Volunteer Role #3 – Finish Tokens

The parkrun description of the finish tokens role is as follows:

"Finish tokens is responsible for ensuring that every runner is handed a finish position barcode, and that the tokens are handed out in the correct order. Finish tokens normally works at the opposite end of the finish funnel to the timekeeper. This is one of the higher pressure jobs in the finish area, and should be reserved for those with good finger dexterity and who are not easily flustered. At the smallest events, finish tokens may carry out the role by themselves, but once the event reaches a certain size, most events see the need for an additional finish token assistant who prepares stacks of tokens to hand over to the finish token distributor.

Every single person who crosses the finish line on their own two feet should be timed and handed a finish position token. Provided both the timekeeper and finish token distributor keep to this fundamental principle there should be no problems, and both will stay in sync. The rule of thumb for both finish tokens and timekeeper is to get somebody else (maybe the Funnel Manager or a Marshal) to make a note of potential issues that may need resolving later, but to not actually attempt to correct them in the finish funnel."

On the face of it handing out finish tokens sounds like the simplest of tasks available. Every event is issued with 309 finish tokens that have to be painstakingly popped out of plastic sheets and sorted. The reason that an odd number 309 tokens are issues is that this just happens to be the default number that can be printed on a certain number of sheets. In the early days of parkrun before barcodes were used finish tokens were just metal washers with a number stamped on them.

A parkrun Finish Token

PARKRUN_postiontoken

The person distributing finish tokens typically positions themselves in the middle of the finish funnel and hands out the next token to every runner who crosses the line. At busy times it may be necessary to move back down the funnel to ensure that there is room for finishers to actually cross the finish line. At Aberdare parkrun we sort our tokens in batches of twenty and we do this to keep the funnel moving. Prior to the run the Run Director will check that the finish tokens on the laces are sorted in the correct order. However in the time before the first finisher arrives it is wise to check through the tokens to make sure that they are in order and that none are missing.

As each runner crosses the line they should be given the next token from the pile. As a small event we might not use a funnel manager so you should try to make sure that as runners cross the line they remain in position order and they should be given the correct token. Runners will then take their token to the barcode scanner who will register them and place their finish token on a board at the scanning area. It is the responsibility of the finish token distributor to sort the tokens after the run and put them back in the correct order. If any are missing this should be highlighted to the Run Director. Some events use a volunteer specifically for sorting the tokens after the run.

As finish token distributor you are our first line of defense against some potential results processing problems. One of the things to look out for is the dreaded "funnel ducker". A "funnel ducker" is someone who crosses the finish line and then removes themselves from the finish funnel before they have been given a token. This is something that happens more often than you might think. Even though parkrun is not a race some athletes can get very precious about their stats so if someone has put in a poor performance they may not want it to be recorded. However leaving the funnel without taking a token means that the times on the stopwatch goes out of sync with the finish tokens. If you see someone leaving the funnel without a token or if someone refuses to take a token you need to pocket the relevant finish token to ensure that the times stay in order. If is bad parkrun etiquette to leave the funnel without a finish token. It can cause huge problems. If you don't want your time to be recorded take a token and just hand it back without having your athlete barcode scanned. Periodically the Run Director will ask you what the next token number you have is. The RD will then check this against the number of finishers recorded on the stopwatch to ensure that things are still in sync. The next token that you have should always be one higher than the number of finishers recorded on the watches.

Apart from "funnel duckers" there are a few other things to be aware of. If you are removing smaller stacks of tokens it is important that you are using them in order. This obviously causes huge problems in result processing. In wet weather try to keep the tokens dry. When they get wet they have a tendency to stick together and it is possible to inadvertently hand out more than one token to a single finisher. If you drop a stack of tokens and you do not have time to pick them up and re-order them don't panic. Leave them and just hand out the next token from the pile but note the number and notify the Run Director as soon as you can. It is easier to handle a known block of numbers than to sort out finish tokens that have been given out of order.

One of the advantages of handing out finish tokens is that you get to interact with everyone who finishes. Try to congratulate them on their run and give them plenty of encouragement. What you will notice is that whatever finish position people come in they will most likely have all pushed themselves to the limit whether they are a sub twenty minute finisher or someone who has taken a lot longer.

If you would like to volunteer as timekeeper in the future please get in touch with our team at aberdarehelpers@parkrun.com

Inspired by the queen elizabeth parkrun ( http://www.parkrun.org.uk/queenelizabeth )

 

Volunteer Role #2 – Timekeeper

The parkrun description of the timekeepers role is as follows:

"The Timekeeper is responsible for ensuring that the finishing time for every runner is recorded as they cross the line. This is one of the higher pressure jobs in the finish area, and should be reserved for those who are not easily flustered. parkrun uses a variety of timing devices, and it is important that the Timekeeper is familiar with the particular device in use at their event."

Timekeeper is the volunteer role that many parkrunners fear the most. There is no reason to, it is very simple and we work with two timing devices. If there is a problem with one stopwatch we always have a backup. Some parkruns have a timekeeper and a backup timer but at Aberdare parkrun, we give both our timers equal responsibility.

There are a couple of different timing devices used in parkrun events. At events with less than five hundred participants the most common timing device is the JUNSD stopwatch. At Aberdare parkrun we operate two JUNSD timers. These are battery operated devices that take CR2032 batteries.

The JUNSD Stopwatch

PARKRUN_JUNSD001PARKRUN_JUNSD002

The Run Director will ensure that the batteries are ok and that the stopwatch is cleared before they hand it over to you. You will also be given a full demonstration of how the device is operated. There are only two buttons that you need to use as a timekeeper. These are the ones marked A and B in the diagram above. The D button is also useful as you can toggle through the different operating modes. This can be used as a way of preventing accidental button clicks before the start or whilst waiting for the first finisher to arrive at the finish. The secret of a successful event though is to keep things simple so I won't go into full details here.

When it is time for the event to start typically the Run Director will check with both timekeepers that they are ready and that their device is still in the correct operating mode. When the signal is given to start the timer presses button A once. The watch then starts and you can relax for the next fifteen minutes at least.

When the first finisher comes into view it is time for action. Our two timers position themselves on opposite sides of the finish funnel. When each runner crosses the line (on their own two feet) the timer presses button B. This will then record the time for that finisher and it will show the number of finishers along with the time of the last finisher on the watch display. The Run Director will periodically ask the timekeepers for the number of finishers which they will then check against the number of tokens handed out. It is also good practice for the two timers to check with each other to make sure you have the same number of recorded times.

Aberdare parkrun is a small event and we only average around one hundred runners per week which is around half the number of runners that would cross the line per minute at the peak times at an event like Bushy parkrun so timing at Aberdare is a fairly relaxed role. Occasionally you will find a group of runners crossing the line together. The best way to handle this is you count the number in the group as they approach and then click the required number or times as they cross the line. We only give times to nearest second so this method works well at busy times.

If you make a mistake the most important thing is not to panic. Notify the Run Director as soon as possible who will then deal with the problem. We have a backup timer and at the end of the day it is a free event run by volunteers who are all doing their best. Probably the most common timing problem is missing a finisher. Cross checking the finisher numbers with the second timer and finish token person helps us to work out where any potential problems have occurred and it can usually be easily sorted out. The nemesis of the timekeeper is the "double crosser". This is a person who has already finished and been timed in who then goes back to run in with a friend or to do a warm down lap but then crosses the line a second time. As a timekeeper you cannot be expected to remember everyone who has already finished so just concentrate on clicking in everyone who crosses the line.

Timekeeping is a pressure job at parkrun and all the event participants need to be aware of this. Occasionally runners will cross the line and immediately ask what their time was. Don't feel compelled to answer concentrate on the job in hand. They will get their time in due course as will everyone else. It is poor parkrun etiquette to engage with a timekeeper whilst they are on the job. Distracting a timekeeper is likely to cause problems for everyone and should be avoided.

At the end of the run make sure that the tail runner is counted. They are still a runner in the event and their time counts. You can then stop the watch by pressing button A a second time. This is not essential as the Run Director will make sure the watches are stopped when they take the timer back from you. If you know of any possible problems in your timings let the Run Director know and they will then choose which watch to use as their primary timer.

Timekeeping is very interesting and satisfying job. It is certainly not the terrifying experience that many think it will be.

If you would like to volunteer as timekeeper in the future please get in touch with our team at aberdarehelpers@parkrun.com

Inspired by the queen elizabeth parkrun ( http://www.parkrun.org.uk/queenelizabeth )

 

Volunteer Roles #1 – Barcode Scanner

The parkrun description of the barcode scanning role is as follows:

"At smaller events there will only be one Barcode operator, but at larger events there may be several (Bushy parkrun, which averages about 700 runners, have four Barcode Operators). Once the parkrunners have left the Finish Funnel, they should queue up to have their Athlete Barcode and Finish Position Barcodes scanned (in that order). Each Barcode Operator will use one of our simple to use Barcode Scanners, with which they should have been familiarised before the runners start flowing through."

At Aberdare parkrun, we operate with two Opticon 2001 barcode scanners. This is a small hand held device that contains a re-chargeable battery that is charged via a USB connection in the base.

Opticon 2001 Barcode Scanner

PARKRUN_opticon

There are two buttons on the front of the scanner. The large one is the one that you will use for scanning at the end of the run. The smaller butting is used for re-setting and changing some of the sound modes. The Run Director will clear the device before they give it to you so you will only ever need to press the big button in the middle.

Whilst the Opticon 2001 is a robust device you should try and keep it dry and warm. So in the winter it is best to keep it in a pocket or inside a jacket when it is not being used.

The barcode scanner is best used out of direct sunshine in the shade. This means that you can easily see the red scanning beam and makes it far easier to know that finish tokens and athlete barcodes have scanned correctly. We do not usually have a problem with direct sunshine at Aberdare Park because of the geography of our course. Our finish area is nicely shaded by both the cafe and some wonderful foliage.

The scanning process consists of firstly scanning the athletes personal barcode followed by the barcode on the finish position token. It should always be done in that order. Typically the scanner works best when held at approximately six inches from the barcode and I always move the beam onto the barcode from below rather than trying to hit it directly. I find this is a better way of doing it as you see the beam moving on to the barcode before hearing the audible confirmation beep. If you point it directly sometimes you won't see the beam as it will beep immediately. If you miss the beep due to background noise or any other distractions you could end up thinking is has not scanned.

PARKRUN_barcodePARKRUN_postiontoken

At parkrun events we operate a strict no barcode no result policy. There are several types of barcode that you will encounter as a scanner. These are the traditional paper barcodes that many choose to laminate. There are also plastic credit card style codes, key fobs and wrist bands from parkrun's barcode supplier ERS. These are all acceptable forms of barcode. Barcodes presented on smart phone screens will not scan. We will attempt to scan barcodes printed on t-shirts but if they fail to scan we would expect the athlete to have a backup or it would be considered no barcode. One thing to be aware of is that key fob barcodes can often be confused with supermarket loyalty cards. There is one supermarket in particular whose loyalty card key fob is very similar to an official ERS barcode tag.

If an athlete has a barcode that will not scan they should be directed to either the manual recorder or the Run Director who will make a note of their position and athlete ID. If there are any queries they should be directed to the Run Director who will handle them. If an athlete barcode will not scan you do not need to scan the position token.

One of the advantages of the barcode scanner volunteer role is that it brings you into contact with every single athlete in the event. They also give you a barcode with their name on it so it a great way to meet new people and put names to faces.

If you would like to volunteer as barcode scanner in the future please get in touch with our team at aberdarehelpers@parkrun.com.

Post inspired by the queen elizabeth parkrun  ( http://www.parkrun.org.uk/queenelizabeth )

 

Aberdare Parkrun (23/02/19) – Run Report Event 35

Hi everyone,

Yes, this is a little bit late but that is because the land of Wales was in full preparation for the clash of titans that was Wales vs England in the rugby.  So without further adieu, lets get in to the third run report and the story of the 35th Aberdare parkrun. Lets start with a few headlines from saturday's parkrun.

 

  • 114 of you ran, jogged or walked around our park today. An increase of 9 on last week.
  • We had a whopping 27 wonderful people stood out in the cold to volunteer and support you all. We can't thank you enough for your help and support.

 

I was back volunteering this week and with the blessing of our event director and regular run director, assumed the run director role and blue hi-vis this week. It was a glorious morning for a run that started with a thin layer of fog that slowly dissipated.

 

We had 21 complete first time parkrunners, this week, at our course and 10 parkrun tourists, who enjoyed the Aberdare hill for the first time including runners from London and Birmingham. Its a testament to our parkrun that we are getting so many new runners joining us and runners from all over the country enjoying our little parkrun. This week equalled last week with an outstanding 35 PBs including three PBs for our first three finishers. Well done everyone!!

This week, we only had ONE unregistered runner, which is fabulous. Thank you to you all for registering on the parkrun website.

 

Parkrun couldn't happen every week without amazing volunteers and when it's as cold as it was on Saturday, it makes us appreciate them even more, so please say a huge thank you to the 19 wonderful people who marshalled, scanned, timed and did all other bits and pieces that means parkrun can happen.

We are very grateful to the volunteers who made this event happen: Clare BRADWICK-LIDSTER, Gavin CRIMMINGS, Ann CRIMMINGS, Tony CURRY, Huw DAVIES, Tracey DAVIES, Gareth DAVIES, Andrew EDWARDS, Sophia ELLIOTT, Laura EVANS, Adele EVANS, Catherine EVANS, Adrian HARFORD, Sai KURMAULLY, Arwen LLEWELLYN, Kerion LLEWELLYN, Sam MATTHEWS, Alun REES, Philip REES, Alastair REYNOLDS, Sarah THOMAS, Gareth THOMAS, Joe Michael THOMAS, Evie Ruth THOMAS, Luke Edward THOMAS, Stephen WHITEHEAD, Sue WILLIAMS

 

Lets see who made the selfie selection, this week.

Alun and Phil are stalwarts for the pre race setup and ensure, week in and week out, that the funnel and diversion are safe and ready for our runners

2019-02-23 08.12.25

 

Pictured: Alun and Phil

 

 

After giving them time to catch their breath, I managed to get a few selfies with some of our amazing runners.

Dan Foley, who has completed 84 parkruns in eight different locations, took our first finish with a superb time of 19.38, also setting an Aberdare parkrun PB. Suzanne Luker-Davis celebrated her tenth run and first time back in three months by shaving a min and a half off her previous PB and Sharon Jones, whose first ever parkrun was 43mins has been consistently at the 37 mins mark, closing in on her PB. Simon Tang set on of his fastest times this year (21.01), with his first run at our lovely parkrun. Well done all!

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Pictured: Dan

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Pictured: Simon

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Pictured: Jeff

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Pictured: Stephen

I caught a couple of our parkrun regulars at the finishline for post run selfies. I do love a selfie!!

The Aberdare Park Cafe is also putting on a special offer on weekends. Get free serving of toast with every hot drink purchased. I'm pleased to say that again loads of parkrunners took this offer and the free toast was flowing. So next week, don't forget to get yours. I enjoyed a lovely cuppa and some toast, whilst processing the results.

We've been asked about how to donate to the Aberdare parkrun. If you hover your mouse over the 'More' option, in the top right hand of this page, then click 'about us' , you will see a large 'Donate to Parkrun' button. Click on that button and you will be able to donate directly to the Aberdare Parkrun, via paypal.

Next week is the day after St David's day, so please don't forget your barcode and your daffodils, leeks and Welshest RED!!!

Well, enough from me. This is the third run report and I think I'm getting the hang of this but if you have any feedback, please contact aberdareoffice@parkrun.com

DE

 

 

Aberdare Parkrun (16/02/19) – Run Report Event 34

Hi Everyone,

This is the second Run Report that I have written so where to begin with the story of our 34th parkrun at Aberdare Park. Lets start with a few of the main stories from today's parkrun.

  • 105 of you ran, walked, jogged or shuffled around our park today.
  • 19 wonderful people stood out in the cold to volunteer and support you all.

Today I was an excited runner, rather than my usual role as volunteer but I did put in a shift to help with the funnel and the results. The weather was glorious, in my un-expert, opinion and we had the standard last minute cascade of parkrunners to the starting line.

We had 7 known first timers and an amazing 35 PBs (me included), in the Dare today! We also had a large number of unregistered runners, trying a park run for the first time. Please click on THIS LINK and head on over to register your details.Our own parkrun regular Ryan Cook got his 50 stripes today and a sub 20 run! A massive well done to all of you.

Parkrun couldn't happen every week without amazing volunteers and when it's as cold as it was on Saturday, it makes us appreciate them even more, so please say a huge thank you to the 19 wonderful people who marshalled, scanned, timed and did all other bits and pieces that means parkrun can happen.

Clare BRADWICK-LIDSTER, Ann CRIMMINGS, Tony CURRY, Gareth DAVIES, Huw DAVIES, Andrew EDWARDS, Andrew ENOCH, Adrian HARFORD, Andrea HARFORD, Jayne JONES, Sam MATTHEWS, Philip REES, Sharon REES, David SWEET, Luke Edward THOMAS, Sarah THOMAS, Gareth THOMAS, Joe Michael THOMAS, Evie Ruth THOMAS, Stephen WHITEHEAD, Sue WILLIAMS

2019-02-16 09.53.45

 

Pictured: Sam Matthews, Evie Thomas, Joe Thomas, Sarah Thomas, Jayne Jones

We had a few additional younger members of the Thomas family, joining us as funnel volunteers and it was so wonderful to see them cheer their heart out for our runners.

2019-02-16 08.31.02

Pictured: Huw Davies

Huw was multitaking as one of our barcode scanner and chief cheerer and high fiver at the end of the funnel. I know that our runners, especially me, appreciated his enthusiasm today. Well done Huw.

2019-02-16 08.30.52

Pictured : Stephen Whitehead

Stephen, for the second time in a row, had the prime hill position. If you haven't tried the aberdare parkrun hill, it's well worth a bit of Welsh parkrun tourism and you need all the help you can get to push up the third time and Stephen was first class today!

2019-02-16 08.30.58

Pictured : Sue Williams

and lastly our superstar Sue kept the cheers going at our top gate diversion.

On to some of our runners......

Matthew Jacklin grabbed the top spot from our #1 regular and part-time tailwalker Adrian Lewis and Elizabeth continued her progress on her eleventh parkrun with a strong 47 min time. A clear 8 min faster that her first time.

2019-02-16 09.31.02

 

After I finished I had the chance to catch up with these amazing lads, a couple of which blazed past me at the finish line. Brilliant banter was had and I'm glad that you enjoyed our little parkrun.

2019-02-16 09.52.582019-02-16 09.53.16

 

I caught a couple of our parkrun regulars at the finishline for post run selfies. I do love a selfie!!

The Aberdare Park Cafe is also putting on a special offer on weekends. Get free serving of toast with every hot drink purchased. I'm pleased to say that loads of parkrunners took this offer and the free toast was flowing. So next week, don't forget to get yours. I'm getting a lovely cuppa and some toast.

We've been asked about how to donate to the Aberdare parkrun. If you hover your mouse over the 'More' option, in the top right hand of this page, then click 'about us' , you will see a large 'Donate to Parkrun' button. Click on that button and you will be able to donate directly to the Aberdare Parkrun, via paypal.

Next week is rugby week, so please don't forget your barcode and your finest rugby attire, preferably red.

Well, enough from me. This is the second run report but if you have any feedback, please contact aberdareoffice@parkrun.com

DE

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