I do not think anyone can argue with the fact that parkrun has to be one of the most successful community physical activity programmes that currently exists. The number of people who take part each week at events all over the UK, and in fact the world, clearly demonstrates this fact. What makes the events even more significant however is the fact that each is organised and led by an army of dedicated volunteers. All runners are encouraged to give back to parkrun by having a turn at volunteering instead of running; so this week I took my turn.
I have done a lot of volunteering in the past, in various forms, and so as I arrived at Boultham Park ready to support my local Lincoln parkrun I was not unfamiliar to donning a forever glamorous high viz vest. I actually felt quite proud to be putting it on, like I was doing my bit to make today's run happen - which of course I actually was! This was my first time volunteering and I was absolutely amazed to find out that one of the other parkrun volunteers was volunteering at his 100th event - what an achievement and such commitment!
As Boultham Park was descended on by runners, and the usual parkrun formalities took place I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't actually running - Converse and jeans probably would not have helped me toward a very good time anyway! I did not feel this way because I wanted to be running rather than volunteering, more so that even as a volunteer you can still very much enjoy the friendly, relaxed and welcoming vibe of parkrun. In fact as we waited for the 9am start, I stood and chatted to fellow runners about our recent marathon experiences like I would do any other week.
My role was to be responsible for finish tokens, and along with my friend we were required to hand one out to each finishing runner in the correct order. I liked this job as it meant I could watch the runners start and also clap them around the first lap of the three loop course, before assuming my position at the end of the finish funnel. It was the first time I have been able to stand back and watch parkrun and it was quite something seeing a seemingly never ending trail of runners weave its way around the park. The best part about being on finish token duty was that I was then able to congratulate every single runner as they finished. There was a manic rush of runners at one point, clearly a popular finishing time period, but together my friend and I survived!
I had a constant smile on my face as I passed runners their finish token, my smile reflecting runners' own pride as they finished, or sometimes as I sympathized with the slightly pained expression on certain faces! My friend and I handed out 372 finishing tokens, said 372 'well done' messages, and also received 372 thankful acknowledgements in return. Everyone recognises the important role volunteers play in making parkrun happen and this was clear to see.
Volunteering at parkrun is simple. There are no prerequisites - just willingness and enthusiasm! Its not hard work, nor is it stressful; it is simply rewarding and fun! I encourage you all to have a turn - I will certainly be supporting Lincoln parkrun again, and not just because I have my eye on the purple (my favourite colour) '25' volunteer milestone t-shirt!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...