50 locations as a voluntourist

50 locations as a voluntourist – at Phoenix parkrun #112
Keen parkrunners are motivated by all manner of different challenges: the alphabet, being recognised on the most events table, pirates and stop watch bingo; all of these are relatively simple challenges to track. Doing it as a volunteer is quite a different prospect and certainly harder to track without access to the database that event teams use. However, my daughter Harriet WHITE (who gave you your token this parkrunday) was inspired by Lynsey BURRELL almost a year ago to complete 20 different events as a volunteer. Until this event though, the two hadn’t met. Harriet’s home parkrun of Queen Elizabeth is around 230 miles from Phoenix parkrun and this is the furthest that she’s travelled without staying with family to attend a different event.
Back in March or so, Calum BURRELL had a chat with the team at Phoenix parkrun and arranged that Lynsey would celebrate her 5th parkrun ‘birthday’ and her 50th different location as a volunteer at the event. ‘Real life’ and ‘virtual’ friends arranged diaries and planned the trip to the NW. Some came as volunteers and many as runners. All was going well, hotels, trains and the GPS lady primed… then Calum suggested we wear purple tutus, a motif of the Davenport running club. Cue frantic purchasing of all the purple tutus left in south London before leaving slightly later than planned to hit the M25, M42 and M6 at rush hour. For those coming to Runcorn by train and having to wait for nearly an hour for a lift, the waiting room at the station is new and out of the wind – apparently not something that Lime Street offered. A few more early morning panics on parkrunday as there was major roadworks affecting the exits to get to the park but we got to the right place at mostly the right time and checked in.
The day itself was a gift. Clear, sunny, cool enough for happy running and importantly for the volunteers, dry.
What makes a good volunteer and a good voluntourist? For both, it’s the commitment to being on the roster, turning up or telling the team if something has changed with as much warning as possible, and arriving in good time, preferably by 0830. It’s listening to the briefings and understanding how the Run Director or the Volunteer Coordinator wants the role to be completed. It’s having the right clothes for being predominantly stationary and staying in position until the tail walker is done. For most volunteers, the parkrun is their local, a known place. For the voluntourist, there’s the added complication of having to find the parkrun, meet the local team and reassure the team that, when handed a timer, a stack of tokens or a barcode scanner, that they will do their very best to make the parkrun operate smoothly. It’s also understanding that there are always little changes at a different parkrun and that those need to be accommodated without question.
A celebration such as Lynsey’s might not be formally recognised by parkrun but it is a fantastic achievement. As well as visiting 50 different locations, Lynsey has also completed 140 volunteer days, or nearly 3 years of enabling parkrunners to complete their goals, be that running, jogging, walking or a mixture of all three. Big congratulations to Lynsey for being a non-running volunteer and inspiring others to volunteer.
To the results: 126 people turned up to run with 7 remembering their barcodes and completing their first parkrun. Well done to all of you, and do come back again. Jackie MCDONALD completed her 50th parkrun and Jannette EVANS her 50th day of volunteering. Graham HOLLAND completed his 5k a day in 2019 challenge for 13th April. Sadly the first finisher is unknown in the results, but it was a joy to see him running so smoothly around the course. In addition to the 7 new parkrunners there were 33 other first timers and an awesome 25 PBs, meaning that 65 people ran their fastest time on the course.
Once the run was finished, we shared in Lynsey’s amazing purple cake with all her locations listed – a brilliant end to a brilliant event with a whole host of new ‘real life’ friends made.
Pippa White, Queen Elizabeth