A little bit about behind the scenes each Saturday, you may wonder why you get shouted at to stay in order, take a token, don't cross the line twice, and please do not duck out of the funnel before taking a token!! With many new people joining us at Lee, I hope this gives a little insight into how it all works.
Well here's how the parkrun magic works.
You'll notice at the start line and at the finish line that there will be two people with stopwatches, we are also trialing the Virtual Volunteer App on a mobile phone.
The stopwatches start when the Run Director shouts GO at the beginning of the run and every time someone crosses the finish line our timekeeping volunteers click a button to record a time and a finish position. This is why we ask people not to cross the line twice, or we end up with more finish times/positions than we should have.
We also politely ask that you do not stop and ask the timekeeper your time, they are trying to concentrate hard, one timekeeper might have clicked more than the other, one timekeeper may be on a different number to the tokens, it is a straightforward role, which we love having new people try, but it needs concentration, with no distractions, and you will not be told your time.
We have recently extended our funnel, but it is important that you keep moving down it, holding your left hand out, palm up to receive your token, this also helps keep the funnel moving. With the double funnel in place at the moment it is important to keep moving, bunch up to the person in front and have your left hand out palm up, and listen to the funnel managers.
Next you make your way along to the finish token volunteers who will hand you a token with a position number on it. This number *should* correspond to the position on the stopwatch when you crossed the line. This only works if you stay in your finish order until you have collected your token, and if everyone that crosses the line takes a token.
If someone refuses to take a token (it happens!) then it can cause a problem. Let's say someone finishes in position 30 with a time of 24:15. They don't take their token. The next person finishes in position 31 with a time of 24:20 but because the last person didn't take their token they get token 30. This means that later on they will be assigned the time that goes with position 30, not with their correct time in position 31.
So please, even if you know you have forgotten your personal barcode, take a token and just hand it back to the scanners further down the line, or place it in the large flowerpot, It's really important.
Occasionally someone with a clipboard might ask your name at this point. We try to write down a finish time and a name for every 20th or so runner - this allows us to check that the tokens and finish times haven't got out of sync. We can adjust the results later where we find a discrepancy, but we don't always know exactly where the problem is.
After you have collected your finish token you head off to the barcode scanners. Here you will be asked to produce your personal barcode and your finish token. Both of these are scanned and it is this process that ties you to your finish position. It is really important that BOTH barcodes are scanned - don't give your token back until it has been scanned as the scanners get very upset if they only have half the data they need.
Once everyone has finished, the stopwatches and scanners are handed over to the core team and we start processing results. We plug in the scanners and the stopwatches and upload the data to the parkrun website where it matches the times to the runners. So if you see a bunch of people huddled round a laptop mumbling swear words and possibly crying softly while you are eating your post run bacon butty you will know that somebody somewhere didn't take a token or threw it back in the tub before it was scanned and now the results have gone haywire!
Firstly we add in the ones whose barcodes didn't scan. Each of these has to be typed in manually. That is why we have the 'no barcode, no result' rule. Even if you know your barcode number, it takes time to type it in and search for the correct runner - the parkrun website is pretty busy around 10am on a Saturday and it can be a tad slow! If everyone did that we'd be there all day. The manual entries are strictly for people who did bring a printed barcode but for whatever reason the scanners were unable to read it.
Next we go through and check the spot times, making sure that the people whose names we wrote down match the finish time we wrote down for them. If they don't, we can add / remove blanks until they do match up, though we won't know exactly where the problem occurred. Using the example above, if we had written down spot times for the runners in position 20 and in position 40 but there was a problem at position 30, we would only know that the error had occurred somewhere between 20 and 40 and would make the adjustment at position 40, the first one we know for sure is wrong. Which means that everyone in positions 30-39 would have the wrong times.
Once we are happy that everyone is more or less where they should be in the results we click the button to send them off and the whizzy parkrun UK computers send out your text messages which, hopefully, has the correct time on it.
Please remember that parkrun is run by volunteers who give up their time each Saturday to provide this event. There are little things you can do to make life easier for the volunteers and help make sure the results are as accurate as possible:
- Don't cross the line twice - duck out to the side if you have already finished and you've gone back to support someone else
- Stay in your finish order until you have got your token.
- Please take the tokens even if you don't want a result - just hand them back to the scanners, put in the flower pot.
- Make sure you get both your own barcode and your finish token scanned before you throw your token in the tub.
- Please don't ask our volunteers to take your name if you have forgotten your barcode - no barcode, no result.
Thank you for reading