WITTON IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS ISSUE 6 – 4th July 2020

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

Porirua_Anderson

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/

(not)parkruns

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.

Wanaka_Foster

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.

Cambridge_Taupo

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!

parkrunniversaries

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…

2016

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!

2017

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_Queenstown

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!

2018

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!

2019

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!