Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Volunteering at parkrun

On as many Saturday mornings as I can manage I join around 250 other people at one of my local parkruns. It's one of the best things since sliced bread if you ask me; a timed 5km run that's completely free thanks to a host of volunteers.

Over the past six years I've done 102 runs at 12 different locations across England (I'm yet to do a parkrun in Wales, Scotland or Ireland, or indeed one of the many that are springing up in other countries), and all thanks to the many people who don hi-viz come rain or shine and  make sure we're all safe. I can't quite believe I've been park running for that long, but there we have it. So I've done my fair share of running, so having reached my 100-run milestone and with the next milestone of 250 runs too far away to feel achievable, it's time to concentrate on giving something back. 

Prior to 2016 I volunteered 11 times across a variety of role including set up, marshal, finish tokens and barcode scanning. This year alone I've volunteered five times and in some new roles such as pacer and timekeeper, possibly the most nerve-wracking role there is! I enjoy donning my hi-viz just as much as my trainers, perhaps even more so, as I get to see all the action and cheer on every runner. 
Parkrun, as an organisation, now recognise the effort that volunteers put in by issuing them with their own milestone t-shirt after taking on 25 volunteer roles, in the same way as runners earn their t-shirts for 50, 100 and 250 runs. It's a great idea and although I'd do it for the love of it, I must admit it's a lovely touch. I can honestly say I don't have a favourite volunteer role, although pacing was a lot of fun. Even when the weather is shocking, wet, windy, cold, I still get out and do my bit. 
Every parkrun has an option for you to sign up to volunteer request emails and will have an email address that you can use to contact them and offer up your help. Please consider doing this even if you're not a runner, especially in holiday times when volunteers are often thin on the ground. It doesn't take up much of your day and you get o be part of something great. I ran my local parkrun last weekend, as it was their birthday event, but I've got my name down to volunteer for the next two weeks... role to be confirmed!

Have you volunteered at parkrun? Do you have a favourite role? Are you a runner who's never volunteered or a volunteer who's never run?

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