After starting the week with a very empty-looking roster, we ended up with 39 hi-viz heroes at Event 420. With numbers going over 500 for the first time since February 2022, we definitely appreciated each and every person. It was a fantastic turnout, with 54 people visiting Burgess parkrun for the first time (hello, tourists!) and 22 first-timers (welcome to the family). We couldn't have done it without all the help!
And speaking of making the magic happen, we promised this week's Burgess Newsletter would have something special in it... and it does! For the first time since 2017, we are looking to expand the core team by asking some of you lovely people to consider becoming Run Directors. If you weren't signed up to our email list, you'll have missed the initial appeal that went out (volunteer appeal sign up instructions are here) but it's not too late to throw your hat into the ring.
This week, we demystify what it is we actually do...
So, what is a Run Director?
Run Directors (RDs) are the people who make parkrun happen each week. They're usually found milling around at the finish area, organising the volunteer team, standing on a bench shouting a briefing or huddled over a computer uploading the weekly results with a coffee. Their main role is to ensure a safe, smooth event takes place on any given Saturday. We’re very keen to get more people involved in the organisation of Burgess parkrun and build a larger team of RDs.
What are the time commitments of being an RD?
We aim for RDs to direct events every six to eight weeks, although there is no set-in-stone rule about this. RDs are also responsible for coordinating volunteers during the week they're in charge, as well as processing the results after the run. Don't worry, full training and guidance will be provided!
What makes a good Run Director?
The most important thing is being passionate about parkrun! If you'd love to be part of a team that puts on a fun, friendly and inclusive community event each Saturday, then it might be for you. We've also found that strong organisational skills and being a good communicator are valuable assets when being an RD.
Being a little bit magical doesn't hurt either...
Why would I want to sign up?
We thought you might ask that! Well, in our own words, here's what a few of us had to say about run directing.
Becoming a Run Director at Burgess parkrun in 2013 is one of the decisions in my life that I'm most grateful to have made. Having random people come up to you and tell you how much of a positive impact the event has had on their life is something that constantly inspires me. The benefits of being in RD (and subsequently ED) in my own life have been immeasurable.
As a natural introvert, the idea of standing up on a bench and shouting a briefing to over 800 people, or leading a team to put on a weekly event, would have been impossible 9 years ago. But thanks to the, quite simply, incredible people I've met on the way - many of whom I'm now lucky enough to call some of my closest friends - it became just another thing to do to keep the event running. It's by far the most inclusive, positive community I've ever been a part of.
As a complete and utter, self-confessed stats nerd, by far my favourite task as an RD is the results processing. There's nothing quite like a perfectly complete, in sync set of results. And, when things do go slightly awry, the sleuthing to identify how and where is very satisfying. Throw in a coffee and a chat with your mates, and I can't think of many better ways to spend a Saturday morning.
As a Run Director, I absolutely love seeing people complete the course who weren't sure if they could run or walk the entire 5K. I run pretty often myself, and you can take for granted just how big an achievement it is for someone to complete that distance for the first time.
It's also great to see people come back time and time again and achieve their own parkrun goals, which, of course, are always uniquely personal to them. No matter what time they are chasing down, every single PB is special, and volunteering mainly at the finish line means I often get to see some spectacular finishes and lots of smiles!
We have such a brilliant community at Burgess parkrun. It means a lot to me that I get to celebrate so many other people's milestones and be a part of organising a free run that is genuinely as inclusive as possible.
I grew up hating running, and a mate dragged me along to parkrun under protest, so it's always felt surreal to end up as a part of the Burgess core team. However, that's the whole point - Burgess parkrun has genuinely created an inclusive community where anyone is accepted. Even people like me, who blatantly only get up on Saturdays for the post-parkrun coffee!
Run directing (and volunteering, more generally) gives me the perfect excuse to not run, walk or jog and still be involved in the community. I often meet lots of new parkrunners who are scared that the volunteers will resent waiting for them or that we'll pack up and go home before they finish, and it's always a delight to be able to quash those fears instantly.
I don't look like your typical track athlete, but I'm a parkrunner too, and it's so lovely to see the relief on their faces when I explain how it all works. I also often try to spot new parkrunners when they finish, so I can ask them how their first parkrun went. They might be worried when they set off, but trust me, everyone is always grinning at the end!
Organising parkrun involves some behind-the-scenes work each week, but we have such a supportive core team that it never feels like a burden. It's such a gift to volunteer so closely with some of the best humans I know and play a small part in keeping Burgess parkrun such a fantastic event. You definitely get out far more than you put in!
If you're interested in becoming a Run Director, please come have a chat with one of the existing core team next team you're at Burgess. The main Run Director for any given Saturday is pretty easy to spot as they're wearing the special black and white vest, but there's always a second RD somewhere in the field, and often, there's at least another one of us hiding somewhere... Come say hello, ask all your questions, and if you're still interested, we'll take it from there!
It wouldn't be a Burgess Newsletter without giving a shout out to all of our incredible milestone runners. Quite apt, therefore, that we start the roll call by congratulating Robert CRAGG for completing his 100th parkrun. You may recognise Robert for frequently delivering our first timers' welcome, a role that definitely requires some volume so that new parkrunners can hear all the explanations. Well done on your 100th parkrun, Robert, and thanks so much for all the volunteering you've done as part of that journey to get there!
Next up, congratulations are due to Hannah CHENEY LOWE from Fulham Palace, who marked her 100th parkrun with us. Hannah is a dedicated tourist, having run at 44 different events so far. Great work on your 100th parkrun, and good luck with your next parkrun challenge (which we suspect will be racking up another six different events)!
The incredible Zoe LEE and Imran KHAN completed their 50th parkrun, another truly fabulous achievement. Zoe is a local legend, having volunteered far more times than she's run, supporting parkrunners at Burgess parkrun, Burgess juniors and Kennington juniors. Well done on your milestone, Zoe, and we're so grateful for how much you've done for your community along the way.
Imran has only recently started visiting us, but we're really grateful to him for highlighting how Burgess is such a great course to run with a guide. Truly honoured you decided to do your 50th with us, Imran - don't be a stranger, we'd love to see you visit more often!
Finally, Nico TAYLOR, Lauren GAMBLE, Nina HEMMINGS, and David GLOVER celebrated their 25th parkrun, the first running milestone that adults can achieve. Very proud of all of you, and here's to the next 25.
As always, thank so much to everyone for being a part of Burgess parkrun, whether you're a regular or a tourist. There's something quite magical about spending time together in our gorgeous park, and we can't wait to do it all again on Saturday.
Until the next time,
Shona C BARKER, Chris RAVENEY and Hannah MUMBY
#volunteering #milestones #rundirecting