They say as one door closes, another one opens, and that very much set the scene for my first solo(ish) stint as Run Director. So I pulled my big girl pants (mermaid leggings) on and walked into Southwater Country Park ready to ensure that there was a parkrun to be enjoyed by everyone. The weather had been kind, meaning I wasn’t going to have to navigate a reroute as we had seen over previous weeks. Walking around the course with Phil felt cathartic, even if we did forget the marshal point cones and ended up having to run back round!
The volunteers started to arrive, these really are the people that make the day happen, all beautifully co-ordinated by Claire in her jazzy new VC vest. Things were starting to get real.
As runners began to walk in, it dawned on me that I was going to have to speak to all of them very soon. Our First Timers’ briefing felt unusually large but our inimitable Horsham parkrunner of the Month, Andy Mitchelson, managed to communicate the essentials to the 16 First Timers and Tourists from as far afield as the Shetland Islands, Wales, South Shields, North London and the more local visitors from Tilgate and East Grinstead.
And that was it, I was on. ED Phil handed me a megaphone… with my biggest fear of falling off the bench firmly at the front of my mind, and I welcomed the First Timers and Tourists. Well done, first bit done and I was still on the bench… Milestones, I’d checked that I could pronounce all of them, well done Ian Hines on your 50th Parkrun and Tom Balfour and Pauline Jepps on your 100th! And then I looked up from my notes… there were 100s of people all listening to me. I can’t get my two children to listen to me and here were 424 (no I didn’t count, I checked the results) all looking at me, in silence. *wobble* DON’T FALL OFF THE BENCH!! With the rest of the briefing completed, we walked up to the start line and I set the runners off on their way. Outside of the results processing, I’d done the hard bit – side note, don’t duck out of the funnel!
I know the run report is normally a general report about the run on that day, but I wanted to add a personal note of what parkrun means to me. I’ve not even been at Horsham parkrun for a year but I couldn’t imagine my life without it. If you’re reading this and you have never volunteered I urge you to do so, it’s genuinely life changing and if I hadn’t had it on Saturday, I would have probably sat in bed and wallowed, it’s got me through some really tough times. Ok, it’s also ruined going out on a Friday night, but I’ll take that for what I get back in return. If you’ve never done a parkrun because you’re “not a runner”, “too unfit”, “don’t like running with people”, just give it a try, I promise you won’t regret it. I have met some utterly wonderful and supportive people of all running abilities through it. I love parkrun and on Saturday, it very much loved me back.
Debby and Team