This is the most difficult (not)run report I’ve had to write so far. For the most part, these have been a useful way to try and keep our community together: a chance to look back on the week’s (not)parkrun results, celebrate the only thing we can at the moment, your parkrunniversaries, and look back on the 5 years of history and memories that we’ve created at Witton Park. It’s also provided me an opportunity to fill you in on the latest local and national news regarding the pandemic, living, as we currently are, in a coronavirus hotspot and also giving you the latest updates from parkrun HQ as they too try to keep in touch with us during this unprecedented shutdown in parkrun activities worldwide. Up until now, there has been a strong sense of unity and of community spirit as we try to come through these difficult times with bonds as strong, if not stronger, than before.


We can’t wait to have you back at Witton like this

It was always going to be difficult the longer this went on. From lockdown in mid-March, we’re now 6 months on from our last parkruns and still face a whole host of restrictions to our daily lives. There is currently a contrast between attempts at returning life to something vaguely resembling normality, as businesses, educational establishments and sporting activities return, but with a continuing, indeed an increased, vigilance to prevent a resurgence of the virus. These opposing but intrinsically linked positions both have vocal supporters and there is a lot of ignorance and uncertainty from most people trying to deal with this difficult time in the best way for themselves and their families. It feels that as we head into autumn and winter, these differences threaten to divide us more than they ever have so far and it is important that we do not lose sight of the reasons for the actions being taken, both positively and negatively. For my part, in this report, I want to spend a little bit of time summarising the pandemic picture and the parkrun picture, and my thoughts on what it all means.

Coronavirus Britain

Life in Britain still looks very different at the moment

First, the pandemic. Although the summer months have been thankfully calmer, this virus is still out there and it is starting to regain a foothold across Europe and, more recently, within the United Kingdom. This week, the national R rate (the number of people infected by each infected person), in the UK, passed 1 again for the first time in several months, with the rate in the North West one of the highest in the country. Cases of the virus in communities have reached over 2,000 a day, the same figures seen in mid-March when lockdown measures really started to take hold (although, it should of course be noted that at that time, testing was much lower and therefore the rate of infection was probably much higher). Nevertheless, we are clearly at a dangerous moment and as the winter months draw in and it becomes too cold or inhospitable to go outside, the temptation will be to return to gatherings indoors, conditions under which the virus can thrive.

UK Cases

The latest figures show the number of cases clearly ticking up again and the seven-day average increasing day by day

In response to this, the government have introduced the new ‘Rule of Six’, where both indoor and outdoor meetings of multiple households can be no larger than 6 people, including children, with a minimum social distance of 1m. Exceptions exist for workplaces, educational settings, and other things, importantly from our perspective playing sport. Religious services, like weddings and funerals can consist of 30 guests, in groups of no more than 6. Yes, I know these rules seem a little nonsensical, and that not being able to see your parents when you can sit in the same restaurant as them is absurd, but the rules are there as an attempt to let the economy recover and keep some level of social interaction while minimising the risk of us passing the virus on to those we love, as they are the ones we would likely want to be in closest proximity to. The keywords are ‘Hands, Face, Space’: remembering to wash our HANDS regularly, cover our FACE with a mask in public places to prevent us transmitting the virus and giving each other SPACE (at least a metre) to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.

Rule of 6

The new rules affect all our social interactions, outside of agreed upon exemptions, and replace all existing government advice

As for parkrun, many of you will no doubt have seen the news early last week through official parkrun channels that parkrun HQ intends to restart ALL parkruns in England by the end of October. This is a somewhat sudden announcement, although the groundwork has been laid over a number of weeks, with the publication of the COVID-19 Framework and the investigation of transmission risks in outdoor settings by Professor Mike Weed of Canterbury Christ Church University (all available to view in previous (not)run reports), while last week saw the announcement of the restart of parkruns in the Falkland Islands and the Northern Territory of Australia this coming Saturday, September 19th. This latest news comes following extensive discussions between parkrun HQ and the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which has approved parkrun’s COVID-19 Framework for a safe return to parkrunning in England. Discussions between parkrun HQ and the other devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are ongoing, with no parkruns in those countries currently scheduled to restart, though the aim is to reach acceptable agreements within a similar timeframe to England. It should be noted that although parkrun HQ has shared this ambition of the end of October and is committed to it as far as chatter this week has been, no date has yet been revealed and no event teams have yet received any concrete proposals, with discussions ongoing over a number of issues.

Parkrun return

How exciting this day will be…when it happens

So those are the headlines, but I am aware that within those two paragraphs, there will be some of you rolling your eyes, others concerned and some of you bouncing in your seats with excitement. Some of you will have heard the news that parkrun is returning with delight, some of you with shock and horror, while some of you will believe that the risks of the pandemic are in some way being overblown or there are more pressing concerns to the economy and mental health, while some of you will believe that the reopening of society is an unacceptable risk and people are not taking things seriously enough. These positions are both understandable and valid and everyone right now, from the government to schools to cinemas to parkrun are all trying to traverse a course through the middle, mindful of the risks involved but also aware of the dangers of doing nothing. The return of parkrun is something we all long for. Discussions regularly take place among the Witton Run Directors regarding how much we are missing parkrun, while remote conversations I’ve had with Wittoners, and the comments on these (not)run reports, tells me that you value and appreciate the continued link to Witton that these reports provide. Yet despite parkrun’s sterling work in trying to facilitate a return, there remain significant operational challenges to a return for parkrun, particularly locally. It is almost certain that should a return date be announced, areas subject to local lockdowns, such as Blackburn, will remain shut to avoid contravening local restrictions. Regarding the aforementioned Rule of Six, I should make it clear to you that parkrun has been placed on the government’s exemption list meaning that its return is not subject to that law due to its implementation of the Covid-secure framework to mitigate external risks. I understand that some of you will still feel concerned about this and I assure you that the Witton core team share your concerns but, equally, I am aware that this is an official parkrun communication as it is delivered via an official parkrun channel, and as such I am also required to take a balanced and considered opinion on these things and provide you with the information to make you own decision. To that end, I would like to give you some extra reading if you are so inclined:

Here is parkrun Global CEO Nick Pearson’s statement announcing the intention to restart parkrun in England: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/09/07/return-of-parkrun-announcement/

Here is parkrun Global’s Head of Health and Wellbeing, former professional triathlete Chrissie Wellington’s statement on the reasons why parkrun’s return is particularly important at this time: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/09/07/the-time-to-act-is-now/

Here is the latest parkrun blog from parkrun Global COO Tom Williams, written after the government’s announcements last week: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/09/15/covid-19-coronavirus-update-15-september/

And finally, following the announcement of the potential imminent return of parkrun, the Guardian newspaper wrote a two-page feature on why parkrun is such a valuable initiative, which you can view here: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/sep/13/parkrun-saved-my-life-how-the-weekly-runs-became-a-phenomenon-and-are-now-coming-back?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

The next few weeks may be divisive and uncertain, but we will cross each bridge as it comes and we must remember that whatever our different thoughts and opinions, we all care about what’s best for each other and want to return to parkrun, as soon as is safe and practicable. In the meantime, serious stuff over, onto the fun stuff!

(not)parkrun – Week 13

Unlucky for some, week 13 of (not)parkrun was another well-attended affair, with the weather improving as the week wore on. This week, we had the joint-4th highest number of (not)parkrunners (16), and the outright 4th highest number of (not)parkruns (22). First finisher this week was a return to top spot for Blackburn Road Runner Andrew WISDOM! Witton 50 Club member Andrew ran 24:08 this week, his 11th (not)parkrun and the fourth time he has been Witton first finisher, a record on his own – well done, Andrew! Second this week, for an incredible 6th time in 10 (not)parkrun participating weeks was Witton 50 Club member Peter NICHOLSON. Peter finished in 24:11, just 3 seconds behind Andrew and has been second for the past 3 weeks, twice to Andrew and once to Dan Hamilton – that week he was faster than Andrew, but it still wasn’t enough! Next time, Peter. Completing the podium was our first female this week, Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON in 25:52! Karen ran two (not)parkruns this week, taking her total to 19, and on Monday ran her new (not)parkrun PB, knocking half a minute off her time from Week 6 – well done, Karen! It also made her first female for the 5th time, matching fellow Road Runner Miriam Hamilton.


Andrew was flying just like this this week to earn his 4th (not)parkrun first finish!

Next up was Darwen Dasher Chris COOPER in 26:56. This was 16 seconds outside the PB he set last week, and this run on Monday was the fastest of 3 (not)parkruns Chris completed this week, the most of anyone at Witton. He was followed by Witton 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON, who ran 27:58 this week. Robert has now run 13 (not)parkruns across 9 (not)parkrun weeks, the 5th highest total of any Wittoner. Another Blackburn Road Runner now, and it’s Witton 100 Club member Kate POMFRET in 29:16! Kate has now run 20 (not)parkruns, the first Wittoner to reach this total, and at the weekend was one of the Wittoners taking part in the Virtual Great North Run – well done, Kate!


Witton 50 Club member Robert has run the 5th-most (not)parkruns of any Wittoner!

Last week’s superman now, Cameron ASHTON, who this week recorded a time of 29:52. Cameron, you may recall, ran a (not)parkrun every day last week, 35km in total and, unsurprisingly, took a well-earned rest this week, recording just one (not)parkrun on Sunday! Next is a relative of Cameron’s, Isobel HOLLINGS in 32:52. This was Isobel’s 6th (not)parkrun, and first for three weeks – welcome back, Isobel! A flying Witton (not)parkrunner next, yes, it’s South East Lancs Orienteering Club’s Paul BOOTH, who ran a symmetrical 33:33, his 9th (not)parkrun overall. This was Paul’s third consecutive personal best, knocking a whopping 39 seconds off his time from last week – superb work, Paul, it’s great seeing your progress!


Isobel looks focused on this early Witton photo of her – a first (not)parkrun for three weeks this week for her!

A trio of Blackburn Road Runners now, starting with Kathryn KINNEY, who ran 34:19 this week. This was Kathryn’s third straight week of (not)parkrunning and she improved again, knocking nearly a minute off her time from last week – nice one Mrs K! Where Kathryn is found, it’s a good bet that Witton 100 Club member Irene SLATER won’t be far behind, and so it was again, with Irene running 35:28 this week, for her own (not)parkrun PB, a third successive faster time for Irene too! Just a few seconds further back was Cathy HATCH, who ran 35:31 this week. Cathy was running her 7th (not)parkrun, having made her debut in Week 8.


Witton 100 Club member Irene earned a third straight (not)parkrun PB this week – doesn’t she look pleased with it?!

Last few now, starting with the return of the two Ians! Witton 50 Club member Ian BRODRICK also ran last week and this week recorded 36:40, around half a minute slower, while good friend and Witton 100 Club member Ian GOODLIFFE was just 3 seconds slower in 36:43, despite running almost a week earlier. This was Papa G’s (not)parkrun return after missing the past 3 weeks – nice to see you, Ian! Recent (not)parkrunner Tracy STAFFA is next. She ran 39:34 on Friday, the fastest of 2 (not)parkruns this week, the first time she has recorded more than one in a week – well done, Tracy! And finally, we have a second successive submission from Janice PARKER, who ran 58:27 on Sunday, her 5th (not)parkrun overall after 3 early on. Well done, Janice!

Ian B

Witton 50 Club member Ian Brodrick recorded his 6th (not)parkrun this week!

This week, Chris ran 3 times, while Karen, Kate, Ian G and Tracy ran twice. Chris, Ian G and Karen’s fastest runs came on Monday, the same day Kathryn and Irene ran, while Kate’s fastest came on Tuesday, the same day as Andrew, Cathy and Paul ran, Robert and Peter ran on Wednesday, Isobel ran on Friday, the same day Tracy ran her fastest time, with only Ian recording a best time on Saturday and Cameron and Janice running on Sunday. With many Wittoners taking part in virtual races in this and the next few weeks, I should point out that there is no requirement that your (not)parkrun is only recorded from a 5k run. You could record the time you set on the first or last 5k of a longer run if you’d still like to submit a time, so something to think about! Well done to this week’s (not)parkrunners!


An eclectic mix of parkrunniversaries this week, ranging from 1 to 5 years, just like Witton! First up is someone celebrating their first parkrunniversary, although of course it has been on hiatus for nearly half that time. On September 7th, 2019, Andrea COTTAM ran her first parkrun! A friend of Witton regular Christine Duckworth, Andrea made her debut at Event #185, finishing in 54:33, tailwalking alongside Christine. She returned a week later, running rather than tail walking and ran 45:53, her first of 9 PBs so far at Witton, reducing her time to 41:01 on her most recent visit, for our final parkrun before lockdown, Event #211. In total, Andrea has run 15 parkruns so far, including 13 at Witton (with 2 more at Hyndburn) and when you consider that since our birthday, there were only 28 Witton parkruns, that’s still half the possible total! Hopefully, we can get you back soon Andrea, and you can continue the fine start to your parkrun career – happy first parkrunniversary!

Andrea C

No pictures were taken the week Andrea (r) debuted, but here she is in action a week later at Event #186, closely followed by friend and Witton regular Christine Duckworth!

Next up is a Witton 50 Club member, who made her debut at Event #97 on September 9th, 2017, nervously joining husband Dan, who was a little more seasoned at parkrun, yes, it’s Blackburn Road Runner and regular (not)parkrunner, Miriam HAMILTON! Miriam was a very unsure parkrunner in her early days, and ran 36:03 alongside Dan on her debut. After another run together, around a minute quicker, Miriam struck out on her own, knocking nearly another minute off in setting a second consecutive PB. For a long time, she kept a very low profile at Witton – she’s since openly admitted to stalking Witton 100 Club member Irene Slater, just trying to keep her in view and get closer to her, as her mode of focusing her improvements but for ages didn’t say a word to her! Slowly, but surely, though, her confidence grew, she joined the Blackburn Road Runners, which gave her some familiar faces at Witton (including Irene!) and she’s become a valued member of the Witton community. Usually accompanying Dan to parkrun, I expressed dismay that, with Miriam on 49 parkruns, she would be missing their final parkrun before a trip to America as he’d be working. Not only did this mean she couldn’t earn her t-shirt for a month, but also that, whilst away, she wouldn’t be able to parkrun as it would be her 50th! So, what did she do? The following week, at Event #164, she drove Dan to work, then drove down to Witton for the parkrun – her 50th, earning her red milestone t-shirt from parkrun HQ and leaving herself free to parkrun on holiday, which she then didn’t do anyway! Sigh…what a missed opportunity! At Event #192 in October last year, Miriam joined the Witton 50 Club and she’s volunteered with us 7 times since May last year, while over the past year she’s been instrumental in encouraging members of her local church, Blackburn Community Church, to sign up for parkrun and accompanied a number of them on parkruns to encourage and support them. In total, Miriam has run 60 parkruns at Witton, and 85 in total, across 12 different venues (often when visiting her family in Derby or Dan’s family in Penrith!), putting her just 15 short of her black milestone t-shirt, which she would surely have earned by now in normal circumstances. Oh, and on our most recent parkrun, Event #211, she earned her 14th Witton PB, a 27:47, over 8 minutes faster than her initial outing, further underlining the progress she’s made not just on a social level but on a physical level – happy 3rd parkrunniversary, Miriam, here’s to many more to come.


The only photograph of Miriam from her first event is this blurry shot (l) on a horrible wet day: this didn’t seem fair, so here’s also a much clearer photo of her from a week later, both alongside husband Dan – she smiles more now, I assure you!

Next is another person who made their parkrun debut at Event #97, although their parkrun roots go back much further: Darwen Dasher Gemma SEDDON, who also first ran on September 9th, 2017! Gemma is the daughter of friend of Witton Viki Walsh, and granddaughter of Witton legend Norman Walsh but despite this pedigree, her parkrun debut didn’t arrive until just after Witton’s second birthday. She ran at 8 of the next 20 Witton parkruns, through to February 2018, plus another 4 parkruns at other venues (once each at Haigh Woodland, Bolton, Blackpool and Hyndburn respectively) but then, after an outing at Southport parkrun in May 2018, her next appearance at a parkrun came at our emotional Event #131, where we celebrated her grandad’s life and parkrunning in our first Run for Norman. It wasn’t until November that year that she ran another parkrun, at Burnley, and her only other parkruns have been at Witton, on Christmas Day 2018 and Christmas Day 2019 respectively, a Walsh family tradition. In total, Gemma has run 17 parkruns, with 11 coming at Witton, with her Witton PB being 29:41, from her second parkrun in September 2017 – happy third parkrunniversary, Gemma, will you be earning your red t-shirt any time soon, I wonder?!

Gemma S

Gemma made her debut at a wet Event #97 – she’s pictured here (l) with mum and friend of Witton Viki Walsh!

Next is a person who hasn’t been seen at Witton in over 18 months, but is still in the top 20% for most Witton parkruns, including visiting us 38 times in under 2 years between 2016 and 2018: Elizabeth SULLIVAN, who ran her first parkrun on September 10th, 2016 at Witton’s 50th event! She was quite swift from the off, running 28:40 on her debut, and improving on her next three visits over the following month, for a best of 27:02 at Event #53. She ran 8 times at Witton during 2016, including on Christmas Day, plus a further 3 parkruns elsewhere and 18 times the following year, including 3 further PBs, the latter two leading to Witton first female placings, albeit in admittedly slower weeks, with her Witton best standing at 26:40 from Event #83 in June 2017. She ran 12 more times at Witton in the first half of 2017, including at our first Run for Norman, and including 3 more PBs, to finish on 25:54. That summer, she earned her red milestone t-shirt, not at Witton, but at Ormskirk parkrun in May: there was still great meaning behind this, however. First, it was a Witton on Tour event, as we went to visit the home parkrun of our parkrun inspector Robbie Kiger and, having lined things up, Elizabeth thus ran her 50th parkrun at her place of work: Edge Hill University, in the grounds of which Ormskirk parkrun takes place! Her parkrunning has continued since, but not at the same rate, and sadly not really at Witton, last visiting us in December 2018 for Event #154. At that event, she told me that part of the reason for her absence had been her attempts to get her son more active, a task that was easier on courses perceived as less challenging than Witton’s Beast. Mostly seen at Preston in recent times, she ran there 10 times in the last 6 months of 2018, and a further 6 times in the last 6 months of 2019, a year where she only ran 8 parkruns in total. She has yet to run a parkrun in 2020 (and who knows if any of us will get another chance?!). Elizabeth has run 78 parkruns in total, with exactly half that total (39) coming at Witton, with Preston not far behind on 28 and a further 8 venues making up the remainder. Happy 4th parkrunniversary, Elizabeth, it would be lovely to see you back at Witton once this is all done and dusted!

Elizabeth 2

Not the clearest picture in the world, but Elizabeth completes her first parkrun with us at Witton, in September 2016!

A member of the Witton core team now, who I am slightly puzzled to see this week, for reasons which will become clear: at our third event on September 12th, 2015, Diane HARRISON-LEEMING made her official parkrun bow! The reason I am puzzled is because there’s photographic evidence of Diane not just at the previous week’s Event #2 (see last week’s report!) but at Event #1 too! You’re two parkruns down, Diane! Officially, she ran only 6 of our first 24 parkruns, but made up for this in the second half of the year, running 21 of the remaining 24 before our first birthday! The latter 12 of these formed part of a streak of 18 consecutive Witton events run, still the joint-8th longest streak ever seen at Witton. And it’s not as though the end of her streak was due to a lack of commitment – the following week, at Event #55, she marshalled, her 12th volunteering credit at Witton! At Event #71, Diane earned her purple milestone t-shirt for 25 volunteering days, two events after being Witton Run Director for the first time. She has become a dependable and valuable part of the core team over the past 3 and a half years, run directing on 16 occasions and volunteering in a non-running role on an incredible 62 occasions! Diane has successfully managed to combine a prodigious amount of volunteering with lots of parkrunning too, earning her red 50 t-shirt at Event #74, just three events after her purple, and after some impressive coordination, earning her black 100 t-shirt alongside good friend Suzanne Ferrandino at Event #148, taking exactly the same number of events to get from 50 to 100 as she took to get from 0-50! Diane has received a volunteering credit at exactly 150 Witton parkruns and has run at 120 Witton parkruns, the 9th highest total of anyone, with a further 21 parkruns at 7 further venues contributing to a grand total of 141 parkruns (or is that 143?) – happy 5th parkrunniversary, Diane!


Diane (l) completes her first official parkrun, alongside fellow Witton 100 Club member Suzanne Ferrandino and friend of Witton Heather Shah, on our old course!

Lastly for this week, another former member of the Witton core team and someone who was involved at Witton from the very start: Blackburn Road Runner Annika HALSALL, who also made her running debut at Event #3 on September 12th, 2015! Neeka ran 9 parkruns in a row from that first outing and ran 16 parkruns in total in that first year, including our first Christmas Day event. A frequent traveller, and not beyond the odd late Friday night, Annika hasn’t always been able to get to Witton, running just 12 times with us during our second and third years, but volunteering on 35 occasions, having joined our Run Directing team at the same time as Diane, a role she performed 5 times in that same period. During this time, she’d been quietly accumulating parkrun credits though, running regularly on her travels such that her parkrun history contains such disparate locations as Eden Project parkrun in Cornwall, Ashton Court and Eastville parkruns in Bristol, Ipswich parkrun and Rother Valley and Graves parkruns in Sheffield! This meant that just 3 Witton runs later, at Event #176, she ran her 50th parkrun at her parkrun home to earn her red t-shirt. She’s run 3 more times with us since, including on Leap Day and our final parkrun before lockdown for a grand total of 66 parkruns, with 33 of those coming at Witton. She’s volunteered 84 times at Witton and been Run Director on 12 occasions, a role she opted to give up after our fourth birthday a year ago, but she’ll always be welcome at Witton, whatever her role – happy 5th parkrunniversary, Annika!


Annika’s (blue) in good spirits on her first parkrun, Witton’s Event #3!

This Week in Witton parkrun…


Witton’s third event took place on September 12th, 2015 and was in many ways the first quiet Witton parkrun, after the celebration of getting it up and running and the massive attendances of the first two weeks, our only two events to date with over 250 runners taking part. Event #3 saw a reduction of 100 to 162 participants, still a sizable number by any measure, and still the joint-13th highest attendance ever seen at Witton. Witton 50 Club member Chris Chadwick was first finisher, while Accrington Road Runner Sarah Ridehalgh was first female. There were no milestone t-shirts awarded, ending that particular streak, while 18 people had run all of the first 3 Witton parkruns, keeping their streaks alive.

Chris C

An atmospheric black-and-white shot of Event #3 first finisher Chris Chadwick, with the course to himself!


September 10th, 2016 was the date for Witton’s 50th event! A notable parkrun, albeit just two events on from our first birthday, when most of the celebrations had already taken place. No one had managed to run all of the first 50 parkruns, so the Witton 50 Club was not yet inaugurated, while the only milestone t-shirt awarded was to one of our junior parkrunners, Thomas Robinson, who ran his 10th parkrun that day, earning the junior-exclusive white 10 parkruns t-shirt. Thomas was the fourth person in Witton history to earn his white t-shirt exclusively at Witton, after Sufyan Khan, Ellie-Mae Fallon and Joe Gebbie, while in total Thomas has now run 18 parkruns, with 17 of those coming at Witton.

Thomas Robinson

Young Thomas Robinson finishes his 10th parkrun to earn his white milestone t-shirt!


Event #97 took place on September 9th, 2017 and was a wet and muddy affair. Witton 50 Club member Justin Collighan was first named finisher, in the 8th-slowest first male time ever (and 3rd-slowest at the time!), while Isabel Chadwick was first female in the 6th-slowest first female time ever (also the 3rd-slowest at the time!), giving an indication of the difficult conditions, while it was also the day before the Great North Run and several other races, which may have contributed to the absence of the speed merchants at the front. No running t-shirts were awarded, but we did hand out another purple volunteering t-shirt, to Blackburn Road Runner Nicola Halsall, who volunteered for the 25th time that day!

Justin C

A rather wet Justin Collighan was first named finisher behind an unknown at Event #97, his third recognised time as first one home at Witton!


Unusually for September, Witton was cancelled on the weekend of September 8th, 2018, due to a music festival in the Witton Woods. This gave Wittoners an late summer (or early autumnal if you prefer) chance to engage in a bit of parkrun tourism! The unofficial Witton on Tour went to Heaton Park in Manchester, where the Searbys and my dad, Alan joined the enormous Heaton volunteering operation, while the Cockers, the Shackletons, Irene Slater, mum and myself tackled the course. And elsewhere, Sue Duckworth, daughter Hayley and Witton 50 Club member Ian Gaskell were found at Haigh Woodland near Wigan, Dashers Fran Bury, Viki Walsh and Lisa Moran and Witton 50 Club member Justin Collighan were at Burnley, Andy Haworth went to Clitheroe Castle, the two Ians, Brodrick and Goodliffe and the Thompsons, Paul and son Oliver were at Cuerden Valley, while further afield the Elliotts were in Halifax! Hyndburn, as ever, was popular, visited by Witton 50 Club members James McLeod, Jane Magee, Tim Keely, Aimie Wormald, Peter Toogood and Vicky Spencer, as was Preston, visited by 50 Club members Jon Carberry, Sandra Snape, Julie Price, Suzanne Ferrandino and Diane Harrison-Leeming and by the Gardas, Dustgeer and Asif. Last, but certainly not least, Blackburn Road Runners Gary Blackburn and Kate Pomfret and my mate, Witton 150 Club member Scott Smith were missing in action from parkrun that weekend as they were taking part in the 2018 Great North Run, where all achieved superb times.


Witton 50 Club member Sandra Snape was one of those in action at Preston parkrun during our September cancellation in 2018!


Event #185 was our first event after our fourth birthday and took place on September 7th, 2019. A week after I inaugurated the Witton 150 Club, I was predictably joined by Anwar Khan, who became its second member, having inaugurated the Witton 50 and 100 Clubs himself. In other news from a quiet event, it was announced that Ian Gaskell, Annika Halsall and Sean Procter were stepping down from the Run Director rota and we were advertising for replacements, with Blackburn Road Runner Dan Hamilton immediately having the conversation with Michelle and joining the team. Meanwhile, Bernie Johnson returned for his first parkrun in a while after injury, though his issues would sadly return later on.


Anwar Khan, shown here a week later, became the second member of the Witton 150 Club a year ago this week!

And that’s another week done! I hope you’re all well and if you ever have any news you want to tell us about, remember you can always get in touch with us at wittonoffice@parkrun.com – we’re always checking in with that account!

Until next week, we’re getting through this together,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


A tourist shot this week, from our visit to Heaton in 2018!



PLEASE NOTE: announcements this week from parkrun HQ AND the UK government’s announcements midweek both came after the bulk of this week’s report was already written. With things still in a state of flux, I will not discuss these developments here, but in next week’s (not)run report instead.

Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday dear Witton, happy birthday to us! This should have been the week where we headed down to Witton for the biggest of all celebrations so far, as we celebrated 5 years of Witton parkrun, half a decade of Saturday mornings running, jogging, walking, panting, sweating, moaning, talking, laughing and – most importantly of all – eating cake, as our little event has grown and flourished into a self-sufficient and valued part of the local community and something I think we’ve all learned to value just that little bit more during its enforced six-month absence.


How we should be spending our birthday: all gathered around listening to the run briefing at our 3rd birthday

Ah yes, the coronavirus pandemic. Still causing chaos across the world, with the North West still an epicentre of the infection, with Bolton the latest local town to face enhanced lockdown measures, while to my understanding the local lockdown on parts of Blackburn is still in force, although it has been announced that remaining closed businesses, including ice rinks, leisure centres, indoor gyms, casinos, bowling alleys, beauty salons and soft play centres, can reopen from Tuesday, September 8th. In addition, schools returned last week, and universities are set to welcome back students in the coming weeks, bringing a sense of increased normality – but also increased anxiety – to everyday life. Indeed, over the weekend came the news that on Sunday nearly 3,000 new cases were reported in the UK, the highest daily figure since May 22nd, and a reminder if we needed it that we all need to remain vigilant and not become complacent that the worst is behind us.

Coronavirus spread map

Pockets of coronavirus have spread to many parts of the country now, with the government battling to prevent a second wave of infections

Following parkrun’s announcement last week that they were considering relaxing their whole-region restart plan, this came to fruition later in the week, with announcements that Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun on the Falkland Islands and Nightcliff, Darwin and Palmerston parkruns in the Northern Territory of Australia will become the latest events to get parkrun restarted in the world with a restart date of September 19th. Both these parkrun communities share two key characteristics: first, their remoteness in relation to both other parkruns and parkrunners and to other population centres more generally and secondly, a low rate of community transmission of the coronavirus, making the risk of infection low. All these events reopen with the support of local government health bodies and will follow parkrun’s COVID-19 Framework, which was revealed a few weeks ago. This will undoubtedly provide a good opportunity to see what works well and what needs tweaking if the Framework is required for use across other parts of the world.

Darwin, Palmerston, Nightcliff

Darwin parkrun was the 50th parkrun in Australia, Palmerston has a few more participants, while Nightcliff is the most recent and also welcomes the most participants each week: all 3 are in-and-around the city of Darwin on the north coast of Australia and are the only parkruns in the entire Northern Territory!

Further to this, parkrun have released the results of their Rapid Scoping Review (in effect, a quick survey) of available data on the known and understood risks from transmission of COVID-19 in outdoor settings. Understandably, this is not an exact science: mass gatherings have been few and far between since March and none have been studied in-depth from a scientific basis but nevertheless, the available data shows what we would largely expect: risk outdoors is generally low, increased by, among other things, close proximity to others and by the length of time spent in that proximity and the general circulation of the virus and that if appropriate mitigating measures are taken to reduce these risks then the general risk can be minimised. The executive summary is in quite readable terms if you wish to have a look: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uVrtwMHt23HAeA1Y8PfNUJM8UUPBx-K0/view, while for the more scientifically-minded amongst you, the full report is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r9UTIdh_DTHHmq-2Rxz5curdHeN3SM5k/view

(not)parkruns – Week 12

In our birthday week, we had a record-breaking week, with our second-highest number of (not)parkrunners (20 – one behind Week 2’s 21) and our highest-ever number of (not)parkruns, breaking the 30 barrier for the first time with 31 runs, beating Week 2’s 27 comfortably!

After not recording a time last week, first finisher this week was Blackburn Road Runner Daniel HAMILTON in 22:33. This was Dan’s 5th week recording a (not)parkrun time and this was his third time as Witton first finisher, matching the record set last week by fellow Road Runner Andrew Wisdom – good job, Dan! Second place this week was Witton 50 Club member Peter NICHOLSON in 24:03. This was Peter’s 10th (not)parkrun and the second successive week he has been runner-up, after last week’s dead heat with Andrew Wisdom. Finishing the podium, and first female this week, was Blackburn Road Runner Miriam HAMILTON in 24:23. This was Miriam’s 5th (not)parkrun and, impressively, she has been first female on all 5 occasions, the most of anyone. Incredibly, Miriam’s time was identical to her time from her first (not)parkrun in Week 2, making it a joint-PB but not a new one – next time, Miriam!

Dan and Mim

Dan in a typically macho pose while Miriam brings some normality to proceedings! Our (not)parkrun first male and female this week!

Next up, and off the (not)parkrun podium for the first time in 6 entries, is Blackburn Road Runner Andrew WISDOM in 24:38. This was Andrew’s 10th (not)parkrun time and his slowest since Week 5 – not slow by any means though, Andrew! He was followed by another Road Runner, regular Karen RISHTON in 26:32. Karen ran 3 (not)parkruns this week, taking her to 17 in total, just one behind fellow Road Runner Kate Pomfret with 18. Sixth place was Darwen Dasher Chris COOPER in 26:40. Chris ran 4 (not)parkruns this week and has run 15 in just 5 weeks since making his debut in Week 8. It also marked another new PB, his third in (not)parkrun, beating his time from last week by knocking 8 seconds off his time – great running, Chris!

Karen R

Karen has run the second-most (not)parkruns of any Wittoner: seen here (l) at our Leap Day 80s-themed event!

Another Witton regular comes next, with 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON in 27:46. Robert has recorded 12 (not)parkruns across 8 weeks, the fifth-highest total currently seen at Witton and this week he was half a minute off the PB he set last week – well done, Robert! Next is Blackburn Harrier Vicky MCKINLAY, who again submitted a solo time this week and improved again on last week’s PB, knocking over a minute off her time for a new best of 28:03 – great work, Vicky! Then, in 9th, comes a Witton (not)parkrun first from friend of Witton Cameron ASHTON, who recorded a time of 29:15 this week, a new (not)parkrun PB. Cameron recorded no less than SEVEN (not)parkruns this week, the maximum number allowed with a 5K submitted every day last week – that’s 35 kilometres in total! You must be tired Cameron! It also shoots him up from 10 to 17 (not)parkruns recorded at Witton, level with Karen Rishton and one behind Kate Pomfret.


Cameron became the first Wittoner to run a (not)parkrun every day of the week last week: he’s definitely part of TeamGB!

Next comes our only first timer of this (not)parkrun week: Blackburn Harrier Ian CLARKSON in 30:12. Ian is a member of the Witton 50 Club and has run at Witton on 55 times, most recently at Event #209 on Leap Day – welcome to (not)parkrun, Ian! Ian’s followed by our second McKinlay this week, and this time it’s little Jenna MCKINLAY, who ran her (not)parkrun in Southport this weekend, incorporating parts of the Southport parkrun course which she’s previously run at. Jenna ran 30:54 this week, her 5th (not)parkrun and her fastest since her (not)parkrun debut in Week 6 – brilliant work, Jenna! 12th place marked the (not)parkrun return of Cathy HATCH in 31:38. Blackburn Road Runner Cathy has run 6 (not)parkruns, most recently a fortnight ago in Week 10.

Ian C

50 Club member Ian Clarkson was our only (not)parkrun first timer this week!

Another Blackburn Road Runner next and it’s a return for our most experienced (not)parkrunner, Kate POMFRET, in 32:18. Kate didn’t parkrun last week and this week recorded her slowest (not)parkrun so far, but her 18th in total, the most of any Wittoner – welcome back, Kate! Another (not)parkrun regular next, South East Lancs Orienteering Club’s Paul BOOTH who ran for an 8th week and improved again on last week’s PB to set a new mark of 34:12, nearly 2 minutes faster – you’re flying at the moment, Paul! 15th place saw a return for last week’s first timer, Blackburn Road Runner Kathryn KINNEY in 35:10. Kathryn improved on her mark from last week by 6 seconds – well done, Kathryn! Not far behind her was Kathryn’s fellow Road Runner, Witton 100 Club member Irene SLATER in 35:30. Irene was also a first timer last week and once again records a very similar time to Kathryn, as I suspect the two friends have been socially distanced running again this week!


Kate Pomfret returned to (not)parkrun after a week off to maintain her position at the top of the ‘Most (not)parkruns completed at Witton’ list!

Last few now, starting with Witton 50 Club member Ian BRODRICK in 36:25. This was Ian’s 5th (not)parkrun and comes 4 weeks after his previous visit for Week 8 – good to see you, Ian! Recent regular Tracy STAFFA comes next, recording a time of 40:56 in her 4th consecutive week of (not)parkrunning. This was the first time Tracy didn’t record a faster time, but never mind, it was bound to happen sooner or later, Tracy! Following Tracy is a very sedate time from Blackburn Harrier Alex MCKINLAY. Alex is usually a sub-30 capable runner, but I am reliably informed his time of 54:47 came on a very relaxed dog walk on Sunday afternoon – they all count, Alex, well done! And lastly, we have a return for friend of Witton Janice PARKER, who ran a symmetrical 56:56 this week, for her 4th (not)parkrun time and her first since Week 3 – if you’ve been ill or injured, Janice, we’re glad you’re feeling better!


Janice returned to (not)parkrun for the first time since Week 3 – great to see you back, Janice!

This week, Cameron recorded a staggering 7 times, Chris 4 and Karen 3, while Irene and Kathryn ran on Monday, Vicky, Andrew, Cathy, Tracy and Paul on Tuesday, Chris’s fastest came on Wednesday, Cameron’s came on Thursday, the same day Peter ran, Robert ran on Friday, Karen’s fastest came on Saturday, alongside Miriam, Kate, Daniel and both Ians, while Sunday saw the McKinlay children and Janice run their times. A couple of numbers to end with: this week saw us pass 200 (not)parkruns recorded at Witton, finishing on 225, while a stat that should probably have been mentioned last week: Peter Nicholson and Karen Rishton have now recorded times for the past 9 weeks, bettering Matt Chester’s previous record of 7 in a row at the start of (not)parkrun – well done guys, and well done to all our (not)parkrunners this week!


No less than 9 parkrunniversaries this week, so no time for dallying, and first comes two friends who together joined us for their first parkruns on September 2nd, 2017: Stacy FEENEY and Laura NICHOLSON! Stacy is very much an all-or-nothing runner, visiting us 20 times in 9 months until May 2018, but then just once between then and October 2019, for our third birthday in August 2018. Part of this came from losing her transport: living in Accrington she carshares with colleague and friend Julie Graves, but equally she is a loyal Wittoner, not happy to settle for parkrunning at nearer Hyndburn parkrun but instead waiting for a return to Witton. When Julie was fit to return, she reappeared for Event #190 in October and ran 4 further times before lockdown, including on New Year’s Day and Leap Day. In total, she has run 26 times at Witton and 33 in total, with 3 visits to Burnley, 2 to Hyndburn and 1 each at Cuerden Valley and Bolton completing her set. Laura, meanwhile, forms part of a trio with Stacy and Julie and debuted at the same time as Stacy. She has run slightly less, running 16 times between September 2017 and May 2018, and having also visited for our third birthday, she has run twice since, in October and December last year. In total, Laura has run 19 times at Witton and 21 times in total, with runs at Cuerden Valley and Hyndburn parkrun completing her set – happy 3rd parkrunniversaries, ladies!

Stacy and Laura

Stacy and Laura complete their first parkrun: slightly different reactions is it fair to say, ladies?!

One more parkrunniversary occurred on September 2nd, 2017, for young Blackburn Harrier Benjamin LIVESEY! Like Stacy and Laura, Ben joined us for Event #96, our first event after our second birthday and ran an impressive 29 times before the end of September the following year, including joining us on Christmas Day 2017, registering no less than 12 personal bests in that time to reduce his mark from an initial 32:40 to a speedy 22:32! His attendance has dipped a little in recent years as he’s got older, running just 10 times between October 2018 and the end of 2019, but he joined us 3 times in 2020 before lockdown, most recently at our penultimate event, #210, at the start of March, where he also set a 15th Witton PB, of a superb 21:08, finishing 2nd overall! Ben’s progress has been very impressive, and he is still only a JM11-14, meaning there’s likely plenty more to come if he keeps parkrunning! That last visit before lockdown was his 50th parkrun overall, earning his red milestone t-shirt and 42 of those runs came with us at Witton, with 6 runs at Hyndburn and single outings at Penrith and Clitheroe Castle completing his set. Happy 3rd parkrunniversary, Ben!


Ben in flying form at his first parkrun: he was much quicker on his most recent outing!

Rewind twelve months to September 3rd, 2016 and Witton welcomed no less than three Witton legends for the first time. First, is a man living a second life after recovering from a life-threatening heart attack after first taking up running in 2015. I speak, of course, of Blackburn Road Runner Ian GOODLIFFE. Ian, or Papa G as he’s affectionately known, is the son of accomplished runner Michael Goodliffe, and, inspired by Michael, Ian decided to get into running through the Couch to 5K programme. Collapsing after a run in Witton Park, Ian was rushed to hospital and was fortunate to survive but has embraced his second chance, losing weight and becoming a massive running convert, completing the Couch to 5K and joining the Blackburn Road Runners. After running his first parkrun with us, he joined us for the next 6 consecutive Saturdays, setting new PBs at the first 4, to reduce his time from an initial 46:11 to exactly 40 minutes. In his first year of parkrunning, he ran an astonishing total of 43 parkruns, including on Christmas Day, and culminating in our second birthday at the end of August. His commitment led to continued and marked improvements too, achieving no less than 18 personal bests in his first year of parkrun and setting a new best of 32:58 at Event #93 in early August, an improvement of over 13 minutes on a year earlier! Since then, he has continued to run somewhere almost every weekend, running a total of 154 parkruns and 119 of them have come at Witton, making him one of the 14 members of the Witton 100 Club. Although the regularity has reduced, he has continued to improve too, with a current Witton best of 31:47 from Event #143 and a current parkrun best of 29:32 on his visit to parkrun de Rouen in France, where son Michael now lives. Rouen is one of 23 venues Ian has visited and I’m sure he, like the rest of us, is itching to get back to his parkrunning, having submitted 9 (not)parkruns across 7 weeks during this pandemic. Your progress is astonishing, Ian, you’re an inspiration to many of us at Witton, and happy 4th parkrunniversary!

Ian G

Papa G in action on his first parkrun: it’s safe to say he caught the bug!

Next, two ladies who joined us at the same time as Ian, at Event #49 on September 3rd, 2016, probably to help provide each other some moral support but they’ve since become established Wittoners in their own right and provide plenty of inspiration that parkrun is not just a game for the young. I speak of Witton 100 Club member Pat PROCTER and friend and Witton 50 Club member Dorothy MYERS! Patricia, to give her formal parkrun name, is the mother of former Witton Run Director Sean Procter and was tempted to join our little band of ladies (and some gents!) at the more sedate end of the parkrun field, but don’t let that fool you, there is still plenty of competition and determination to improve back there too! She quickly became a regular, running 13 of the 17 parkruns up to Christmas Eve that year and improving on 9 occasions, including a run of 6 PBs in-a-row after her debut time of 58:08, ending the year down to 42:39, already a 15-minute improvement. Parkrunning continued into 2017, running 37 times at Witton and completing her first 3 tourist runs at Haigh Woodland, Hyndburn and Bolton parkruns. All of this led to her earning a red milestone t-shirt, managing to tie this into a joint-celebration with son Sean, who earned the same t-shirt that day, while she joined the Witton 50 Club with the last parkrun of the year. Work commitments have seen Sean’s parkrunning come to an end for the time being, running at Witton just 19 times since earning his 50 shirt and not since New Year’s Day 2019, but Pat’s continued unabated, earning her black t-shirt for 100 parkruns just over a year after her red t-shirt, at Event #158 in January 2019, following it up shortly after with her purple volunteering t-shirt at Event #164 in March the same year. Pat has now run 152 parkruns in total, with 133 of those coming at Witton, the 6th-highest total of anyone – happy 4th parkrunniversary, Pat!

Pat and Dot first

Pat Procter and Dot Myers come to the finish of their first ever parkrun, alongside tail walker Fran Bury!

Dorothy, meanwhile, or should I say Dot – why are we being formal?! – is also a Witton regular. Not as fast as Pat, Dot is nevertheless a Witton legend on so many levels; first, she is the oldest woman to ever take part at Witton, celebrating her 75th birthday with us in March (but don’t tell anyone!) and yet of 4,406 barcodes scanned at Witton, Dot is 20th in the all-time most runs at Witton list. She doesn’t claim to be fast – she describes her pace as ‘trotting’ – but nevertheless, despite a challenging Witton course and the slow march of Father Time, she is capable of surprising even herself and setting new PBs, often without really trying to! From an initial 58:09, she improved on her next 5 outings, to get down to 49:26. There have been 6 more PBs since then, most recently at Event #170 in April 2019, where she set her current benchmark of 45:39. In our very last parkrun before lockdown, Event #211, she ran 47:02, her fastest time since the week after that last PB, showing there’s plenty of life in Dot yet! Finally, what sets Dot on a pedestal among Witton parkrunners is that she is intensely loyal: she’s up early on a Saturday morning, has a look out the window, and providing the weather is decent, she’ll come down to join us – but only us! Dot has run 87 parkruns, and every single one of them has come at Witton, by far the most of anybody to run all their parkruns with us. She became the first person to earn a milestone t-shirt solely at Witton, when she earned her red t-shirt at Event #139 in August 2018 and still remains the only woman to do so, joined only by Robert Crompton, who has since run at Hyndburn to break his 100% Witton streak. She has consistently run around half of the Witton parkruns every year she’s been a parkrunner and would almost certainly be very close to owning a black milestone t-shirt without the pandemic. Happily, she has remained in good health during this difficult time, and we look forward to welcoming her back as soon as it is safe to do so – happy 4th parkrunniversary, Dot!

Pat and Dot now

Together in the previous picture, together again now: Pat and Dot are now experienced parkrunners!

Two more Witton legends now, who joined us way back at Event #2 on September 5th, 2015, both Witton 100 Club members and sisters to boot, yes, it’s none other than Suzanne FERRANDINO and Julie PRICE!!! Suzanne formally made her debut at Event #2, but I have found photographic evidence suggesting she may have been one of our unknowns at Event #1 at the end of August, before signing up properly in time for the following week’s parkrun! But nevertheless, this is when we celebrate her formal parkrunniversary, just one week later. After a relatively slow start, running just 8 of our first 24 parkruns, Suzanne ran 19 of the next 24 to finish the year on 27 Witton parkruns and 28 parkruns in total, making her tourism debut at Burnley in early August. Her parkrunning continued in earnest, and 27 Witton events later, at Event #75 on April Fool’s Day 2017, she earned her red milestone t-shirt, having run 47 of her 50 runs at Witton. If anything, her 100 came slightly faster, taking just 73 further events to come at Event #148 in October 2018, but since then her rate has slowed slightly for one reason and another, still coming regularly enough but having run only 37 of the 63 Witton parkruns since then. In total, she stands on 126 runs at Witton, the seventh-highest total of any Wittoner, and 143 runs in total, with additional runs at Hyndburn (7), Preston (3), Bedford (2), Cuerden Valley, Bolton, Wimpole Estate near Cambridge, Nobles on the Isle of Man and Burnley (all once). Happy 5th parkrunniversary, Suzanne!


Suzanne is full of smiles on her first parkrun, alongside friend Diane Harrison-Leeming: I’ll be dealing her next week!

On that September day, Suzanne was joined by another Witton legend, her sister, Julie PRICE! Unlike Suzanne, I can neither confirm nor deny Julie’s hidden attendance at Witton’s inaugural event, but like her sister, she was all signed up in time for Event #2! Julie’s parkrunning was more sporadic than Suzanne’s in the early days, running just 10 times in our first year, despite having run 6 of our first 11 parkruns. Having run at our first birthday, she ran 29 times in our second year, nearly tripling her attendance and just a few months later, in November, she earned her red milestone t-shirt – not at Witton, as it happens, but at nearby Hyndburn’s third ever event, which virtually counted as a Witton parkrun, with over 50 Witton regulars taking the opportunity of Witton’s cancellation to try out the newest local parkrun! She did celebrate her black t-shirt with us, at Event #178 in June last year, and in total has run 113 parkruns at Witton, and 130 in total, with 7 visits to Hyndburn, 4 to Preston and Cuerden Valley and single outings at Bolton and Nobles parkrun on the Isle of Man completing her set. After her slow start, she was the 27th member of the Witton 50 Club, but was only the 12th member of the Witton 100 Club, showing how much more regular her parkrunning has been – and not just parkrunning, both she and Suzanne have progressed into longer distances, such as 10Ks, and have even completed a marathon each! Happy 5th parkrunniversary, Julie, here’s to many more in the future!


Julie looks full of focus on her first parkrun: she’s completed over 100 now!

Last, but certainly not least, this week is another early Witton adoptee, though his true uptake of parkrun is a more recent phenomenon: I speak of Lancashire Constabulary AC’s Simon BANFIELD! Simon also made his first appearance at Witton’s second event on September 5th, 2015, but didn’t return to parkrun until the following January, running at Ellesmere Port, then returning to Witton in time for our first birthday event, Event #48 at the end of August. One more run followed in September, again at Ellesmere Port, but then he wasn’t seen again until January 2019! That first run at the start of January, at Cuerden Valley, snowballed into 37 in total during the course of the year at 9 different parkrun venues, with 18 of them coming at Witton, including on Christmas Day! In 2020, Simon and partner Andrea Bolton, had intended on completing the parkrun alphabet challenge or running as many different parkrun letters as they could during the year. They’d achieved a B for Burnley, C for Clitheroe Castle, D for Delamere, O for Oldham, P for Preston and W for Witton in just 7 parkruns this year, before their aims were sadly postponed by the lockdown. I also note that Simon is well on his way to completing the parkrun ‘Pirates’ challenge, which requires you to run at 7 different parkruns beginning with C and one beginning with R (seven seas and an aaargh – geddit?!) and has already ticked off Clitheroe Castle, Cuerden Valley, Camperdown in Dundee and Cannock Chase, which puts him halfway there! Anyway, we digress, Simon has run 48 parkruns in total, so is one of those stranded just shy of his milestone t-shirt, and 22 of those runs have come at Witton, just under half his total. It was a slow start, but it’s safe to say Simon has embraced parkrun as part of his weekly routine now and we look forward to seeing him back when it’s safe – happy 5th parkrunniversary, Simon!

Simon B

Simon (in green) works hard on his first parkrun, Witton Event #2: it would be our first birthday before we saw him again! 

This Week in Witton parkrun…

Some weeks at Witton are action-packed…others not so much. This is very much one of those in all honesty, the odd milestone t-shirt, the odd Witton Club but nothing on the scale of other weeks! Nevertheless, if you’re looking for the quintessential Witton parkrun experience, then look no further, because this is the stuff to expect week in, week out at Witton!

Event #2 was the glorious sequel to our inaugural event and took place on September 5th, 2015. There were 263 attendees that day, 10 less than our debut outing and our second highest ever attendance. We welcomed another 84 first time parkrunners, one less than the week before, for a total of 169 brand new parkrunners in our first two weeks! With a second event comes a chance for a personal best and an amazing 63 people set improved times on their second visits to Witton, the first of over 3000 to be earned with us, despite a course change! It was also a special day for two young parkrunners: JM11-14 Darwen Dasher Orin Jones ran his 10th parkrun, becoming the first white t-shirt holder at Witton parkrun and maintaining our 100% record of a milestone t-shirt being awarded at every Witton event! Meanwhile, fellow Darwen Dasher, tiny Raya Carrigan, ran her very first parkrun at the age of 4 years and 5 days, less than a week above the qualifying age. For that particular week, she was surely one of, if not the ultimate, youngest parkrunner in the world, trotting around in 52:44, with maybe just a little bit of help from dad Barry!


Find me a cuter picture this week: I’ll wait. Raya Carrigan takes on the hill on her first parkrun, with daddy Barry close at hand

Event #49 took place on September 3rd, 2016, a week after our first birthday parkrun. A relatively quiet event, with the only t-shirt awarded to our old marshalling maestro, Dr Neil Tattersall, who had volunteered 25 times on the eponymous Tattersall Corner, gamely catching out-of-control parkrunners hurtling down the muddy slope from the top of the Beast, assisted by border collie, Betty. Neil would continue performing this role for the next year. Meanwhile, other notable milestones hit during this event were Saz Patel setting the 1000th Witton PB, just a year on from those first 63, while the aforementioned debut of Dot Myers saw Witton’s first VW70-74 attendee – she has since inaugurated the VW75-80 club too!


Saz Patel earned the 1000th Witton PB four years ago!

Event #96 took place on September 2nd, 2017, following our second birthday parkrun. The quietest of quiet events, with no milestones, Witton clubs or notable occurrences. Blackburn Road Runner Josh Crowther was first home, the 4th of his 17 first finishes to date, while Blackburn Harrier Leah J Hoole was first female for the first of three occasions for the junior. Continuing the PBs theme, there were 19 on the day, ranging from 6 seconds to 4 minutes! This was, also, the last event to date that Dr Neil volunteered for. The reasons for his cessation are shrouded in mystery to all at Witton, but we would be delighted to welcome him back in the future if he felt so inclined, he is much missed by many of us.

Josh C

Josh Crowther on his way to another Witton first placed finish!

Event #141 on September 1st, 2018 was a week after our third birthday parkrun. Another quiet event, with only a few peripheral milestones reached. Legend Terry Gray turned 80 and became the first VM80-84 to run at Witton – in true Terry style, he took a tumble on route but gamely carried on, finishing before attending to his bloodied knee, we do worry about you Terry! The event also saw our 3000th barcode scanned at Witton, in the form of Garret Stott, while Barry Shackleton returned a week after the Bulls had broken the ‘Most parkruns seen at Witton’ record and matched them on 378! He’d have to return to reclaim the record outright, though. Finally, Kelly Barton and Mike Leatherbarrow visited us that day, with Kelly, I believe, becoming the first visually impaired (VI) runner to take on the Beast, a task she ably performed alongside her guide, Mike. Spending some time running in close quarters to them, it was incredible to watch the trust placed between the two, the constant communication and the effectiveness of their efforts on what is undoubtedly a difficult course – it would be great to see them back, or for other VI runners to take part!

Terry, Kelly and Mike

Terry Gray became Witton’s first VM80-84 two years ago, while Kelly Barton is guided by Mike Leatherbarrow to be the first visually impaired runner to complete Witton parkrun!

Now a slight change-up: Event #184 took place on August 31st, 2019 and, as such, was our 4th BIRTHDAY! This meant the usual established routine, the Reverse Beast course, and the Slater Family Band in attendance. Unlike our previous birthdays, there was a risk of rain but thankfully aside from a few drops here and there it held off for our big day. No milestone t-shirts were awarded that day but there were two new members of Witton Clubs. Paul Gavin became the 47th member of the Witton 50 Club – strangely, he’s only run once since then for now, hope everything’s alright, Paul! And, on a personal level, I was the first inductee into the new Witton 150 Club, just pipping the usual man for these occasions Anwar Khan. There are currently three members: Anwar and Scott Smith joining, while my mum, Lynda Vernon is two-short of membership!

Paul G

Paul Gavin joined the Witton 50 Club this time a year ago!

5th Birthday Stats

A birthday parkrun like no other, as it didn’t actually happen, but nevertheless, this is usually the time when we round-up our parkrun year and, truncated though it is, that’s what we’ll do again!

This year saw 2989 parkruns recorded at Witton, easily our lowest total well behind Year 3’s 3922, but as you may recall in the dim-and-distant past when parkrun was still a thing, we were seeing brilliant attendances and that is well reflected when looking at an average each week. This year’s 2989 runs in 28 events is an average of 106.8, only the second year with more than 100 parkrunners a week and, actually, just slightly above Year 1’s average of 106.6 a week! In March, there was a genuine, albeit outside, chance that we could break our Year 1 yearly attendance total of 5008, as you can see from the graph below, but we’ll never know if the attendance would have stood up as 2020 wore on (although the beautiful months of March, April and May wouldn’t have hurt I’m sure!)


Not difficult to see where things went wrong this year: after a hugely positive first half of our 5th year, the flat line tells us everything about what happened next…

Our shortened year still saw time for 28 t-shirts awarded at Witton, including 1 white junior 10 t-shirt, 15 red 50 t-shirts, 6 black 100 t-shirts and 6 purple 25 volunteering t-shirts! We have now seen a total of 232 t-shirts awarded across 211 Witton events and would almost certainly have welcomed the first green 250 t-shirts this year, without lockdown occurring.

The top 10 running attendees of 2019-20 were (out of a possible 28):

Scott Smith – 27 runs

Pat Procter – 25 runs

Ian Goodliffe – 24 runs

John Kearney – 24 runs

Lynda Vernon – 22 runs

Andrew Wisdom – 22 runs

Erica Doyle – 22 runs

Anwar Khan – 21 runs

Julie Price – 21 runs

Matthew Vernon – 19 runs

Terry Gray – 19 runs

John K

John Kearney (in red) is a new face in the Witton yearly attendance list!

The most volunteering weeks of 2019-20 were (out of a possible 28):

Michelle Searby – 28 events

Bryan Searby – 28 events

Matthew Vernon – 28 events

Alan Vernon – 26 events

Scott Smith – 26 events

Diane Harrison-Leeming – 24 events

Niamh Robertson – 23 events

Emma Hayes – 22 events

Lynda Vernon – 20 events

Ian Goodliffe – 20 events

Emma and Niamh

Emma Hayes and Niamh Robertson have become valued members of the Witton volunteering team this year – thanks, ladies!

And the most combined appearances (either running or volunteering) in 2018-19 were:

Michelle Searby – 28 events

Bryan Searby – 28 events

Matthew Vernon – 28 events

Pat Procter – 28 events

Scott Smith – 27 events

Alan Vernon – 26 events

Lynda Vernon – 25 events

Diane Harrison-Leeming – 24 events

Ian Goodliffe – 24 events

John Kearney – 24 events

Michelle and Bryan

The beating heart of Witton parkrun: Michelle and Bryan Searby were present at every event in the past year, as usual!

3 people volunteered at every Witton event last year, as always the Searbys, Michelle and Bryan, who give so much to make Witton a success, and myself, Matthew Vernon, although writing the run report is a bit of a cop-out! When considering running or volunteering, you can add Pat Procter to the list of people who have been present at every Witton event in the past year, while special mention for my mate Scott Smith, who ran at all but one parkrun at Witton in 2019-20, only missing out on Leap Day, when he was at a wedding – he still managed to parkrun, though! New names among our regular runners list are John Kearney and Erica Doyle, who both ran over 78% of all Witton parkruns this year, while among our volunteers, big shout-out to Niamh Robertson and Emma Hayes, two of our intrepid Duke of Edinburgh volunteers, who have become a wonderful part of our parkrun family, eager to learn and confident in their abilities. They were also both present for more than 78% of our parkruns in 2019-20 and we hope to see them again when we return if they’re still keen!


Erica Doyle, here in flying form, has run the joint-5th most Witton parkruns in the past year!

In total, over 5 years, there have been 20,110 parkruns recorded at Witton and we’ve been visited by 4406 parkrunners in total. In December, Ribble Valley Harrier Eleanor Bolton broke our female course record by 7 seconds, while our fastest male was Horwich RMI Harrier Phil Marsden who ran 17:28 in September, the eighth-fastest time seen on the Beast but slower than his own PB from April last year. This year, we have welcomed 13 new people to the Witton 50 Club, increasing membership to 59, 5 new members of the Witton 100 Club, increasing membership to 14 and opened the new Witton 150 Club, which currently has 3 members!


Eleanor Bolton set the new Witton female course record of 18:36 at Event #198 in December: no photos that day, but here she is in fine form at a previous Witton parkrun!

Those with the most all-time runs at Witton parkrun are:

Anwar Khan – 169 runs

Matthew Vernon – 168 runs

Scott Smith – 153 runs

Lynda Vernon – 148 runs

Aimie Wormald – 133 runs

Pat Procter – 133 runs

Suzanne Ferrandino – 126 runs

Peter Toogood – 125 runs

Diane Harrison-Leeming – 20 runs

Ian Goodliffe – 119 runs


Anwar Khan has run more Witton parkruns than any other person: this has been true after each of our first five years!

Those with the most all-time volunteering credits at Witton are:

Michelle Searby – 211 events

Bryan Searby – 209 events

Alan Vernon – 167 events

Matthew Vernon – 157 events

Diane Harrison-Leeming – 150 events

Sally Hupfield-Smith – 137 events

Scott Smith – 123 events

Sean Procter – 115 events

Ian Gaskell – 99 events

Lorna Pickup – 99 events

Dad on duty

My dad, Alan Vernon, has volunteered the third-most times of any Wittoner, usually on his perennial corner!

And, with that, we’re done! More than enough for now. It’s still sad that our big birthday hasn’t been able to happen: there’s been no opportunity for reunion with absent friends, no reminiscing about events past and none of the music and cake that has typified Witton through the years. But nevertheless, let’s remember the important things: to my knowledge all Wittoners have stayed safe and well during this pandemic so far and that is something to be hugely thankful for when so many have suffered loss, heartache and struggles. We will return to parkrun one day and when we finally do, we’ll start creating a whole new set of memories in the future.

Stay safe, and I’ll see you next week,

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


Showing my best side…allegedly!

If you missed last week's round-up of birthdays past, you can read it here: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/witton/news/2020/09/03/witton-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-issue-14-29th-august-2020/



This is a particularly poignant week for the (not)run report, as this week’s parkrun would have been exactly 5 years on from our very first parkrun, on the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2015. In actuality, our plans were slightly altered much earlier this year, with Michelle’s expected involvement in the Blackburn Flower Show this weekend meaning we were intending to have our proper all-singing, all-dancing birthday bash the following weekend on the coming Saturday, September 5th, but instead of inviting all and sundry to reminisce about our 5 years of parkrunning and hopefully welcoming back some old friends to celebrate, we are still stuck in the interminable stasis of lockdown, 24 weeks and over 170 days and counting since we last met at Witton for Event #211 on March 14th.


We may not be able to celebrate properly but it’s still our birthday!

We all know the reasons why we can’t parkrun: the continuing pandemic means gatherings inside beyond two households and outside beyond six persons of different households continue to be prohibited, while in some parts of Blackburn and other parts of the country, even stricter restrictions on any kind of social gatherings are currently in force. Those rules have not changed yet since they were first introduced last week. In parkrun HQ’s latest blog entry, they have confirmed that it is now almost certainly their intention that their ‘whole territory/region’ approach to reopening will be fluid, with the first signs of movement already being identified. They have suggested Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun, the romantically remote parkrun located on the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, could be among the first parkruns in the world to restart, despite being administered by parkrun UK, due to its remote nature making the virus a remote threat and preventing any influx of visitors from elsewhere. This is also the case for the Northern Territory parkruns in Australia, which are similarly remote and have very little virus transmission risk at this point in time. Signs of life, perhaps, but, if anything, probably a reminder of how narrow the tightrope parkrun is treading between allowing events to return in areas of low risk, but having to be cautious of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. We all just need to be patient. You can read parkrun’s full blog here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/09/01/covid-19-coronavirus-update-1-september/ and in the meantime, let’s move on to the things we can talk about!


It is not difficult to see why remote Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun on the Falkland Islands may be allowed to return earlier than the rest of us – what a stunning location!

(not)parkrun – Week 11

A changeable week saw Storm Francis move through early in the week before the weather turned nicer as the weekend arrived. Perhaps due to the Bank Holiday weekend (although holidays are severely limited this year!), we had our lowest number of (not)parkrunners (13) and lowest number of (not)parkruns (18) since Week 7 (11 and 16)! However, amongst those that did submit a (not)parkrun time this week, it was all aboard the PB Express, with 8 out of the 13 participants recording new best times, and when considering that 2 of the remaining 5 were first timers, that is quite an astonishing achievement! We begin with another unusual feat, as our thrilling back-and-forth over recent weeks between Witton 50 Club members Peter Nicholson, Andrew Wisdom and Daniel Hamilton reached new heights, when we finished the week with a dead heat for the fastest (not)parkrun time! First place goes to Blackburn Road Runner Andrew WISDOM in a time of 23:42, bettering last week’s PB by 12 seconds and becoming the first Wittoner to be first finisher on 3 occasions. Crossing the metaphorical line with him was Peter NICHOLSON, also in 23:42, knocking a whopping 33 seconds of his previous best from Week 6 and the only thing putting him in second place is Andrew ran on Tuesday and Peter ran on Thursday – keep up the good work, boys!


Andrew retakes the lead for most (not)parkrun first finishes after a thrilling dead-heat with Peter Nicholson this week!

Completing this week’s top three, with a debut (not)parkrun podium, was Darwen Dasher Chris COOPER, whose fastest of 3 (not)parkruns this week was 26:48, a new PB by just over a minute from a fortnight ago. Chris only started (not)parkrunning 4 weeks ago, but has already submitted 11 times, the joint-third highest total of (not)parkruns recorded at Witton! Next up is another (not)parkrun regular, Witton 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON, who was another joining the PB club this week, running 27:15, bettering his time from Week 6 in July by 15 seconds – great running, Robert! First female this week was Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON in 27:28, the first person at Witton this week not to set a PB, around a minute slower than her time from Week 6. This was Karen’s fourth time as first female, equalling fellow Road Runner Miriam Hamilton – well done, Karen!


Chris Cooper recorded a debut (not)parkrun podium this week – here he is in action at our second birthday 3 years ago!

Back aboard the PB Express for friend of Witton Cameron ASHTON, who ran 29:19 in his fastest of three (not)parkruns this week, his first PB in (not)parkrun, bettering his mark of 29:52 from our very first (not)parkrun in June – great effort, Cameron! Cameron’s time on Sunday just pipped Blackburn Harrier Victoria MCKINLAY, who was 7th this week, in 29:20, her fastest time as she ran separately to children Jenna and Alex this week – well done, Vicky! She was still followed by daughter Jenna MCKINLAY and son, Blackburn Harrier, Alex MCKINLAY, who set times of 31:25 this week, our only other two returning (not)parkrunners who didn’t set a PB this week – but that doesn’t matter, guys, well done!


Since she set a separate time this week, here a rare shot of a solo Vicky McKinlay at Event #176 in June last year!

Next is our first (not)parkrun first timer this week, Blackburn Road Runner Kathryn KINNEY in 35:16. Kathryn has run 10 parkruns but none of them have come at Witton, although she has marshalled for us on two occasions, at Event #3 and Event #203 – quite a gap! Good to see you join us, Kathryn, hopefully you’ll finally take on the Beast itself when parkrun returns! Another (not)parkrun regular up next, South East Lancs Orienteering Club’s Paul BOOTH, who ran 36:06 this week, a new (not)parkrun PB by nearly a minute and a half from his previous best from Week 1 of Witton (not)parkrun – finally, Paul! Our other first timer is next, and it’s none other than Witton 100 Club member Irene SLATER in 36:26! Irene has run exactly 100 Witton parkruns and now begins her (not)parkrun career. She’s a good friend of fellow Road Runner and first timer Kathryn, so I suspect some socially distanced jogging may have taken place, ladies? Irene becomes the 5th Witton 100 Club member to record a (not)parkrun, with a further 7 members of the Witton 50 Club having also completed one. Last, but certainly not least this week was Tracy STAFFA, in 38:05, the 8th (not)parkrunner this week to earn a PB, knocking 1 minute 17 seconds off her time last week as she improved for a third successive week – excellent work, Tracy! This week, Chris and Cameron recorded 3 times and Karen recorded 2, while Jenna, Alex, Tracy and Paul recorded their times on Monday, Andrew on Tuesday (bagging him top spot!), Chris’s fastest came on Wednesday, Karen’s fastest was on Thursday, the same day Robert and Peter this week and Irene and Kathryn ran their first (not)parkruns, while Victoria ran Friday and Cameron’s fastest came Sunday. Unusually, not a single time was recorded on parkrunday, sorry, I mean Saturday! Well done to this week’s (not)parkrunners!


Witton 100 Club member Irene ran her first (not)parkrun this week!


5 more Wittoners celebrate their first parkruns this week, including 3 of them who joined us for our very first event 5 years ago. But more on that shortly… First, we have the First Lady of Witton parkrun, our very own Event Director Michelle SEARBY, who ran her first parkrun on August 23rd, 2014 at nearby Burnley parkrun. Michelle was quickly a parkrun convert, running 8 times before the end of 2014 and when the weather warmed up in the Spring, she was a regular, running 10 consecutive Saturdays between March and May at Bolton, Burnley, Heaton Park and Cuerden Valley parkruns and managing 4 more parkruns before the launch of Witton. As attempts were made to bring parkrun to Blackburn, Michelle was approached to ask whether she’d be interested in running the event and having accepted, she threw herself into securing the necessary  funding, recruiting a core team and finding a suitable 5k route. Having got us off the ground, when she finally managed to run her own parkrun, at Event #5, this was her 23rd parkrun in total, and such was her commitment to making Witton parkrun a success, it would take her nearly 4 years to run the remaining 27 needed to earn her red 50 t-shirt. Michelle has battled a succession of back problems and an oft-lacking volunteer roster to get her parkruns in but has now reached 54 and managed 3 in 2020 before our cancellation, although two of those came on New Year’s Day. It is thanks to Michelle’s leadership and dedication that Witton parkrun has not just lasted 5 years but has flourished and thrived and, when lockdown arrived, was seeing regular participation above 100 with a seemingly self-perpetuating rota of volunteers for the first time in our history. Thanks for all you do Michelle, and happy 6th parkrunniversary!


So many pictures of Michelle over the years…which to pick? How about this, of her finally completing her first home parkrun, Event #5 in September 2015!

Next up is another of our Blackburn Road Runners, Jason KAY, who ran his first parkrun on August 26th, 2017 at the unusual setting of Penrose parkrun in Helston, Cornwall, on the Lizard Peninsula. Jason actually ran his first 13 parkruns at Penrose, all in 2017, before visiting our nearby Hyndburn parkrun just before Christmas, returning to Penrose on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, as well as the Saturday in between. Continuing to parkrun regularly, all Jason’s parkruns came at Penrose aside from single outings at Burnley and then two trips to the seaside for Clacton Seafront and Harwich parkruns both in April. By the time he made his Witton debut in June 2018 at Event #134, this was his 35th parkrun in total and when he returned a month later for Event #136 (after another visit to Penrose), Witton became only his second repeat parkrun venue and Witton has now become his nominal parkrun home, although he likes to vary his parkruns up, with visits to several other North West parkruns too. He has run just 5 more times at Penrose parkrun since July 2018, suggesting Jason’s circumstances have changed, while he has now run 23 times at Witton, including his past 8 parkruns in 2020. This is second only to his 36 parkruns at Penrose, his only other venue in double figures and, in total, Jason has now run 93 parkruns and would most probably already have earned his 100 t-shirt in normal times. I’m sure you will get there soon, Jason – and happy 3rd parkrunniversary!


Blackburn Road Runner Jason Kay’s two most visited parkruns are at opposite ends of the country: Witton and Penrose parkrun in Cornwall!

Next is the first of three friends of Witton who made their debuts at Witton’s inaugural event on August 29th, 2015 and for these I am simply taking them in order of the most parkruns at Witton they have completed, so we start with Darwen Dasher, Lisa MORAN, who having made her debut that day has run at Witton on 29 occasions! She quickly became a regular, running 7 of our first 10 events and setting 3 PBs for a best of 28:32, but only ran once more with us before Christmas 2015. I think Lisa has somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Witton’s Beast course, only running with us 5 times during 2016, alongside 7 runs elsewhere, although it is probably also fair to say that while Lisa is a big fan of parkrun, she is also fond of the odd Friday night session, which may sometimes mean she switches off her 9am Saturday alarm – heresy, I know! Nevertheless, she has never left it too long before visiting Witton or running a parkrun elsewhere, getting in a foreign parkrun with the Dashers on Tour at Hasenheide parkrun in Berlin, while she also supported close friend Viki Walsh at our 131st ‘Run for Norman’ event in memory of Viki’s dad, Witton 50 Club member Norman Walsh. She has never yet been tempted to join us on Christmas Day but did run at Hyndburn parkrun on New Year’s Day this year – not quite making it to Witton for the earlier event! Her last parkrun outing was a doubly special one and quite fortunate in the current circumstances, as she ran her 50th parkrun at our Event #210 on March 7th, 2020, which also coincided with Lisa’s 50th birthday! Many such plans have fallen by the wayside this year, but happily for Lisa we just got it in in time! Happy 5th parkrunniversary, Lisa!


Lisa’s first parkrun, at our inaugural event, was also her first run as a Darwen Dasher – now she has a red milestone t-shirt to wear too!

Following Lisa is Blackburn Harrier Lindsay DAVIES, who also ran her first parkrun at our inaugural and has now run at Witton 26 times! What makes Lindsay stand out even more is that she has run every single one of her parkruns at Witton, never recording a time at another parkrun venue! This is the third longest streak for a Witton 100%er, a list obviously headed by Witton 50 Club member Dot Myers, who has run all 87 of her parkruns at Witton! Lisa ran 8 times in the 17 events on our old course and also joined us for the Beast’s inaugural outing on January 2nd, 2016. In total, she ran 15 of our first 30 events, before her appearances have been more sporadic, running 3 more times in 2016, 5 times in 2017, twice in 2018 and just once in 2019, while she has yet to visit us during 2020. Nevertheless, she is clearly working hard away from parkrun, bettering her old course PB by over a minute when she ran at Event #82 in May 2017 and improving a further 4 times in her next 6 visits, leading to a superb best of 23:19 at Event #170 in April 2019, a minute quicker than she’d managed a year earlier on her previous visit. Happy 5th parkrunniversary, Lindsay!


Lindsay comes to the finish line of her first parkrun – she’s now run 26 parkruns and all of them have come at Witton!

Next comes Blackburn Road Runner Nicola HALSALL. Friend of Witton Nicola was present at the Witton trial run a fortnight earlier, as was Lisa Moran, and ran 6 times on our old course, including on Christmas Day 2015. Her next 7 parkruns all came at Witton too, meaning for 18 months, Witton was her sole parkrun venue. Since then, however, we have seen much less of her than other parkruns, with just 3 more Witton visits added to parkruns in Preston, Hyndburn, Burnley, Centre Vale, Cuerden Valley, Lytham Hall, Skipton and Oldham – although she did run her last 2 parkruns at Witton, 2 of our last 3 events before lockdown, including getting a run in on Leap Day! She has run 29 parkruns in total, with 16 of those coming at Witton, by far her highest individual venue. In addition, Nicola has volunteered for us on 28 occasions, earning herself her purple volunteering t-shirt, including marshalling 9 times, timing once, handing out finish tokens once and barcode scanning 3 times, while her infectiously bubbly personality has seen her deliver our First Timers Briefing on 15 occasions! Happy 5th parkrunniversary, Nicola, we hope to see more of you going forward!


Unbelievably, this appears to be the only shot of Nicola (in blue) at our first parkrun but it perfectly captures her personality, still able to summon the energy to be a bit silly with fellow first timer Julie Kay as they climb the small hill for the second time!

Finally, a mention for Michael McCarthy. I mentioned a little earlier that Lindsay Davies was 3rd in the most parkruns all at Witton standings, behind Dorothy Myers. Well, Michael holds second place in those standings, with 28 parkruns all at Witton, slightly higher than Lindsay’s mark. Michael also ran his first parkrun at Witton’s inaugural event, but having run all of our first 19 events (second only to Anwar in that regard) and 26 of our first 29 events, Michael has not run a parkrun since appearing at Witton’s 50th event in September 2016, not long after our first birthday. Whatever the reason is, I hope you choose to join us again when we return, Michael, it would be great to see you back, but without a Witton parkrun in nearly 4 years, it was difficult to include you in a full write-up!

Michael M

Michael (black vest) ran his first parkrun at Witton’s first event, alongside daughter Ruby, but hasn’t been seen in nearly 4 years – come back, Michael!

This Week in Witton parkrun…

Ok, into a very special look back at Witton parkrun, as we look at nearly all of our birthday parkruns!


Now, bear with me, as it’s only right we spend a little time talking about our inaugural event, which took place on August 29th, 2015. I wasn’t there for Event #1 – although I was vaguely aware of the starting date it wouldn’t be until Week 4 that I would pluck up the courage to come down, along with friend Scott Smith for our first experience of parkrun – so this will be done from research and first-hand accounts. At just before 9am, a crowd of 273 gathered on the field by our current finish funnel, ready for Michelle, as Event Director and our first Run Director, to deliver the first-ever Witton First Timer’s Briefing. As it was the first event, everyone needed to be told of the rules of the course, so the First Timer’s Brief also counted as the Pre-Run Brief and then the crowds headed down to the old start line, by the trees at the end of the driveway near the car park, and once everyone was set it was time for the off! Well, nearly, we were slightly held-up by two council vehicles rudely coming in the opposite direction down the driveway – they were soon shepherded to the side out of the way by the core team and off we went! (We’ll let the council workers off, they weren’t to know a weekly mass gathering was about to start – they certainly are aware now!)

First Timers, Start Line, Off!

Michelle delivered the first ever Witton pre-run briefing, before the masses gathered on the start line (note the time stamp – we’ve never been good at starting on time!) and then Witton parkrun got underway!

First person to ever cross the line was Blackburn Harrier Karl Billington in 15:51. This, officially remains the Witton course record, although as it was set on our old, faster course it is difficult to see it every being beaten on our Beast route. It is the second-fastest time ever seen at Witton: at Event #10 a time of 15:49 was set but the record-setter astonishingly didn’t remember their barcode and as such parkrun doesn’t recognise their record, so Karl’s remains! Second was Rodger Wilkins of Love Trail Running, in 17:06 and third (setting a theme that has continued on-and-off to this day) was Unknown. First female was Hyndburn AC’s Blythe Fourie in 18th position in 20:17, second was Blackburn Harrier Carly Edwards in 31st position in 21:36 and third was Darwen Dasher Catherine Fox in 43rd position in 22:17. And thus our inaugural top 3s were complete! We even managed to mark our inaugural event with a milestone t-shirt, provided by Deeside Orienteering Club’s Maria Brockway, who ran her 50th parkrun that day – she’s now past 250 parkruns!

Karl, Blythe, Maria

Karl Billington hares his way to the Witton course record on our first outing, while Blythe Fourie became our inaugural first female that day. Maria Brockway meanwhile proudly displayed her achievement on her t-shirt – 1st Witton, 50th parkrun!

One reason Maria chose Witton for her milestone was because Maria was part of a thriving group of parkrunners known as ‘inaugural chasers’, who would aim to visit as many parkruns as possible for their first-ever events. This practice has since been discouraged, as with increasing numbers of parkrunners partaking, new events were finding their fields swelling beyond reasonable expectation for their first outings and to help parkrun teams and facilities bed in, parkrun HQ requested that parkrunners avoid inaugural events and instead visit new events a few weeks later. This, combined with the new challenge of trying to fill in missing numbers in your Wilson Index (collecting a parkrun event of every number, so an Event #1, Event #2, etc.) has seen the practice of inaugural chasing greatly reduced, although some events are still seeing huge numbers at inaugurals, simply due to parkrun’s popularity! Witton played host to around 7 people who could be seen as inaugural chasers, with Witton being Maria’s 7th inaugural of 19 she has completed in total. The remaining 6 were all considerably higher up their lists, with the lowest number of inaugurals among them being Liping Wen’s 17 (of 22 she completed in total), while Mark A. Jennings was running his 34th inaugural of 43 he has completed in total. Richard Butterwick and Myra Wells, both of Todmorden Harriers, were running their 29th and 30th inaugurals of 54 each they have completed, while the highest number of inaugurals in total in the field belongs to Alan Sawojka, who was running just his second inaugural at Witton that day – he has now run 58, clearly he got the bug! Returning to Mark A Jennings for a second, Witton’s inaugural was his 298th parkrun, which set the early running for most events seen at Witton and is still the 33rd-most events we’ve ever seen and although we’ve not yet seen a blue 500 t-shirt grace our parkrun, Mark has now completed a whopping 516 parkruns, so a blue t-shirt holder has run at Witton, and there are only 116 of them in the world!

Mark Jennings

Mark A.  Jennings was already a black t-shirt holder when he ran our inaugural, he currently holds the rarest of all the milestone t-shirts: a blue 500!

More numbers now. Of our 273 parkrunners that day, a whopping 84 of them were running their first-ever parkrun that day and between them they have now run an average of 8.5 parkruns each – though 9 of them have never run another parkrun so far! Another 51 have never returned to Witton, having been tourists passing through or regulars of other local events showing support for our start-up, while 49 have only so far returned to Witton once, most recently our old ambassador, Rowan Ardill and wife Amy Ardill, who visited us for the second time on New Year’s Day this year! Of those completing their first ever parkruns that day, the most parkruns any of them have completed is:

79 – Christine Warrington (Blackburn Road Runners)

77 – Lenny Kay (Blackburn Road Runners)

50 – Lisa Moran (Darwen Dashers)

40 – Julie Marsden (Blackburn Road Runners)

34 – Nickie O’Hara (Blackburn Road Runners)

Christine has run 6 times at Witton, with 18 at Hyndburn her most visited venue, while Lenny has also run 6 times at Witton, with 20 at Hyndburn her most visited. Lisa we discussed earlier, with 29 of her 50 runs coming at Witton, while both Julie and Nickie have run 12 times at both Witton and Hyndburn. Regardless of where you parkrun, it’s great that between the five of you, you have run a whopping 280 parkruns! Amongst our parkrun newbies, we also had not one but two Sarah Walshes, the first of many repeat names we’ve seen at Witton over the years, and it wasn’t just first timers at Witton that day, people who have formed the core of Witton parkrun were also present, including 11 members of the Witton 50 Club: Mark Almond, Sue Duckworth, Aimie Wormald, Julia Rushton, Matthew Cocker, Anwar Khan, Sharon Cocker, Sarah Watkins, Jon Carberry, Peter Toogood and Chris Worsley!

Christine, Anwar, Aimie

Christine Warrington finishes her first parkrun, showing the same sort of focus that means she has completed more parkruns than any other first timer from Witton’s inaugural event; meanwhile Anwar Khan and Aimie Wormald have run a stonking 302 Witton parkruns between them since they both debuted that day!

Witton was one of five parkruns to begin that late August day, and one of three in the UK, alongside Wyre Forest parkrun, just south of Birmingham and Stormont parkrun, which takes place in the grounds of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast. But parkrun was, by now, a global movement and Witton joined parkruns in Poland and Russia in starting that day. Szczecin parkrun, in the city of the same name, started around an hour later than Witton not far from the Polish-German border in Northwest Poland, while Tsaritsyno parkrun, which also started around the same time that morning, takes place in Moscow. Our parkrun twins! Giving Witton a definitive position in parkrun history is difficult. We are currently around the 641st (or joint-637th) parkrun in the world to start of 1787 active events worldwide, while we are in the top 350 (joint-348th) for parkruns in the UK of 715 nationwide. However, if considering events that existed when Witton began but have since ceased (such as the tragic case of Little Stoke parkrun previously discussed in these pages) then, roughly, I think Witton is the 657th or joint-653rd parkrun ever to start in the world and the 356th (or joint-354th) parkrun administered by the UK (when we include the parkrun event that used to take place at Camp Bastion, the UK’s base of operations in Afghanistan!) A momentous day and one that has allowed 4,406 parkrunners and counting to record a staggering 20,110 parkruns so far to date, with plenty more to come. Happy birthday Witton parkrun!!!

parkrun twins

Clockwise from top left: Stormont parkrun takes place just yards from the Northern Ireland Assembly, while Wyre Forest gathers by a café. Further afield, Szczecin parkrun in Poland does a passable impression of Witton at first glance, and Tsaritsyno parkrun in Moscow incorporates this lovely bridge – our parkrun twins!


Event #48 on August 27th, 2016 marked the culmination of a year of hard work building a parkrun community at Witton. It had seen flooding, course changes, a memorial parkrun, a lot of parkrun newcomers and already a host of milestone t-shirts awarded. The day coincided with the #IAmTeamGB event celebrating Great Britain’s incredible achievements in the 2016 Rio Olympics. A number of events were joined by Team GB Olympic and Paralympic heroes for their events and though our little event was not amongst those, we had plenty to celebrate in our own right.


Fun and games at our first birthday as the Searbys, Gaskells and Brennans declare: #IAmTeamGB!

The first (and only) Witton Points Champions were crowned, with Kerry Elliott claiming her crown as Witton Queen, ahead of regulars Isabel Chadwick and Aimie Wormald, while who else but Anwar Khan secured the crown of Witton King, in a close-fought contest with Matthew Taylor and Bruce Elliott. Certificates were handed out to a number of people who had made progress during the first year of parkrunning or helped make the event a success in its first year, while it was a very special event for returning volunteer (and Anwar’s favourite!) Janet Davies, who joined us for the first time in 17 events to finally earn her purple t-shirt for 25 volunteering days! It was speedy one too, with the top 5 all home in under 20 minutes!

Janet, Anwar, Kerry

A special day for Janet Davies, who earned her purple volunteering t-shirt, while Kerry Elliott and Anwar Khan were crowed Witton Points Champions – the only ones before the competition ended!


Event #95 took place on August 26th, 2017 and was momentous for several reasons. First, it was our first birthday to take place on the Reverse Beast course, something which has now become traditional and actually means that the bank holiday weekend is one of the few occasions in the calendar year that Witton has held events on three different courses – our original course, our Beast replacement and our Reverse Beast! We welcomed 171 parkrunners, our highest total for a birthday parkrun to date and our 9th highest total ever, while for the first time another Witton tradition was born, as we were serenaded by the Slater Family Band, kindly provided by Witton 100 Club member Irene Slater, comprising daughter Clara on saxophone, hubby Richard on guitar and friend Steve on keyboard – Steve’s blind to boot! They have become a staple part of our birthday celebrations and I know regulars and tourists alike are surprised and delighted at their presence if they happen to come for our birthday! Michelle created special keyrings to mark our 2nd anniversary, carrying the epithet ‘I ran the Beast…and I survived!’ – do you possess one? I know we have some rattling around somewhere…

Keyring, SFB

These keepsake keyrings of our second birthday came in a few different colours I seem to remember, while the Slater Family Band have become a staple part of any Witton celebration, for which we are very grateful!

Onto the running, and it was a trio of 50s to mark our second birthday. Witton regular Bernie Johnson earned his red 50 t-shirt, having run a whopping 45 of his 50 with us at Witton! Bernie’s injury woes have been well documented in these pages, but alas he is more often seen volunteering these days, currently marooned on 79 Wittons and 92 parkruns total. We also welcomed two new members of the Witton 50 Club, my mum, Lynda Vernon and Darwen Dasher Vicky Spencer, who became the 15th and 16th members to join, bringing the total to 9 men and 7 women!

Bernie, Vicky, Mum

Bernie looks tired at the end of his 50th parkrun, while Vicky completes her 50th Witton parkrun as did mum, Lynda – seen here approaching Tattersall Corner in the wrong direction!


Event #140 took place on August 25th, 2018 as we celebrated our 3rd birthday with our second Reverse Beast parkrun! Blackburn Road Runner Lizzie Watton celebrated her 50th parkrun with us that day, becoming the 60th person to earn that t-shirt during Witton’s 3-year existence, while young Lewis Sinkinson walked around with dad Michael and step mum Sharon to complete his 10th parkrun and earn his white milestone t-shirt, only available to juniors! Michelle took great delight in the appearance of Adam and Carol Bull, our parkrun tourists for the day, who were each completing their 378th parkruns, putting them ahead of regular visitor Barry Shackleton in the most runs seen at Witton stakes – Barry would be back on top by Christmas though! We collected for Blackburn Foodbank to celebrate our birthday, with the numbers to be revealed next week!

Lizzie, Bulls, Lewis

Lizzie Watton ran her 50th parkrun that day, while Michelle made the acquaintance of the uber-parkrunning Adam and Carol Bull, while young Lewis Sinkinson earned his white junior t-shirt!


Event #183 took place on August 24th, 2019. For the first time, the bank holiday didn’t see our birthday event, due in part to Michelle being the organiser for the Blackburn Flower Show that same weekend, requiring her to hot foot it across town after helping set the parkrun up, but also because even the parkrun wiki page recognised our birthday to be the ‘last Saturday in August’ and 2019 was unusual in that the last Saturday was not the bank holiday, but a week later on August 31st! In any case, it was a noteworthy event in many ways. Annika Halsall run directed for what would turn out to be, for now at least, the last time, having done so on 12 occasions in total, while we had milestones galore with a t-shirt, 2 different Witton club entries and a third around the corner! Peter Craine ran his 50th parkrun to earn his red milestone t-shirt, with 33 of his parkruns coming with us at Witton since making his debut at Event #51 just after our first birthday. Little Liam Bennison became the 46th member of the Witton 50 Club, evening up the numbers of men and women at 23 apiece – he has run 67 Wittons now to date! Meanwhile, Tony Duckworth joined the next level up, the Witton 100 Club, becoming its 10th member and likewise became the 5th man alongside 5 ladies to be in that particular club. Even higher in the stratosphere, there were big movements at the very top of the Witton Club, with Anwar missing and myself running putting me in pole position to be the first member of the Witton 150 Club, as I ran my 149th Witton parkrun, one clear of Anwar – it later transpired that Anwar had slept through his alarm – doh!

Peter C

Peter Craine has become a familiar figure at Witton and earned his red t-shirt a year ago!

What a wonderful 5 years we’ve had – or 4 years and 6 months I suppose! Looking back at all these pictures from past birthdays makes me smile and makes me wonder what we’d have done for our 5th birthday. Perhaps we’ll have to make a big fuss of our 6th birthday instead, assuming things are back to some sort of normality by then – let’s hope so.

In the meantime, I’ll be back next week with some more parkrunniversaries and more memories of Wittons past, including our 4th birthday from 12 months ago!

Have a good week, especially those of you – teachers and pupils – returning to school!

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


I finish our second birthday – with a reverse t-shirt for the Reverse Beast!



A week of contrasting emotions in the local community, with the news that Darwen and parts of Blackburn can return to the same stage as the rest of England with the lifting of the enhanced restrictions that were put in place due to the local spike in coronavirus cases. Nevertheless, other areas of Blackburn as well as parts of other local authorities, have seen their restrictions increase further, with bans on any kind of social interaction, although how this is policed is a very good question. Nationally, a lot of current discussion centres around the return of children to school, due to happen in just over a week’s time, amid frenzied questions and advice around bubbles and face masks and still no real consensus reached between the government, scientists, teachers and parents about the best way forward, although a level of normality and social interaction is undoubtedly immensely important to children of all ages and something to be encouraged, whilst safely balancing the risks to teachers and pupils and having plans in place should cases emerge.


Darwen and South Blackburn has seen restrictions relaxed in line with the rest of the country, but northern and central Blackburn has seen further restrictions put in place

From a sporting perspective, the World Snooker Final took place last weekend with a socially distanced crowd present and various pilot schemes are in place across different sporting arenas to look at when and how some spectators and fans will be able to return to watch live sport. There is lots of research being undertaken about what effect different distances have, and how things like shouting and singing affect transmission, which will all help us to better understand the risks posed by this virus in outside environments, which will also feed into parkrun’s own research, which I mentioned last week around transmission of the virus in outside environments. That work is still ongoing, with the results expected I think in a couple of weeks’ time and further to that, parkrun HQ are sounding cautiously optimistic about the reopening of some parkrun events in the world by the end of October. To stress, there is no date yet and there will be plenty of notice given, so don’t worry about missing an announcement, and my suspicion is that there are places in the world far more ready for parkrun than the UK right now, not to mention our location in the centre of a COVID-19 hotspot – all reasons to believe it may be a little while yet before parkrun returns to Blackburn, and that’s without predicting how things may develop over the upcoming Autumn and Winter months… You can read this week's update from parkrun HQ here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/08/25/covid-19-coronavirus-update-25-august/

Snowy parkrun

Will we get to parkrun in the snow this year? I have severe doubts, whether it snows or not…

Anyway, enough pessimism, time for some optimism and we’ve had some rare, actual, CURRENT parkrun news from Witton! Well, current-ish. Way back in March, at Event #211 – our last parkrun before lockdown – one of our regular, young volunteers, Scott Dingle, completed his 25th volunteering stint at Witton, which earns him a purple t-shirt from parkrun HQ. Scott has learning difficulties and parkrun has really helped him integrate into a community outside of his usual comfort zone and I’m sure every Wittoner has benefitted from his shouts of encouragement alongside friend Charlotte Kit often at the top of the small hill. Scott has marshalled a total of 20 times at Witton, twice more handing out finish tokens and three times being one of our tail walkers, which completes his 25 roles. At the start of the month, we received an email from Scott’s mum Erica – with all the chaos that lockdown had brought, she hadn’t got around to submitting his t-shirt claim and the link had now shut down (as all parkrun t-shirt links now do after a set amount of time – I think it’s 6 weeks, so try to remember to claim them in the timeframe!), was there anything we could do to help? Michelle advised her to contact parkrun HQ direct, as they are usually very good at resetting expired links and then she could claim Scott’s t-shirt. Well, lo and behold, Erica did as asked and contacted us last week to thank Michelle for her advice and inform us that she had a very happy son: the 46th person to earn a purple t-shirt at Witton – congratulations, Scott!

Scott's purple

Scott’s now in possession of his well-earned purple t-shirt!

(not)parkrun – Week 10

A changeable week weather-wise saw plenty of wind, some heavy downpours of rain and the odd day of warm sunshine too. This week saw 18 (not)parkrunners record times at Witton, equalling our total from a fortnight ago, and between them, they recorded 21 (not)parkruns, equalling last week’s total! First to cross the line this week was Witton run director Dan HAMILTON in 22:15, recording the fastest time for the second time in three weeks. The Blackburn Road Runner was 2 seconds faster than his time from 2 weeks ago but was still almost a minute off his (not)parkrun PB set in Week 2. He becomes the third person to record two first finishes at Witton (not)parkrun, following on from fellow Witton regulars Andrew Wisdom and Peter Nicholson – well done, Dan! Funnily enough, who should be second, but Blackburn Road Runner Andrew WISDOM in 23:54, a new (not)parkrun PB for Andrew, going under 24 minutes for the first time. And, just behind Andrew, was his fellow Witton 50 Club member, Peter NICHOLSON in 24:38, the seventh successive week Peter has recorded a Witton (not)parkrun time, which matches the longest streak so far set by Matt Chester – well done, Peter! Our three two-time (not)parkrun first finishers are this week’s top 3!

Dan, Peter, Andrew

This week’s top 3, Dan Hamilton, Andrew Wisdom and Peter Nicholson, have all been Witton (not)parkrun first finisher on two occasions!

First female this week comes next, in the form of Blackburn Road Runner Miriam HAMILTON in exactly 25 minutes. Witton 50 Club member Miriam has been first female on all 4 occasions she has recorded a (not)parkrun at Witton, eclipsing her fellow Road Runner Karen Rishton’s record of 3 first female finishes – well done, Miriam! Next up is another Witton 50 Club member, Robert CROMPTON, who finished in 27:41. Robert recorded two (not)parkruns this week, taking him to 10 in total, the third Wittoner and first man to hit double figures. Not far behind is Darwen Dasher Chris COOPER, who recorded 28:08 this week in the fastest of his two (not)parkruns, taking him to 8 in total, having only started 2 weeks ago!


Miriam has now been Witton (not)parkrun first female on more occasions than anyone else!

Next was Witton's most prolific (not)parkrunner, Blackburn Road Runner Kate Pomfret in 29:19. Witton 100 Club member Kate has recorded 17 (not)parkruns in total, running in 9 of the possible 10 weeks, the most of any Wittoner – well done, Kate! Yet another Blackburn Road Runner, our 5th in our top 8 finishers, comes next in the form of Cathy HATCH, who recorded 30:35 this week in her third week of (not)parkrunning. This was a new PB for Cathy, knocking 16 seconds off her time from last week and ensuring she has got quicker every week she has thus far recorded a time – great running, Cathy! Next is friend of Witton Cameron ASHTON who finished just slightly slower than Cathy in 30:37 in the fastest of his two (not)parkruns this week. This is the first time Cameron has recorded multiple (not)parkruns in a week and he has now recorded 7 in total over his 6 weeks of participation, including each of the last 4 – good to see you again, Cameron!


Cameron, pictured here with partner Janice Parker, has run 43 times at Witton since making his parkrun debut with us at Event #9 in October 2015!

Next comes junior Wittoner Alex MCKINLAY in 30:50. The Blackburn Harrier has recorded his third (not)parkrun time and for the first time recorded a time faster than his mum and sister, as following him were Blackburn Harrier Victoria MCKINLAY and her daughter and Alex’s sister Jenna MCKINLAY in 31:50. Just behind the McKinlays was a return for Blackburn Harrier Matthew CHESTER in 31:59. Matt recorded his first (not)parkrun in 3 weeks after returning from his summer holiday – good to have you back, Matt! He was followed by Brian FISHER of the Long Distance Walkers Association in 34:08. Brian has recorded (not)parkruns in 7 weeks out of the 10 possible, the joint-4th highest total among Wittoners, having only started parkrunning on Leap Day! He has run just twice so far, both at Witton, including at our final parkrun before lockdown rudely interrupted his budding parkrun career – we look forward to welcoming you back when it’s safe, Brian, and we’re pleased you’ve continued (not)parkrunning in our absence!


Incredibly, this picture of Vicky McKinlay and children Jenna and Alex is almost a year old now – they’re growing up fast!

Into the closing stages of this week’s crop, beginning with friend of Witton Isobel HOLLINGS, who recorded a time of 34:30 this week, her 5th week of (not)parkrunning and she was followed by Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON, who recorded 37:40 this week, a far more leisurely pace than we’ve been used to, Karen! Up next is Paul BOOTH of South East Lancs Orienteering Club in 38:11. Paul has recorded 6 (not)parkruns now and this week he recorded his fastest since our very first week, when he went nearly a minute faster – good job, Paul! Finally this week is last week’s (not)parkrun first timer, Tracy STAFFA, who recorded a time of 39:22. This was Tracy’s second (not)parkrun and she knocked over a minute-and-a-half off her time – great progress, Tracy! This week, Robert, Chris and Cameron were the only Wittoners to recorded multiple (not)parkruns with 2 each, while the McKinlays, Cathy and Tracy ran on Monday, Andrew and Paul ran on Tuesday, Chris’s fastest came on Wednesday, Peter ran on Thursday, Robert’s fastest was on Friday, with 6 more on Saturday and two on Sunday – Cameron’s fastest and Isobel. Well done to this week’s (not)parkrunners!

Paul B

Paul Booth is a regular Witton (not)parkrunner and ran his second-fastest time this week! 


After last week’s 7 parkrunniversaries, this week sees a more manageable 3 Wittoners celebrating the anniversary of their first parkrun, including one member of the Witton 100 Club and 2 people with a common surname – but no relation as far as I know!

First is Wayne HAWORTH, who ran his first parkrun on August 18th, 2018. Wayne has run 22 times at Witton parkrun, the most of any venue, but actually made his debut at nearby Burnley parkrun, running at Witton a week later for his second run. A regular visitor to both Witton and Burnley throughout late 2018 and most of 2019, Wayne hasn’t run a parkrun since visiting Witton for Event #189 in early October 2019. That was his 50th parkrun, earning his red milestone t-shirt, but we hope to see you back soon, Wayne, on your way to your black t-shirt for 100 parkruns! Happy 2nd parkrunniversary!


Wayne Haworth made his debut at Burnley parkrun but has run 22 times at Witton, most recently earning his red milestone t-shirt last October!

Next is Wayne’s namesake: Blackburn Road Runner Madeline HAWORTH, who ran her first parkrun on August 19th, 2017, making this her 3rd parkrunniversary! Madeline made her parkrun debut with us at Witton that day, and has now run 32 parkruns, with 22 of those coming at Witton. Madeline only ran twice during 2017, before returning to Witton for Event #123 in March 2018. Having previously usually only visited during the warmer months, between April and August, during the Autumn/Winter of 2019/20, Madeline was also seen regularly, before her progress towards her first milestone t-shirt was rudely interrupted by the lockdown, which came just after she ran at Hyndburn’s 117th event on March 14th, 2020. Hopefully, things settle down and we’ll be back soon, so Madeline can continue her parkrun progress – happy 3rd parkrunniversary!


Blackburn Road Runner Madeline Haworth made her debut at Witton’s Event #94 – which is where this picture is from. She has visited us 22 times in total now!

Finally to a regular Witton face, who made his parkrun debut just a week before parkrun came to Witton Park, on August 22nd, 2015 – I speak of Witton 100 Club member Peter TOOGOOD! Peter was one of the 273 people on the start line for the inaugural Witton parkrun on August 29th, 2015, but a week earlier made his parkrun debut at Sheffield Hallam parkrun in…well, Sheffield! Peter must have familial connections with Sheffield, as 5 of the only 10 parkruns he has done away from Witton Park have come in the city, with 4 runs in total at Sheffield Hallam and 1 run, in September 2018, at Hillsborough parkrun – some of the football fans amongst you may recognise Hillsborough as the name of the home ground of Sheffield Wednesday! Peter was a regular parkrunner right from the start, running 39 parkruns in his first year, with all but 3 of those coming at Witton. He was the 3rd member of the Witton 50 Club, achieving the feat in just 67 events, and was the 6th member of the Witton 100 Club, joining it at Event #160 in January last year. He is still 8th on the all-time Witton list of most events run, with 125 runs, most recently running at Event #210, our penultimate event before shutdown. Happy 5th parkrunniversary, Peter!

Peter T

Peter Toogood’ looks focused on his second parkrun - Witton's inaugural event – he has now run the 8th-highest number of Witton parkruns of anyone!

Further to Peter’s write-up, I should warn you, having discovered so myself, that if you go searching for Sheffield Hallam parkrun, you will soon discover that while the event still exists, it is no longer called Sheffield Hallam parkrun! As with so many things in the parkrun community, the event became too popular for the limitations of its course and this has required changes to be made. The course it still located in the same park, but with the new course comes a new name, Endcliffe parkrun, after Endcliffe Park, where the run takes place. As a direct continuation of Sheffield Hallam parkrun, all Peter’s runs there are now listed under the Endcliffe name, although this change has only come in this summer, in July to be exact, so no parkruns have yet taken place under the new moniker!

Sheffield Hallam

Sheffield Hallam parkrun is no more: the event is now known as Endcliffe!

This Week in Witton parkrun…


Event #47 took place on August 20th, 2016 and was a very quiet affair. The most notable thing that happened was that the Gebbie brothers took first and second place for the second time in Witton history (after Event #41 the previous month) but, importantly, this time it was younger brother Joe ahead of big brother Leo! Well done, Joe!

Gebbie bros

We didn’t grab a picture of the Gebbie brothers together at Event #47 but here they are from Event #41, when Leo (l) beat Joe (r) – 6 events later, Joe beat Leo! 


Event #94 on August 19th, 2017 was notable as part of the #teamparkrun weekend, which followed on from the success of ‘I am Team GB’ a year earlier. Although Witton was not visited by an Olympic or Paralympic hero, we still had good fun, with some promotional speech bubbles making for some original photos. On the Witton front, it was celebration time for Red Rose Road Runner Sarah Watkins, who ran her 100th parkrun that day. At the time, Sarah had only run 35 times at Witton, with 55 of her 100 parkruns coming at nearby Cuerden Valley, although Witton has firmly taken over as Sarah’s main parkrun home since then. Her last parkrun before lockdown was #200, and of those 97 have come at Witton, putting her just 3 short of joining the Witton 100 Club!

Team parkrun (1)

The #teamparkrun celebrations of Event #94 were a lot of fun and it was particularly special for Sarah Watkins (centre, with husband Jon Carberry) – she ran her 100th parkrun! 


Event #139 on August 18th, 2018 took place in mizzly conditions. The weather couldn’t spoil the day, however, as Witton celebrated a unique achievement in its 3-year history when Dorothy Myers crossed the line to finish her 50th parkrun, earning her red milestone t-shirt. What made Dorothy’s achievement even more notable than the 58 red t-shirts awarded before was that all of Dorothy’s 50 parkruns had come at Witton, the first person and, to date, only female to achieve this feat, becoming the 37th member of the Witton 50 Club. She is also, to date, the oldest female to run her 50th parkrun at Witton – but shush! We’ll have no talk of such matters here, eh, Dot?! Joining Dot in earning a t-shirt that day was Darwen Dasher Debbie Ashton, who volunteered for the 25th time, earning her purple volunteering t-shirt. All of Debbie’s 25 volunteering credits had come at Witton, with 6 credits as tail walker and 19 as a marshal, which is the role she fulfilled that day. Debbie has now volunteered a wonderful 60 times at Witton – thanks for all your help, Debbie!


Witton legend Dot earned her red t-shirt and entry to the Witton 50 Club at the same event!


Event #182 took place on August 17th, 2019 and saw a host of interesting nuggets plus another milestone t-shirt. First, a mention for first finisher Jack Lamb. The Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club runner became just the second JM11-14 to be Witton first finisher in the third fastest time ever seen at Witton by someone in that age category – fantastic achievement, Jack! Our latest milestone t-shirt was earned by Witton regular Tina Glover, who ran her 50th parkrun and became the 91st person to earn their red t-shirt at Witton. 32 of Tina’s 50 parkruns had come at Witton, including her first ever parkrun at Witton’s 100th event in October 2017! Some way in front of Tina was visitor to Witton Darren Ogden, who ran his 342nd parkrun that day, the 8th highest number ever seen at Witton at that time – believe it or not, Darren has dropped to 14th place in the year since (and we haven’t been running for 5 months!), so many parkrunners are now reaching such incredible numbers! Finally, Witton parkrun saw its 17000th finisher cross the line, a quite astonishing number, and the person writing their name into Witton folklore was recent regular Lisa Kit!


Tina Glover (in pink) earned her 50 t-shirt one year ago – 32 of them came with us at Witton!

So many lovely memories. Every week I do this and look back at all the things we’ve shared and the wonderful pictures of you lot taking on our beautiful course come sun, rain or snow, I am reminded how lucky we are to have this incredible, free resource every week, filled with so many great people to celebrate and enjoy it with. We will be able to do it again at some point, and I can’t wait to get back to Witton and start creating a whole new set of stories and memories with you all.

In the meantime, I’ll carry on looking back and celebrating what we can: your parkrunniversaries and your (not)parkrun prowess. Big week next week: it’s our birthday!!!

Have a wonderful week. We’re getting through this, together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


That’s supposed to be a smile I think, with my parkrun companion for the day!



Another week without parkrun, another week where Blackburn and many other parts of the North continue to lag behind the rest of the country as restrictions remain in place, with virus cases still uncomfortably high locally. It is hard to know exactly where the world stands in response to this virus. Countries like the United States and Brazil have huge infection rates as the virus runs rampant through the general population, while after early success in flattening the curve, infection rates in major European countries including Spain, France and Italy spike once more, as well as in Germany, which had successfully supressed the so-called ‘first wave’. The quarantine-free travel corridors which the government implemented last month have been rowed back, with travellers from Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands now required to quarantine for 14 days on return and more countries potentially to be added in the coming days and weeks. Australia, being the size it is, has several areas where normality has returned but in other areas cases are high, particularly the State of Victoria in Australia, where Stage 3 restrictions remain in place across the state, with metropolitan Melbourne in a Stage 4 lockdown. Meanwhile, after 102 days with no active COVID cases in the country, New Zealand has discovered a new outbreak centring around a family in the city of Auckland on North Island. In response, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reimposed Stage 3 restrictions on the city, closing schools and public spaces, while the rest of New Zealand has seen a reintroduction of moves such as social distancing, as the government seeks to get to grips with this latest outbreak.


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acted swiftly to reimpose lockdown restrictions in her country after a new outbreak was discovered in the city of Auckland, after over 100 COVID-free days in a row

Sadly, but entirely understandably, this has seen New Zealand’s return of parkrun paused after 6 consecutive weeks of events. This means that once more we are in a situation where no parkrun events are currently operating anywhere in the world, and it seems likely that this will be the case for at least the immediate term, as parkrun looks to put in place robust measures to allow its safe return, while also doing research into the specific risks outdoor activities pose, particularly when compared to enclosed, indoor environments. To this end, parkrun announced last week that it had commissioned Professor Mike Weed of Canterbury Christ Church University to investigate the existing evidence of the comparative risks for indoor and outdoor activities to help better inform both parkrun Global and the general parkrun community of what we actually know to ensure that nothing is done too early.

The response to the parkrun COVID Framework, which was published last week, has been largely positive, but this does not mean there have not been serious concerns raised and issues which need dealing with and this is why parkrun have issued this guidance well in advance of any dates being set for a return. At this moment in time, parkrun do not believe it is safe for parkrun to return to the UK, nor in any other country it operates in, but how this will change in the coming months is difficult to know, with it risky to look too far ahead in this ever-changing situation. Following on from last week’s publication of the Framework, this week’s info dump comes in the form of a collection of Frequently Asked Questions emanating from the Framework, alongside another discussion with parkrun Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams on the Free, Weekly, Timed podcast, which focused particularly on the 10 most common issues arising from the Framework. While I will not discuss every point raised here, I will highlight a few things that Wittoners may have been left wondering about around if and when parkrun may return.

Will parkruns only reopen when entire countries are deemed safe to do so?

This has been parkrun’s aim, to keep things simple. That is not to say that it is set in stone, particularly when considering the vast disparities between parts of Australia, where Victoria is in lockdown and Western Australia is experiencing normality. Likewise, the home nations are relaxing restrictions in slightly different ways, although whether this would impact parkrun by the time a parkrun is being considered is unknown, although parkruns in the Channel Islands and Falkland Islands, while administered through parkrun UK, would surely be in a position to restart ahead of events on the British Mainland, with infection virtually non-existent on those islands. So, to summarise, possibly, but not necessarily.

How will the decision be made to reopen?

The decision will be taken according to four factors: that doing so is not in contravention of government guidance, the risk of virus transmission at a parkrun (using a combination of the level of virus in the local community and the chance of an infected person passing the virus on at a parkrun event), a willingness among the parkrun community to return (monitored using survey data from randomly selected parkrunners each week) and finally with acceptance among the wider non-parkrun community (as parkrun does not want to damage successful working relationships, nor be seen to be irresponsible by other members of the general public who may be operating in the same public spaces). Only once all these factors are satisfied would a return for parkrun be considered in any given country or territory.

Who decides when to reopen and how?

This decision will be taken by the Trustees of parkrun Global, the global leadership team and the staff leadership of the country in question. Once the decision is made to reopen, all events within the designated area would be expected to reopen when instructed to do so – but once again, this is not likely to be in the coming weeks for most places and there is guaranteed to be at least a fortnight’s notice ahead of any restart date.

Who is purchasing hand sanitiser for parkrun events?

At this time, nobody, as the framework is still a work-in-progress and no parkrun events are scheduled to restart at this time. In the event that event teams need to purchase hand sanitiser to be used by parkrunners, details will be given as to the specifications this should meet and costs would be absorbed by the parkrun organisation, not individual event teams.

Will face masks and protective gloves be required?

At present, parkrun does not believe that evidence supports this being mandatory in non-clinical settings but each parkrunner is of course entitled to do so if it makes them feel more comfortable.

How can parkrun trace participants if there is an infection?

Parkrun has email addresses for around 94% of all parkrunners and in the event that an infected parkrunner tests positive after visiting a venue, parkrun will be notified by NHS Track and Trace as part of the current tracing process. Parkrun HQ can then email all affected parkrunners and the event team would be able to broadcast the information on their social media channels. Note: this would not, in most cases, be a ‘catch-all’, with unknown athletes not directly contactable, alongside the small proportion of participants who do not have genuine or up-to-date contact details. Nevertheless, parkrun believes the vast majority of parkrunners could be contacted in the event of a positive test, higher than current Test and Trace success rates, resulting in a low risk of community-wide transmission.

There are a huge number of other questions included on the FAQs available here: https://volunteer.parkrun.com/principles/open-with-covid-19-management-system-2 and more questions will be added as they come up, while an in-depth discussion of the thinking behind the decisions and the realities of the risks of parkrun returning or, indeed, not returning can be found on the Free, Weekly, Timed podcast here: http://www.freeweeklytimed.com/ Well worth a listen if you’ve got a free hour. Anyway, that’s the business out of the way, now onto the fun bits!

(not)parkrun – Week 9

A humid but largely dry week saw another healthy crop of Witton (not)parkrunners record times for a total of 16 (not)parkrunners and 21 times, both slightly down on last week’s 18 and 25 respectively. For only the second time in (not)parkrun’s brief history, we had a repeat first finisher, as Witton 50 Club member Peter NICHOLSON joined fellow regular Andrew Wisdom on two first finishes overall with a time this week of 24:32. This was Peter’s 6th consecutive week submitting a (not)parkrun time. Second this week was last week’s first finisher, Blackburn Road Runner and Witton Run Director Daniel HAMILTON in 25:09. This was somewhat slower than his time from last week, but perhaps this can be explained by third finisher being Witton 50 Club member Miriam HAMILTON, Daniel’s wife, in 25:11 – it appears this week the Hamiltons enjoyed a joint run, with Daniel encouraging Miriam to a time 8 seconds faster than last week. This meant Miriam matched her fellow Blackburn Road Runner Karen Rishton on 3 (not)parkrun first female finishes at Witton, the most of anyone.

Peter N 2

Witton regular Peter Nicholson was our (not)parkrun first finisher for the second time this week!

Behind Miriam, there was a return for Blackburn Road Runner Jeanette BARON in 26:16, her second (not)parkrun after making her debut 5 weeks ago – welcome back, Jeanette! Then comes Witton 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON, who recorded two (not)parkrun times this week, the fastest of which came on Thursday in 27:49. Tied with Robert was one of last week’s first timers, Darwen Dasher Chris COOPER who recorded no less than 4 (not)parkruns, the most of anyone so far in a single week at Witton, saving his fastest for Sunday and setting a new PB of 27:49, matching to the second Robert’s mark, the first time in (not)parkrun’s short Witton history that we’ve had a dead heat! 10 seconds further back was our third placed female, and it marked a Blackburn Road Runner clean sweep with Karen RISHTON recording a time of 27:59, her 11th (not)parkrun, the second-highest number recorded at Witton.

Karen R

Blackburn Road Runner Karen Rishton, pictured at her first ever parkrun back at Event #138 this week two years ago, has recorded the second-most (not)parkruns at Witton!

More Blackburn Road Runners followed: Kate POMFRET returned once more, recording a time for the 8th week out of 9, this week of 30:25 as she racked up her 16th (not)parkrun overall with 2 more this week. Just behind her was Cathy HATCH in 30:51, returning for a second successive week having made her debut last week and meaning that our first five females were all Blackburn Road Runners! Then, we had friend of Witton Cameron ASHTON in 31:53 and Brian FISHER of the Long Distance Walkers Association in 31:57, recording a new PB as he went sub-32 minutes for the first time on his 6th (not)parkrun – well done, Brian!


Witton 100 Club member Kate Pomfret holds the current Witton record for most (not)parkruns with 16!

Witton 100 Club member Ian GOODLIFFE recorded another time this week, this time of 40:47, recording a time for a 7th week, the joint-second most in Witton (not)parkrun history and then came one of our two first timers this week, Tracy STAFFA in 40:59. Tracy has previously recorded 4 parkruns overall, including 3 at Witton but has not run a parkrun since Witton Event #22 in February 2016 – we hope to see you back when we return Tracy and welcome to the Witton (not)parkrun family!

Tracy S

Tracy Staffa ran her first (not)parkrun with Witton this week – this is a photo of her from the most recent of her three visits to Witton parkrun thus far, Event #22 in February 2016 – come back soon, Tracy!

Tracy’s followed by another Witton (not)parkrun regular, South East Lancs Orienteering Club’s Paul BOOTH, who recorded a time of 41:48 this week, his 5th (not)parkrun overall. Finally, we have two Witton legends, core team member Diane HARRISON-LEEMING and 100 Club member Suzanne FERRANDINO, who both recorded their times on Tuesday, Diane of 55:45 and Suzanne of 55:50, having clearly enjoyed a socially distanced jog-and-talk! Diane was recording her second (not)parkrun time, after making her debut way back in Week 2, while Suzanne was our second (not)parkrun debutant this week – well done, ladies! This week saw Kate and Robert run twice and Chris run 4 times as mentioned, while Tracy ran on Monday, Diane and Suzanne on Tuesday, Paul on Wednesday, Kate and Robert’s fastest both came on Thursday, the same day Jeanette ran, with the remainder coming on Saturday, apart from Chris, who’s fastest time came on Sunday, as did Cameron’s run. Well done to our (not)parkrunners this week!

Diane and Suzanne

A common sight at Witton parkrun: Witton 100 Club members Diane Harrison-Leeming and Suzanne Ferrandino enjoying their parkrun together – it seems this has translated into their (not)parkrunning now, too


Having alluded to 5 parkunniversaries this week, it turns out counting is another thing that has fallen by the wayside during lockdown, as there are no less than 7 (SEVEN) people celebrating the anniversary of their first parkrun from the Witton family this week!! Best get cracking then! First up is friend of Witton, Darwen Dasher Sophie ATHERTON, who ran her first parkrun on August 9th, 2014, making this her 6th parkrunniversary. Naturally, Witton was still a year away from beginning, so Sophie made her debut at nearby Cuerden Valley parkrun in Preston. She made her Witton debut at Event #7 in October 2015, her 7th parkrun overall and Sophie has now run 26 times at Witton and 88 parkruns in total – happy parkrunniversary, Sophie!

Sophie A

Sophie finishes her first Witton parkrun, Event #7, which was also her 7th parkrun in total: stepfather Barry follows behind!

Our next parkrunniversaries go even further back and cannot be separated from each other: on August 11th, husband and wife Jon CARBERRY and Sarah WATKINS celebrated their 8th parkrunniversary, having debuted at Burnley parkrun way back in 2012! Having run 5 times at Burnley between their debuts and January 2013, the Red Rose Road Runners moved on to Cuerden Valley parkrun, which had started in summer 2013 and after running there for 2 years, in summer 2015 they were present at the inaugural Witton parkrun in August 2015, just over 3 years after making their parkrun debuts, with Jon running his 60th parkrun that day and Sarah her 47th. Witton soon became their new parkrun home and now Jon lies just one run shy of joining his wife in the Witton 100 Club. Happy parkrunniversary guys!

Jon and Sarah 2

Jon Carberry and Sarah Watkins were already experienced parkrunners by the time they arrived for Witton’s inaugural: here they are, with Jon striking a familiar pose, and they’ve since made Witton their parkrunning home!

Next up are two people who debuted at Witton on the same day and have run the majority of their parkruns with us. First, Paul JEFFRIES, who ran his first parkrun on August 11th, 2018, at Witton Event #138. Paul is a member of Blackburn Harriers running club and has run a total of 33 parkruns overall, with 24 of those coming at Witton. Joining Paul at the first timers briefing at Event #138 was Blackburn Road Runner Karen RISHTON, who also celebrates her parkrunniversary this week. Karen has visited Witton slightly more often than Paul, with 26 runs with us to her name, and is now on 42 parkruns in total, closing in on her red milestone t-shirt, including running with us on the past 2 Christmas Days too. Happy 2nd parkrunniversaries!

Paul J

Blackburn Harrier Paul Jeffries (in black) looks strong on his first visit to Witton for Event #138 two years ago this week!

August 13th is our final parkrunniversary day for two parkrunners 5 years apart. First is Darwen Dasher Jamie DOWDALL, who made his parkrun debut at Bolton parkrun all the way back in 2011! Jamie had already run 28 parkruns by the time Witton began in 2015 and his first visit to Witton parkrun was for Event #4 in September. Jamie has now completed 46 Witton parkruns and 86 in total – happy 9th parkrunniversary, Jamie! 5 years after Jamie, in 2016, at Edinburgh parkrun in Scotland, a Witton 50 Club member made his parkrun debut a month before he followed it up with a visit to Witton: I speak of this week’s (not)parkrun first finisher, Peter NICHOLSON! Peter experienced parkrun a year earlier, visiting family, but took part for the first time in 2016 and having broken his duck he soon joined us at Witton and was hooked! He has now run 136 parkruns in total and 98 of those have come at Witton, joining one of our other parkrunniversary celebrators this week, Jon Carberry, on the fringes of the Witton 100 Club. Happy 4th parkrunniversary, Peter!

Jamie and Peter

While Jamie Dowdall (left, in gold) and Peter Nicholson share a parkrunniversary, their first parkruns came 5 years apart, with Jamie’s first coming 9 years ago! They both look focused as they complete their first runs at Witton though: Jamie at Event #4 and Peter at Event #50!

This Week in Witton parkrun…


For the first time during this look-back at Witton’s history, there is no record for 2016 as it was one of just 6 occasions during our first year when Witton was cancelled, and the first time since the start of February 2016! How times have changed in recent years.


Event #93 took place on August 12th, 2017 and saw a number of notable milestones. Witton 50 Club member Justin Collighan was first finisher for the first time ever on his 52nd visit to Witton, while fellow 50 Club member (and this week’s man of the moment, with a mention in all 3 sections!) Peter Nicholson celebrated his 60th birthday by running his 40th parkrun, where, serendipitously, he finished…40th! Following the previous week’s successful trial run, the Reverse Beast was confirmed for its first official outing at our birthday parkrun, while on the Tuesday after parkrun (August 15th), Witton was visited by Paul Muldoon and his friend, John Halliwell, who together were intending to run all 50 North West parkrun courses in just 6 days to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. They were guided around the Witton course by Bryan Searby, while the Vernons and Michelle provided some vocal support! Full details of Paul’s epic voyage can be found here: https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2017/08/07/50-parkruns-in-six-days/ while parkrun's continued growth means Paul’s challenge would now require him to run a further 14 parkrun courses that have opened in the intervening years!

Three supporters, two runners and a guide

Paul Muldoon (blue) and John Halliwell (black) visited Witton on their trek around all the North West parkruns three years ago this week. Guided round by Witton Run Director Bryan Searby, they were supported from the sidelines by the Vernons and Michelle Searby (presumably taking the picture!)


Event #138 on August 11th, 2018 was a parkrun I missed due to holiday adventures, but it was notable for two Witton visitors that day who between them had only 9 Witton runs to their names, although one of them had a good reason for not doing more and now has plenty more on his record! First, John Dey ran his 50th parkrun, but only his second at Witton, having recently returned to the country from South Africa, where his first 48 parkruns had taken place. He first joined us at Witton at Event #132 in June and returned two months later to earn his red t-shirt and has now run 22 times at Witton and is on 85 total parkruns, closing in on his next milestone t-shirt. He’s also joined the Blackburn Road Runners running club! John was joined by Catherine Oakes, who also earned her red t-shirt on her 50th parkrun too, the 58th person to do so at Witton. Catherine had run 7 of her 50 parkruns at Witton, having made her debut at Event #30 in April 2016, which was her 31st parkrun overall. Catherine has run 79 parkruns now, with Bolton her preferred venue with 36 runs, while she has only visited Witton once more since that day, for Event #169 in March 2019 – I wonder if we’ll see her again for her 100th parkrun?!

John and Catherine

Red t-shirts for two relatively inexperienced Wittoners at the time: John Dey, who had just moved from South Africa and was completing his second run at Witton and Catherine Oakes, who was running with us for the 7th time. While Catherine is pictured at Event #138, John evaded the cameras that day and is pictured at a later event!


Event #181 took place on August 10th, 2019 in untypical August weather, with parkrunners waking up to it tipping it down and though the rain abated for parkrun, the ground was still very soggy and the downpours returned as we made our ways home. The difficult conditions, which included a continued diversion in the final avenue of trees due to the mud, saw just 2 personal bests earned on the day, the joint-lowest total since Event #73 in March 2017. The lucky two were Andrew Simmons and Red Rose Road Runner Michael Hogarth! No running milestone t-shirts were awarded, but we did hand out our 40th purple t-shirt for 25 volunteering days to Witton 100 Club member Irene Slater, who marshalled that day. Impressively, Irene had volunteered on 24 occasions in non-running capacities, which meant almost her entire t-shirt had been earned at the expense of running. Thanks, Irene!

Irene timing

In addition to being a member of the Witton 100 Club, Irene has also volunteered on 26 occasions, earning her purple t-shirt with 24 non-running roles out of 25, including this stint as timekeeper at Event #81!


A second appearance in these pages for 2015, just two weeks out from our first ever parkrun! This is because Michelle shared a Facebook post this week showing results from a test event held that weekend, when our original parkrun ambassador, Rowan Ardill, spent 4 hours on site taking the core team through the full parkrun experience, including a full parkrun demo with real parkrunners, real timing and scanning and real results processing, ready for the big day a few weeks later. Here, I produce those Witton parkrun pioneers, alongside a little information of their actual Witton parkrun history (and remember, these times are on the original, faster course):

  1. Zachary HOWE – 17:06 (Never run at Witton – 14 runs total, 11 at Bolton)
  2. Joseph HOWE – 18:17 (Never run at Witton – 30 runs total, 16 at South Manchester, 10 at Bolton)
  3. Christopher DAVIES – 18:24 (Blackburn Harriers, 3 runs at Witton, 5 runs total)
  4. Nicholas SMITH – 19:46 (Blackburn Harriers, 17 runs at Witton, 28 runs total)
  5. Garry R WILKINSON – 19:48 (Running4CF, 12 runs at Witton, 17 runs total)
  6. John CHAPLIN – 20:13 (Never run at Witton – 92 runs total, 79 at Lonehill in Johannesburg – Never officially run a UK parkrun!)
  7. Warren CROOK – 20:42 (Never run at Witton – 324 runs total, 290 at Preston)
  8. Barry ROSS – 20:44 (South Derbyshire Road Runners, 9 runs at Witton, 77 runs total)
  9. Amy-Nicola DAVIES – 21:49 (Blackburn Harriers, 10 runs total, all at Witton)
  10. Dexta THOMPSON – 22:10 (Blackburn Harriers, 1 run at Witton, 57 runs total)
  11. Rowan ARDILL – 22:43 (Ramsbottom Running Club, 2 runs at Witton, 182 runs total)
  12. Richard TAYLOR – 22:59 (Blackburn Harriers, 17 runs at Witton, 24 runs total)
  13. UNKNOWN – 23:03
  14. UNKNOWN – 23:08
  15. Paul WILSON – 23:09 (AGW Run Club, 2 runs at Witton, 45 runs total)
  16. UNKNOWN – 23:42
  17. Lee MOORE – 23:55 (Never run at Witton – 31 runs total, all at Burnley)
  18. James HICKIE – 24:11 (Never run at Witton – 10 runs total, all at Burnley)
  19. David SMITH – 24:28 (13 runs at Witton, 18 runs total)
  20. Susan WOLSTENHOLME – 24:41 (Blackburn Road Runners, 2 runs at Witton, 17 runs total)
  21. Liberty THOMPSON – 24:50 (Never run at Witton – 35 runs total, 32 at Burnley)
  22. Simon James MONK – 24:58 (Never run at Witton – 45 runs total, 25 at Preston)
  23. Ged JOHNSON – 25:37 (Blackburn Road Runners, 5 runs at Witton, 22 runs total)
  24. John CLUCAS – 25:52 (Blackburn Road Runners, 20 runs at Witton, 108 runs total)
  25. Elouise Sylkie PEMBERTON – 26:14 (Friend of Witton, Trawden AC, 31 runs at Witton, 83 runs total)
  26. Karen ATHERTON – 26:41 (Friend of Witton, better known as Karen SHACKLETON, Darwen Dashers, 31 runs at Witton, 400 runs total)
  27. Rowena DOHERTY – 27:33 (Blackburn Road Runners, 8 runs at Witton, 14 runs total)
  28. Noah CLARKSON – 28:13 (Darwen Dashers, 1 run at Witton, 16 runs total)
  29. UNKNOWN – 28:14
  30. Dean CLARKSON – 28:21 (Darwen Dashers, 4 runs at Witton, 30 runs total)
  31. UNKNOWN – 28:44
  32. Jane MATTHEWMAN – 29:13 (Blackburn Road Runners, 2 runs at Witton, 56 runs total)
  33. UNKNOWN – 29:51
  34. Thomas MONK – 30:07 (1 run at Witton, 59 runs total)
  35. Norman WALSH – 30:11 (Witton legend, Darwen Dashers, 70 runs at Witton, 135 runs total, much missed)
  36. UNKNOWN – 30:33
  37. UNKNOWN – 30:33
  38. UNKNOWN – 30:42
  39. Claire INCUTTI – 30:50 (Never run at Witton – 30 runs total, 15 at Preston)
  40. Joanne WEIR – 30:50 (Blackburn Road Runners, 2 runs at Witton, 86 runs total)
  41. Launa BIBBY – 31:03 (Darwen Dashers, 11 runs at Witton, 19 runs total)
  42. Viki WALSH – 31:09 (Friend of Witton, Darwen Dashers, 43 runs at Witton, 103 runs total)
  43. UNKNOWN – 31:19
  44. UNKNOWN – 31:20
  45. Ashley WEIR – 31:27 (Blackburn Road Runners, 3 runs at Witton, 82 runs total)
  46. Annika HALSALL – 31:55 (Former Witton core team member, Blackburn Road Runners, 33 runs at Witton, 66 parkruns total)
  47. Barbara MONK – 31:57 (1 run at Witton, 79 runs total)
  48. Catherine GARDENER – 31:59 (Blackburn Road Runners, 1 run at Witton, 10 runs total)
  49. Don CLARKSON – 32:01 (Now known as Don KUCZER-CLARKSON, Darwen Dashers, 16 runs at Witton, 100 runs total)
  50. UNKNOWN – 32:04
  51. Lisa MORAN – 32:13 (Friend of Witton, Darwen Dashers, 29 runs at Witton, 50 runs total)
  52. Nicola HALSALL – 32:33 (Friend of Witton, Blackburn Road Runners, 16 runs at Witton, 29 runs total)
  53. Samantha Claire CLARKSON – 32:43 (Darwen Dashers, 3 runs at Witton, 15 runs total)
  54. Vicky SPENCER – 33:36 (Witton 50 Club member, 88 runs at Witton, 188 runs total)
  55. Helen BOYLE – 33:46 (Never run at Witton, 13 runs total, 7 at Burnley)
  56. Andrew STEWART – 34:07 (30 runs at Witton, 32 runs total)
  57. Glynis HARGREAVES – 34:11 (4 runs total, all at Witton)
  58. Emma STEWART – 34:24 (Blackburn GroupRun, 4 runs at Witton, 5 runs total)
  59. Alan GARNETT – 35:11 (Darwen Dashers, 8 runs at Witton, 15 runs total)
  60. Suzanne LANG – 37:41 (Never run at Witton, 2 runs total, both at Bolton)
  61. Joanne MCLEAN – 44:41 (Friend of Witton, 6 runs total, all at Witton)
  62. Sally HUPFIELD-SMITH – 46:06 (Witton core team member, 49 runs at Witton, 67 runs total)


Elouise Sylkie Pemberton (in green) is a familiar face at Witton in both a running and volunteering capacity, but having run in our test event, it took her until Event #29 in April 2016 to finally visit us for real!

A healthy 62 runners recorded, with the traditional smattering of unknowns and a surprising number of people who are yet to visit Witton to record an official parkrun! Nevertheless, we thank them all for helping to get our parkrun up and running for the 4,406 people who have crossed the Witton finish line up to now, and hope they’ll visit us soon, once we’re back up and running, whenever that may be.

The world is very uncertain at the moment and who knows what comes next, but keep yourselves safe, look out for one another and don’t take any unnecessary risks.

We are getting through this, together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


The rarest of photos: I’m airborne!



A nicer week of weather than has been the case recently laid in stark focus the continued restrictions placed on our lives by the coronavirus pandemic, especially locally, where intentional contact with people from outside our household is to be limited to no more than 6 and in outdoor spaces, although pubs and restaurants remain open for visits with your household (I know, I don’t entirely understand it either). It’s a tricky time at the moment: speaking from personal experience, I do feel that what Scott Smith termed ‘lockdownitis’, on our weekly socially distanced walk on Sunday, has set in with little interaction beyond the immediate family, not seeing or holding my little niece in person in nearly 6 months and a lack of diversions in the form of cinema, Rovers, parkrun and work colleagues is starting to take its toll. It is important that we all take care of those closest to us, check in with each other and, where possible, meet up in a public space and have a change of scenery and conversation. From a parkrun perspective, as intimated last week, HQ have now released their draft framework for how a return to parkrun could occur, despite an underlying level of community transmission of COVID-19, which we appear set to have to live with until such time as effective contingency measures, such as treatments and vaccines, can be developed. Here, I present to you the main headlines from that framework.

parkrun COVID-19 Framework

parkrun intends to operate on three distinct levels for the foreseeable future: events operating as normal (pre-COVID, such as in New Zealand), events being cancelled due to the risk of COVID being too high and events open but operating under the new COVID-19 framework (where a level of community transmission exists, as in the UK and most of the world).

Under this COVID-19 framework, events will need to adapt their operating procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, while still trying to maintain the things that make parkrun unique. Arrival at parkrun events should be, wherever possible, through walking, cycling or private transport, without breaking local social distancing rules. Parkrunners are also encouraged to only attend their local event and not engage in unnecessary travel to other parkrun events. It goes without saying that anybody suspecting they may be carrying any of the COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, a new continuous cough or a change to their sense of taste or smell) then they MUST STAY AT HOME. This also goes for anybody currently diagnosed with the virus or in any of the various shielding or self-isolating groups.

Event volunteers will be required as normal and must also be symptom-free. Each volunteer should be assigned lanyards and hi-vis vests by a single point-person (usually at Witton, this is our volunteer-coordinator, Diane Harrison-Leeming anyway) whilst following social distancing guidelines. All volunteers must sanitise their hands upon arrival (sanitiser will be provided). Signs must be put out with a minimum of human contact (Witton has permanent signs around the course which helps in this regard) and participants, volunteers and spectators must socially distance within household groups during pre-event gathering. The first-timers briefing will take place as normal but should take no more than 2 minutes and be socially distanced throughout.

Regarding the start, start lines should maximise the available space for parkrunners (I would say Witton has one of the less-restrictive start lines that I am familiar with) and pre-run briefings should contain only essential information and be no more than 2 minutes in length. Participants should move to the start line at the last possible moment and start promptly to minimise time spent in close proximity to one another, with participants seeded according to relative speed, with faster runners at the front and slower runners towards the back, to allow smooth and unhampered setting off. Parkrunners can take their usual time to run, jog or walk the course and can overtake where necessary, but are discouraged from running in close proximity to others, instead they should make use of all available space and there should be no spitting anywhere on the course, nor high-fives or any other non-essential contact. As always, parkrunners should give way to other park users.

Finish areas should be as open as possible and wide enough to allow finish tokens to be handed out without crowding and so social distancing can be maintained (less of an issue for Witton than some larger venues) and there should be sufficient finish token volunteers to maintain a steady flow of movement through the finish funnel and avoid bunching. Scanners should be placed away from the finish funnel (as is usual anyway at Witton) and there should be sufficient scanners to avoid queues forming (parkrun recommends one scanner per 50 participants, so this may require more volunteers at Witton, although our regular scanners are quite speedy!) Scanning must be done at a distance, with runners holding both their finish token and personal barcode to be scanned before depositing their finish tokens in a pre-determined receptacle or bucket after they’ve been scanned. For both scanning and timing, parkrun wants this to be done through the parkrun Virtual Volunteer app, rather than using the stopwatches and scanners as normal, but this will require the relevant volunteers to download the app to their personal devices for use.

Virtual Volunteer App

I profess to some apprehension at the idea of using the Virtual Volunteer app, but it may be something we have to get used to (it can be used for both timing and scanning at a moment’s notice) – but given the youth of some of our core volunteers, maybe they’ll prefer it!

Between events, all finish tokens will be washed weekly, volunteer bibs and lanyards should be returned with little human contact and washed between events, there should be no non-essential presentations or gatherings before, during or after events and all participants, volunteers and spectators are required to follow social distancing measures at all times. The under-11s rule will be more important than ever before, with parents responsible for ensuring their children are following the relevant social distancing rules. While the framework has been published, I must stress that this does not mean parkrun will be back in a week or two. First, they are encouraging feedback if anybody has any concerns or thoughts and parkrunners will receive emails well in advance of a potential restart date. Parkrun HQ can not possibly make the risk 0% but these measures go a long way to mitigating many of the most troublesome aspects from a transmission perspective and, by the time parkrun does return, one would hope that transmission would be low enough to be less of a concern. You can read the entire framework, which contains information around the transmission risks and more logistical information for how some of these measures will be enacted here: https://volunteer.parkrun.com/principles/open-with-covid-19-management-system, while the discussion of some of the main points around the framework with parkrun’s Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams is available in this week’s Free, Weekly, Timed podcast, available here: http://www.freeweeklytimed.com/

(not)parkrun – Week 8

Another week of mostly dry weather tempted lots of you out to record (not)parkrun times this week: 18 (not)parkrunners running a total of 25 (not)parkruns, just slightly under our records of 21 and 27 from Week 2. First to “cross the line” was returning Witton Run Director Daniel HAMILTON in 22:17. This was Dan’s second (not)parkrun and comes 6 weeks after his debut in Week 2. Second place went to Witton 50 Club member Peter NICHOLSON in 24:19, a fourth successive second place for Peter and just 4 seconds off his (not)parkrun PB. Third place went to Witton 50 Club member Andrew WISDOM in 24:25, the fastest of his two (not)parkruns this week.


Blackburn Road Runner Dan Hamilton earned a first (not)parkrun first finish this week!

Two ladies from the Blackburn Road Runners up next: first, Witton 50 Club member Miriam HAMILTON in 25:18, the second time she was been Witton (not)parkrun first female, followed by Witton regular Karen RISHTON in 26:33, submitting a (not)parkrun time for the 5th consecutive week. Then, there’s Witton 50 Club member Robert CROMPTON, who this week submitted a time of 28:12, the 4th week overall he has recorded a (not)parkrun.

Adam and Miriam

Dan’s wife, Miriam Hamilton, was first female for the second time this week!

Next is one of two Witton (not)parkrun first timers this week, Darwen Dasher Chris COOPER in exactly 29 minutes, one of two (not)parkrun times he submitted this week. He was followed by Witton’s most prolific (not)parkrunner, 100 Club member Kate POMFRET in exactly 30 minutes, one of three (not)parkruns she recorded this week and then came another frequent (not)parkrunner, Cameron ASHTON in 30:33, the third consecutive week he has recorded a time.


Chris Cooper recorded his first (not)parkrun at Witton this week – he’s run with us 15 times and volunteered 18 times!

Next up was a return for the MCKINLAY family, mum Vicky, son Alex and daughter Jenna, who all recorded a time of 31:28 this week, then there was Brian FISHER of the Long Distance Walkers Association in 32:52, the fifth time Brian has recorded a (not)parkrun time, and then came our other Witton (not)parkrun first timer this week, Blackburn Road Runner Cathy HATCH in 33:38. Cathy ran 3 (not)parkruns this week, immediately vaulting her into the top 20 for most (not)parkruns done by a Wittoner.


A rare shot of Cathy Hatch, our other (not)parkrun first timer – she’s run at Witton on 22 occasions!

Then there’s Isobel HOLLINGS, recording a fourth (not)parkrun time and second in successive weeks, this time a 33:45, then come our two well-known Ians: Mr Brodrick in 36:04 and Papa G, Mr Goodliffe, in 37:14, his 8th (not)parkrun time over 6 weeks, putting him on the third highest number of (not)parkruns completed by a Wittoner. Last, but certainly not least, came Paul BOOTH of South East Lancs Orienteering Club, recording a time for a 4th week in total and second in a row, this time a 46:52, nearly a minute and a half quicker than last week – great work, Paul! This week, Andrew, Robert and Chris ran twice and Kate and Cathy ran 3 times, while Kate and Karen ran on Monday, Paul on Tuesday, Andrew and Cathy on Wednesday, Chris and Peter on Thursday, Robert on Friday and the rest on Saturday, with Cameron and Isobel finishing the week on Sunday. For the second successive week, we had no new (not)parkrun PBs, although some came very close, and Matt Chester’s record of running a (not)parkrun in every available week came to an end due to going on holiday: he is now level with fellow Blackburn Road Runner Kate Pomfret on 7 weeks out of a possible 8. Well done all our (not)parkrunners this week!

Isobel 3

Isobel Hollings has run at Witton on 17 occasions and recorded her 4th (not)parkrun this week!


After 12 parkrunniversaries in the past fortnight, we have a barren week, with our next parkrunniversary coming on August 9th, just outside the range for this report, so next week! There’ll be 5 in total next week, so if you think your parkrunniversary is around the corner, make sure to check back next week!

This Week in Witton parkrun…


Event #46 took place on August 6th, 2016, and as mentioned last week, it was special Witton parkrun as we chose to #runforAndrew to pay tribute to Blackburn Road Runner Andrew Boardman, whose sudden death had been announced the previous week. The Blackburn Road Runners were out in force, and members of Andrew’s family joined us too, as well as many of the people who’d met him through the Couch to 5K programme. The event saw a Beast record at the time of 147 attendees, a record that would surpass our first birthday and stand until our second birthday just over a year later, a testament to the man himself. Fittingly, this was the only significant focus from Event #46.

Run for Andrew

The Blackburn Road Runners were out in force to celebrate the life of one of their own, while we were honoured by the presence of Andrew’s parents for our #runforAndrew at Event #46


Event #91 took place on August 5th, 2017 and saw a whole host of milestone t-shirts earned. Witton 100 Club member Pat Procter celebrated her (whisper it) 70th birthday, while young Amy-Nicola Davies finished as first female and, in the process, earned her white junior t-shirt on her 10th parkrun. Witton 50 Club member Julie Gaskell earned her purple milestone t-shirt for 25 volunteering days, earning her t-shirt by helping with the pre-event setup. Two Witton legends earned their black t-shirts that day too: Anwar Khan, who remains the person with the highest number of Witton credits to his name, and the much-missed Darwen Dashing legend that was Norman Walsh. Both had run the majority of their first 100 parkruns at Witton, with Anwar completing the course 78 times at that point and Norman 50 times, exactly half of his overall total. This, of course, meant that in addition to earning his black milestone t-shirt, Norman also became the 14th member of the Witton 50 Club, just being edged out by fellow Dasher Bruce Elliott, who also joined that day and crossed the line a little earlier. Anwar also became the first person to earn both their red and black t-shirts at Witton, earning his 100 shirt just a year and 2 weeks after his 50 t-shirt, which was mentioned a fortnight ago in these very pages! Finally, Darwen Running Group’s Aimie Wormald ran her 125th parkrun, putting her halfway towards her green milestone t-shirt for 250 runs completed. At the time she was in pole position to be the first Wittoner to reach this milestone, but two babies in the intervening 3 years has slowed this progress slightly – just 25 more to go, Aimie!

Pat's birthday

A big birthday parkrun for Witton 100 Club member Pat Procter three years ago!

Event #91 was also special as it took place just 12 or so hours after an evening test event of what we now call the Reverse Beast, an idea proposed for our second birthday at the end of the month. An astonishing 63 parkrunners came down on Friday night for this unusual opportunity to see what the Beast was like in reverse: would it be harder, more dangerous, faster? In the end, its difficulty was a matter of opinion (I thought it was slightly harder, with swift downhills and slow, long uphills, but other, such as Witton Run Director Sean Procter disagreed, saying he preferred the course in reverse and thought it would be faster in the long run!), it was still a tricky course but no more dangerous overall and there were only 3 times which beat parkrun PBs in the entire field! The evening was a complete success and a real show of the community that Witton parkrun had developed during its first two years. It even saw Dr Neil Tattersall take part, rather than marshal, with Tattersall Corner less of a hazard as a sharp right-hand uphill bend than in its usual format! Although not set in stone at that point, it seemed likely that Witton’s 2nd birthday would take place on the Reverse Beast at the end of the month!

Reverse Beast

The first test run of our Reverse Beast birthday route – note the different light for a Friday evening run rather than a Saturday morning!


Event #137 on August 4th, 2018 was a quiet affair, as is so often the case in August with summer holiday season in full swing – indeed, I was one of those missing on my jollies to North Wales, leaving Road Runner Gary Blackburn with the task of run reporter. The only significant milestone from the event was for Bernie Johnson, who earned his purple milestone t-shirt for his 25th volunteering stint, a small consolation during his injury woes as discussed last week. That particular week, he marshalled, as he had on 16 previous occasions, with 2 stints as timekeeper, 1 as barcode scanner, 1 as photographer, 1 helping with pre-event setup and 3 times helping with post-event close down completing his t-shirt haul.

Gary B

In my absence, Blackburn Road Runner Gary Blackburn ably stepped in to write the run report!


Event #180 on August 3rd 2019 saw a proper return to Witton after 5 cancellations in 6 weeks but this was not a straightforward return as heavy rain and the woodland festival which had caused our cancellation the previous week has seen the final avenue of trees incredibly churned up and impassable for runners who didn’t want to end up in mud up to their knees. Instead, Wittoners took a slightly more circuitous route back to the hill down to the finish, a route that would persist for a good few weeks, but has since been rendered unnecessary since the avenue of trees has been given a coating of tarmac due to the increased usage of the wood for events, with the added bonus of something firm underfoot for the Saturday parkrunner!

Churned up

The usual steps were out-of-bounds due to the churned up mud, meaning a slight detour to the finish!

Very little in the way of major milestones this week, which meant a look at the nearest new applicants to the Witton 50 and 100 Clubs – I mentioned 10 people within 5 runs of joining the Witton 50 Club, of which 6 have now done so (Ian Gaskell, Liam Bennison, Chris Worsley, Paul Gavin, Ian Clarkson and Jane Magee) while all 4 of the people in the 90s for Witton runs have since joined the Witton 100 Club (Tony Duckworth, Kate Pomfret, Ian Goodliffe and Julie Price). Meanwhile, the Witton 150 Club has been started, with Anwar Khan, myself and Scott Smith its first three inductees. We had just 14 volunteers during peak holiday season, our lowest Saturday total in 18 months, but happily things had improved considerably in the 8 months before lockdown. Things were so dire, Bryan began the run with both timers, but we were able to dragoon former Witton regular Kristina Barratt, who had visited to say hello with baby Allana! Finally, Rupert Stocks was on Michelle’s naughty list for running back for Gillian Malcolm before handing in his finishing token – she thought she’d lost #20!


No pictures from Event #180, but here’s a picture of emergency volunteer Kristina Barratt from her last run at Witton (Event #88, K-dog!!!) while Rupert Stocks (pictured at Event #163) has run at Witton on 17 occasions and this time last year got a stern talking to from Michelle for trying to (innocently) abscond with token #20!

Don’t mess with Michelle’s finishing tokens. That’s about it for this week’s entry, while a return to parkrun may seem a little closer, it may still be longer than we think, certainly locally, and it’s unlikely to be quite the same as it was before, at least for the short term. While we wait, we can all play our part in halting this virus and returning to some sort of normality by following the local guidance, only meeting up with people not from our household in open, public spaces, maintaining social distancing whenever possible and wearing a mask to protect others from our germs when in enclosed public spaces.

Have a great week, whatever you end up doing.

We are getting through this together.

Matthew Vernon #loveparkrun #loveWittonparkrun


A lovely picture of me and mum – from a time when we didn’t have to spend quite so much time together as is currently the case!



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


⇐ Newer Posts in Category