I am sure like many runners, I am proud to be a member of my local parkrun community in Lincoln. Going to parkrun has transformed my Saturday mornings, and I know many people say it – but what was life like before parkrun? However the huge success of my local parkrun, and indeed parkrun worldwide, is due to the dedicated volunteers who have helped create accessible, inclusive and friendly running events for communities to enjoy. It was not until I opted for my first turn as a volunteer that I was truly able to stand back and appreciate what an impact parkrun was having on so many people’s lives.
I like to write to encourage people to volunteer at parkrun so they too can see parkrun from the other side, and also appreciate even more the commitment given by some volunteers who are there week in, week out at parkrun events – they are the true core of parkrun. When I volunteer I always feel a little proud to be putting on my high viz vest, like I am doing my bit to make that run happen - which of course volunteers actually are!
The occasions I have volunteered have not impacted my own running or my love for trying to chase down my own parkrun PB. Often I have chosen to volunteer if I have a race the next day and want to rest my legs, whilst other times I have just simply wanted to help out. Recently I have also taken to running to parkrun, volunteering, and then running home. This way I still get any miles in I might have on a training plan, but can also help make parkrun happen.
I am now up to seven volunteer counts, not a huge amount but importantly enough to make difference. My volunteering has seen me handing out finish tokens, marshalling on course and scanning those precious barcodes; there is a role for everyone. Each time I have volunteered I have met someone new to chat to, or have been able to catch up with a familiar face. I have also never failed to be inspired by watching some of the performances from runners throughout the field, and there is nothing more I like than standing at the start and watching the crowd of runners huddled ready to go.
Volunteering at parkrun is simple. There are no prerequisites - just willingness and enthusiasm. It is not hard work, nor is it stressful; it is simply rewarding and fun! I encourage all parkrunners to have a turn - I will certainly be continuing to support Lincoln parkrun, and not just because I have my eye on the purple (my favourite colour) '25' volunteer milestone t-shirt!
I actually felt a little nervous beforehand, for two reasons. One - anything organised/official generally makes me feel nervous - it doesn't even have to be running related! But the fact that the run was timed, with a start and a finish etc. made me feel slightly nervous. If I was just heading out for a 5km run around the block I would have been completely fine! Two - I was anxious about my time. Being in marathon training has meant I have got used to running longer, slower runs. Even the weekly 5km run on my training plan I have been completing at a comfortable speed of about 25 minutes, whereas before I was pushing it down to around 23 minutes. So I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the fact it probably wouldn't be a PB run, which is something you would normally strive for in any other organised run.
To officially record your time parkrun requires you to register online which enables you to receive your own unique barcode. This is then scanned at the finish line to accurately record who you are and what position you finished. However, as I wasn't feeling that optimistic about my performance, I opted to just run the course and self time my run, rather than have it posted online! My time... 24.40, which if I am honest I was happy with as it was sub 25mins. I also was not quite expecting the number of runners at the start (it turned out to be a record attendance) so got a little stuck, as well as having to slow down briefly to exchange a few words with a couple of people I knew!
Overall I really enjoyed my first parkrun. The event has a lovely atmosphere and is wonderfully organised by the volunteers involved. Its a great way for those new to running to get started, gives more experienced runners an accessible platform to run a weekly timed event, and virtually caters for all those in between. I will definitely be running it again - and may even be brave enough to officially register my time on the next occasion!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...