After 70 Saturdays without, parkrun in England returned.
Behind the scenes so much work had gone into the return of parkrun. HQ provided the parkrun covid framework to which all events worldwide are to operate under until we are told we can go back to ‘normal’. It’s likely that parkrun is going to look like this for some time.
With the framework provided, the core team of Run Directors (Lorna, Phil, Julie, Craig, Sarah and Andy, and Event Director Emma) had met both virtually via Microsoft Teams and in the park last Saturday. Ideas were shared and we were ready to implement the changes for our event. We had some nervousness between us – would we get huge numbers, will people understand the changes we’ve needed to make and would everyone be as covid safe as possible, will a large crowd of people be able to social distance?
What was different and how did it work on the day?
Finish Funnel – This had been moved back by 20 to 30 meters so that we could maximise the space, have a very extended finish funnel and make use of a one way system – when runners finish, they would have a walk around in a big loop back to the barcode scanners. Feedback for this was hugely positive, parkrunners enjoyed the little cooldown walk, and opportunity for muscles to recover and to chat to other finishers as they walked around together.
The finish funnel - looking from the finish line and from where tokens are received - very extended to allow for socially distanced queuing.
The run briefing – This is shortened and is to only contain essential safety information. Notable additions to the script are ‘no spitting, no high fives’, information about how to collect your finish token, how to approach the barcode scanners and our new one way system. We are unable to welcome tourists, or shout out milestones etc. This is to keep the time that people are gathered to a minimum. If you want your milestone mentioning on our Facebook page email in to email@example.com with a photo and we will happily give you the recognition and celebration.
Finish tokens – In the briefing, we ask and show runners how to receive their finish token – with arm outstretched and palm upwards. The finish token volunteer is able to drop the token in the runners had without contact and distanced from each other.
Collecting the finish token - runner and volunteer a good distance apart.
Barcode scanners – Timekeeping and barcode scanning will all be done by volunteers using the parkrun app on their own phones. Both roles are super easy to do and much easier than using the old stopwatches and scanning devices. The timekeepers are able to stand at a distance from the runners crossing the line to keep them covid safe, and the barcode scanning was carefully set up. The scanners stood on the cone, and we had dimple cones where runners would queue – they would present the barcodes on their outstretched hand – all nicely distanced to keep both scanners and runners safe. To prevent large queues from building, we will have 1 scanner for every 50 runners.
parkrunners respected social distancing to keep themselves apart from the volunteers and other runners
Seeding the start line – We requested that parkrunners seed themselves when lining up to start. Fast runners at the front, medium paced in the middle and slower runners and walkers towards the back. This suggestion seemed to work well and just prevents too much overtaking when there is a large density of people near the start.
Volunteers – where would we be without them? We had a small army of high viz heros today. Hand sanitiser was provided for them on arrival and instead of them helping themselves to the lanyards and high viz, these were handed to them to minimise the amount of people that handle each item.
Just some of today's high viz heros
Did it all work on the day?
The simple answer is – absolutely. As a team we thought there may be some things that we would need to tweak and improve, but the event went like clockwork. With volunteers and runners, there were almost 200 people in total – from the moment everyone arrived to leaving at the end, all the measures were perfectly respected and social distancing happened throughout too. For anyone who is unsure of returning as they didn’t know how well the measures will work and if it will feel safe, I would say that it is worth coming along to parkrun. There were many people there today who were unsure about attending and being around so many people, but every one of them commented on how safe they felt.
So it’s a huge thumbs up to everyone – it was only going to work well if all those who attended played their part – and everybody did – we cannot thank you enough. Hope to see you all again next week or very soon.
This week 157 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 26 were first timers and 13 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 20 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 23 volunteers:
Noel MURPHY • Cassandra Fay HUNTER • James MORRIS • Phil THOMPSON • Amy HARTNELL • John HAYES • Lorna WITTER • Sarah GIBSON • Rachel TELFER • Lianne MOSELEY • Emma HAWKEY • Denise TAYLOR • Dave ELLIS • Gemma BENNETT • Susan NUTTALL • Claire TAYLOR • Joanne PRICE • Emily NUTTALL • Sally NULTY • Steve SHURVINTON • Steven WENLOCK • Heidi GUEST • Rahema MAMODO