It looked like this week’s run report was going to take an unexpected turn from the theme that I had envisaged when I started to give it some thought a couple of days ago, but then the more I looked around that corner I began to realise that I was seeing further evidence of my principal subject (concern).
Sometimes, perhaps when you least expect it, probably through complacency, you realise there is a risk of being a victim of your own success.
As we have said before, we are very fortunate at Rushcliffe that we very rarely have to issue a request for volunteers. The ones we have are magnificent and most weeks our roster is largely complete by the Monday before, with a mixture of those who don’t want to run, the long term injured and our group of D of E students. It is the same names filling the slots each week. And that is fine, except a couple of our long term injured are now running again, and understandably, and quite rightly, want to get back out on the course as often as possible after missing several months because of their various ailments. Our D of E students are reaching the end of their 26 or 13 weeks with us and, equally understandably, as teenagers they want to get back to lying in on a Saturday morning. The latter group will be replaced, but most likely that won’t be until September and we don’t want to see any more of the first group!
All of which means we have a roster with an increasing number of gaps into May and beyond. We would really like to encourage more people to volunteer and experience the pleasure and fulfillment of a Saturday marshalling, timing, scanning or one of the other roles.
But here are the concerns generated from being victims of our own success.
Firstly, when it is the same group of people meeting in the Education Centre at 8.15am before heading off to set up the course, they know one another, their names, their children, their parents and the conversation flows freely. That can be perceived as ‘cliquey’ to new volunteers. ‘Cliquey’ is a polite way of saying unwelcoming. And, to quote another well-known phrase ‘perception is reality’. We try really hard to be welcoming and encouraging of new volunteers, we need them, we want them to enjoy the experience and tell their friends so that they will also join us one Saturday. We're trying and, maybe, not succeeding.
Secondly, the run report is probably the last place to be making this point. Those who are engaged enough to read our weekly offering are probably engaged enough to volunteer. We are preaching to the converted. (Just how many clichéd well known phrases can I get into one run report?) In marketing terms, we are not reaching the target market for this particular message. Nor does the so-called volunteer email. Of the 8,575 parkrunners registered to Rushcliffe parkrun less than 300 ticked the box to receive the volunteer email each week. (For those of you re-reading that last sentence, yes, we have 8,575 people registering Rushcliffe as their home parkrun. Imagine if they all turned up one Saturday!!)
Now there is a circle to be squared!! On a positive note, the request for new volunteers included in this weeks pre-run brief has been successful and maybe is a pointer for where we should target our message.
The potentially unexpected turn from being victims of our own success came from the incidents we had in the funnel this week. However, the successful inclusive appeal of parkrun to all does include those who maybe don’t buy in totally to the parkrun ethos. Which probably contradicts our own philosophy, because we are not welcoming and inclusive of those who don’t support our family friendly, it’s a run not a race objectives. I’ll leave that there other than to say the overwhelming positive comments on facebook show that 99.9% of our parkrunners do understand our philosophy and the support is reassuring and heart warming. Thank you.
Now lets get to the good bits. Starting with tourists – we had two families from Australia and they didn’t know one another. Apparently it is a big country and those living is Brisbane do not know those in Melbourne. Welcome to the Raniga’s from Brisbane (Bharat is on the left) and the Kennedy’s from Melbourne (Gabriel on the right). I managed to discover that the Kennedy’s were over here for a sister’s wedding – I think Gabriel’s Aunt - and will be jetting back to southern Australia by the time you read this. Other tourists were from Telford and Bedford.
Our Telford tourist was Nicky, pictured above with Jacob. The t-shirt gives it away, but Nicky is Running Down Dementia in support of Alzheimers Research UK, which is the charity partner of parkrun. The Running Down Dementia campaign is encouraging parkrunners to run 100km before August 31st to raise £100 to support the important work of Alzheimers Research UK. You can find more details on their website via this link.
It was a lovely morning for running and 86 achieved personal bests out of the field of 424. Obviously too many to mention, but I will draw attention to a few ‘old stagers’ (they’ll love that description) that delivered a PB after many months, even years of trying. In no particular order congratulations and well done to Jonathan Cross (159th parkrun at Rushcliffe and first PB for 2 years), Lindy Clarke (108th , 6 months) and Darren Fisher (141st, 18 months).
We know that 30 minutes can be a target for many. Will paced quite a bunch around to that time, and hopefully a few PB’s too. Thank’s Will and we hope you enjoyed your Sunday jog around London (he’ll have finished by the time he read’s this).
The day was captured superbly by John’s photograph album. If you haven’t seen it yet follow this link to the full album on Flickr. Just admire the smiles, waves, grimaces and sheer effort on some faces.
Ho hum. Hopefully this run report demonstrates that the positives will always vastly outweigh the negatives. We hope you had fun and look forward to doing it again next Saturday.