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.
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 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!
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 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 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!
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!
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