There were many posts, comments and e-mails that were both supportive and somewhat puzzled as to why the event on Saturday went ahead. I thought it might useful to share some of the thoughts and considerations that go on behind the scenes that proceeds every event, not just a snowy one.
First of all, on the day, it is the Run Director's responsibility to ensure your event is run safely and he/she will take advice, request for route checks and if necessary liaise with the park rangers to determine if the course is safe or not. If not, the course may be adjusted to reduce any risks, and if that cannot be done the event is cancelled.
Some or all of these checks are performed leading up to EVERY event, with no exceptions.
Generally the Run Director needs to consider:
- Volunteers and parkrunners can enter the park safely,
- The course is safe to run or walk,
- There are sufficient volunteers to support the runners.
So on Saturday 3rd March…
Can parkrunners get to the park safely?
As the park is on the A131 the immediate access to the park will normally be fine. We have regular parkrunners coming from as far as 17+km away - but in snow and icy road conditions a steep driveway could prevent someone closer, so we'll advise parkrunners and volunteers to only come to the park if they're able to safely. It’s not necessarily as simple as assuming the challenging driving conditions are directly proportional to distance travelled. Also, we have quite a few parkrunners who don't drive to the park.
Is the course safe?
With regular checks of the park from Thursday onwards...
...including two route checks on the Saturday morning itself, the surface and running conditions are fed to the Run Director for them to make a final decision. Chris discussed with the Core Team present at the park and he determined that the event was safe to proceed (if anything, with the latest snow fall surface conditions actually improved).
Do we have enough volunteers?
Yes, the Halstead Road Runners were meant to perform a "Take Over" for this event which was arranged several months in advance. They pulled their support for the event as they were concerned for their volunteers, which is completely understandable. We're really big fans of our local running clubs, they're ace, and we allow event “take overs” so they can both support their parkrun as well as promote themselves and any up and coming events.
Thanks to the amazing support of the local parkrun community, who stepped forward to run the event with very little notice. With sufficient volunteers on the morning it was possible to provide a full compliment of marshals.
With all neighbouring events cancelling we were expecting an influx of tourists who were not familiar with the park or the course - so the marshals were critical to the safety of the event.
Attending a parkrun in the snow is actually a lot like sledging.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not mandatory and nobody is saying you have to go out there and sledge. You can have a lot of fun sledging if you have the right gear, a sledge definitely helps and you should wrap up warm! Yes, there’s a risk that you could injury yourself in the process, but generally you’ll see any particularly risky areas and can avoid them or just stop. Overall if you’re sensible you’ll have a lot of fun and there’s always a nice hot chocolate at the café to enjoy afterwards.
Hopefully this has helped provide an understanding of the work and checks that go into safely putting on your event. The decision really isn’t taken lightly at all and we’ll continue to run the events as safe as possible. However we will always look to make make them even safer.
Stay safe out there peeps, and not just when it's been snowing!