Have you ever wondered how this phenomenon we have all come to love happens, week after week. Preparation starts with the token sorters in the café shortly after finishing their parkrun the previous week. After the results are processed the Run Director (RD) takes charge of the equipment. Right away planning starts for the following week, volunteers are allocated roles. Any gaps in the roster are plugged with our regular volunteers, if we are still short an appeal goes out on facebook. Throughout the week the RD and Volunteer coordinator monitor the email account and facebook pages for people expressing an interest in volunteering and dealing any queries..
As soon as we have a roster that is about 75% full we send out a reminder to the volunteers for the following Saturday. The reminder goes out on Thursday no matter how full we are! Although it is risky we know that come Saturday morning someone will inevitably pitch up injured and wanting a role. On Friday night all the scanners get cleared and charged, the timer gets cleared and charged and the computer gets charged up ready for action the following day. There are some RDs who then spend their Friday night doing a spot of home baking for our runners.
The vast majority of our parkrunners pitch-up at 9:25 am on a Saturday morning, run their 5k, jump in their cars, head home and wait (mostly patiently) for their results to be delivered into their inbox. Although parkrun is a simple concept, it is not that simple. The course gets laid out around 8:30 am by one of our unsung heroes. The rest of the volunteers arrive at 9:00 am and start assembling the Start/Finish area. Marshals are dispatched to their various points on the course, some walking 5k in their stint as marshal. The finish team are briefed on the technology, again tuition is often involved. First timers are briefed on the parkrun experience and how the system works. The volunteers silently take up their positions on the funnel or in the tent while the RD addresses the runners.
While the parkrunners are out running, the finish crew reconfigure the funnel and wait on the runners coming back. As you run round the course the marshals offer guidance and encouragement. You cross the line after your run the two timers click you in, the funnel manager ensures you stay in the correct order and you collect the finish token. The number checker makes sure the finishing time ties up with the finishing token – hence the lecture if you cross the line – take a token. Think about it – by refusing to take a token you are jeopardising the remaining runners chances of getting an accurate time. The person handing out the tokens has to have a supporting person handing them ten tokens at a time. Once you are through the funnel you head to the tent where someone scans your barcode and your finish token, it is our only way of confirming who you are – hence no barcode – no result.
Surely, that’s it - no. Still out on the course our tailrunner runs behind the runners ensuring everyone that has set out gets back and that the marshals know when to stand down. The Marshals return to the start retrieving the signs on the way back. The Start/finish has to be dismantled – job done. Well. Not quite! The cars are loaded up with the gear taking care that the cars the gear are loaded into will be there next week. The next task is result processing which is done in the café after the run. We usually have the results processed by 11:00 am but bare in mind parkrun operates over four continents and that there are 243 parkruns. Small wonder it sometimes take until Saturday evening before you get your results from parkrun HQ
So you see there is a whole team of people (our Volunteers) working away to bring you the parkrun experience so we ask you to be patient when waiting on results and to realise that we are all doing our best to deliver an accurate set of results. Consider this, there are many races out there that will charge you an arm and a leg just to take part in their race, our volunteers deliver the parkrun experience for free.
Saturday was another cracking day, the sun shone and we had 177 runners, 25 of who were first timers and an impressive 36 PBs were recorded – and it wasn’t even pacer Saturday! Callum Hawkins returned to our parkrun for the fourth time and recorded is fourth first finisher at our event. He was a full minute ahead of the rest of the field, clocking an impressive 15:23, the fastest finisher in all parkruns ran last weekend. Well done, Callum. Kenny O’Neill (16:34) and David Bellfield (17:18) occupied the second and third finishing positions. The women’s finishing positions were equally spread out this week with Sarah Inglis storming over the line in 17:45 (5th overall). Catriona Buchannon (18:58) and Anne Marie McGregor (21:34) occupied second and third women’s finishing positions.
Just a reminder that this Saturday it is pacing Saturday and if that’s not enough excitement for you – Neil and Pat are in charge. Bring it on!