Witton parkrun is cancelled on 15 August 2020: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


On what should have been our first parkrun of a bumper August schedule, we instead marked an astonishing 20 weeks since we last all met at Witton in mid-March. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know where the year’s going, last time I looked it was March and now it’s August! Lockdown has blurred all the lines. Speaking of lockdown, as I went to press last week, the government announced late on Thursday night that a huge section of the north of England, ranging from Blackburn and Burnley to Bradford to Manchester and Wigan, has seen increased lockdown measures reintroduced. Meeting with other households is no longer allowed to happen in our houses or gardens but is still permissible in an outdoor environment such as a park with social distancing measures in place. While pubs and restaurants remain open (with the government also introducing the Eat Out to Help Out 50% off scheme), households must sit individually and not mix. All of this had a huge impact on local Eid celebrations, although traditional mass gatherings had already been cancelled, just another victim of this relentless virus.

Blackburn Lockdown

Across the nation, easing of coronavirus restrictions has been paused, while in Blackburn, and other parts of the northwest, restrictions have been re-imposed and the threat of a second lockdown remains possible

Nevertheless, parkrun HQ have been working hard to facilitate a return to our favourite Saturday hobby as soon as reasonably possible and have had plans approved by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which will be shared with the public on Friday, alongside a discussion on the Free, Weekly, Timed parkrun podcast. This does not mean a return for parkrun is imminent, but it will hopefully provide a little more clarity on how a return might be possible and when that might be. This information comes from the latest parkrun HQ blog, which you can find here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/08/04/covid-19-coronavirus-update-4-august/ and I’ll bring all the details of the new proposals in next week’s update.

East End parkrun

New Zealand parkruns like this one, at East End, have been back for a month now, but while the rest of the world may take some time yet, we may know more by next week!

(not)parkruns – Week 7

A decent week’s weather saw another 11 parkrunners record (not)parkrun times this week, headed by our only (not)parkrun first timer this week, David HURN, in a speedy 21:17, the fastest of two (not)parkruns David ran this week. David is a relatively new parkrunner, joining us for the first time on the 1st February at Event #205 and running with us in 5 of the next 6 weeks too, his entire parkrun career so far, brought to a sudden stop by the shutdown. Nevertheless, he has continued running and his (not)parkrun time is faster than the PB he set at our last event by a minute and a half – I suspect your (not)parkrun route didn’t involve the Beast though, David!

David H

A first (not)parkrun appearance for David Hurn – and a first first finish too!

Second this week, in a symmetrical 24:24, was Witton 50 Club’s Peter NICHOLSON, his second successive second place and fourth podium finish in his four outings so far! Third, for the third consecutive week, was Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON in exactly 28 minutes, the fastest of two runs this week – well done, Karen!


The third third place in a row for Blackburn Road Runner Karen Rishton!

Just behind Karen was fellow Blackburn Road Runner, Kate POMFRET, returning after not submitting a time last week. To make up, she ran twice this week, recording a best time of 29:34. Just behind her was another Blackburn Road Runners, Matt CHESTER, maintaining his record of submitting a time every week thus far with 31:53 this week! Just behind Matt was friend of Witton Cameron ASHTON, returning after 4 weeks away with a time of 32:58 – good to see you back, Cameron!

Kate P

A return for Witton 100 Club member Kate Pomfret after not submitting a time last week!

Next comes Witton 50 Club member Ian BRODRICK, returning for a second successive week in 34:23, closely followed by Isobel HOLLINGS in 34:41 and Blackburn Road Runner and Witton 100 Club member Ian GOODLIFFE in 35:43.

Ian and Chris

Ian Goodliffe (right) submitted 2 more (not)parkrun times this week, putting him on 7 in total – the joint-3rd most for a Wittoner!

They were followed by Witton 50 Club member Jackie DWYER in 43:50 and Paul BOOTH of South East Lancs Orienteering Club in 48:15, his third (not)parkrun and first in 4 weeks. 11 (not)parkrunners in total, one less than last week, with 15 (not)parkruns completed in total, the same as last week. Unusually, this was the first week since (not)parkrun began that none of you set a new personal best, but I’m sure you’ll fix that soon enough! David, Karen, Kate and Ian ran twice this week, while Karen’s best time came on Monday, Matt ran Tuesday, Jackie ran Wednesday, Peter ran Thursday, David’s best time came on Friday, with the others recorded Saturday, barring Cameron who ran on Sunday. Well done to this week’s (not)parkrunners!

Paul Booth

Paul Booth (left) submitted a (not)parkrun time at Witton for the third time this week – once more than he’s actually run the Beast!


Another 5 parkrunniversaries this week in what is a bumper time of the year. First up, we have Ian COOTE, who ran his first parkrun on July 27th last year at Warrington parkrun, joining us at Witton for his second run at the end of August. Ian has now run 26 parkruns in the past 12 months, exactly half (13) of which have come at Witton, with 10 runs at Warrington, 2 runs at Hyndburn and one at Cardiff parkrun in south Wales completing his set. Ian was another one who joined us on our final run before lockdown and I’m sure he’s keen to get back to it when we’re allowed. Happy 1st parkrunniversary, Ian!

Ian Coote

Ian Coote has run half of his parkruns at Witton, including this visit on New Year’s Day!

Second is one of our young parkrunners, Cameron DOLAN, who ran his first parkrun at Event #136 on July 28th, 2018! Cameron is the son of Witton 50 Club member Helen Dolan, and a cousin of Wittoners Liam and Jake BENNISON. Cameron has run 25 parkruns in total now, halfway to a red milestone t-shirt, with 24 of those coming at Witton, alongside a single run at Preston. He earned his white junior milestone t-shirt on his 10th parkrun at Witton, Event #159 in January last year and has since turned 11 meaning he can run off on his own without needing to run alongside his mum, Witton 50 Club member Helen. This has seen 5 PBs in his last 7 outings at Witton, for a best of 25:11 in October last year – his last parkrun to date. Happy 2nd parkrunniversary, Cameron!

Cameron D

Young Cameron Dolan sprints for the line encouraged home by cousin, Liam Bennison!

Next up is one of the more unlikely Wittoners, given her previous reticence towards parkrun, but we’re delighted she ‘saw the light’, I speak of course of Christine DUCKWORTH, wife of Witton 100 Club member, Tony! Christine’s first parkrun came on July 29th, 2017 at Leamington parkrun in the south Midlands. This was not the start of her parkrunning career as such, she was tailwalking alongside Tony’s elderly mother, and we had to wait nearly another year for her to return to make her Witton debut. This came at Event #132 in June 2018 when, in a similar situation, she accompanied Tony who returned after a nasty spell of bad health, walking around with him, and returning the following week. Tony being Tony, he wasn’t taking it easy for long, soon sprinting off ahead towards the end and getting back up to speed, but Christine continued coming, running 19 times in total during the rest of 2018 and kicking of 2019 with a parkrun on New Year’s Day no less! She has improved 12 times on the Beast, for a current best of 40:11, and is often seen with friend Andrea Cottam, chatting and jogging, or with daughter Heather, who has also become a familiar Witton face. Then, in the middle of December last year, this reluctant parkrunner earned her red 50 t-shirt, further proof if it were needed that parkrun really can be for anyone – happy 3rd parkunniversary, Christine!

Christine and first timers

Look! A previously reluctant Christine Duckworth now smiles when she’s doing her parkrun!

Another Witton 50 Club member up next but one who, as far as a generation of Witton newcomers is concerned, is better known as a volunteer rather than a runner, I speak of former Witton speed machine and more recent Witton marshal extraordinaire, Bernie JOHNSON, whose first parkrun came at Witton on July 30th, 2016 at Witton’s 45th event. He quickly became a regular face, running 16 times out of a possible 20 Saturdays during the rest of 2016 and in 2017 he ran a staggering 49 parkruns during the year, not far off the maximum possible of 55 (52 Saturdays, two on New Year’s Day and one on Christmas Day for the completists amongst you!) He earned his red milestone t-shirt on our second birthday, Event #95 in August 2017 and ended the year with a Witton PB of 20:10 and a parkrun PB of 19:05 at Worsley Woods on the outskirts of Manchester. 2018 began in much the same way, 9 parkruns by the end of February, including a first New Year’s Day run and more PBs, inching his Witton best down to 20:04 and obtaining his first Witton first finisher credits at Events #115 and #118, after previously enjoying a years-long duel with fellow Witton 50 Club member Justin Collighan. Then, suddenly, it all stopped.

Bernie and Justin

A previously familiar Witton scene, as Bernie Johnson is hunted by old foe Justin Collighan – Bernie came out on top this day at Event #118 in February 2018 – and set his current Witton PB too!

Bernie felt crippling pain in his calf and, suspecting a strain, he took it easy for a few weeks, except the pain remained. Numerous medical and physio appointments ensued with conflicting and contradictory medical opinions frequent, but all the while, Bernie continued to come to Witton, taking up roles on the volunteering side, mainly as marshal but sometimes in other roles such as timer. He volunteered for 25 weeks out of 26, whilst trying to get to the bottom of his issue, doing strengthening work and exercises to try and repair the damage and frequently going on long bike rides. Happily, in October, he felt strong enough to return, and did so, running 11 times before the end of 2018 and getting within 20 seconds of his Witton PB, including another first finish at Witton for Event #151 in November. Unfortunately, however, recurrences of the issue have continued and the medical advice continues to be inconclusive, with diagnoses of blood clots which then have seemingly disappeared, scarring that may or may not be irreparable and all the while Bernie has continued to be an encouraging and welcome face at Witton, with just 4 more parkrun credits to his name since the end of 2018, a brief spell in September and October 2019, surrounded by another 37 marshalling and volunteering credits. He last appeared at Witton on New Year’s Day, taking some time off as the cold winter weather disagreed with his injury and, unfortunately, he hasn’t had the opportunity to return in warmer weather as we were cancelled. Hopefully, the lockdown has done him some good and a return to parkrunning may be possible for Bernie, stranded just 8 short of his black milestone t-shirt and just over 20 short of joining the Witton 100 Club but in the meantime, bittersweet though it may be, happy 4th parkrunniversary, Bernie!

Volunteer Bernie

With his injury woes, it would be easy for Bernie to sit at home feeling sorry for himself, but instead he’s come down to marshal for us most weeks, racking up 70 volunteering credits in total, the joint-13th highest in Witton history!

Completing the set is someone celebrating their 5th parkunniversary, step forward Darwen Dasher and Witton 50 Club member Matty COCKER, who ran his first parkrun on Saturday, August 1st, 2015 at Heaton parkrun on the outskirts of Manchester! We mentioned last week that Matty was present at the first Witton test event at the end of July, and was seemingly keen to get some practice in before the off, with two runs at Heaton Park and one at Burnley all coming before his Witton debut at our inaugural event at the end of August 2015. He was a regular at Witton for a long time, running 75 times up to October 2018 and becoming the 9th person to join the Witton 50 Club at Event #84 in June 2017, but he has run just three of his 136 parkruns total since then, at Clitheroe Castle in December 2018, Pendle parkrun in January 2019 and a return to Burnley in February 2020, his most recent parkrun to date. I know part of this is explained by Matty having spent a considerable amount of time in Australia in the past couple of years, but you do know they have parkruns Down Under too, Matty?! Anyhow, we look forward to seeing you back at Witton soon – happy 5th parkunniversary!


Matty Cocker was last seen at Witton for Event #148 in October 2018 – this is his only picture that day!

This Week in Witton parkrun…


Event #45 on July 30th, 2016 was a quiet affair. Anwar Khan was the only one of the top 3 male Points Competition leaders to run, opening up a 120-point lead over nearest rival Matthew Taylor with just 3 weeks of competition left. No milestone t-shirts were awarded but my mum, Lynda Vernon, and Blackburn Road Runner Irene Slater both ran their 10th parkruns – both have well over 100 parkrun credits to their name now! Meanwhile the sad news reached us that Blackburn Road Runner Andrew Boardman, who had run at Witton on 3 occasions, had died suddenly and Event #46 the following week was dedicated to his memory.

Andrew B

Blackburn Road Runner Andrew Boardman finishes Event #30, one of three parkruns he completed, all at Witton. Rest in Peace, Andrew.


Event #91 on July 29th, 2017 was another quiet affair, although Witton 100 Club member Suzanne Ferrandino remembers it fondly, as she became the 21st person to earn her purple volunteering t-shirt at Witton, for 25 separate volunteering instances, on that particular day as Volunteer Co-ordinator. Meanwhile, excitingly, on the same day the Witton parkrun Blog Page went live, sharing stories from some of our regulars both past and present of how they got into parkrun and why they keep coming back for more. It’s a wonderful read, and if you’ve never looked it’s well worth checking it out. Michelle did float creating a new blog during lockdown, but whether it’s brand new or new additions to the original, if you think you’d like to share your parkrun experiences and perhaps encourage others to join us then don’t wait for us to ask you, write down a few thoughts and send them into us: wittonoffice@parkrun.com and we’ll get about compiling them! They can be long or short, funny or poignant, they come in all shapes and sizes, rather like our parkrunners! And if we think you do have something to offer, we may encourage you to share you story, so beware! You can read all the blog posts at anytime here: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/witton/news/2017/07/29/welcome-to-the-witton-parkrun-blog-page/

Suzanne F

A rare solo photo for Suzanne, from Event #90, rather than her milestone event a week later!


Event #136 on July 28th, 2018 dawned with it absolutely pelting down, which thankfully cleared up before the parkrun got underway. A most unusual event, with no Michelle to be seen as she was at the Kendal Calling Music festival (still got her volunteering credit by washing the hi-vis vests though!) and for the first time in Witton history, I was left in charge – gulp. A notable event for all kinds of reasons: my mum, Lynda Vernon, ran her 100th parkrun and combined it with her usual role of Post-event Close Down, which also earned her a purple volunteering t-shirt at the same time! Darwen Running Group’s David Hilton, meanwhile, earned his red milestone t-shirt with his 36th run at Witton and his 50th overall, and Darwen Dasher Barry Shackleton returned to Witton for his 373rd parkrun, setting a new record for the most parkruns seen at Witton, besting Susan Esslemont’s 369 from Event #108 in December 2017. His record would last just 4 weeks – more on that at the end of the month! Even after parkrun was over there was more excitement: the Riversway Road Runners paid a visit to Witton in the early evening as part of their challenge to run 10 parkruns in a single day: we were Stop 8 on the journey, with just Preston and Cuerden Valley to follow. They were very friendly and complimentary about our course and set-up! Finally came the news that Michelle and Bryan has been nominated in the English Athletics Volunteer Awards later that year – a superb and well-deserved recognition of their efforts, not just for parkrun but in a range of roles.

Event 136

David Hilton (pictured with son Stanley) earned his red t-shirt, Barry Shackleton set a new Witton record and mum, Lynda Vernon, earned both black and purple t-shirts (top row) while in the afternoon, we were visited by the Riversway Road Runners who came to run our beautiful course (bottom row) – all this week, 2 years ago!


This time last year saw our final cancellation of 5 in 6 weeks during a busy summer period at Witton Park. Wittoners tooks advantage of the lovely weather to scatter to an array of locations across the North West in search of their parkrun fix. The usual haunts saw healthy turnouts: Preston was visited by Blackburn Road Runners Gary Blackburn and Sandra Snape, Darwen Dashers Kerry and Bruce Elliott and Witton 100 Club member Pat Procter. At Bolton, Darwen Dashers Sue Duckworth and Barry Shackleton were joined by Witton 100 Club members Julie Price, Diane Harrison-Leeming and Suzanne Ferrandino.


Sue Duckworth looks happy on a visit to Bolton, the scene of her very first parkrun!

Burnley hosted Blackburn Harrier John Cookson, Blackburn Road Runner Cathy Hatch as well as Wayne Haworth and Andrea Eccles, while Hyndburn saw Accrington Road Runner Glen Goodwin, Blackburn Road Runner Madeline Haworth, Darwen Dashers Sharon Cocker and Chris Cooper and Witton 50 Club members Andrew Wisdom, Terry Gray and Robert Crompton – this is, to date, Robert’s only non-Witton parkrun, having become the first male to earn his red milestone t-shirt solely at Witton!

Madeline 2

Madeline Haworth was one of the Wittoners on Tour for our last cancellation of last summer – she visited Hyndburn!

The Vernons and Scott Smith went to Haigh Woodland near Wigan, Peter Nicholson and Tim Keely were among the field at Pendle in Colne, Red Rose Road Runner Sarah Watkins went to Clitheroe Castle and Daniel McCombs and Peter Craine visited Watergrove parkrun in Rochdale. A few made it even further afield: Witton 100 Club member Ian Goodliffe went to the seaside at Morecambe Prom parkrun, Witton core team member Lorna Pickup followed suit, satisfying a weird urge to visit Fleetwood Promenade parkrun, while couple Cameron Ashton and Janice Parker and Darwen Dasher Andy Haworth found themselves at the new Tawd Valley parkrun in Skelmersdale. The prize for furthest Witton travellers went to Blackburn Road Runners Daniel and Miriam Hamilton, who visited Brierley Forest parkrun, approximately halfway between Sheffield and Nottingham!


A slightly damp-looking day for Lorna as she ran at the seaside, at Fleetwood Promenade parkrun!

And there we have it for another week. Keep an eye out for the update from parkrun HQ on Friday which should give us more information and if you miss it, don’t worry, I’ll give you the headlines next week. Otherwise, have a good week, read the Witton parkrun blog to learn more about some of our regulars and perhaps put some names to faces too and if you fancy sending us your own stories then we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Follow the local advice and stay safe. We are getting through this, together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Hopefully parkrun hugs can return one day!



A slightly better week weather-wise combined with a slight increase in temperature meant a bit more time could be spent outside than has been possible recently. Despite this, the coronavirus crisis is still focusing minds, with the introduction of the mandatory use of face masks in shops coming into effect in England on Friday and, locally, the monitoring of a spike in infections within Blackburn with Darwen leading to a pause on the relaxation of lockdown, while over the weekend came the news that 14-day quarantine measures will be placed on travellers returning from holidays in Spain in response to an increase in cases there, with the Prime Minister warning of a ‘second wave’ in continental Europe reminding us that the threat of disruption to everyday life is still very much real.

Coronavirus stats

While considerable progress has been made in reducing the infection rate in the UK, recently the curve has flattened out as local spikes have occurred in places such as Leicester, Oldham and Blackburn with Darwen

However, in a rare spot of possible ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, this week’s update from parkrun HQ sounds surprisingly positive, not necessarily of an immediate return but of a plan of action going forward. Proposals and risk assessments have been submitted to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on measures needed to support a potential return for parkrun in the UK and once these are approved, doubtless more information will be forthcoming regarding the way in which this may be achieved, though parkrun HQ is warning that upon its return, parkrun may look slightly different, at least to start with, but with the same commitment to inclusivity and community spirit that has always epitomised it. You can read their full statement here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/07/28/covid-19-coronavirus-update-28-july/


Hope for the future was seen this week in London, as spectators were allowed to view a friendly between Surrey and Middlesex cricket clubs – with households socially distancing of course!


Slightly drier weather this week saw a decent number of (not)parkruns recorded this week and fastest for the second time in three weeks was Blackburn Road Runner and Witton 50 Club member Andrew WISDOM in 24:07, knocking over a minute off his best time set last week – well done, Andrew! Second fastest this week was last week’s “first finisher” Peter NICHOLSON, in 24:15, knocking 15 seconds off his time from last week.


Andrew Wisdom was first (not)parkrun finisher for the second time in three weeks!

Completing the podium was Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON in 26:22, the second week in a row she’s recorded the third-fastest (not)parkrun time and like those above her she set a new (not)parkrun PB, knocking 10 seconds off her debut in Week 2 of (not)parkrun. Continuing the theme was fourth placed Witton 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON in 27:30, a new PB by over 40 seconds from the time he set just last week! Blackburn Road Runner Matt CHESTER recorded a time of 29:05 and, in doing so, became the only person to have recorded a (not)parkrun time every possible week so far, as fellow Road Runner Kate Pomfret did not submit a time this week!


Matt Chester is the only Wittoner to record a (not)parkrun time every week so far – that’s not to say he’s the only one to have done a run necessarily of course!

Next came our only first timers for this week, Blackburn Harrier Vicky MCKINLAY and children Alex and Jenna, in a time of 29:59. The McKinlays have become familiar Witton faces over the last year or so and I know they have been running regularly during lockdown so it is great that they’ve joined the (not)parkrun masses. It was a very special run to be recorded too, as it was the first time the McKinlays have all managed to run a sub-30 5K time – well done guys! Making his return after a few weeks off, Malcolm ALDERTON of Lions Running Community came next, recording a time of 31:18.


The McKinlay family recorded their first (not)parkrun times this week – and a first sub-30-minute 5k for little Jenna!

Returning for a third successive week is Brian Fisher of the Long Distance Walkers Association in 34:25, and 40 seconds further back was Witton 50 Club member Ian Brodrick in 35:07, recording a (not)parkrun time for the first time since Week 2. Finally, fellow Witton 50 Club member Jackie Dwyer recorded a time of 43:30, a new (not)parkrun PB by over half a minute from her debut 3 weeks ago – well done Jackie! This week saw 12 (not)parkrunners in total, recording 15 (not)parkruns in total, both the highest totals since Week 2, and the third-highest totals in Witton (not)parkrun history. This week, Andrew, Robert and Jackie recorded 2 (not)parkruns, and Karen and Malcolm recorded their times on Wednesday, Andrew’s fastest came on Thursday, as did Peter’s, Robert’s fastest run was on Friday, while the rest ran on Saturday, bar Brian who ran on Sunday. Well done to this week’s (not)parkrunners!

Ian B

Ian Brodrick recorded a first (not)parkrun time for 6 weeks this week!


An astonishing week on the parkrunniversaries thread, with no less than 7 people having started parkrunning in the past week over the years. Without further ado, let’s get to it! First, is our only volunteering parkrunniversary of the week: step forward Scott DINGLE, who volunteered for the first time on July 20th last year, which means he’s just passed his first parkrunniversary! Scott joined friend Charlotte Kit for her second week of marshalling and hasn’t looked back since, running a couple of parkruns, being tail walker and marshalling numerous times, often alongside either Charlotte’s dad, Rob Kit, or his mum, Erica Doyle, as Scott is a junior parkrunner and must be placed with an adult. He is a very encouraging member of the volunteering team, enjoys a laugh and is a valued member of the Witton team. Just before lockdown, he completed his 25th volunteering day, which means he went into lockdown having earned his purple milestone t-shirt. Well done, Scott!


Scott Dingle, here on tail walking duty, has volunteered 25 times since he first joined us a year ago!

Onto running now and July 21st, 2018 saw two Wittoners run their first parkruns, both at Event #135 at Witton. First, we have Craig BARTON, who since his debut has run 33 parkruns, 30 of them with us at Witton and is a familiar figure in the top 10 finishers with a PB from last May of 20:43. Second is Blackburn Road Runner David MORRIS, who has now run an impressive 43 parkruns, 31 of them at Witton and doubtless by now would have earned his red milestone t-shirt in ordinary circumstances. David has regularly improved his times at Witton, earning 9 PBs over his time with us, from an initial 32:17 down to 28:23 in January this year. Congratulations to both of you on 2 years of parkrunning!

Craig and David

Happy 2nd parkunniversary! Craig Barton and David Morris make their parkrun debuts at Event #135!

Back a while now, for someone celebrating their 9th (NINTH) parkrunniversary! Step forward Clayton-le-Moors Harrier Katy THOMPSON, whose first parkrun came on July 23rd, 2011 at nearby Bolton parkrun. Katy’s early adoption of parkrun means her barcode is within the first 200,000 issued, and by the time she visited Witton for our inaugural event in August 2015 she had already earned her red milestone t-shirt, with Witton her 53rd parkrun. She has now run 160 parkruns in total, at 43 different venues, with 25 visits to Witton second only to 42 visits to Bolton, though 29 of those came before Witton had been created! Congratulations on 9 years parkrunning, Katy, a decade is next up!


Katy was one of the 273 people who took part in the first ever Witton parkrun – by then, she’d been parkrunning for 4 years!

Our last three parkrunniversaries this week all took place on July 25th, 2015, 5 years ago and a month before Witton got underway and, unsually, all at different venues! First, at nearby Bolton parkrun, young Darwen Dasher David SEDDON ran his first parkrun. The son of Witton regular Viki Walsh, a grandson of late Witton 50 Club member Norman Walsh, David was a reluctant parkrunner in his early teenage years, with 4 of his first 8 parkruns coming on Christmas Day alongside the rest of the family, but in 2019, David ran twice as many parkruns in a single year as he had up to then, a total of 16, with 2 on New Year’s Day contributing to a total of 26 to date. Meanwhile, over at Cuerden Valley, near Preston, Andrew STEWART was running his first ever parkrun that day, his only parkrun before he joined us at Witton for our second event at the start of September. He has now run a total of 32 parkruns, with 30 of them coming at Witton, most recently in early February, putting him just outside the top 100 for most Witton events run in total. Last, but certainly not least, Witton 150 Club member Anwar Khan made his parkrun debut on the same day over at Burnley parkrun! Anwar was encouraged along to parkrun by a work colleague and was delighted to discover an event in his hometown would be starting up a month later! After 5 events on consecutive weekends to start his parkrun career, with a trip to Cuerden and a return to Burnley, which was sandwiched between two visits to Preston, Anwar lined up on the startline for Witton parkrun Event #1 at the end of August, running the next 37 events at Witton in a row, including a further 6 elsewhere when we were cancelled. That set him up as the person who had done the most Witton parkruns of anyone, a title he has never really relinquished since! Happy 5th parkrunniversaries to all 3 of you!

David, Andrew and Anwar

David Seddon, pictured with mum, Viki, Andrew Stewart’s first appearance at Witton saw him pushing a buggy – good effort Andrew!, while Anwar Khan’s first visit to Witton of 169 so far was his 6th parkrun overall!

This Week in Witton parkrun

After a quiet month of July, it seems things explode at the end of the month, not just in parkrunniversaries but also concerning events in past years, in past years this week has seen numberous notable events, plus it marks a very special week in Witton parkrun history… 


Event #44 on July 23rd, 2016 was a momentous event in Witton’s first year for three regulars who all achieved notable feats. First to finish was Witton 50 Club member James McLeod in a new PB of 20:13. What made this particularly special was that it was the first time James had crossed the line as first finisher on his 8th appearance at Witton. It was the first of what is currently a record 22 times as Witton first finisher, for a long time the record for anyone and more recently, after Jane’s exploits, still the male record total.


James McLeod rounds Tattersall Corner on his way to the first Witton first finish of his 22 so far!

Meanwhile, in something of a Witton curiosity, Darwen Dasher and Witton 50 Club member Kerry Elliott sealed victory in the first (and, as it turned out only) Witton parkrun Points Competition, taking an unassailable lead with 4 weeks of the Witton parkrun year left – even though she wasn’t there! For those who are unaware, and that will be most of you, the Points Competition was something calculated by parkrun HQ and available to view on the results page, which assigned points according to finishing positions, with 100 points available to the first male finisher, down to 1 for the 100th male finisher, and likewise for the female positions. Unknowns counted towards the male total (as they used to in the results table) and 100 points were awarded for your first three volunteering weeks in a parkrun year. The Points Competition was an early feature of parkrun, adding an extra spice of competition for parkrunners and encouraging regular attendance in order to increase your points total. Of course, rewarding first finishers was not much use to those of us who may not be the fastest in the field, and as parkrun became less about club runners and more about inclusivity and encouraging walkers, as well as runners and joggers, the points competition no longer seemed to fit with this developing ethos. Consequently, in February 2017, the parkrun Points Competition was consigned to history, and as such Witton only managed one full year before it was discontinued. Kerry Elliott had won for the women, with 35 Witton runs in 44 events at that time, while, unsurprisingly, record attendee Anwar Khan was leading the men’s competition, but by perhaps a surprisingly low margin of just 41 points from Matthew Taylor who, while only having run 26 of the 44 events up to then, had a lowest finishing position of 11th, earning a significant margin over Anwar when he did run to keep himself in the running.


Husband Bruce points at Witton’s first – and only – female Points Competition winner, Kerry Elliott!

Speaking of Anwar, it was a big week for him too, as he earned his red milestone t-shirt on his 50th parkrun, becoming in the process the first Witton regular to earn his 50 t-shirt since our inception nearly a year earlier. In total, Anwar had run 40 of his first 50 parkrun at Witton, including all Witton’s first 37 events, by far the highest proportion (80%) of our early t-shirt earners (far outstripping Sue Duckworth at just under 33%). A first first finish for a Witton record holder, our first (and only) female Point Champion and our first truly Witton milestone t-shirt – what a day Event #44 was!


Anwar looks cool as a cucumber on his way to earning his red t-shirt!


Event #90 on July 22nd, 2017 saw a slightly different milestone, as Tony Duckworth became the 11th member of the Witton 50 Club, 4 weeks having earned his red milestone t-shirt! Tony first ran at Witton at Event #21 in February 2016 and in less than 18 months had run 50 times at Witton, the 6th man to reach the total. Meanwhile, we were joined by Adrian Leach of Ackworth Road Runners, for his whopping 329th parkrun, at the time the 3rd highest total we’d ever seen at Witton and just 4 off the overall record of 333 set by Steve Darby. These days, Adrian is astonishingly only 18th on the list of most parkruns seen at Witton, although if he returned straight after lockdown he’d whizz up to the top of the list as he hasn’t slowed down since visiting us – he’s currently on 476 parkruns! Finally, mum (with maybe just a little help) wrote the run report!


A rare outing at Witton for a green milestone t-shirt, courtesy of visitor Adrian Leach, veteran of 329 parkruns at the time!


Event #135 on July 21st was Witton’s return after two weeks off. It took place during the driest summer on record (going back to 1961) and was a hot one, during the longest heatwave since 1976. There were three half centuries celebrated that day. Two went to new red t-shirt owners, young Witton first timer Jack Tickle, who ran most of his total at Preston and Witton regular Matt Chester, who had run just over half (27) of his total at Witton. Matt’s fellow Blackburn Road Runner Sandra Snape was also celebrating, as she became the 35th member of the Witton 50 Club – 24 more than a year before! It also marked the first time there had been more women in the Witton 50 Club than men, something that would remain the case for over a year! Finally, Helana White returned to Witton for the first time in 18 months and her most recent visit to date, finally breaking her PB from her first visit, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. She smashed it by nearly 2 minutes, down to 21:17 and in doing so set a new JW11-14 age category record for the Beast course, two seconds faster than Blackburn Harrier Amy-Nicola Davies, who holds the overall category record too of 20:50 from Event #2 on our old course.

Sandra and Helana

Sandra Snape joined the Witton 50 Club this week 2 years ago (surely Rascal’s earned honorary membership himself by now?!) while Helana White had shot up since her previous visit to Witton two years earlier! 


Who can forget Event #179 on June 20th last summer, when we returned from our enforced month-long absence to celebrate a quintet of red t-shirts in style alongside a host of other milestones. 147 people came down to Witton for the festivities, our joint-3rd highest ever attendance at the time on the Beast and the joint-13th highest in Witton history. Now to our 5 half centurions: it all started earlier in 2019, when Event Director Michelle Searby managed to take part in a couple of Wittons in quick succession (an unheard of feat aided by our increasing volunteering numbers) which gave her the ambition that this would be the year she finally managed to earn her 50 t-shirt. Shortly after, she discovered she and husband Bryan were on the same number of parkruns, which meant if they both took part, they could earn their red 50s together and so that became a thing. Then, friend of Witton Hazel Baxter, who started running at the same time as Michelle, joined the party, having recovered from a nasty hip injury. As May headed towards a cancelled June, Witton’s pocket rocket, little Liam Bennison, returned after a few weeks off due to other sporting commitments and due to our unprecedented streak of cancellations, Liam had the opportunity of joining in the 50 celebrations on our return. His big brother Jake, previously a Witton regular, had not been seen for a while, marooned on 48 parkruns, but he was tempted back to share his brother’s celebration, and so it was that Michelle, Bryan, Hazel, Liam and Jake all celebrated their 50th parkruns together, 250 parkruns between them and the highest number of red t-shirts awarded at a single Witton event! Finally, not far behind the half centurions all on her own, Witton 100 Club member Aimie Wormald celebrated her milestone 200th parkrun, putting her just 50 away from her green milestone t-shirt – a baby and coronavirus have meant this has been delayed more than anticipated, however!

5 x 50

Shamefully no pictures from Event #179 for an unprecedented celebration for 5 loyal Wittoners: Michelle and Bryan Searby, Hazel Baxter and Liam and Jake Bennison!

But wait! There’s more!


For the first time during these looks back at Witton history, I get to write the year “2015”, the year that Witton parkrun began. Although we are still a month from the day itself, Michelle shared an album of photos on our Facebook page on Saturday from 5 years ago, as on Saturday, 25th July, 2015, at just after 9am, a small group of willing volunteers lined up on the old Witton start line, down near the main car park, to do a test run for Witton parkrun! Before parkrun events are allowed to start up, aside from recruiting and training a core team, raising the necessary funds to cover start-up fees and finding and measuring a route, it is also necessary to run some test events, to spot any unforeseen issues and put the course through its paces. The first such test event for Witton was 5 years ago on Saturday just gone! The countdown to Witton parkrun’s inaugural had begun!

Test Event

Archive photos of Witton’s first test event: the runners are gathered on the start line, Witton 50 Club members Sharon and Matty Cocker were part of that first run, while Michelle congratulates the finishers in the old end spot on the grass!

And that just about wraps up this week’s instalment – quite a busy week for a change!

In the meantime, stay safe, follow the local guidance and let’s continue to make progress towards a return for parkrun.

We’re getting through this, together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun

Me and co



Another largely wet week was punctuated with a few day’s brightness and dry spells – hardly sparkling July weather in what should have been the last week of the school year. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that in true sod’s law fashion, we had the most glorious 3 months between March and May during which time we were barely allowed out and had to stay indoors as much as possible and ever since rules were relaxed slightly to allow more travel and more outside meetings with other people, the weather has made this quite difficult, unless you pick your moments right! Typical.

On Friday night, Event Director Michelle put on Facebook that she and husband Bryan were planning to have a walk along the parkrun route the following morning and asked whether anyone wanted to join them. In the event, Saturday morning saw the rain tipping down and, although Michelle did dutifully head out, they only stayed around half an hour in the rain, encountering a few Witton faces along the way. Although the weather wasn’t fit for man nor Beast on Saturday morning, we all know full well that under normal circumstances there’d still have been around 50+ parkrunners and another 10-15 volunteers trooping out to Witton for another run around the Beast – and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Hopefully, we’re back soon, but it still feels a long way off in all honesty. The latest information from parkrun HQ is available here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/07/21/covid-19-coronavirus-update-21-july/

Ready to go!

A scene such as this, from Event #84 in June 2017, would have probably been repeated had we parkran this weekend!

Locally, the threat of some form of local lockdown is still very real. Over the past week, cases in Blackburn have edged above the previous flashpoint of Leicester with 82.6 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to Friday, above the 81.6 cases per 100,000 in Leicester. The same local guidelines apply as last week, limiting the mixing of households to two, elbow bumps rather than hugs or handshakes, with face coverings and social distancing essential. It is important we all follow the advice to help reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.

Coronavirus graph

Coronavirus cases in Blackburn with Darwen are currently comparative to the seven-day average during the peak of the outbreak locally in May


More poor weather meant a further reduction in both (not)parkrunners (8, down from 11) and runs (11, down from 12) for Witton this week. Fastest for the first time was Witton 50 Club member Peter NICHOLSON in 24:30. This was Peter’s second week of (not)parkrunning and he knocked over a minute and a half off his time from last week, in the fastest of his two runs this week. Second was Blackburn Road Runner Andrew WISDOM in 25:12, a new (not)parkrun PB by 12 seconds in his third (not)parkrun in four weeks.


Peter Nicholson recorded his first (not)parkrun first finisher this week!

Third fastest this week was another Blackburn Road Runner, Karen RISHTON in 26:53. Karen has now done 6 (not)parkruns, including 2 this week, and she was followed by another Road Runner, Witton 100 Club member Kate POMFRET in 28:10. This marked a new (not)parkrun PB by nearly a minute and a half from a fortnight ago for Kate, with 2 more (not)parkruns this week taking her to 9 in total, the highest total of Witton (not)parkruns so far. Just behind Kate was Witton 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON in a new (not)parkrun PB of 28:12. This knocked half a minute off his time from his only other (not)parkrun to date, in our very first week four weeks ago.

Robert on Tour

Robert Crompton ran a new (not)parkrun PB this week!

Three more to go, starting with Blackburn Road Runner Matt CHESTER in 31:58. This was Matt’s 5th (not)parkrun and he joins fellow Road Runner Kate Pomfret as the only Wittoners to record a (not)parkrun time every available week so far. Behind him was Brian FISHER, of the Long Distance Walkers Association, in a new (not)parkrun PB of exactly 32 minutes, knocking 18 seconds off his time from the very first week of (not)parkrunning last month – well done, Brian! Lastly for this week, Blackburn Road Runner and Witton 100 Club member Ian GOODLIFFE ran 36:13, in his fourth successive week of (not)parkrunning. Well done to all our (not)parkrunners this week in getting out and about despite the weather! This week, Karen ran her fastest time on Tuesday, Robert on Wednesday, Peter and Andrew on Thursday and Kate, Matt, Brian and Ian on Saturday!

Ian G

Ian Goodliffe has run a (not)parkrun each of the last 4 weeks – here he is in tourist action at Morecambe Prom parkrun last summer!


This week, we celebrate the parkrunniversary of someone who has become a wholehearted member of the Witton community in recent years, John KEARNEY. It was on July 14th, 2018 that John made his parkrun bow, at nearby Burnley parkrun when Witton was cancelled. He was encouraged to come by his cousin, Paul Allen, who had recently started coming to Witton himself, and made his Witton debut a week later at Event #135 on July 21st. Since then, he has run at 56 of the past 77 Witton parkruns, zooming up the attendance lists and becoming the 54th member of the Witton 50 Club in January this year. He is now up to 48th on the all-time Witton attendance list and has run 72 parkruns in total, running at 11 different parkrun venues, including most local runs and one at Leamington parkrun, where John is originally from. From a Witton debut of 35:12 in July 2018, he has now run 6 times under 25 minutes on the Beast, with a PB of 23:39 in February this year. In addition to his red milestone t-shirt, John has also purchased a Witton parkrun apricot t-shirt and has marshalled for us on 4 occasions so far, as well as moving up to run 10Ks and half marathons too. 2 years of parkrunning, John, well done, it’s just a shame your last 4 months have been parkrun-less!

John K

John has become a familiar face at Witton, rocking the 80s look at Lorna’s birthday parkrun on Leap Day, wearing parkrun apricot, earning milestone t-shirts and also doing his bit on the volunteering roster!

This Week in Witton parkrun…

Another quiet summer week at Witton, what’s really becoming clear is that July is our yearly lull month before the excitement of August and the build-up to our birthday!


At Event #43 on July 16th, 2016, the big celebration was for Clayton-le-Moors Harrier Nerina Gill, who became only the 9th person to earn their red milestone t-shirt after running her 50th parkrun with us that day. It was only her 3rd parkrun at Witton at that time and she celebrated it with a new PB by nearly 40 seconds. Meanwhile, at the top of the field, Blackburn Harrier Karl Bilington was first home, with Darwen Dasher Andy Smith second and another Harrier, Joe Gebbie in third, the first time in 5 weeks that the front 3 had finished in under 20 minutes.


Nerina looks pleased as she crosses the line at her 50th parkrun!


Event #89 on July 15th 2017 took place under threat of rain which never arrived (as is so often the case at Witton). The week’s big celebration was for Lynda Vernon, who was running her 50th parkrun to earn her red t-shirt, 14 months after coming once, complaining all the way round and declaring she wouldn’t come again! Mum became the 29th person to earn their red t-shirt at Witton, meaning 20 more had been earned between this week in 2016 and 2017. She also became the second parent of someone who had earned a red t-shirt at Witton to earn the same t-shirt with us, after Izzy and Chris Chadwick.


Alas, no pics from Event #89, but here’s mum in action a week later at her 51st parkrun!


Beginning a trend, Witton was cancelled this week in 2018 and the Searbys, Vernons and Scott Smith made the journey across to Worsley Woods parkrun on the outskirts of Manchester to try out a new venue. Worsley Woods is quite a picturesque route, along a long-disused railway line. It involves running under a couple of bridges and even running between two still visible railway platforms, before a picturesque climb through the surrounding woodland, before returning along the flat, straight railway line to finish where you started. A quick course, generally speaking, it was a little bit tricky due to the railway line forming the only main thoroughfare from one side of the woods to the other. This meant, in addition to parkrunners, the same path was being used by dog walkers, ramblers, other runners and cyclists, meaning once you’d finished, you had to pick your spot for standing around and keep your wits about you!


No pictures were taken the week we visited Worsley Woods, but here’s a typical shot, showing one of the railway arches and the old railway line which is now the course


Another second week in July, another Witton cancellation. Last year’s cancellation coincided with the Trailblaster event in Towneley Park, Burnley, which saw several Witton regulars taking part in that, rather than the parkrun that morning. This included Matthew and Lynda Vernon, Lorna Pickup, Corinne Surkitt, Jane Magee, Suzanne Peaker, Suzanne Ferrandino, Diane Harrison-Leeming, Julie Price, Hazel Baxter and the Searbys, as well as the Sinkinsons and Viki Walsh. Although we didn’t run the parkrun, it didn’t stop us popping along just after 9am in the morning to watch the parkrunners passing the first k marker, where we saw Gary Blackburn, Peter Nicholson, Karen Rishton, Tim Keely, Anwar Khan, Wayne Haworth and the Brennans. Oh, and Jane being Jane, she ran the parkrun and then ran a total of 30km during the Trailblaster event over the course of the next 12 hours! Astonishing.


Jane sped round the parkrun course, before running another 30km over the course of the day

Nearby Hyndburn saw Darwen Running Group’s Aimie Wormald and David Hilton in attendance, as well as the Duckworths, Tony and Christine and the Elliotts, Bruce and Kerry. Preston was popular with the Community Church Blackburn gang, with Dan and Miriam Hamilton, Dan and Adam McCombs and Ryan and Angela Shanks. Also running were Red Rose Road Runner Sarah Watkins, Darwen Dasher Debbie Ashton, Blackburn Harrier Mark Almond, Lonely Goat Peter Craine and Witton 100 Club member Pat Procter!


Witton 100 Club member Aimie Wormald looks to be enjoying herself on a visit to Hyndburn this week last year

Lytham Hall was unusually busy with Wittoners, including the two Ians, Brodrick and Goodliffe, Lea Mellody, Carol Foy as well as Lisa Kit, who ran her fastest parkrun time in her fledgling career! Hayley and Sue Duckworth followed up Jersey Farm last week with Upton Court parkrun in Slough the week after, to earn a ‘U’ towards the Road Runners’ parkrun alphabet challenge. This meant they had earned all 25 available parkrun letters as no ‘X’s have yet been created! Finally, Cameron Ashton and Janice Parker ran at Horton parkrun in Bradford to tick another new venue off themselves! Parkrun tourism…another victim of the coronavirus!

Sue and Hayley

Sue and Hayley Duckworth completed the parkrun alphabet with a visit to Upton Court parkrun in Slough!

A last note for this week. Last weekend, I received a message from Witton 50 Club member Peter Nicholson, who wanted to tell me about his experiences running during lockdown. He’s invented a new game for himself, which he calls Witton parkrun Bingo! I’m sure lots of you have subconsciously been taking part yourselves, as you spot familiar faces out and about when running. Peter only counts faces he sees on his 9am Saturday runs (his parkrun runs) but has so far run into Andrew Wisdom, Bill and Jackie Dwyer (twice!), Lorna Pickup and husband Andy, Peter Toogood, Ian Clarkson and David Hurn! He also thought he spotted Josh Crowther speeding past too! Peter reckons this constitutes a line and perhaps approaches a full house for Wittoners but what do we all think? Can anybody top Peter’s tally for Witton faces spotted? I think I’m only on 3 thus far, but as I never make it down Witton way, I think that’s not too bad going!

Peter and Bernie

Peter hasn’t mentioned seeing Bernie Johnson out on his runs – maybe next week?!

Anyway, that’s me done for this week. Stay safe, follow the local guidance so we can avoid another lockdown and have a good week!

We’re getting through this together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun

Chatting after

I’m missing all my parkrun friends



While New Zealand parkruns enjoyed a second week’s return to action, events closer to home have taken a slightly more uncomfortable turn. First came the news that face coverings will be made mandatory in all enclosed public spaces from Friday, July 24th and then, on Tuesday evening, came the shock news closer to home that Blackburn had one of the highest rates of infection in the country, at 61 cases per 100,000 people. This is still some way behind the rate seen in Leicester, the first place in the country to face a so-called ‘local lockdown’, which saw a high of 152.2 cases per 100,000 towards the end of June, but has increased markedly in recent weeks prompting some precautionary measures. Face coverings are already requested in all enclosed public spaces, testing is open to anyone even if you do not currently have COVID symptoms, while greetings with anyone outside your immediate household should be through ‘elbow bumps’ rather than hugs or handshakes and no more than two people from another household should be invited into your home at a time. Simply put, limit your contact as much as possible and wear a face covering if you’re out in public if possible. The consequences of failing to follow this advice is clear: if the rate of infection continues to rise, there will be no option but for Blackburn to go into a similar ‘local lockdown’ to Leicester, which will see our regained freedoms rolled back once more, something I’m sure none of us want to happen.

Witton Testing

Covid precautions have come to parkrun, with a new testing centre set up at Witton Park High School, just yards from our parkrun route

The latest news from parkrun HQ is that it is their aim to restart parkrun in each participating country as soon as it is safe to do so from a public health perspective. This will likely be before the country-wide eradication success seen in New Zealand has been possible, but at present no time scale is being put on this and no other countries bar New Zealand have a scheduled restart date. You can read the latest parkrun blog in full here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/07/14/covid-19-coronavirus-update-14-july/


Another fairly unsettled week weather-wise saw people choosing their moments to record their (not)parkrun times, with our joint-lowest number of “attendees” (11), recording a new low of just 12 (not)parkruns between them, Blackburn Road Runner Karen Rishton being the only one to record 2 (not)parkruns during the week. Fastest time of the week went to a newer Blackburn Road Runner and a Witton 50 Club member, Andrew WISDOM, in a new (not)parkrun PB of 25:24 – just two seconds better than his debut a fortnight ago! Second place and first female went to another Blackburn Road Runner and a (not)parkrun first timer, Jeanette BARON in 25:47. Jeanette has run 24 parkruns, and exactly half have come at Witton, most recently on Christmas Day last year. Third was another (not)parkrun first timer, Witton 50 Club member Peter NICHOLSON a speedy 26:10.


A shot of Jeanette Baron from her last visit to Witton - on Christmas Day!

Next up are a couple of female Blackburn Road Runners and regular Witton finishers, Karen RISHTON in 26:53, followed by last week’s (not)parkrun first finisher, Witton 100 Club member Kate POMFRET in 30:04. Following them are our other (not)parkrun first timers, Becky LARAWAY in 30:33 and Vegan Runner Elizabeth RUSHTON in 32:16. Elizabeth has done 6 parkruns, 5 of which came at Witton and all between September and October 2017, while, excitingly, Becky has NEVER run a parkrun before! We hope that changes when parkrun returns and we hope to see both of you at Witton very soon – in the meantime, please continue (not)parkrunning, it’s great to have you!


Elizabeth Rushton visited us 5 times in the middle of 2017 - hopefully we'll see you again soon, Elizabeth!

Half a minute further back was another Blackburn Road Runner, Matt CHESTER, in 32:45, then around another half a minute back was Isobel HOLLINGS in 33:13. Finally for this week are two veterans: Brian FISHER of the Long Distance Walking Association in 33:53 and Witton 100 Club member and Blackburn Road Runner Ian GOODLIFFE in 34:11. And that’s it for our (not)parkrunners this week! A speedy bunch. For (not)parkrun Event #4, Becky and Elizabeth ran on Monday, Karen’s best time came on Tuesday, Peter and Jeanette ran on Wednesday, Andrew and Matt on Thursday, Brian, Ian and Isobel on Saturday and Kate on Sunday!


Isobel Hollings regularly visits Witton and ran a (not)parkrun for the second successive week!


This week sees the return of parkrunniversaries and it’s a special one this week for two recent Wittoners who celebrated a full year since they ran their first parkruns on July 6th, 2019! Step forward Liz LORD and Margaret GREEN, who both made their debut at nearby Cuerden Valley parkrun on that day, enjoying it so much they returned a week later! A week after that, on July 20th, they visited Witton for the first time, on our return to action after our month-long hiatus. In total, Liz and Margaret have both run 19 parkruns, 13 of which have come at Witton. Liz has run 5 of her remaining 6 at Cuerden Valley, plus one run at Coventry parkrun in the Midlands. Margaret, meanwhile, has run 3 times at Cuerden Valley, alongside one-off runs at Burnley parkrun, Tilgate parkrun in West Sussex and Warwick Racecourse parkrun, again in the Midlands. Both have already donned the hi-vis in a volunteering capacity too at Witton, Liz once and Margaret on three occasions! They both most recently ran with us on February 8th, but Margaret actually ran at Warwick Racecourse on the last weekend before the parkrun shutdown on March 14th. Doubtless both ladies would be well on their way to a red 50 t-shirt by now, but like everyone else, their progress has been halted for the time being! Congratulations, nonetheless, ladies and we look forward to welcoming you back to Witton as soon as is possible!

Liz and Margaret

Liz Lord (pink) and Margaret Green (blue) are often spotted together at parkrun, like in this shot from Event #186 - happy parkrunniversary, ladies!

This Week in Witton parkrun…

Another quiet summer week in Witton’s history, which has seen cancellations for the past 2 years as the park has become busier during the summer months. On July 9th, 2016, at Event #42, we had an unknown first finisher, with the big story being Clayton-le-Moors Harriers’ prodigy Helana White, at the time a JW10 who finished in 6th position overall and as first female in a superb 23:03. This obliterated the JW10 Witton record set by Darwen Dasher Holly Turner at our inaugural event and Helana was the highest placed female in the standings in seven weeks. Helana has continued to parkrun, running 75 times in total, over 60 of these coming at Burnley parkrun, while her last visit to Witton was back in 2018 – it would be great to see you back, Helana!


Young Helana White flies into the record books at Witton!

The notable part of Event #88 on July 8th, 2017 was also at the front of the field. First finisher was Horwich RMI Harrier Nick Leigh in a rapid 17:30, just edging out his clubmate, Phil Marsden, in 17:32. It was actually a Horwich RMI 1-2-3 with Alastair Murray “lagging behind” in “only” 18:46! As you can probably guess, those times are right up there in the fastest seen on the Beast and, at that point, 2 years in and after 18 months of using the Beast route, they represented the 3rd and 4th fastest times ever seen on the course, behind only fellow Horwich RMI Harrier Chris Farrell’s 16:25 and Jack Hindle’s 17:12, both from Event #78 in April the same year! Now, nearly 5 years in, they still represent the 9th and 11th fastest times ever seen on the Beast, with Nick having not been able to beat that time to date, whereas Phil has returned to improve on his time twice, with a new PB of 16:58 marking the only sub-17 time on the Beast besides Chris Farrell’s record!

Nick and Phil

Nick Leigh is closely tracked by fellow Horwich Harrier Phil Marsden on their way to the third and fourth fastest times ever on the Beast at that time!

I’m afraid I have very little to say about July 7th, 2018 from a parkrun perspective, as I was sat on Court No. 2 at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon on the Middle Saturday of Wimbledon 2018 for most of the day and was unable to parkrun! I was also keeping an eye on England’s World Cup Quarter-Final with Sweden, which ended in a 2-0 victory for the Three Lions to set up a Semi-Final meeting with Croatia – bound to end in success! Parkrun-wise, Witton was cancelled for the first of two successive weeks. The Searbys took the week off and left parkrunners up to their own devices with no particular Witton on Tour plans!


No parkrun means no photos from two years ago...so here's a shameless picture from where I was instead!

A similar story was true for July 6th, 2019, the third of four consecutive cancellations at Witton, when Wittoners continued to run elsewhere until our return. A group of us went to visit the new Centre Vale parkrun in Todmorden for their 15th event. The Vernons, Scott Smith and Lorna Pickup quite enjoyed the 4-lap course, which involved two short laps and two longer laps incorporating a bit of trail and climbing, finishing alongside the bowling green. Peter Craine and Darwen Dasher Andy McAllister were the other Witton faces who happened to be there on the day.


Flying feet for Jane Magee (blue vest) as she heads for a Burnley PB!

The biggest contingent of Wittoners could be found at nearby Burnley parkrun. This included PB-earner Jane Magee and Tim Keely (making his first appearance at Towneley Park), Witton stalwart Anwar Khan, who set a new PB, Paul Thompson and sons Oliver (who earned a PB out on his own) and Alfie, friends Lisa Kit and Erica Doyle who made their Burnley debuts, the Halsall sisters, Annika and Nicola, fellow Blackburn Road Runners Matt Chester, Ian Goodliffe and Irene Slater and Corinne Surkitt and Shelagh Brownlow!


Anwar Khan looks focused on his way to a new PB at Burnley parkrun last year!

Hyndburn, always popular with Witton refugees, saw 8 more that week including Andrew Wisdom, Sandra Snape, Tony and Christine Duckworth (Tony earning a second successive PB there), Terry Gray, Hazel Baxter and Debbie Ashton! Likewise, at Cuerden Valley parkrun, near Preston, there were five more Wittoners, Blackburn Harriers Mark Almond, John Cookson, who set a PB, and daughter Hannah along with Witton 100 Club members Julie Price, who earned a new PB, and Diane Harrison-Leeming.


Octogenarian Terry Gray didn't miss his parkrun fix just because Witton was cancelled!

Witton 100 Club member Aimie Wormald ran at Bolton parkrun to put her on 198 parkruns, ahead of Witton’s return in 2 weeks-time, while Red Rose Road Runner Sarah Watkins was found at Clitheroe Castle. John Kearney ran at Pendle and Blackburn Road Runner Kate Pomfret ran at Southport. The Elliotts ran at Penistone parkrun in Sheffield, Sue and Hayley Duckworth ran at Jersey Farm parkrun in St Albans, alongside Blackburn Road Runner Gary Blackburn, as they attempted to complete the Road Runners’ parkrun Alphabet Challenge, while couple Cameron Ashton and Janice Parker ran at Birkenhead parkrun on Merseyside!


Christine Duckworth ploughs a lonely furrow at Hyndburn parkrun this week a year ago!

A busy week a year ago, it’s strange how foreign the idea of travelling all across the country seems at this moment in time. But just as parkrun will return soon enough, so will parkrun tourism. But for this week, that’s about it.

Stay safe, and particularly those of you living in Blackburn with Darwen, PLEASE follow the local advice so we can avoid a local lockdown.

We’re getting through this, together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun




In celebration of the return of parkrun New Zealand, all this week’s photos show parkrunners on the start lines at 28 of the 29 parkruns that took place this very Saturday – I hope you appreciate them. (PS: There look to be some beautiful venues in here, and sorry Dunedin – you didn’t post any photos!)

Well, I think this has safely been the wettest week since lockdown was first imposed, which is typical of the British sense of irony that the minute we’re allowed to start meeting up with people and venturing outside more the weather has taken a decidedly moist turn. On Saturday, the latest round of the lifting of restrictions took place in the UK, seeing pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopening with mitigation measures in place. Society seems to be getting back to a ‘new normal’ but parkrun is still some way off I fear, with organised outdoor public gatherings still limited to 6 people from different households or two households of any number, while any two households may now meet up indoors at any one time. Meanwhile, last week we saw the first localised lockdown take place in Leicester, a sight we may become more familiar with over the coming months.

Greytown Woodside Trail_Flaxmere

Time for a first Run Briefing in over 3 months at one of the smallest restarting parkruns – Greytown Woodside Trail (l), a little way north of Wellington, as well as at Flaxmere parkrun (r), south of Napier

Despite our own parkrun moratorium still being in place, on Saturday the first parkruns in the world for 16 weeks took place in New Zealand, where coronavirus restrictions have been almost entirely lifted. Attendance was a mixed picture, with everywhere seeing healthy but not extraordinary numbers as parkrun returned. Highest attendances belonged to Cornwall parkrun in Auckland (297) and Hagley parkrun in Christchurch (296) but both were well below their attendance records, while the closest to breaking its attendance record was Millwater parkrun in Silverdale, just outside Auckland, which fell just 1 short of the 257 it saw in January this year. It was also the inaugural event for Whanganui Riverbank parkrun on the North Island, which saw 76 people celebrate the first new parkrun since coronavirus, 21 of whom were running their very first parkruns – ooh, it’s good to have things to celebrate once more, even if we all still have to be patient ourselves!

Kapiti Coast Dual

The message was very clear on the cake at Kapiti Coast parkrun on the west coast of North Island – we’re back!

In a lovely gesture of solidarity, the various New Zealand parkruns have ‘adopted’ a fellow parkrun country to represent until the parkrun world returns in full. There was fancy dress, food and flags galore and provides further proof that we are all part of one big parkrun family. Keep an eye out for the themes in the photos! The nations are represented as follows:

AUSTRALIA – Gisborne • CANADA – Balclutha • DENMARK – Foster • ESWATINI – Porirua • FINLAND – Hamilton Lake • FRANCE - Wanaka • GERMANY – Puarenga • IRELAND – Hagley • ITALY - Millwater • JAPAN – Queenstown • MALAYSIA – East End • NAMIBIA – Lower Hutt • NETHERLANDS – Dunedin • NEW ZEALAND – Whanganui Riverbank • NORWAY – Unknown  • POLAND – Western Springs • RUSSIA – Cornwall Park • SINGAPORE – Taupo • SOUTH AFRICA – Invercargill • SWEDEN – Whangarei • UK: ENGLAND – Cambridge, NZ • UK: SCOTLAND – Anderson • UK: WALES – Pegasus • UK: NORTHERN IRELAND – Unknown • USA – Palmerston North


More pre-Run Briefings at Porirua parkrun (l), on the outskirts of Wellington (looks like someone’s borrowed Michelle’s loudhailer!) and Anderson parkrun in Napier (r) – can you spot the saltires?!

We look forward to the time when we can join them properly. In the meantime, here’s the latest information from parkrun HQ: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/07/07/covid-19-coronavirus-update-7-july/


The week’s wet weather unsurprisingly had a detrimental effect on our (not)parkrun attendance, with just 11 runners recording 14 (not)parkruns in total, both the lowest totals of our three weeks to date. Indeed, as we approached the weekend, only 2 people had recorded (not)parkrun times but a weekend flurry of runs and recording of runs earlier in the week took us up above double figures once more.


A gallic flavour at Wanaka parkrun on South Island (l - where our own Scott Smith has run!) and it looks like they’re pleased to be back at Foster parkrun (r), southwest of Christchurch, where red and white was the theme for parkrun Denmark!

No superfast runners opened the door for Blackburn Road Runner Kate POMFRET to record the fastest (not)parkrun time of the week, running 29:26, setting a third successive (not)parkrun PB, knocking 13 seconds off her time from last week – well done, Kate! Second finisher was friend of Witton Malcolm ALDERTON of Lions Running Community, in an excellent 29:48, a new (not)parkrun PB by nearly 2 and a half minutes from the first week – great running, Malcolm! Third went to another friend of Witton Fran BURY who – for the third consecutive week – recorded a time of exactly 30 minutes, impressive consistency, Fran!

Millwater Dual

Millwater parkrun, near Silverdale in the far north of North Island, was closest to its attendance record, falling short by just 1, as it fully embraced parkrun Italia, including jelly pizzas for breakfast!

Just behind Fran was Malcolm’s wife, Fiona ALDERTON, of Lions Running Community, who ran a (not)parkrun time of 30:05, besting her inaugural time from last week by fully 7 and a half minutes – superb achievement, Fiona! Then we had (not)parkrun first timer Isobel HOLLINGS, who ran a symmetrical 32:32 this week. Isobel is the daughter of Wittoner Janice Parker and has run 75 parkruns, with 17 of them coming at Witton. Then there was Blackburn Road Runner Matt CHESTER in 33:59, just a second ahead of friend of Witton Julie GRAVES in exactly 34 minutes, 6 minutes faster than she managed on her other (not)parkrun in week 1.

Barry Curtis_Blenheim

A group photo to celebrate the return of Barry Curtis parkrun on the outskirts of Auckland, while Blenheim parkrun near Nelson celebrated their 4th birthday weekend with a parkrun return and a breakfast barbecue – you don’t get that in the UK!

Further back, we have Witton 100 Club member Ian GOODLIFFE in 35:38 and South East Lancs Orienteering Club’s Paul BOOTH, who ran 43:32 this week. Our second first timer, Witton 50 Club’s Jacqueline DWYER comes next in a solid 44:05 (no sign of husband Bill yet, though!) and for the third consecutive week, Janice PARKER recorded a (not)parkrun time at Witton, this week running 52:48, a third successive PB knocking over a minute off her time from last weekend! Well done to you all!

Balclutha Dual

The maple leaves were out in force in solidarity with parkrun Canada in the smallest restarting event (33) at Balclutha parkrun in the far south of South Island – how good is it to see barcodes being scanned again?!

This week, Malcolm, Fiona and Kate were the only parkrunners to run 2 (not)parkruns during the week, while Malcolm and Fiona ran their best time on Tuesday, Matt and Julie on Wednesday and the remaining 7 on Saturday. Perhaps some of you were in Witton on Saturday morning at the same time as Wittoner Simon Townsend, who sent us a picture of himself and fellow Wittoner Kath Lyon at a very soggy Witton Park on Saturday morning, where he said he spotted several other familiar Witton faces around the same time! You should have submitted a (not)parkrun time, Simon! You can see Simon's picture on our Facebook page.


Taupo parkrun stands on the banks of its eponymous lake in the centre of North Island and welcomed 35 parkrunners for its return, while Cambridge NZ parkrun celebrated its namesake’s country of England on its return!


Another quiet week on the parkrunniversaries front, again surprising given we usually have decent weather at this time of year, but maybe we’re entering summer holiday season too, which perhaps explains it. Anyway, I can confirm we will have a couple of parkrunniversaries to celebrate next week, so if you think you started parkrunning at Witton around this time of year, keep an eye out next week!

Gisborne_Cornwall Park

Gisborne parkrun (l), New Zealand’s easternmost event, is underway again on a glorious morning, while Cornwall parkrun (r), in the centre of Auckland, saw the largest parkrun attendance of the day of 297!

This Week in Witton parkrun…


Event #41’s most notable milestones came courtesy of the Gebbie brothers, who finished 1-2 at Witton for the first time, the first time any two family members had finished first and second finisher at Witton. Big brother Leo still had the besting of younger brother Joe but Joe was the one earning the milestone t-shirt, running his 10th parkrun, which as a junior entitled him to a white t-shirt from parkrun HQ.

Whanganui River_Pegasus

Whanganui Riverbank parkrun (l), on the west coast of North Island, became the first new parkrun in the world after lockdown – just a few months late! Meanwhile, Pegasus parkrun (r), just north of Christchurch, broadcast its restart on YouTube – you can watch for yourself at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_c1EXttyZY

The other notable attendee at Event #41, though not particularly highlighted at the time, was the attendance of Paul Fielding, the most experienced parkrunner on the day and the third-most experienced in Witton’s early history with 315 parkruns to his name. Paul has now run an astonishing 509 parkruns in the UK, at 487 different venues, the highest number in the country by over 50 venues. He gives his name to the Fielding Club, for people who have run at 250 or more parkrun venues in the UK. Worldwide, that rises to 497 different venues and 519 parkruns total (including runs abroad), which is the second-highest total in parkrun history for venues, less than 20 behind the global record holder, Paul Freyne (560 runs at 516 venues). And Witton is part of that total!

Invercargill Dual

The southernmost parkrun of New Zealand, Invercargill, fittingly paid tribute to fellow southern hemisphere parkrunners at parkrun South Africa, with flags, balloons and hand-drawn messages of support!


Event #87 saw Darwen Dasher Sue Taylor run her 100th parkrun at Witton, earning her black milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ. She has run 14 times at Witton in total, but only once since earning that 100 t-shirt in July 2017, but this is not surprising as Sue is now an Eryri Harrier, who has run 46 times at Conwy parkrun and 28 times at Penrhyn parkrun, both in North Wales – Sue’s moved!


Tauranga parkrun, on the north coast of North Island, heads off down the boardwalk on its restart, while picturesque Queenstown parkrun stands on the banks of Lake Wakatipu in south central South Island

Other news this week: parkrun HQ announced that the role of tail runner would be renamed as tail walker to reduce the perception that parkrun was only for runners and ED Michelle not only took part but wrote the run report too!

Western Springs Dual

Lots of love for parkrun Polska at Western Springs parkrun, in the centre of Auckland, where red and white was the order of the day!


A quiet week at Event #134 with an end to a run of celebrations and fancy-dress events and some regulars missing at the Trailblaster event in Burnley, which inconveniently started Saturday morning! It was a hot one for the 73 attendees that day, including first finishers Josh Crowther and Jane Magee and no milestone t-shirts awarded.

Palmerston North_Hagley

Confusingly enough, Palmerston North parkrun (l) is in the southern half of North Island…anyway, it did its bit for American-New Zealand relations by showing solidarity with parkrun USA on its return, while the largest parkrun in New Zealand, Hagley (r) in Christchurch looks delighted to be back – the green theme paying tribute to our neighbours in Ireland!


The second week of Witton’s month-long exile saw a reduced number of Wittoners touring, with temperatures already passing 20°C by 9am. The largest concentration of Wittoners was found at near neighbours Hyndburn, among them the Vernons, Hamiltons, Scott Smith, Lorna Pickup, Tony Duckworth, several Darwen Dashers including Sharon Cocker and Viki Walsh, the Halsall sisters, Annika and Nicola, and the McCombs brothers, Daniel and Adam.

Whangarei Dual

Whangarei parkrun is the northernmost in New Zealand, approaching the very tip of North Island and celebrated its return by embracing all things parkrun Sweden – and what better way than with delicious Swedish cakes?!

Preston saw Witton Club members Anwar Khan, Sandra Snape, Aimie Wormald, Terry Gray, Julie Price and Diane Harrison-Leeming all in attendance, while the Carberrys and Shelagh Brownlow were at Burnley, Kate Pomfret was at Lytham Hall, Ian Goodliffe was at Fell Foot in the Lake District and Cameron Ashton, Janice Parker and Peter Craine were at Bolton! Not to mention Sue Duckworth, daughter Hayley and fellow Blackburn Road Runner Gary Blackburn ran at Zielona Gora parkrun in Poland! Phew!

Hamilton Lake_East End

Hamilton Lake parkrun (l) in northern North Island holds its first pre-Run Briefing since lockdown, while East End parkrun (r - confusingly on the west coast in New Plymouth) gets underway once more!

A quiet week all in all, but that’s no bad thing. It seems like such a long time since we all saw each other so do feel free to follow Simon’s lead and drop us a line to show us how you’re getting on and how you’re filling the parkrun hole in your lives.

Lower Hutt Dual

Lower Hutt parkrun on the outskirts of Wellington was glad to be back – and barcodes weren’t the only things being scanned, with every New Zealand parkrun provided a QR code for use with the Covid-19 app to aid track-and-trace efforts – another reminder that things aren’t quite back to normal anywhere yet!

In the meantime, stay safe, we’re getting through this, together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun

Puarenga Dual

Puarenga parkrun celebrated parkrun Deutschland in fine style with flags, football shirts and steins of beer. It stands on the banks of Lake Rotorua, formed from the crater of a volcano, which causes geothermal currents to run through the surrounding waters making for a stunning setting – one for the bucket list, surely!

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