Many moons ago I did a post where I explained how our parkrun worked and what goes on behind the scenes. With loads of you wonderful people joining us for the first time since we restarted I thought I`d revisit that,update it a bit and hey presto,here it is (Plus we have quite rightly been focusing a lot on Covid related bits and pieces since we came back and not so much on this) We are very aware of new parkrunners not knowing fully how everything happens and why it happens so hopefully this will help. It`s all relevant to our park including one or two fascinating* facts you won`t have heard of.
*Don`t get too excited.
Thought I`d do a little bit first about behind the scenes stuff. We don`t just start turning up at 8:15,stick a few poles in the ground and walk up to the start at 5 to 9. Well we do,obviously but there`s a bit more to it than that.There is an amount of planning that goes in to the morning.I`ll start from after the tail walker has crossed the line.
- First the timing and scanning apps on the phones are stopped and saved. We can immediately upload from our phones to the parkrun results wizard thing (and then when the results processor gets home they can process and post the results) All the poles,tape and various bags are collected up and loaded into the car of one of the core team.We all go our merry ways either home,running,shopping,to the café in that lower park) Subject to what the results person has to do that Saturday and the vagaries of the parkrun system,we try to get the results up on the website as soon as possible (we will always inform you if there is likely to be a big delay but with the tech improvements whilst we`ve been off, they should be ready fairly quickly and they will be posted on our social media.(If there is an issue with your result please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.If you post to social media about this its possible it won`t be noticed straightaway. Same goes for responding to emails which I`ll mention more in a bit)
- The run report is usually out the same day and will include all the first timers names ,all the pb`s,milestones,the top 3 positions,some poetry of questionable quality and various other bits and bobs. Our volunteers get a special thank you post on the Sunday and there`s also a Birkenhead parkrun twitter moments on Sunday afternoon so please always tweet or post about your runs and tag us in. We are very fortunate to have lovely people like Ruth and Chloe who post great photos and loads of you that tweet or post your pics and we are very grateful to them and appreciative of all the interaction with you across the social media. If no one contacted us we`d be very sad and there could be even more poetry.
- Emails will be checked over the weekend and replied to.The thing to remember here is that we are all volunteers. We try to be a slick,effective,professional outfit(I know) but we have lives outside of parkrun which sometimes mean we can`t respond immediately. Your request to go on the roster may be updated to a place on the roster a day or two after for example. It will be responded to though so please be patient. We do love volunteering though,we have 7 members of the core team over 150 times in the hi vis now and one over 200. That wouldn`t happen if we didn`t enjoy it down the park each Saturday. Parkrun volunteering is terrific for increasing confidence, trying new things and meeting great people. (Email us at Birkenhead@parkrun.com if you`re interested) Everyone is welcome, you can can volunteer as often as you want.
- During the week volunteer appeals go out on the social media and email. Also if there`s any news such as course alteration,covid guidelines etc we`ll put that out. We also discuss on our whatsapp group any issues that come up such as the finish funnel, finish tokens,puddles in the park and other really interesting matters. On Friday we post about the upcoming parkrun with who`ll be run director, who is doing the first timers briefing (the idea behind that is you know who to ask or where to go for the briefing etc.It isn't only an excuse to post a vaguely amusing photo of them ). We also do a highly accurate weather forecast and a briefer version of parkrun do`s and don't`s (and covid related advice). Then on Saturday its the parkrun itself. The run director usually arrives first,Jon checks with the squirrels that security issues are good and we start to put together the finish funnel ,more and more of the volunteers arrive,the marshals get a briefing then are taken around the course to their positions by the volunteer co ordinator around 8:35. Just before 8:50 the first timer briefer will go up to the start and do their thing. The rest of us will go up to the start to watch the briefing or stay at the finish to guard the gear.The briefing will happen then you`re off!
Right,that`s part 1 done. Have a break and a cup of tea or other beverage.
A few points about the parkrun rules.
The run brief - Do I need to listen to it even if I`ve been here many times before? Yes you do. We can only reach so many people by the emails and the social media. A lot of people won`t know the information we`ve put out so there could be information pertinent to that day`s parkrun that you need to know and given that parkrun is free we don`t think its too much to ask that you listen. Jon likes to put the police siren on to quieten people but he`s not allowed to that anymore in case the police actually turn up. Dogs you need to listen as well.We have had to make the briefing briefer because of covid which is why it isn`t as long as it used to be.We can`t have you hanging about at the start too long.
Please don`t forget your barcode (#dfyb) - This is the main rule,the holy grail of parkrun rules.Without your barcode you won`t get an official time. You can still take part but when you enter the finish funnel,you will need to take a finish token from the finish token team by holding the palm of your hand out and then drop it in the box or Jaffa cake tin in front of the scanner.If you do have a personal barcode then show that first then the finish token to the barcode scanners so they can scan it on their phones. All contactless these days.It`s the future.
Funnel duckers are the thing we really get upset/annoyed about as put simply it screws up the results and makes them much longer to process.Funnel duckers are people who take part in the run.enter the finish funnel (thereby getting a time) then leave the funnel without taking a finish token. When you cross the line the timekeepers tap their phones. This tap records not just the time of the runner but also their position. You then need to stay in order to make sure you get your time and not the one belonging to the person in front or behind.Then you reach the tokens team and you get your finish token.Voila! Time,runner position,finish token. You go on and get your personal barcode and finish token scanned. The system goes tick,tick,tick - result sorted.You miss out the last one,chaos ensues.(Once you get past the tokens team, you can pick any scanning queue,you don`t need to stay on order then. We`ve got loads of scanners now,take your pick. I know the scanning part was repeated a bit then but I don`t think it can be said enough really.
Say runner 123 finishes in 25:55 and runner 124 finishes in 26:13. If runner 123 ducks out then runner 124 get a different time to the one they ran. Add a few more people doing this then the results get more and more mixed up. This is why sometimes you`ll have a different time to the one on your watch.Someone ahead has ducked out and affected things. This also means posting the results can be delayed. If the numbers aren`t aligned between the timekeepers and finish tokens and we don`t know when that happened that does delay things later on.
The same applies to strange people who refuse a finish token. They take part in an event but don`t want to take part in an event. If this happens we have to take a token out but with the speed of people coming through this sometimes can`t happen and that also throws the results out of alignment. We aren`t being funny when we say you need to take a token (and of course get scanned and give it back),it really is very important.
If you have finished but then want to support a friend or family member by running the last part with them please make it clear you have finished already to the timekeepers and move away from the orange cones with plenty of time to spare. The timekeepers have a very hard job and having to decide in a split second if someone has already crossed the line is a bit of a pain.
A good way to remember is this - Parkrun is free = lots of people taking part and volunteering. Funnel duckers and people refusing to take tokens or taking away finish tokens = more time spent sorting things out,frustration,possible decline in volunteers and less parkruns. Possibly a bit dramatic but the point needs to be made. If no one ducked out and all followed the simple procedures that would be great.
ALSO WHILE WE ARE HERE - DON`T TAKE THE FINISH TOKENS WITH YOU AS ITS NAUGHTY AND REALLY IS VERY ANNOYING WHEN YOU ARE SORTING OUT THE FINISH TOKENS - DON`T DO IT!!! Please.
In a more calmer tone,please don`t take the tokens,they cost money to replace and you will not believe how annoying it is if you`re sorting 500 or so tokens after the even and number 465 is missing. Believe me,its like an episode of Father Ted when Father Jack wants a drink. Don`t do it,please.
If after getting your finish token you spot a mate who has already finished and have a chat with them for a few minutes ,that will make no difference to your time. What I said before about staying in order applies here. After you get your finish token you can be in any order to be scanned,number 78 after 127 ,it doesn`t matter.Sometimes a runner will have to get their barcode from a family member. The important thing is to get the finish token and get your barcode and the finish token scanned. With the increased number of scanners and them being on the grass there is more space for all.
We can`t scan phones.For one the parkrun technology isn`t up to it and a photo of a barcode will be locked away behind a pin number or other lock on your phone. In case of an emergency we wouldn`t be able to access your details. We only accept paper,tag or wrist barcodes. Tattoo ones,not yet.The rules are clear on your parkrun profile that we cannot do this,that photos of barcodes are not permitted,if we were to do this it would mean lots more writing down of barcodes for people who haven`t followed the rules. The same applies if you have forgotten your barcode. We will not add you to the results.You might think this is mean but if you read again what the volunteers do on the day and during the week, all you have to do is turn up and take part.We don`t think it is too much to ask.
If you have a smudged (wet weather affected) barcode or a printed barcode printed by a printer which has a mind of their own and does it differently to all the other printers and won`t scan we will write it down as you have followed the rules and brought a barcode (which is another reason why we won`t do it in the other circumstances) What we do ask is that you try printing it out on another printer so it doesn`t happen each week.As I mentioned earlier we do love parkrun and volunteering but we like to do other things on a Saturday after the run has finished.
Nearly finished,if you`re still awake,congratulations! Please,if there`s anything you need to know,just ask. Either via email,on twitter or facebook,at parkrun itself. Ask any of the hi vis clad people who will be happy to answer your questions and if they don`t know the answer they`ll point you in the direction of someone who can. Nothing too hard though like what`s the capital of Honduras? (You`ll google it now, bet you can`t pronounce it!)
Here`s a bitesized version of the above.
Print a barcode or buy one via the link on the parkrun website (and keep it safe,you don`t need it till you finish - Listen to the briefing - Be respectful and aware of other runners - Follow the rules and listen to the volunteers (especially in the finish funnel) - Smile - Bask in the glory of getting up early on Saturday and taking part in something amazing - Thank the volunteers (but don`t feed them) - Go home - wait for the results.
And all this is alongside the covid related things we`ve been asking of you.
Right,that`s it,hope you've found this helpful and useful. There`s lots of great information on our website about the course and how to get to us as well.
Thanks for reading!
Jon (On behalf of the core team)