Durham parkrun 381 – the one with the dogs and the novice

Durham parkrun number 381 was made particularly special by some fine weather, a great volunteer team and all you lovely runners, joggers and walkers! We also seemed to have a good number of dogs today, who all did as well as their owners.

5k on the shortest legs

5k on the shortest legs

Today we had 63 people participating for their first time at Durham, of which 31 were completely new to parkrun and we welcomed visitors from near and far, including Perth, Fulham Palace, Tuscon (Arizona) and New Zealand. Congratulations to the 38 people who achieved new PBs!

There were a few special milestones to celebrate:

  • Tom Davidson and Stephanie Barlow (50 runs each)
  • Jonathan Hamill and Andrew Thurston (100 runs each)
  • Jean Bradley, John Gardiner and Chris Shearsmith, for the unofficial (but no less awesome) milestones of 150, 150 and 200 runs each respectively

When I first started running in parkruns, I gradually started to understand some of the volunteer roles; as a repeat volunteer I learnt these roles and became more aware of what the Run Director (RD) does. When I was asked by the Event Directors to start training as a new RD, I was excited to take on the challenge. This week I was shadowing our experienced RD Katherine; I got the chance to do a large part of the role and a quick recap of my parkrun week will give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes.

There's a lot of communication to think about during the week between runs - emails from volunteers, updating the roster, social media posts, and fielding emails from participants, both from previous events and prospective runners for the coming week. Katherine and the core volunteer team handled that, which left me to concentrate on the logistics.

I picked up the kit on Wednesday evening from last week's RD. All was neatly packed and organised, pacer bibs washed and tokens sorted. The only thing which I needed to do was charge the laptop and scanners and clear down the scanners and watches from the previous week.

Saturday morning came around and at 7am I checked the second half of the course, Katherine covering the first half, to make sure there weren't any changes or hazards we needed to consider before setting you loose on it. After a brief interlude for family taxi duties, I returned to set up the finish funnel with some help before heading to the volunteer meet-up at Maiden Castle car park. Once there, I checked in the volunteers as they arrived, distributed hi-viz vests and assigned marshal positions with a thought to both directing runners and safety coverage in case of an incident. Everyone was briefed to make sure they all knew their jobs.

The finish funnel awaits

The finish awaits

After Jill's fabulous First Timers' Briefing (I've never had a round of applause for mine, that's something to aspire to!), Katherine did your main run briefing this week (signed by James); I'll tackle this next time. Once you'd been set away, the team headed off to the finish - those who weren't Marshalling, Pacing or Tail Walking, anyway. We came across a few late starters on the way who Katherine pointed in the right direction.

We arrived with a couple of minutes to spare, setting up the banners just as the first finisher came over the line. Then the main job was to keeping things running smoothly and make sure participants and volunteers are OK. One of the scanning devices stopped working, so I moved our volunteer to help distribute tokens. When the scanning queue reached a peak, we roped in one of our regulars to do some scanning using the smartphone app.

Between Katherine, funnel manager Antony and me, we made sure our excellent timekeepers and tokens were in sync, keeping a note of where something didn't go right. As a runner, there are some simple rules you can follow which helps the volunteers enormously - the fewer deviations there are, the easier the results are to get right and the faster they can go out:

  • Only cross the line once.
  • Once you've crossed the line, don't duck out of the funnel.
  • Stay in the order you finished until you've been given a token.
  • If you cross the line, take a finish token (even if you don't have a barcode).
  • Present your finish token to either the scanners or scanner support (what we affectionately call the "writey-downey" person) - don't go home with your token.

Once the Tail Walker was in, we packed up the finish and headed back to the cafe. The first job (after getting a coffee!) is to update the volunteer roster for some last-minute changes so that everyone gets the right credit. Then it was a case of downloading the data from the scanners, phone app and watches then compiling the results, manually adding in those people whose barcodes wouldn't scan and making any adjustments. We had very few problems this morning and that was a reflection of the brilliant volunteers and great support from all of our fab participants. Our parkrun couldn't happen without either of you!


This week 343 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 63 were first timers and 38 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 31 different clubs took part.

The event was made possible by 19 volunteers:

Karen JONES • Denise SMITH • Lorna PEARSON • Colin EVERSON • John HUTCHINSON • Katherine HAY-HEDDLE • Michael O'DONOVAN • Nick LATHAM • Antony CLISH • Rachel BOAL • David CASE • Jill YOUNG • Deborah TAYLOR • Angela COWELL • James PARKER • Val HANCOCK • John CRAGGS • Alex LATHAM • Emily FAWELL

Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Durham parkrun Results Page.

The male record is held by Dan GARBUTT who recorded a time of 15:12 on 17th March 2012 (event number 32).
The female record is held by Jennifer WALSH who recorded a time of 16:31 on 26th May 2012 (event number 42).
The Age Grade course record is held by Val NAYLOR who recorded 97.65% (24:50) on 16th June 2018 (event number 329).

Durham parkrun started on 13th August 2011. Since then 13,469 participants have completed 109,176 parkruns covering a total distance of 545,880 km, including 18,906 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,142 individuals have volunteered 9,358 times.