged one of the bridges across the river in the park and required us to change our route while they were fixed. The Beast, while tough, got plenty of good responses and so it stayed! I love our course: the mixture of surfaces, the variety of challenges and the fact you get rewarded, with the same amount of downhill as there is uphill! It’s technically demanding, but great training for visiting other parkruns, as proven by the fact that my 10 fastest parkruns have come away from Witton, culminating in a time nearly 2 minutes quicker than my Witton PB at Ormskirk parkrun. My Witton PB, meanwhile, regardless of course, has improved every year, to 26:38 in May 2018 and then 26:32 in March 2019, so I suppose my main aim for 2020 has to be to try and get a sub-26:30 on the Beast! Onwards to 200! In case you’re wondering, the full top 10 is:

  • Matthew Vernon – 150 runs
  • Anwar Khan – 146 runs
  • Lynda Vernon – 140 runs
  • Scott Smith – 136 runs
  • Pat Procter – 125 runs
  • Aimie Wormald – 119 runs
  • Ian Goodliffe – 112 runs
  • Tony Duckworth – 111 runs
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming – 110 runs
  • Suzanne Ferrandino – 110 runs

It appears lots of you have made New Year’s Resolutions to volunteer more at parkrun and we gratefully received offers from 5 first-time volunteers to help fill this week’s roster on the remarkably early day of Thursday. The numbers were enormous, with 28 volunteers getting a credit, the highest number since Event #179 in July when we had 30. The crucial thing is that we keep the roster full every week and it is pointless having too many marshals one week and not enough the next, so if you’d like to help on a particular week, then get your requests in in good time, else why not consider running that week and then volunteering the week after when your help may be more important? Brilliantly, we’ve already nearly filled our core roles for the next month, which means we’re only a few volunteers away from being able to host our next 4 or 5 events! Can you help? If you want to be involved, get in touch via our Facebook page (Witton parkrun) or via wittonhelpers@parkrun.com with your name, barcode number and the date you’d like to volunteer and we’ll get you on the roster! The added bonus is that you get the eternal gratitude of your fellow parkrunners and you get your name in lights. To prove the point, this week’s hi-vis heroes were:

Jamie DOWDALL • Sandra SNAPE • Sue DUCKWORTH • Hayley DUCKWORTH • Calvin FERGUSON • Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Antony DUCKWORTH • Lynda VERNON • Alan VERNON • Wayne RUSHWORTH • Ian GOODLIFFE • Claire BREWER • Dean HOWARD • Karen RISHTON • Lucy EASTWOOD • Clare EASTWOOD • Niamh ROGERS • Alexander CURRAN • Rob KIT • Charlotte KIT • Scott DINGLE • Niamh ROBERTSON • Emma HAYES • Denise BROGDEN

Our total of 5 first-time volunteers was the highest number in a single week since Event #177 in June 2019, when we had 6. Alongside regular runner Karen Rishton and recent runner Alexander Curran were parkrun newcomers Claire Brewer and Denise Brogden, as well as Niamh Rogers, who is our latest Duke of Edinburgh recruit. Niamh has run a couple of times at Witton and was shown the ropes on Saturday by barcode scanning, under the watchful eye of fellow DofE-er Emma Hayes. It seems she enjoyed it and she did a good job, with only 2 barcodes needing to be written down and she’s already signed up for the next few weeks! Welcome to the team, Niamh. Unusually, it does mean we’ve got two “Niamh R”s doing Duke of Edinburgh at the same time, so Michelle has christened our most recent recruit “New Niamh” to avoid confusion! What could possibly go wrong..?!

It was a significant milestone for one of our volunteers on Saturday too, namely Run Director Bryan Searby, who officially volunteered at Witton for the 200th time! Bryan has only not received credits at Event #40 in June 2016 and Event #88 in July 2017 but as wife and Event Director Michelle Searby says, she has no idea where he was those weeks. However, since she writes the roster, I’m assuming there was a reason! Bryan is an integral part of Witton’s team and having largely given up running due to various personal reasons, he has become our regular timer, ensuring all parkrunners get clicked over the line and training up a variety of fellow timers in the workings of the stopwatch. He has been a timekeeper on 123 occasions and marshalled 35 times, mostly at the bottom of the Beast on what, for a time, was known as ‘Bryan’s Bend’! He’s helped setup on countless occasions but been officially credited at 20 events, along with 17 times as Run Director. His remaining credits have come from tail walking (5 times), pacing (3 times), number checker – a role involved with the finish tokens in our early days of huge attendances (twice) and once in the mysterious ‘Other’ role – who knows what he did that week! 206 credits at 200 events: a phenomenal achievement, Bryan, well done from all of us at Witton and thanks for everything you do!

Last couple of bits from Event #202 now and our attendance of 140 was another stellar week for Witton, the joint-19th highest attendance ever from our 202 events and the fourth new entry into the top 20 in a row. It follows totals of 173 on Christmas Day, 150 for our 200th event and 206 on New Year’s Day, giving a total for the 4 events of 669 parkrunners, the highest cumulative total for 4 runs since Events 7-10 in October 2015, when we had 670 – just one more!

This rapid increase in attendance has seen us quickly rise past 19,000 completed runs at Witton and our 19,000th finisher came this week in the shape of Blackburn Road Runner Cathy Hatch in 106th position! Congratulations, Cathy! A little slice of Witton history. It has taken just 8 events since Witton regular Andrew Wisdom became our 18,000th finisher at Event #194 to reach 19,000 and this is the quickest 1000 runs we’ve recorded since we jumped from 1000 runs at Event #5 to 2000 runs at Event #11 in November 2015 – just 6 events! Long may this continue.

Just one event after Robert Taylor became the latest name to appear twice at Witton, another one joined the party. When my stats threw up the fact that Lewis Smith had visited us for the first time on Saturday, just 6 events since he made his first appearance, I assumed we had an example of someone running under two different barcodes having lost his previous one or something. But upon further investigation, this is definitely not the case! Lewis Smith 1 joined us for Event #196 at the end of November. He is a VM50-54 who was running his 217th parkrun, with half of those coming at Marple parkrun in Stockport. Lewis Smith 2, who joined us on Saturday, was an SM25-29 who was running just his third parkrun, with previous runs at Cuerden Valley and Preston parkruns to his name! The 6 events between Lewis Smith 1 and Lewis Smith 2 joining us is the shortest it has taken a name to be repeated since we had two Mark Butlers in 3 events for Events #152 and #155 respectively! Lewis joins Daniel and David as Smiths with repeat visits to Witton, while we’ve had not two but three Richard Smiths and three Andy Smiths too! We have now had 41 repeat names and 30 of those have been men. Welcome, Lewis!

And with that, we’re just about done. An early heads up for our next significant parkrun: our next celebration will be a very special parkrunning day: February 29th, the first time a Saturday has fallen on Leap Day in parkrun’s relatively short history! At Witton, we are combining this with a special event for Witton 50 Club member and recent Run Director recruit Lorna Pickup, who will be celebrating her 40th birthday that day, a birthday she only truly gets to celebrate every 4 years – so really, she’s only 10! In honour of the decade of her birth, Witton’s 209th event (assuming no unexpected cancellations) will be an 80s fancy dress special, so dust off your leg warmers, shell suits and shoulder pads and come on down to Witton for a trip back to the future!

Until then, we’re on as normal, so I’ll see you down by the pavilion around 8.45am for Event #203!

Have a great week,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


WITTON PARKRUN EVENT #201 – 1st January 2020


“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:



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 wittonhelpers@parkrun.com 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.

Hyndburn (1)

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!

First at Both

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!

Haigh (1)

(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!

Long distance doublers

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.

Volunteer doublers

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!

Singles away from Witton

(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!



This is the place to find all the stats from both our last year of parkrunning and some highlights from our 200 events, since our debut in August 2015 through to our 200th event in December 2019.

  • To start with, let’s see some headline figures. In 200 events, Witton has seen…
  • 164 first finishers across both sexes, made up of 79 males and 85 females.
  • 4057 named finishers.
  • 18687 total runs, of which 864 were unknowns, leaving 17823 runs linked to barcodes.
  • 3148 personal bests, bearing in mind the course has got harder since we started…
  • An average of 93.4 runners every week, with each person to have run at Witton having run an average of 4.6 times.
  • An average run time of 31:26.
  • A total running time of 1 year, 43 days, 1 hour, 36 minutes and 12 seconds.
  • A total running distance of 93,435km.

First, a few notes for those who aren’t aware of Witton’s history. Our original course started near the main car park, running up the main driveway round the corner towards our current start line, taking in our usual “small hill” loop through the first woods, but then, instead of turning into Myerscough College, continuing onto the cycle path, taking in the full loop of the fields of Witton Park, over the bridge by the Tower Road car park, alongside the river past the 4G pitches, back over the other bridge towards the starting point then taking in another loop of the “small hill” before finishing on the grass in the centre of the park. This course was used for our first 16 events, leading up to Boxing Day, when the heaviest rain in recent memory caused the river to flood and damaged the structure of one of the bridges. Our Boxing Day 2015 parkrun, Event #17, used a makeshift course which bypassed the bridges for the 38 attendees that day but required a back-up route to be used until repairs were completed. This was our “Beast” course, the current layout found at Witton, which takes in the small hill twice, but also goes through Myerscough and up “the Beast”. This new route provided a very different but more varied challenge than the old course and once repairs were completed around 3 months later, it was decided to keep the new route rather than return to the old course. This means that our first 17 runs were on the old route and everything else has been on the new route, apart from 3 “Reverse Beast” runs for our birthday events.

This means that times have generally got slower and many Witton records have stayed unchanged from the early days, partly because the early days saw some fast runners pass through trying a new course and also because those sorts of times are extremely difficult to achieve on our current route. For Witton regulars who started on the old course, some have never been able to surpass their previous times on the old course, while some have set new PBs on the Beast. Everyone who started in January 2016 onwards has only taken on the Beast and thus has less of an issue.

The fastest time ever seen at Witton was by an unknown runner at Event #10 in October 2015, a brisk 15:49, which bested the inaugural PB set by Karl Billington of 15:51 at our first event.

Chris Farrell holds the Beast course record of 16:25, not that much slower than the old course record and I would be interested to see if anybody could get close to that given the right training, circumstances and support. Anybody fancy taking on the challenge?

There have now been 40 times recorded at Witton of 18 minutes or lower, with 24 on the new course and 16 on the old course.

8 men have successfully run sub-18 minutes at Witton on more than one occasion. They are:

  • David Birtwistle – 5 times (all old course)
  • Phil Marsden – 3 times (all new course)
  • Tim Raynes – 2 times (both old course)
  • Anthony Valentine – 2 times (both courses)
  • Joshua Boyle – 2 times (both new course)
  • Rodger Wilkins – 2 times (both courses)
  • Nick Leigh – 2 times (both new course)
  • Joshua Crowther – 2 times (both new course)

Our female course record was broken earlier this month by Eleanor Bolton of Ribble Valley Harriers. Her time of 18:36 was the joint-58th fastest time ever seen on the Beast and it will be interesting to see if she can beat that time again in the future.

In total, there have been 5 sub-19 female times at Witton and all bar the slowest have been on our ‘Beast’ route:

  1. Eleanor Bolton – 18:36 (Event #198)
  2. Unknown Female – 18:43 (Event #95)
  3. Louisa Powell-Smith – 18:47 (Event #62)
  4. Louisa Powell-Smith – 18:50 (Event #109)
  5. Nichola Jackson – 18:56 (Event #16)

The unknown female’s time was actually on our Reverse Beast route for our second birthday and was also one of 4 occasions when women have been first finisher at Witton. Interestingly, 3 of our sub-19 female times were not good enough to be first home, including our course record holder last weekend! The four ladies who have managed this feat are:

  • Elizabeth Greenwood – 19:28 (Event #28)
  • Louisa Powell-Smith – 18:47 (Event #62)
  • Blythe Fourie – 20:11 (Event #74)
  • Unknown Female – 18:43 (Event #95)

It has not happened since our second birthday in August 2017, 105 events ago – come on ladies, someone’s got to show these men who’s boss!

As we said up top, there have been 79 male first finishers at Witton. Of these, 56 men have achieved this feat on a single occasion, with 26 of those doing so on their only visits to Witton.

37 men have now achieved more than one male first finish at Witton, with Accrington Road Runner James McLeod holding the record of 20, 3 clear of Blackburn Road Runner Joshua Crowther with 17.

Others who have managed this on more than 5 occasions are:

  • Unknown – 11 times
  • Stephen Hall – 9 times
  • David Birtwistle – 8 times
  • Joe Gebbie – 8 times
  • Chris Barnes – 7 times

Stephen Hall managed to be first finisher on his first 7 appearances at Witton before losing out in a battle of the Ribble Valley Harriers in December 2018. He now has 9 first finishes from 10 appearances, a record of 90%. Josh Crowther is just behind him, with an impressive 17 first finishes from 19 for a record of 89%. For those with 100% records on more than one occasion, there are only 5:

  • Karl Billington – 3/3
  • Anthony Valentine – 3/3
  • Christopher Davies – 3/3
  • Tim Raynes – 2/2
  • Joshua Boyle – 2/2

The lowest percentage belongs to Trawden AC’s Fraser Snape, who has finished first on just one of his 47 appearances at Witton, giving a percentage of 2.13% but, hey! You still finished first Fraser! Not many can say that!

85 women have been first female at Witton and 53 of those have done so on a single occasion. With women often being mixed with the men in the midfield, it’s not always easy to know where you are as a female, but the same people frequently pop up. This is one statistic that has changed immeasurably since our 150th event, with our first female on the most occasions now being Jane Magee, who has achieved this feat on 28 occasions, the most of anyone at Witton for both sexes.

There have now been a further 9 ladies who have achieved 5 or more first finishes at Witton, up from 5 after 150 events. They are:

  • Joanne Nelson – 13 times
  • Hannah Cookson – 9 times
  • Lynne Clough – 8 times
  • Sue Duckworth – 8 times
  • Kate Cookson – 8 times
  • Amy-Nicola Davies – 7 times
  • Suzanne Budgett – 6 times
  • Eleanor Bolton – 6 times
  • Sarah Ridehalgh – 5 times

Only 5 women have a 100% first finish record after multiple visits. They are:

  • Elizabeth Greenwood – 3/3
  • Louisa Powell-Smith – 3/3
  • Annabel Ralph – 2/2
  • Blythe Fourie – 2/2
  • Jo Armitage – 2/2

The slowest male first finishing time came from Allan Dodds at Event #17 during the Boxing Day floods of 2015. Due to the damage to the bridge, the course was re-routed and extended to ensure PBs were impossible. His time of 22:23 that day remains comfortably the slowest by nearly a minute. The slowest on a regular weekend was from Witton 50 Club member Chris Chadwick, who finished first in 21:37 at Event #120 in March 2018.

The slowest female first finisher was Diane Vaughton with 29:23 at Event #117 in February, although in her defence it was a slow week overall, with just 14 sub-26 minute runners in total, Diane finishing in 28th position.

The top 10 highest attendees at Witton after 200 possible events are:

  • Anwar Khan – 163 events
  • Matthew Vernon – 161 events
  • Scott Smith – 143 events
  • Lynda Vernon – 138 events
  • Aimie Wormald – 126 events
  • Patricia Procter – 123 events
  • Peter Toogood – 118 events
  • Suzanne Ferrandino – 117 events
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming – 115 events
  • Ian Goodliffe – 110 events

Witton has got harder since we started and those who have taken on the Beast on the most occasions (excluding runs on the old course) are:

  • Matthew Vernon – 149 runs
  • Anwar Khan – 146 runs
  • Lynda Vernon – 138 runs
  • Scott Smith – 134 runs
  • Patricia Procter – 123 runs
  • Aimie Wormald – 118 runs
  • Ian Goodliffe – 110 runs
  • Tony Duckworth – 109 runs
  • Suzanne Ferrandino – 109 runs
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming – 109 runs

Witton is visited by an array of tourists, including some that have racked up some impressive figures for parkruns completed. The current top 10 for the most events completed by parkrunners running at Witton is:

  • Barry Shackleton – 450 runs (Event 199 – 31st appearance)
  • David Limbrick – 409 runs (Event 194 – only appearance)
  • Karen Shackleton – 387 runs (Event 199 – 31st appearance)
  • Adam Bull – 378 runs (Event 140 – only appearance)
  • Carol Diane Bull – 378 runs (Event 140 – only appearance)
  • Brian Tull – 372 runs (Event 199 – 6th appearance)
  • Lynne Webster – 371 runs (Event 200 – only appearance)
  • Susan Esslemont – 369 runs (Event 108 – only appearance)
  • Peter Broadbent – 366 runs (Event 147 – only appearance)
  • Dave Senneck – 354 runs (Event 148 – only appearance)

Most really experienced parkrunners started elsewhere long before Witton was conceived but among our 50 and 100 Clubs there are some pretty experienced parkrunners these days. The top 10 are:

  • Sue Duckworth – 234 runs (First Witton: Event 1 – 15th parkrun completed)
  • Aimie Wormald – 216 runs (Event 1 – 48th parkrun completed)
  • Anwar Khan – 207 runs (Event 1 – 6th parkrun completed)
  • Jon Carberry – 205 runs (Event 1 – 60th parkrun completed)
  • Justin Collighan – 198 runs (Event 7 – 57th parkrun completed)
  • Matthew Vernon – 195 runs (Event 4 – 1st parkrun completed)
  • Sarah Watkins – 191 runs (Event 1 – 47th parkrun completed)
  • Vicky Spencer – 181 runs (Event 2 – 36th parkrun completed)
  • Kerry Elliott – 177 runs (Event 5 – 1st parkrun completed)
  • Bruce Elliott – 175 runs (Event 5 – 1st parkrun completed)
  • Sharon Cocker – 175 runs (Event 1 – 17th parkrun completed)

Two people have earned milestone t-shirts by only running at Witton. They are Dorothy Myers and Robert Crompton. Dorothy has run the most parkruns at Witton without ever visiting another parkrun venue. Her current tally is 82. Robert ran his first 52 runs at Witton, before visiting Hyndburn during our cancellation streak in the summer. This means the next highest totals for most runs at Witton without visiting another parkrun after Dorothy are:

  • Michael McCarthy – 28 runs
  • Lindsay Davies – 26 runs
  • Saz Patel – 24 runs
  • John Hughes – 21 runs

While Robert’s record has come to an end for most parkruns at Witton from the start of a parkrun career, there is also the fact that he ran 52 uninterrupted Witton parkruns. Again, this is behind Dorothy’s 82, but two other Wittoners are currently on runs threatening Robert’s second place. Ian Clarkson matched Robert’s 52 with his visit for Event #200, while little Liam Bennison is up to 48 runs at Witton without visiting another parkrun and could soon become the 4th person to run 50 uninterrupted Witton parkruns.

If we are speaking about consecutive streaks, without missing a single event (as opposed to runs where you may miss but don’t run anywhere else) then by far the longest streak ever seen at Witton was by our highest attendee, Anwar Khan, who attended all of Witton’s first 37 parkruns before having a break for Ramadan in 2016. This run stretched over 9 months and is the only run above 25 ever seen at Witton. The next highest streaks are:

  • Bernie Johnson – 25 runs (Events 84-108)
  • Anwar Khan (again!) – 21 runs (Events 57-77)
  • Liam Bennison – 21 runs (Events 125-145)
  • Michael McCarthy – 19 runs (Events 1-19)
  • Lynda Vernon – 19 runs (Events 115-133)
  • Scott Smith – 19 runs (Events 182-present)

Scott Smith is currently on the longest current run of consecutive Witton parkruns, having attended the past 19 events. He will continue to climb this list so long as he doesn’t miss an event!

Onto volunteering now, and the 10 people who have volunteered the most in Witton’s history are:

  • Michelle Searby – 200 events
  • Bryan Searby – 198 events
  • Alan Vernon – 157 events
  • Matthew Vernon – 146 events
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming – 141 events
  • Sally Hupfield-Smith – 136 events
  • Sean Procter – 115 events
  • Scott Smith – 113 events
  • Ian Gaskell – 99 events
  • Lorna Pickup – 97 events

Michelle Searby remains the only person in Witton history to gain a volunteering credit at every parkrun. Though at some events she has not been physically present, she has always been involved in some way, from washing the vests to processing the results later in the day.

In total, 11 people have had a spell as Run Director at Witton, including one special one-off:

  • Michelle Searby – 86 times
  • Sally Hupfield-Smith – 24 times
  • Sean Procter – 18 times
  • Bryan Searby – 16 times
  • Ian Gaskell – 16 times
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming – 15 times
  • Annika Halsall – 12 times
  • Matthew Vernon – 10 times
  • Dan Hamilton – 2 times
  • Lorna Pickup – 1 time
  • Saul Sharp – 1 time

2019 has seen some changes among our Run Directorship, with Sean Procter, Annika Halsall and Ian Gaskell all standing down and Dan Hamilton and Lorna Pickup both joining our ranks. Young Saul Sharp was Run Director for our one-off ‘junior takeover’ at Event #14 in December 2015, which is why he appears on the list! And if you’ve spotted 201 credits for 200 events, that’s because Michelle and Ian were co-Run Directors once when he was learning the ropes!

In total, 443 people have received a volunteering credit at Witton, without whom we wouldn’t be able to put on an event every week! The highest number of volunteers ever seen at a Witton event is the 40 we had for Event #6 when we were just starting out. The lowest total was just 11, which we somehow made work for Event #34 in May 2016. The other 9 highest number of volunteers at Witton events are:

  • Event #10 – 37
  • Event #14 – 37
  • Event #48 – 37
  • Event #5 – 33
  • Event #95 – 33
  • Event #2 – 32
  • Event #7 – 31
  • Event #100 – 31
  • Event #28 – 30
  • Event #131 – 30
  • Event #140 – 30
  • Event #179 – 30

In total, we’ve had 4296 volunteers over our 200 events, a healthy average of 21.5 per week. The highest number ever attained over a 10-parkrun period is 310, unsurprisingly from our first 10 events when lots of people helped us get off the ground, while the lowest total over a 10-parkrun period is 186, from Events #151-160 last year and as you can see from the top 5 most-attended groups of 10 parkruns, we regularly see rises and falls:

  • Events 1-10: 310
  • Events 91-100: 245
  • Events 171-180: 226
  • Events 121-130: 223
  • Events 21-30: 221

Finally, I’d like to discuss attendance. Witton has now seen 18687 runs over our 200 events at an average of 93.45 runs per week. Of those, 864 runs have been by unknown runners, but the vast majority, 17823 can be traced back to people. There are two different ways of measuring attendance at parkrun: one by parkrun year, measuring from our inaugural event to our first birthday and so on (August-August essentially), and the other by calendar year (events for 2016, 2017, etc.) This latter measure excludes our part-year in 2015, but this does have the benefit of excluding the initial surge that greets all new parkruns, while also serendipitously allowing us to measure runs specifically on the Beast and not the old course.

Using the former measure, from birthday to birthday, the totals in Witton’s history are as follows:

  • Year 1 (2015-2016): 5008 (from 47 events – 106.6 per event)
  • Year 2 (2016-2017): 3994 (from 47 events – 84.98 per event)
  • Year 3 (2017-2018): 3922 (from 45 events – 87.16 per event)
  • Year 4 (2018-2019): 4197 (from 44 events – 95.39 per event)

As you can see, after the initial surge, numbers settled down into a fairly even average, with yearly attendance between Years 2 and 3 going down but attendance per event going up due to 2 less events in Year 3. The most recent completed year finished in August 2019 and saw only 44 events at Witton, due to our numerous summer cancellations. Despite this, our total attendance was its highest since Year 1, with an average per event of over 95 attendees each and every week!

The alternative measure starts from January 2nd, 2016, our first parkrun of the year, and measures yearly attendance to Witton to run on the Beast. The numbers are as follows:

  • 2016: 3917 (from 47 events – 83.3 per event)
  • 2017: 4133 (from 47 events – 87.9 per event)
  • 2018: 3867 (from 45 events – 85.9 per event)
  • 2019: 4237 (from 44 events – 96.3 per event)

Here, we see a similar pattern, although it notes a slight decrease from 2017 to 2018, no doubt in part affected by a particularly cold early part to the year, but 2019 has again set new records, breaking our most visits in a year by over 100 and increasing our average attendees per week by nearly 10! The eagle-eyed will also see that by either measure, we have exceeded our average runners per event for our whole history in 2019 too!

All this would suggest that Witton is in a relatively healthy state as we enter our 5th year and approach our own ‘green t-shirt’ milestone, probably in early 2021. We have a wide community of regular runners, ranging from the very young to the relatively mature (mentioning no names!), we get a suitable number of runners for our course and can cope with seasonal spikes for big celebrations, and we have developed a volunteer roster that is self-sufficient and usually not too much trouble to fill!

For anyone who’s been involved at Witton, from the very first event to our 200th on Saturday, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Witton would not be the event it is without you and we hope to see you for many more years to come.

Who knows – maybe you’ll make on of these lists in the future!

Until our 250th, keep parkrunning!

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun #200NotOut


WITTON PARKRUN EVENT #200 – 28th December 2019


Crikey, it’s a busy time to be a parkrunner! It seems like only yesterday we were all heading down to Witton in our pyjamas on Christmas morning and it might as well be! Just two days between events saw us back at Witton for the usual Saturday event, except this was anything but ordinary, with this marking not only our final event of 2019, not only our final parkrun of the decade, but our 200th ever event since starting up in August 2015 – where has the time gone?!

On August 29th, 2015, 273 runners lined up for the inaugural Witton parkrun, a total which has never been surpassed, back when attending inaugurals was fashionable and 3 of the 8 closest parkruns to Witton hadn’t started yet! For our milestone event on December 28th, 2019, we saw a slight decrease on our record-breaking Christmas Day attendance, but only slight, with another 150 people coming to run, jog and walk the Beast on Saturday!

First to cross the line was a familiar face, Ribble Valley Harrier Stephen Hall in 18:03. This was Stephen’s 28th parkrun and 10th at Witton and impressively marked his 9th time as first finisher with us. Indeed, were it not for our Christmas Day event, Stephen would be celebrating back-to-back Witton first finishes, having joined us just last Saturday too. His 9th first finish puts him into 4th place on his own on the Witton first males list, behind only James McLeod (20), Josh Crowther (17) and the mysterious Unknown (11). His time on Saturday was 2 seconds faster than his time last weekend and was his third-fastest run with us ever, just 8 seconds outside of his Witton PB set in June 2018. I have a feeling there may be a new personal best on the horizon in 2020, Stephen!

Second to finish was Graham Peacock of Charnwood AC in 19:39. This was Graham’s 40th parkrun and 5th at Witton, though most of Graham’s runs take place further south, with 13 runs at Dishley parkrun in Loughborough, and 7 runs at Leicester Victoria parkrun his most visited venues. Graham was visiting Witton for the first time since Christmas Day last year, suggesting a familial connection, and he marked his return with a big new PB, knocking 19 seconds off his best from last Christmas, as well obtaining his second Witton podium finish, improving on his third place on his debut at Event #39 in June 2016. Well done, Graham!

Third place went to Witton first timer Colin Pemble in 20:26. Colin, of Westbury Harriers in Bristol, was running his first ever parkrun, a long way from home! Clearly as a club runner, Colin is a seasoned performer and his time of 20:26 is a very impressive parkrun debut, particularly on a tough course like Witton. Well done, Colin, we hope to see you again at some point and keep parkrunning!

First female went to Vegan Runner Jo Armitage in 7th position in 21:55. This was Jo’s 85th parkrun and second at Witton, and on both occasions now she’s been first female. Her time on Saturday was half a minute slower than her Witton debut in March, when she finished in the overall top 3. The vast majority of Jo’s runs have come at Preston parkrun (58), with Witton only her 5th venue visited more than once. Good to see you back, Jo, we look forward to your next visit in 2020!

Second female was first timer Emma Oldfield in 31st position in 24:50. This was Emma’s 16th parkrun, with 6 runs at Tooting Common parkrun in London (5 of which have come in 2019) her most visited venue. Witton becomes her 6th different venue since she made her parkrun debut at Sheffield Hallam parkrun in 2015. Saturday was by far and away her best gender position at parkrun, besting her 12th female finish at Tooting Common. Congratulations on your first parkrun podium, Emma! We hope to see you back at some point in the future!

Third female went to Witton regular Karen Rishton in 38th position in 26:08. This was Blackburn Road Runner Karen’s 37th parkrun and 24 of those have come with us at Witton. This is the second time Karen has been on the Witton podium, having also finished third at Event #176 in June. At the start of December, Karen disclosed to me mid-run that her ambition was to beat her PB of 27:05 from July. More than that, she wanted to break the 27-minute barrier at Witton for the first time. It was an ambitious target, given at that point Karen had only run at Witton 3 times since the start of August, and Karen admitted to being uncertain she could achieve it herself, especially as she often works the night before parkrun. On Christmas Day, she did manage to run her new PB, but some festive posing for the camera saw her finish in exactly 27 minutes – one second shy of her sub-27 target! On Saturday, she promised her game face was on, tried to ignore any cameras she came across and concentrate on running well. When I caught up with her at the finish, she said she wasn’t sure. Her watch said 26 minutes and a few seconds, but she didn’t believe that time. I suggested that surely even if it was wrong, it wouldn’t be a full 40 or 50 seconds out. Well, not only was it sub-27, it was only 9 seconds off sub-26! Crikey, Karen, it’s amazing what your body can do when you put your mind to it! That’s going to take some beating in 2020!

Milestone time!!! And our 200th event saw three particularly special milestones, all different but all immensely significant in their own ways for people that have played big parts in Witton’s journey. There is no right order to do these in, so I’m going to start with our only t-shirt recipient of the day: the one-woman force of nature that is Corinne Surkitt! Corinne would like me to shout from the rooftops that she’s not a runner. She’s a plodder. Of course, that's rubbish, as will become clear as we go on but, still. Corinne’s running odyssey started in a familiar way, with a trip to Couch 2 5K, and her first parkrun came at our 84th event in June 2017. She ran 45:50 that day but came back a fortnight later to run a massive PB of 42:02. She ran 9 times during the summer of 2017, before stepping things up in 2018, running 20 times in total. 23 of her first 29 parkruns by the end of 2018 had been at Witton, with 2 runs at Burnley, 2 runs at Hyndburn and single outings at Preston and Rugby parkruns completing her total. Her parkrun PB was improved 6 times in 2018, including on the final run of the year in December, posting a new mark of 38:23 that day. However, by now, parkrun was no longer Corinne’s only running. She was regularly running 10ks in a variety of locations, making lots of new running friends wherever she went and constantly challenging herself to do more varied and longer races. In 2019, her circle of running friends has seen her run 21 parkruns in 9 different locations. 11 runs have still come at Witton, but she’s also run at Burnley again (twice), including on New Year’s Day, plus first visits to Cuerden Valley near Preston, Pennington Flash in Leigh (twice), Worsley Woods on the outskirts of Manchester, Whinlatter Forest parkrun in the Lake District, along with Oldham, Temple Newsam parkrun in Leeds and Cannon Hill parkrun in Birmingham! 2019 has been a real running adventure for Corinne, completing her first half marathon as well as the Chester Metric Marathon. She took part in the Trailblaster 12-hour event at Towneley Park in Burnley during the summer and completed not one but two triathlons, despite the very idea of riding a bike leaving her in a cold sweat. She also scared herself silly by joining boyfriend Gary on a fell running session! Her parkrun best now stands at 34:01 from Burnley parkrun in July last year, while her Witton PB remained 38:23 from the last parkrun of 2018. That was until her 50th run on Saturday, when, supported by many of the friends she’s made during her running journey, who travelled to Witton specially to celebrate with her, she shot round in 37:46, knocking an incredible 37 seconds off her previous best! She’s also volunteered 12 times at Witton, all as a marshal, a role she’s also fulfilled at Leigh junior parkrun where son Cooper has run on occasion. She’s also assisted in countless race events in a variety of capacities, including spending a memorable weekend in Hull earlier this year, alongside myself, Michelle Searby, Hazel Baxter and Lorna Pickup, watching Eurovision and keeping the caravan awake with her giggles. Nice one Cozza, you’ve brought so much joy to so many people over the past few years and inspired us all by your exploits. Enjoy your milestone t-shirt: further proof that This Girl Can!

The second milestone I’d like to mention is a new member of the Witton 50 Club, one that has been long awaited but I wondered if it would ever come! Step forward returning Wittoner Ian Gaskell, who ran his first Witton parkrun since July having been sat on 49 Wittons since then! Ian is a familiar face to most regular Wittoners, having first joined us for Event #37 in June 2016. He ran 10 times at Witton in 2016 but right from the start he was a model parkrunner, also volunteering in non-running capacities on 13 occasions that year. He ran 14 more times in 2017 at Witton but volunteering on an incredible 28 occasions in non-running roles. In June, he accepted an offer from Michelle to become a Witton Run Director, a role that has only been held by 11 people in Witton’s 200-event history. Ian was always selfless when it came to filling Witton’s roster, often giving up his run to fill a gap. It took him until Event #148 in October 2018 to achieve his 50th parkrun t-shirt run, by which time he had racked up 79 volunteering days at Witton. Having last run at Witton at Event #179 in July, he was Run Director twice in three weeks in August this year, including for our 4th birthday on the last day of the month. Following this milestone, Michelle thought it only fair to give the Run Directors an option to drop off the rota and free them of the volunteering expectations the role brings. Ian took the difficult but understandable decision to step back, and hasn’t been seen at Witton, or indeed parkrun, since. He has been much missed by many at Witton, as shown by the response when he contacted our Facebook page on Christmas Eve to wish the Witton crew a Merry Christmas. He made an unexpected appearance at the end of our Christmas Day event and then came along for our 200th event on Saturday, finally running that 50th Witton parkrun that had been hanging expectantly since July. He becomes the 53rd member of the Witton 50 Club and the 28th man and joins just over a year after wife Julie became the 39th member at Event #152 last December. Oddly enough, he also becomes the 4th Ian in the Witton 50 Club, after Messrs. Goodliffe, Brodrick and Clarkson – it’s the only name with more than 2 members! It’s great to see you back, Ian, and we hope to see more of you in 2020, making some significant progress towards that black milestone t-shirt – 42 more to go! Welcome to the club!

Our final milestone was a perfectly synchronised affair, with frequent Wittoner Janice Parker tail walking at the place her parkrun journey began, as she celebrated her 200th parkrun at Witton’s 200th event. This does not mean Janice has run every Witton parkrun: far from it. Naturally, Witton has a few cancellations, around 8 a year, which means our 200th event has come somewhat later than it may have done had we been able to run every week, but this has enabled Janice to keep pace with Witton even though she doesn’t run quite every week and was able to line up her 200th to match our own. Janice began her parkrun adventures at Witton’s 8th event in October 2015. She ran 5 times in 2015, including on Christmas Day, before joining us for our first run on the Beast at Event #18 in January. Janice, however, suffers from a bad back and found the new Witton course more challenging physically than our flatter old course. This meant that while she still visited Witton on occasion, she took her first steps into parkrun tourism. First up was a trip to Heaton Park on the outskirts of Manchester, a course that became her new go-to, with a variety of other courses thrown into the mix too. She ran a total of 46 parkruns in 2016, with 10 coming at Witton and 21 at Heaton Park, with her 50th parkrun coming on Christmas Eve at Heaton. 2017 saw 49 more runs, with 6 runs at Witton and 13 runs at Heaton Park among her total, including her 100th parkrun in the final parkrun of the year at Heaton, but it was in 2017 that her tourism really took off. Already up to 10 venues by the end of 2016, she increased that to 16 by the end of 2017 and by 2018, tourism was the norm, with just 5 visits to Heaton Park and 7 to Witton but hitting 50 parkruns in the calendar year for the first time. She ran the same venue for consecutive events just once in the entire year (Witton twice in October) and ticked off 21 new venues over the course of 2018, ranging from Redcar and Tees Barrage parkruns in the North East to Wycombe Rye parkrun down south. She even managed to get a run in at parkrun’s spiritual home, Bushy parkrun, in September that year! 2019 has seen another 50-run year, something that constitutes a “gold obsessive” parkrunner. She ran 23 more venues, with her 50th coming at Morecambe Prom parkrun in August. She’s visited Witton 5 times in 2019, her most visited venue this year, while it is her second-most visited venue overall with 33 runs, not far behind her 42 visits to Heaton parkrun. She’s also got some international tourism in, with a run in Germany, at Nidda parkrun in Frankfurt just last weekend, and has run four times at Clermont Waterfront parkrun in Florida, USA in 2016 and 2017. And so it was that she returned to Witton, where she has run all four of our birthday runs, our 100th, 150th and now 200th events, all 5 Christmas Day events and our first Run for Norman. She becomes the second person to start their parkrunning at Witton to reach 200 parkruns, after her partner Cameron Ashton managed it at Event #193 in November, the only person to outpace Witton to 200. The only thing she hasn’t done yet is celebrate earning a parkrun t-shirt with us: at the current rate, she’ll earn that in the final parkrun of 2020 – shall we make it a date, Janice?! The quest for the 250 shirt will begin with a third New Year’s Day double for Janice in a few days’ time…I wonder where it will end? Well done, Janice!

Others celebrating notable numbers on Saturday included:

  • Jack Bennett – 150 runs
  • Simon Shaw (Red Rose Road Runners) – 140 runs
  • Patricia Procter – 140 runs
  • Kim Taylor (Run Mummy Run) – 125 runs
  • John Dey (Blackburn Road Runners) – 80 runs
  • Tim Keely – 80 runs
  • Jason Kay (Blackburn Road Runners) – 80 runs
  • John Kearney – 60 runs
  • Graham Peacock (Charnwood AC) – 40 runs
  • Philip Almond – 40 runs
  • James Stokes – 30 runs
  • Paul McKenna – 25 runs
  • Vikas Gupta – 20 runs
  • Colin Pemble (Westbury Harriers) – 1 run
  • Johanna Lund – 1 run
  • Andy Dean – 1 run
  • Rhys Mackay – 1 run
  • Pearce Darnell-Walsh – 1 run
  • Abigail Oldroyd – 1 run
  • Sabiha Bux – 1 run
  • Suhal Bux – 1 run

And those on the cusp of a milestone included:

  • Simon Townsend (Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club) – 209 runs
  • Alison Chantrey – 179 runs
  • Irene Slater (Blackburn Road Runners) – 119 runs
  • Isobel Hollings – 69 runs
  • Joe Gebbie (Blackburn Harriers) – 39 runs
  • David Morris (Blackburn Road Runners) – 39 runs
  • Keith West (Wigan & District Harriers) – 39 runs
  • Kirstie Joyce (South Ribble Runners) – 29 runs
  • Tiyra Slaam – 24 runs
  • Lisa Kit – 24 runs
  • Julie Graves – 24 runs
  • Matthew Hayes – 9 runs
  • Peter Huggill (Darwen Dashers) – 9 runs
  • Harriet Waters – 9 runs

We ended up with so many marshals for our 200th event that there were hi-vis heroes around every corner on the day! We had Anthony Furnell in Myerscough College and Bernie Johnson was stationed on the exit of the avenue of trees down to the finish funnel! In total, 24 people got a volunteering credit on the day, our highest total since Event #187 in September when we had 25. Our full roster of volunteering stars includes:

Andy SMITH • Matthew JONES • Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Elouise Sylkie PEMBERTON • Diane HARRISON-LEEMING • Matthew VERNON • Scott SMITH • Janice PARKER • Helen READ • Alan VERNON • Bernard JOHNSON • Peter NICHOLSON • Ian GOODLIFFE • Dean HOWARD • Kathryn TOWNSEND • Julie DAWSON • Charlotte KIT • Anthony FURNELL • Scott DINGLE • Caitlin BRAYSFORD • Niamh ROBERTSON • Emma HAYES • Rick DOYLE

We had 3 first-time volunteers that helped make the event a success: Julie Dawson accompanied Andy Smith at the top of the Beast, while visitor Caitlin Braysford kindly offered to give up her run to fill a space ahead of the day to make our 200th pass without incident. She’ll be running with us on New Year’s Day so I hope you enjoy it Caitlin! The third new volunteer was Matthew Jones who was on timing with Bryan. Matthew has recently taken over as Witton’s Event Ambassador from Ali MacArthur who had fulfilled the role since we started in 2015. He was visiting Witton for the first time and was generally very pleased with what he saw and the thriving community we’ve built through our little parkrun. Matthew will be an occasional visitor to Witton, alongside the other parkruns he looks after and his role as Run Director at Watergrove parkrun in Rochdale and is our point-person if we have any concerns. Thanks for coming, Matthew!

The end of another sequence of 10 parkruns means a chance to examine how our volunteering has stacked up recently: between Events #191 and #200, we had 218 volunteers at Witton, a slight increase on the 215 between Events #181 and #190. It is the 8th-highest total for 10 events we’ve had (out of 20 in total now) and featured an above-average 21.8 volunteers per week. In total, we’ve had 940 volunteers over our events in 2019, our thanks to anyone who has given up any part of their morning to help us this year, we really could not do it without you.

Speaking of which, while our roster for our New Year’s Day parkrun is now looking a little better, we still have spaces available that need filling. I know some of you will have New Year’s Day Double plans, which is fine, while some of you will be resting up after a heavy night and giving parkrun a miss. But if you are thinking of coming down or are able to give up an hour on New Year’s Day morning then please let us know. We can guarantee a swift turnaround, with the core team having plans to head to other parkruns themselves. It’ll be an 8.30am start sharp and all wrapped up not long after 9.30am. If you want to be part of it, then get in touch with us either via our Facebook page or on wittonhelpers@parkrun.com. We’d be very grateful!

A few more spots of news now from our 200th event. I think I’m going to do a separate stats-based round-up for those so inclined, because this report will be long enough already and some aren’t as keen on stats as others. A few things are worth mentioning here though: first, a warm Witton welcome to Lynne Webster who was running for the first time with us on Saturday. This was Lynne’s 371st parkrun, a stonking total that immediately catapults her up to 8th place in the most runs seen at Witton list, while for a first timer, it is the 4th-highest total ever seen, behind David Limbrick’s 409 runs from Event #194 and Adam and Carol Bull’s 378 runs from Event #140. Lynne is often found at Bramhall parkrun in Stockport, where 114 of her 371 runs have been completed and was the only 250 shirt holder on display at Witton on Saturday, wearing her t-shirt of course! Good to see you Lynne, we hope you visit again in the future!

Our last two events have seen a whopping 323 visitors run at Witton, the highest number for two events since Events #131 and #132, including our first Run for Norman, saw a combined total of 340 runners. Before that, you need to go right back to Events #9 and #10 at Witton in October 2015, when we had a combined 326 runners after back-to-back attendances of 163! It will be interesting to see how that stat is affected by our New Year’s Day attendance and whether we can hit three figures for three consecutive runs for the first time since those early days!

Speaking of which, while this seasonal spike in attendance is welcome but could be seen as an outlier, statistically, 2019 has been a hugely successful year for Witton. With 150 attendees on Saturday, we have smashed through our record yearly attendance at Witton, from 2017, improving on the 4133 we had that year to a new high of 4237 over the course of this year. When you also factor in that we suffered 5 cancellations in 6 weeks during the peak summer months, due to events going on in the park, that feat is even more impressive, particularly when you recognise that this means we’ve only had 44 events during 2019, compared with 47 in 2017. As a weekly average attendance, in 2017 we saw 87.9 runners per week, while this year we have obliterated that, with an average attendance of 96.3 runners every week. We’ve seen some parkrunners drop off the radar, whether temporarily or permanently and made some new friends too who have become valuable members of our family. I hope to see us build on this progress in 2020, so tell everyone you know to get down to Witton Park in the coming months, they won’t regret it!

With this being our last parkrun of 2019, it’s time for a few lists to detail our star performers of the year. First, the most runs of 2019 and 12 people have run 30 or more times at Witton this year. They are (out of a possible 44):

  • Pat Procter – 38
  • Scott Smith – 36
  • Andrew Wisdom – 35
  • Matthew Vernon – 34
  • Lynda Vernon - 34
  • Anwar Khan – 32
  • Terry Gray – 32
  • John Kearney – 32
  • Julie Price – 31
  • Tim Keely – 31
  • Liam Bennison – 31
  • Jane Magee - 30

We’ve had some very committed newcomers this year, with some who only started in 2019 racking up over half the runs we’ve hosted. The top 10 (with a joint-10th!) are (totals in brackets are possible runs from first joining us):

  • Erica Doyle – 28 (out of 34 – 82%)
  • Shelagh Brownlow- 26 (out of 38 – 68%)
  • Lisa Kit – 21 (out of 34 – 62%)
  • Adam McCombs – 20 (out of 38 – 53%)
  • Daniel McCombs – 17 (out of 38 – 45%)
  • Victoria McKinlay – 16 (out of 33 – 48%)
  • Andrew Eccles – 15 (out of 36 – 42%)
  • Alex McKinlay – 14 (out of 33 – 42%)
  • Geoff Shanks – 14 (out of 43 – 33%)
  • Jenna McKinlay – 13 (out of 33 – 39%)
  • Michelle Heywood – 13 (out of 28 – 46%)

On the volunteering front, the top 10 for most volunteering credits in 2019 will be familiar to most of you (out of 44):

  • Michelle Searby – 44
  • Bryan Searby – 44
  • Alan Vernon – 43
  • Matthew Vernon – 43
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming – 38
  • Scott Smith – 35
  • Bernard Johnson – 35
  • Lynda Vernon – 34
  • Ian Goodliffe – 26
  • Lorna Pickup – 24

The true heroes of parkrun, however, are those that give up a run to take on a core role. All volunteers are valued, and all jobs need filling, but the parkrunners who encourage us and do so in all manners of weather with a smile on their face deserve special praise. This final list is the 10 people who did the most non-running jobs in 2019. To be clear, this means marshalling, timing, scanning, handing out finish tokens or run directing – everything else can be done alongside running, whether in the event it was or wasn’t. The top 10 are (out of 44):

  • Alan Vernon – 43
  • Bryan Searby – 39
  • Bernard Johnson - 35
  • Michelle Searby – 27
  • Clare Eastwood – 19
  • Lucy Eastwood – 18
  • Charlotte Kit – 16
  • Debbie Ashton – 15
  • Scott Dingle – 15
  • Diane Harrison-Leeming - 14

Onto notices now, and after a busy Christmas schedule, the end is finally in sight, with our New Year’s Day event our last parkrun of the festive season. This will be the third time we’ve run a New Year’s Day event at Witton and the second in which we’ve actively tried to facilitate and encourage the New Year’s Day Double. NYD is the only day in the parkrun calendar when you’re allowed to record two times at different parkruns in the same morning and events are encouraged to team up and stagger their start times to give people the ability to run at both if they wish to. To help with this, Witton has arranged to start at the slightly earlier time of 8.30am to ensure a smooth transition to lots of other events taking place at 10.30am. So come down, run at Witton, jump in your car and head to any of the following nearby venues to complete part 2:

  • Blackpool – 10am
  • Clitheroe Castle – 10.30am
  • Haigh Woodland – 10.30am
  • Hyndburn – 10.30am
  • Morecambe Prom – 10.30am
  • Pendle – 10.30am
  • Pennington Flash – 10.30am
  • Sale Water – 10.30am
  • Tawd Valley – 10.30am

There are no events being held at nearby Preston, Cuerden Valley or Bolton parkruns this New Year’s Day, while Burnley parkrun, who some of you may remember we paired up with last year, are holding an early event too at 9am so aren’t a possibility if you’re running at Witton. Many Wittoners, including Event Director Michelle and husband Bryan are heading to nearby Hyndburn, just a 20-minute drive from Witton and some of the Hyndburn core team are coming to us beforehand so there is bound to be some leeway in start time at their end if necessary to ensure everyone has had time to get there. Michelle is tail walking at both events, so everyone should be able to get there in time! Personally, my family and I will be heading to Haigh Woodland parkrun near Wigan for our second event of the morning and you’re of course welcome to join us there for a friendly trail run that’s always popular. Also nearby, Pendle parkrun will be hosting their 300th event so if running at Witton’s 200th whetted your appetite for more milestones, why not head there? It’s held in Colne and is a two-lap course over football fields and down and up a hill! Meanwhile, some of the Clitheroe Castle core team are running with us before heading to their own run so that's another option! There are lots of other options available, so the choice is really up to you, but we hope to see you down at Witton first! And if the idea of two parkruns in a morning seems a little daunting but you’d like to be involved then why not come to Witton first in a volunteering capacity and join everyone running somewhere else after? It would be great to see you!

Following this, on Saturday 4th January, Witton is CANCELLED for the annual school’s cross-country competition in the park. We’ll be back as normal from Saturday 11th January but before that you get another opportunity to try out some parkrun tourism so get planning your New Year’s Day and first Saturday of the year parkrun adventures!

Last two titbits: first, well done to all those Wittoners who took part in the Ribble Valley 10k on Sunday. Some of those volunteering at Witton on Saturday were resting their legs for it and lots of those connected with us also took part. Not a bad way to close the year, especially after all that food! That takes more dedication than I confess I have!

And finally, I have some lovely news to confirm for a Witton 100 Club member: Aimie Wormald of Darwen Running Group is pregnant with her second child! Aimie, some of you may recall, grew increasingly large during the early part of 2018, determinedly continuing to parkrun up until around 8 months pregnant before giving birth to baby Jaymes and returning only a few months later. As it happens, baby number 2 is also due around April so Aimie’s bump will likely swell some more as she tries to cram in as many parkruns as she can before it’s time! This is going to dent your 250 ambitions, Aimie! Huge congratulations from everyone at Witton, we look forward to meeting Jaymes’ little brother or sister soon enough!

And on that happy note, we’ll be back in a few days’ time for Event #201 and I hope to see lots of you there. Keep an eye out for my stats round-up of our 200 events and I’ll be back in 2020 with more of your exploits.

Whatever your plans, have a great New Year and see you all for the start of a new decade!

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


WITTON PARKRUN EVENT #199 – 25th December 2019


For most normal families, waking up at 8.25am on Christmas Day is no cause for alarm. But for a parkrunner, waking up at 8.25am on Christmas Day was a monumental fail and the state of panic I found myself in when I realised that not only was it 8.25am, but that the house was completely silent, far outstripped any pre-Christmas present-based anxieties. Most of you will doubtless be familiar with the famous scene from the 1990 Christmas classic ‘Home Alone’ where the family oversleep and proceed to tear around the house packing their suitcases (with notable child-forgetting consequences) and the scene Chez Vernon at 8.30am on Christmas Day was something akin to that. Add to this the fact that our usual carshare driver, Scott Smith, was also running late and so it was that we found ourselves hot footing it up the main drive at Witton as the runners were heading to the start line! But we made it! Never has a tradition encouraging you to ‘just stick your trainers on and run in your pjs!’ been more welcome or more necessary than on Wednesday morning! Phew!


If I seem preoccupied at the start, now you know why!

And what a morning it was, as we welcomed friends old and new, some very special first timers, celebrated 3 more milestone t-shirts earned and set some Witton records along the way, as 173 people came to run, jog and walk the Beast to start their Christmas morning.

We're Off!

Christmas Day parkrun 2019 is off!

First to cross the line was Blackburn Harrier Joe Gebbie in a speedy 18:31. This was Joe’s 38th parkrun and 34th at Witton, having made his debut with us in January 2016. It was Joe’s first parkrun at Witton since September, and his fastest since he ran 18:26 in February, while it was his first time as Witton first finisher since March and his 8th time overall, moving him to joint-4th overall for males at Witton, level with David Birtwistle and Stephen Hall, who earned his 8th last Saturday! Well done, Joe, it was good to see you back at Witton and nice to see you’ve lost none of your speed!


Joe on his way to an 8th first finish at Witton!

Second finisher was Blackburn Road Runner Alexander Curran in 20:16. This was Alexander’s 4th parkrun and third at Witton since he made his debut with us in April. He ran once more with us in June, before a single outing at nearby Hyndburn a fortnight later and returned to us for Christmas. He’s clearly been working hard in his absence, however, with this a massive new parkrun PB, knocking a whopping 1 minute and 37 seconds off his first run with us, which remained his PB, and earning a first sub-21 parkrun and first place on a parkrun podium. A nice Christmas present I’m sure, Alexander, we hope to see more of you in 2020!


An excellent Christmas Day run for Alexander!

Third place went to Witton first timer Matthew Hogarth in 20:18. This was Matthew’s 73rd parkrun and 33 of those of have come at his home parkrun of York. Although he lives in York, Matt is a local lad and is actually one of my oldest friends, having attended the same high school as me. An avid parkrunner like me, we ran at York together on the morning of his wedding last year and he’s been planning on a visit to Witton for a while, finally managing to make it on Christmas Day, along with wife, Gail. He told me before the off that he wasn’t going to really push it that morning, but his ‘not pushing it’ was still good enough to be third on Wednesday! Speaking to him afterwards, he had thoroughly enjoyed his tussle with the Beast and later told me that he couldn’t think of a course he’d enjoyed more. This was even higher praise than I’d thought, when I discovered Witton was Matt’s 21st different parkrun venue! He has assured me that he and Gail will be back at some future date – we look forward to it, Matt!


First timer Matt (grey) on his way to a debut podium!

First female went to Hyndburn AC’s Charlotte Corrigan in 20th position in 20:28. This was Charlotte’s 105th parkrun but only her third at Witton, since making her debut at parkrun at nearby Burnley in 2014. In total, Charlotte has run at 25 different senior parkrun venues, but this was her first parkrun since she ran at Stretford on the outskirts of Manchester in March. More notably, this was her run at Witton since Event #16, on Christmas Day 2015! Charlotte becomes the third JW11-14 to be first female at Witton in 2019, after Kate Cookson and Leah J Hoole and the first since Leah managed it at Event #190 in October. It is Charlotte’s first time as first finisher at Witton, something she has now achieved at 11 different senior parkruns. Impressive work, Charlotte, we hope to see more of you at Witton in the future!


Charlotte's female first finish was even more impressive, given her fancy dress!

Second female was Witton first timer Amy Cope-Balchin in 46th position in 25:17. Amy, of Watford Joggers, was impressively running her 232nd parkrun and Witton became her 51st different venue, having previously visited Cuerden Valley and Preston parkruns locally. We hope you enjoyed your first experience of the Beast, Amy, and that you visit again when you’re next in the area!


Watford Jogger Amy earned a podium on her first visit!

Just behind Amy was third female Becci McCarroll in 47th position in 25:52. This was Becci’s 15th parkrun at Witton and 74th overall, with Witton her second most visited parkrun after nearby Burnley (27). This was Becci’s 6th visit to Witton of 2019, eclipsing her 5 visits from last year and perhaps we’ll see her again on Saturday for our 200th event? It was also her second Christmas Day parkrun, having also visited us last year! Another solid year of parkrunning Becci, perhaps a black milestone t-shirt awaits in 2020..?!


Becci McCarroll looked festive as she earned her 3rd Witton third place on Wednesday!

Milestone time!!! And no less than 3 new t-shirt owners existed after Wednesday’s special run, and in 3 different colours too! First to cross the line was Witton regular Dean Howard in 51st position in 26:09 to earn a very special Christmas present: his first parkrun milestone t-shirt for 50 runs completed! Dean will shortly be able to order his red t-shirt through parkrun HQ, which he receives for free, aside from a minimal postage cost, in recognition of his achievement. Dean is probably unique among Witton regulars in that his first parkrun was not only not with us, but not even in the UK! On March 24th last year, Dean ran his first parkrun at Amager Fᴂlled parkrun in Denmark, completing the course in an impressive 26:17. Amager holds the distinction of being the oldest international parkrun in the world, having started way back in 2009, so it is quite a place to do your first parkrun, Dean! Clearly, he enjoyed his first experience as a week later, he was lining up on the Witton start line for Round 2! Finishing in 28:19, he returned again a week later and knocked nearly 40 seconds off his time. In total, he ran 23 parkruns in 2018, 18 of them with us at Witton, including our third birthday, our 150th event and our 4th Christmas Day parkrun. His remaining 4 runs, Amager Fᴂlled aside, came at nearby Hyndburn, Clitheroe Castle, Cuerden Valley and Bolton parkruns. In 2019, he is currently on 27 parkruns with one more possibly to come on Saturday, and while another 18 have come at Witton, including on our 4th birthday and 5th Christmas Day events, he’s continued his tourism with first visits to nearby Burnley, Pendle and Preston and a second visit to Hyndburn, although he’s also continued to give his parkrunning an international flavour. Dean often goes on road trips through Europe and has been able to tie these in to his parkrunning. Thus, this year, he has visited France twice, taking in parkrun du Lac de Divonne on the border with Geneva and parkrun de la Ramée in Toulouse on the first visit and then parkrun des Dougnes in Cubnezais near Bordeaux and a return to la Ramée on the second. Meanwhile, in May, he visited Germany, taking in Kräherwald parkrun in Stuttgart. His Witton best of 24:26 came in January this year, while his parkrun best came in March on his first visit to la Ramée, a stellar time of 22:40. Congratulations on your achievement, Dean, not long now before you join the Witton 50 Club and then its onwards towards your 100 t-shirt!


Dean on his way to a first parkrun milestone t-shirt!

Dean’s milestone we knew about, but there was another milestone t-shirt earned by a runner on Saturday that kept it under her hat. Step forward Lesley Peters, who completed her 17th run at Witton on Christmas Day and her 100th run in total, earning her black milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ in the process! Lesley’s journey to 100 has been a long one, running her first ever parkrun over 10 years ago, in July 2009 at Heaton Park in Manchester, finishing in 23:25. It was nearly 2 years before she ran another parkrun, at South Manchester parkrun, where she ran 4 times in total in 2011. She ran 5 times in 2012 and 9 more in 2013 and 10 in 2014. In 2015, she ran 5 times up to August at 5 different venues across the country, from Lyme Park parkrun and Burnage parkrun near Stockport, Harrow parkrun near London, Strathclyde parkrun in Scotland and nearby Cuerden Valley on the outskirts of Preston. Then, at the end of August, she attended our inaugural event, her 35th parkrun. And we clearly made an impression, with her next 3 parkruns all coming with us between September 2015 and June 2016, the first time she’d run the same parkrun for four consecutive runs since South Manchester in 2012 and 2013. Since then, she’s continued to parkrun, completing 6 in both 2016 and 2017. 2018 was somewhat of a sea change for Lesley, however: having never completed more than the 10 parkruns she managed in 2014 in a calendar year, she doubled her tally, running 20 times in 2018. She has further eclipsed this in 2019, running at least 32 times, with one more weekend possible, meaning that having only earned her 50 t-shirt in January 2018, eight and a half years after her debut, her second 50 have taken less than 2 years! Lesley has now run 17 times at Witton, which is her second-most visited venue after South Manchester, which she has completed on 45 occasions, and those are the only two parkruns she’s completed more than 5 times. Witton is clearly important to Lesley, who has run all but one of our birthday events in addition to our inaugural (just missing our first birthday in August 2016) and now visiting us for her first ever Christmas Day parkrun – what a day to earn your 100 t-shirt Lesley. Congratulations, here’s to a green milestone t-shirt in a few years’ time: it won’t take too long if you keep up your current rate!


Lesley was in fine form on Wednesday, overtaking two men on her sprint to the line!

I shall get to our third milestone t-shirt shortly, but here are some other people running notable numbers on Christmas Day:

Barry Shackleton (Darwen Dashers) – 450 runs

Dylan Grindley (Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club) – 90 runs

Anya Townsend (Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club) – 90 runs

Peter Murphy (Darwen Running Club) – 90 runs

Jamie Dowdall (Darwen Dashers) – 80 runs

Sophie Atherton (Darwen Dashers) – 80 runs

Ben Stittle (Steel City Striders) – 75 runs

Andrew Salter (Moorside Park Running Club) – 70 runs

Rebecca Simms (Rossendale Triathlon Club) – 70 runs

Sid Makinson (Blackburn Road Runners) – 60 runs

Robert Johnson – 40 runs

Paul Fourie (Hyndburn AC) – 40 runs

Julie Marsden (Blackburn Road Runners) – 40 runs

Paul Jeffries (Blackburn Harriers) – 25 runs

Ian Gouldthorpe (Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club) – 25 runs

Andrea Hopwood (Darwen Dashers) – 25 runs

Claire Rostron – 25 runs

Gillian Justice – 10 runs

Jordan McKenna – 1 run

Darren Smith – 1 run

Peter Bolton (Red Rose Road Runners) – 1 run

Robert Wilding – 1 run

Faisal Hamed – 1 run

Charlotte Kit – 1 run

Jessica Kit – 1 run

Andrew Dingle – 1 run

Ruth Watton – 1 run

Niamh Robertson – 1 run

Sienna-Lee Fielding – 1 run

Emma Hayes – 1 run


Paul Jeffries was one of three people at Witton earning their 25th parkruns - halfway to a red t-shirt now!

And those on the cusp of a milestone include:

Jon Royle (Red Rose Road Runners) – 199 runs

Janice Parker – 199 runs

Bruce Elliott (Darwen Dashers) – 174 runs

Paul Fairclough – 169 runs

Francesca Bury – 159 runs

Jack Bennett – 149 runs

Patricia Procter – 139 runs

Ben Cope (Serpentine RC) – 129 runs

Lee Wakefield – 89 runs

Hayley Duckworth (Blackburn Road Runners) – 89 runs

Jason Kay (Blackburn Road Runners) – 79 runs

John Dey (Blackburn Road Runners) – 79 runs

Becci McCarroll – 74 runs

Elizabeth Watton (Blackburn Road Runners) – 69 runs

John Kearney – 59 runs

Ross Whittaker – 49 runs (t-shirt alert!!!)

Philip Seddon (Darwen Dashers) – 29 runs

Dominic Maskell (Clapham Pioneers) – 24 runs

Paul McKenna – 24 runs

Jeanette Baron (Blackburn Road Runners) – 24 runs

Andrea Rigby (Darwen Dashers) – 24 runs

Ahmed Karolia – 9 runs


Janice Parker will run her 200th parkrun at Witton on Saturday!

We had another healthy roster for Christmas Day, with plenty of support all around the course from some festive marshals. In total, 20 people helped make Christmas Day the magical event it was, and our full roster of tinsel-wrapped hi-vis heroes included:

Suzanne PEAKER • Chris WORSLEY • Michelle SEARBY • Bryan SEARBY • Leo GEBBIE • Suzanne FERRANDINO • Matthew VERNON • Gemma WILSON • Rosie GEBBIE • Alan VERNON • Clare GEBBIE • Ian GOODLIFFE • Debbie ASHTON • Rachel AINSWORTH • Mark DUCKWORTH • Stephen SEARBY • David GEBBIE • Niamh ROBERTSON • Emma HAYES • Sienna LEE-FIELDING

 Our thanks to Gemma Wilson, who joined us as a marshal for the first time and Mark Duckworth, who took the wonderful photos you see throughout this report to provide a lasting memory of our Christmas Day run.


Run Director Michelle was ably assisted by our festive hi-vis heroes on Wednesday!

It is also among our volunteers that our third milestone t-shirt was earned. Papa G himself, Blackburn Road Runner Ian Goodliffe, delivered the First Timer’s Briefing on Christmas Day, as he has done on 15 previous occasions. What made this one extra special, however, was that this was his 25th volunteering day, earning his purple volunteering t-shirt from parkrun HQ! Aside from his 16 First Timer’s Briefings, 8 of his other 9 roles were in non-running capacities: three times as a timekeeper and five times as a marshal. His remaining credit came for processing the results with Michelle in February last year. Ian becomes the 9th person to complete their hat trick of red, black and purple milestone t-shirts all at Witton, after myself, Diane Harrison-Leeming, Scott Smith, Suzanne Ferrandino, Julia Rushton, Lynda Vernon, Pat Procter and Peter Nicholson. In a nice piece of symmetry, too, Ian earned his purple t-shirt exactly one year after earning his black milestone t-shirt, having run his 100th parkrun on Christmas Day 2018. Congratulations on yet another milestone, Papa G, and thanks for all you do for Witton parkrun.


Ian (r) earned his purple t-shirt and then still got his Christmas parkrun in!

Unusually, I can say that we have an absolutely jam-packed roster for our 200th event, which means that you lovely lot can all run to your heart’s content and help us celebrate in style! That being said, if you are thinking of giving something back this festive season, we are still incredibly short of volunteers for our New Year’s Day parkrun at 8.30am. If we don’t get at least another 3 or 4 marshals, a second timekeeper and someone to hand out finish tokens then we’d be in severe danger of having no option but to cancel. It would be somewhat odd to have too many volunteers on Saturday and not enough to go ahead on Wednesday don’t you agree? Your parkrun needs you! If you want to sign up, then get in touch via our Facebook page, or via wittonhelpers@parkrun.com and we’ll get you signed up. It’s brilliant to see parkrun from a completely different angle and a great resolution to start the New Year with, plus, on New Year’s Day, you still get the chance to volunteer at Witton and then run somewhere else because of the New Year’s Day Double! More on that shortly.

Future Roster

Our roster is looking a bit lopsided at the moment - can you help even it up?

A plethora of stats now from our 5th Christmas Day parkrun. And first, what a turnout! 173 of you came to run, jog and walk the Beast on Saturday, a Christmas Day record at Witton, smashing the 137 who came one year ago. It is the third successive year of Christmas Day growth, after a small dip from Christmas 2015 to Christmas 2016, and I wonder if we could break the 200 barrier in one year’s time?! 173 is our largest attendance in 18 months, since we had 231 attendees for our first Run for Norman in June 2018, while it marks our joint-6th highest ever attendance at Witton, level with Event #8 in October 2015. In comparison with last Saturday, it marks an increase of 100 runners on Event #198, only the second time we’ve ever had a three-figure increase event-to-event, again after our first Run for Norman, while in percentage terms, it saw a 136.99% increase on last Saturday’s attendance of 73, the fourth highest increase in percentage terms ever (behind the first Run for Norman; Event #18 the week after the Boxing Day Floods in 2015; and Event #46 in August 2016). Our thanks to everyone who came on Christmas Day and for all your continued support for our very special little parkrun.


A record Christmas Day attendance at Witton on Wednesday!

Not that we were alone. 2019 may go down as the year that parkrunning on Christmas Day virtually entered the mainstream. In the UK, there were a record 264 parkrun events on Christmas Day, attended by a record 89,255 parkrunners, while across the world, a record total of 469 parkruns took place attended by a record 120,927 parkrunners. 36 parkruns in the UK set new attendance records, including Poole, who broke the 1000-mark for the second time in their history with a new record of 1345 attendees; Norwich parkrun, who also broke the 1000-mark for the second time following on from last Christmas Day, seeing an increase of 254 runners for a grand total of 1358 on Wednesday. But the stat of the day goes to our spiritual home, Bushy parkrun in London: where it all began in 2004. On Christmas Day, they set a new attendance record themselves, breaking last Christmas Day’s mark of 2011 runners. And not by a mere ten or even a hundred: no, this is Bushy parkrun, the holy site of parkrun, where on Christmas Day 2019, 2545 (yes, you read that correctly: Two Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty-Five) people came to run, jog and walk the hallowed course.

And if you’re struggling to comprehend what that looks like, then this video from the Bushy Facebook page may give you some idea: https://www.facebook.com/bushyparkrun/videos/614897469275766/ It is a truly awesome sight, and I’ll try to remember to paste it to our Facebook page too so you don’t miss it. Special mention, too, for Banstead Woods parkrun in Surrey: the third-oldest parkrun in the world. They also broke their attendance record on Wednesday, with a far more modest total of 388 attendees, smashing their best from April of 303: their previous record of 293 dated back to 2014!

Crowd shot

Lots of Christmas-wear and pyjamas on display at Witton on Christmas Day!

Wednesday also saw a big milestone reached at Witton. For some weeks now, I have been keeping an eye on when we would reach 4000 different people having run at Witton. As of Saturday, we needed 5 more first time Wittoners to reach that milestone and with 31 attending on Wednesday we have smashed through this symbolic ceiling. But who gets the honour is a little bit of a headache: If we go purely off barcodes scanned at Witton, perhaps the purest method, then the 4000th barcode scanned at Witton was second female Amy Cope-Balchin, so congratulations, Amy! But wait! I reliably estimate that we’ve had around 12 incidents of people running at Witton under more than one barcode, a parkrun no-no that gets broken occasionally by naughty parkrunners signing up twice! If we accept these 12 barcodes belong to people already credited as having run at Witton, then if we’re looking for the first timer 12 places lower than Amy as being the 4000th different person to run at Witton, and that was Phil Haworth, who was running his 37th parkrun and only his 4th away from nearby Cuerden Valley – so, well done, Phil! But wait! If you check the stats at the bottom of our webpage, you’ll see parkrun HQ have our runners total at two people higher than I do: this is because the parkrun servers class Unknown as an athlete at parkrun, and he has run on many occasions at Witton, often more than once a week! The other discrepancy comes from our Unknown Female who was first home at Event #95. The parkrun results have a special setting to note that the Unknown who finished first is female, while all other unknowns are automatically categorised as men since gender is as unknown as the person’s parkrun ID! This means that if we’re counting according to parkrun’s rules, the 4000th name across the line was 18th placed Ben Cope of Serpentine RC, whose usual parkruns take place around the Watford area – so well done, Ben! I’ll leave it up to you to decide which method is the best way of counting our 4000th attendee, but thanks to all of you who have been, from Anwar, who has attended 162 of the 199 Witton parkruns in a running capacity down to this week’s final tail walker, Emma Hayes, who became the most recent person to complete their first Witton parkrun on Wednesday.

4000th runners

Amy (left), Phil (left of centre) and Ben (right) all have a claim to be Witton's 4000th ever finisher!

Speaking of whom, there were no less than 12 parkrun novices who got their barcodes scanned for the first time on Wednesday morning. This is the most at Witton since the same number attended Event #176 at the start of June, while it was back in early March at Event #169 when that total was last surpassed with 16 that day. Welcome to parkrun! We hope you enjoyed your first experience, and what a day to pick to join us – Christmas Day! That’s a special parkrunniversary date to have, and you’re guaranteed a chance to run on your parkrunniversary every year, something not many parkrunners can say!

You’re all stars, but I’d like to highlight 5 of you in particular: first, our superb Duke of Edinburgh volunteers, Niamh Robertson, Sienna-Lee Fielding and Emma Hayes. Niamh, Sienna and Emma have been volunteering with us in a variety of roles since Event #189 in October. They’ve marshalled, timed, barcode scanned and handed out finish tokens and Niamh’s even been photographer. Sadly, Sienna’s unable to come any more, but the other two have both continued and have become valuable members of the team. They are pleasant, personable and calm under pressure and the core team know they can rely on them in any role they’re in. For Christmas, Michelle gave them the opportunity to volunteer in the only major role they hadn’t yet done: tail walking, and that meant giving the girls the opportunity to complete the full course for the first time and record a parkrun finish! They walked the first lap with a gentleman who was finding the going tough and decided to stop after one lap, before completing the second by themselves. By all accounts, they thoroughly enjoyed the experience and perhaps we’ll see them take part some more in the future! Well done ladies!

DofE Girls

Duke of Edinburgh volunteers Emma (yellow hi-vis), Niamh (blonde hair) and Sienna (pigtails) enjoyed their first experience of tail walking on Wednesday!

We were also joined by first timer Ruth Watton, who joined children Martin Watton and regular Wittoner Elizabeth Watton, at Witton to complete her first parkrun on Christmas Day – which also happened to be Ruth’s birthday! She walked the course, complete with her hiking sticks, in 1:03:17 and seemed to enjoy her experience. Well done, Ruth, we hope to see more of you in the future and a very happy birthday from everyone at Witton!


Ruth (r) keeping well out of the way of the front runners on Wednesday!

Many Wittoners are familiar now with young Charlotte Kit, who has been volunteering at Witton for the past 6 months, since first marshalling at Event #177 in June. Charlotte has a number of severe disabilities and is reliant on a wheelchair much of the time. She is incredibly enthusiastic and her whoops and cheers can be heard long before she can be seen and long after she’s been passed on the Witton course! She is usually found with friend Scott Dingle, who has also marshalled several times, as well as taking part as a tail walker on two occasions. Recently, Charlotte has been asking mum Lisa and dad Rob what the Witton course is like, usually only seeing a snapshot of the run from her marshalling spot while one or both of her parents are taking part. So, for Christmas, Lisa and Rob hatched a plan that by hook or by crook, they were going to show their youngest what the Beast looks like in all its glory. They enlisted the aid of their eldest daughter Jessica, as well as their friend and recent Witton regular Erica Doyle, son Scott Dingle and Scott’s brother Andrew and planned to go around together, taking it in turns to push Charlotte’s wheelchair on the small loop. The wheelchair was then to be discarded at the entrance to Myerscough, where Charlotte would then be supported and carried where necessary up the Beast and then on the way back down, someone would run ahead to retrieve the wheelchair, which could then be used on the tarmac and the small woods loop for the second lap. And that is exactly what they did: cheered on by everyone at Witton, Charlotte Kit, big sister Jess and Andrew Dingle all completed their first ever parkruns, while Scott completed his first that wasn’t as tail walker, running on ahead to beat the others to the end by a minute and a half, while the rest of them crossed the line in an impressively speedy 49 and a half minutes. The look on Charlotte’s face at the finish proved what an immense force for good parkrun can be. Six months ago, with Jess off to university, the Kits were worried about how to keep Charlotte occupied without her sister around, looking for an activity that they could all participate in. Parkrun has given them that outlet and Witton is much richer for their involvement. The support and reaction the Kits have received for their exploits since Wednesday is testament not only to their own determination, but also to the enormous hearts that you lovely lot possess. As friend of Witton Karen Shackleton posted on our Facebook page alongside a picture of the Kits celebrating their finish, this is what parkrun is about. Well done to each and every one of you, and here’s to many more parkruns in 2020 and beyond!


It's fair to say Christmas Day 2019 was pretty special for the Kit family, and especially young Charlotte!

At the other end of the experience scale, it would be remiss of me not to mention the continued exploits of Darwen Dasher and parkrun obsessive Barry Shackleton, who on Wednesday at Witton ran his 450th parkrun and 155th consecutive parkrun without missing a single week. Barry was visiting Witton for the 31st time and extended his record from 421 runs on his last visit. This time next year, Barry may be the first blue 500 t-shirt holder to take part at Witton – let’s wait and see! Good to see you as ever, Barry!


Barry strikes a familiar pose on his way to completing his 450th parkrun!

Little Liam Bennison came to Witton on Christmas Day for the first time this year. As is becoming the norm, Michelle sought a fast runner near the front to accompany him, but when they heard his new PB on Saturday was 21:51, I think a few of those looking for a gentle leg stretcher on Christmas Day were a little shaken! Step forward friend of Witton Leo Gebbie, who gamely decided “Challenge Accepted” and agreed to partner Liam for his first Christmas Day parkrun. And what of the results? Well, interestingly, Leo managed to run Liam’s PB time exactly: 21:51. But was young Liam in front of him, as he was with George Henderson on Saturday, or behind him as he was with Jason Rippingale before..? He was a single second in front! 21:50, and a third new PB in a row for Liam in his quest to become the fastest JM10 ever to take part at Witton. He may well be there for our 200th event on Saturday, so if you think you might be up to the task of keeping up with Liam, do make yourself known to Michelle! Well done, Liam!

Liam and Leo

Leo just about managed to keep up with Liam on Christmas Day - thanks, Leo!

Time for notices and you should all be aware by now that in addition to marking our final parkrun of 2019, as well as our final parkrun of the decade, Saturday marks Witton’s 200th event held since we started in August 2015. It would be wonderful to see another huge attendance to mark this milestone and with a full volunteer roster already in place, feel free to pull on your trainers and go for a run, jog or walk. It’s a great time for first timers to get a taste of parkrun ahead of the New Year and it would also be great to see some familiar faces we haven’t seen in a while. So, come on down!


Karen Rishton was in good spirits on her way to a Witton PB - hope this didn't cost you a second, Karen!

Then, next Wednesday, Witton will be holding our third New Year’s Day event at the slightly earlier time of 8.30am, so set your alarms accordingly! I know this is an earlier start than you’re used to, especially after what is likely to be a late night for many of you, but there is a good reason for it: New Year’s Day is the only day when two parkruns are allowed on the same day, the so-called New Year’s Day Double, and parkruns are encouraged to co-ordinate their start times to allow runners enough time to get from venue to venue. By starting half an hour earlier, at 8.30am, that should give enough time for people running at Witton to get to a whole host of alternative second venues before their start times, almost all at 10.30am. The headline options are:

Blackpool – 10am

Clitheroe Castle – 10.30am

Haigh Woodland – 10.30am

Hyndburn – 10.30am

Morecambe Prom – 10.30am

Pendle – 10.30am

Pennington Flash – 10.30am

Sale Water – 10.30am

Tawd Valley – 10.30am

Michelle and lots of other Wittoners will be heading to nearby Hyndburn, which is only a 20-minute drive from Witton, giving plenty of time to get there regardless of your finishing time at Witton. Personally, we’ll be heading to Haigh Woodland parkrun near Wigan for our second run, while over at Pendle, they’ll be celebrating their 300th ever event on New Year’s Day, so if you want to follow up Saturday’s 200th at Witton with a 300th at Pendle, then head over there! And for those wondering, there are no New Year’s Day events planned at nearby Preston, Cuerden Valley or Bolton, while Burnley, who we paired with last year, are holding their event at 9am this year, making a Witton-Burnley combo impossible. You can check out the full list of options at: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/special-events/ - so whether you’re having a day off, just coming to Witton, volunteering at one and running another or doing both, get planning and enjoy your New Year’s Day parkrunning!

Road Runners

I saw three Road Runners running round on Christmas Day in the morning!

And a reminder we’ll be CANCELLED on the first Saturday of 2020, due to the usual school’s cross country on that weekend in Witton Park. This is a great opportunity to try some more parkrun tourism, with lots of local events to try, including those cancelled on New Year’s Day so get your parkrun fix elsewhere and we’ll be back as normal then on January 11th!


Witton first timers Ben Stittle and Kimberley Bateman strike a festive pose on Christmas Day!

But for the here and now, I’ll see most of you for our 200th event on Saturday. I hope you’re having a great Christmas and I’ll see you again soon.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Merry Christmas!

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