It's been a while since we did a run report but we couldn't let a new female course record last Saturday go unrecognised. Ruth Barnes from Avon Valley Runners recorded a time of 17:17 and was 2nd overall. Well done Ruth.
I also thought I’d write a little bit, well quite a lot, about the volunteering roles we need each week for Weymouth parkrun to go ahead.
We often struggle to get enough volunteers and this puts a huge pressure on the volunteer co-ordinator all week. Theirs isn’t a rock up on Saturday role, it starts from the previous Saturday when they take a photo of the volunteer board to update the roster before sending out emails and facebook requests and updating the roster.
In order for parkrun to go ahead safely, we need a Run Director. This is one of the core team which is made up of about 12 parkrunners who love Weymouth parkrun and are prepared to do a little extra during the week in order for parkrun to happen each week in accordance with parkrun policy. It’s not our parkrun, everyone who runs or volunteers is what makes Weymouth parkrun, but like most events it doesn’t just happen without input from both the core team and runners on a weekly basis.
Firstly we need key marshals at the pineapple, the rugby club, the bridge and 2 at the final turn before the finish. The marshals at the rugby club and the final turn are there to keep you safe from traffic that sometimes crosses the runners paths. The pineapple marshal is at our furthest point and the bridge marshal directs the way. If there is an event at the rugby club, we need an extra marshal there. If we have enough marshals we add another to the bridge and one at the T junction as you leave the back of the pitch and put and join the tarmac path.
We must also have a tail walker. This is the person who runs/ walks at the back of the pack. Marshals stay in position until the tail walker has past them.
We also need 2 people to help set up the start and finish areas. If we have a third person, we can also get water for you to enjoy after the run. We also need one or 2 people to help put everything back in shed once the last runner has finished and been scanned.
Already we are up to 10 volunteers plus the RD, volunteer co-ordinator and the results processor. If we had no other volunteers, we could hold a parkrun safely but you wouldn’t get a time, a position or a run credit towards your milestone tee shirt.
Two more volunteers and we can give out tokens, but with this, we would also need 2 or ideally 3 volunteers to scan barcodes or we’d be queuing for a long time. We would also need 2 or 3 runners to join in and sort tokens so they are ready for the following week. This would give everyone a position so we could upload results based on finish order but we would have no times so everyone would be given the same time of 59:59 to ensure there were no false pb’s.
As you can see we already need 21 volunteers and we still don’t have any timekeepers. One more volunteer would give us a timekeeper but if anything went wrong with the stop watch or if there were any discrepancies, we wouldn’t be able to address these. A second timekeeper helps with the results as we then have two sets of data and a backup if anything goes wrong. It has been known for the stopwatch buttons to get stuck as well as human error clicking the wrong button or accidentally hitting one of the buttons when the volunteer is packing up the start area before the first runner arrives at the finish area.
If somebodies barcode doesn’t scan for a variety of reasons, having a volunteer on failed barcodes means that runner can still get a time. They are under strict instructions to only accept printed barcodes, wrist bands or key fobs. Pictures of barcodes on phones do not scan and written down barcodes won’t be accepted. Any barcodes that do not scan have to be manually input by the results processor so they don’t want lots of these. NO BARCODE, NO RESULT, NO EXCUSE
If we are lucky enough to have a third person with a stopwatch, this person is the number checker. They randomly select runners and ask their names and write these against their finish times. If the results don’t go to plan, this persons records are the results processors most important piece of information as we can usually limit errors to a smaller group of runners.
In order to keep runners in the finish funnel, we have at least one funnel manager, usually two. If runners aren’t registered or they don’t want a time, please do not cross the line. If you cross the line, please stay in the funnel until after you’ve passed the token person. You will have been counted by the timekeepers who don’t know you are leaving the queue and it can give the results processor a big headache if you duck out of the funnel.
We often have visitors to Weymouth and we are also attracting new runners each week so we have someone to do the first timers briefing. We also have a lead bike as we have a fast course with a few junctions and we don’t want the first runner to go the wrong way.
We can safely hold a run with 12 volunteers but in order to get a time and position, and to make our volunteer roles as easy as possible, this number quickly rises to a full complement of 30 volunteers.
There are always choices and the run director and the volunteer co-ordinator for any parkrun will do their best to ensure you get a time, place and run credit but we do rely on the goodwill of all our runners to take a turn at volunteering once in a while.
Remember without runners there is no parkrun but without volunteers there is also no parkrun
Thanks for reading .