To volunteer, or not volunteer, that is the question.
This is an appeal to all of our runners, and although it is a fairly long post, I'd be grateful if you could spare the time to read it.
In addition to the serious stuff below - volunteering is fun. It is easier than running! The event is free, partly because of the volunteers each week. Putting something back into your event helps to keep it going. If you volunteer 25 times, you get a purple t-shirt. If you’re racing later in the day, you can get a volunteer in first. If you're injured, you can support others to achieve their goals. And it is possible to run and volunteer, particularly if you plan ahead and book up the slot early, or if you are finishing in the top 40% of the field.
If you haven't volunteered before, or haven't volunteered recently, please could you have a look at the roster and think seriously about whether you could.
It is becoming increasingly hard to fill the roster each month, with the same hard core group doubling up and running themselves ragged to keep the same standard of event delivery going.
Thus far there have always been photos and always been a report, but these things are not essential and particularly in the case of photos, will just stop happening - it isn't fair to expect the person on timer to also take photos, and the Run Director is no longer allowed to do any job other than Run Direct - which means supervise the event, and be ready to deal with any emergency or situation which occurs.
The half way timer role will also disappear if we can't cover all the marshal slots.
We can put the event on with 5 non-running volunteers each week - RD, Timer, Finish Tokens, Barcode scanner and a marshal on Barrie's Bend.
If we do this, it will be a very different event to that which we are used to.
There will be no back up if the timer goes wrong, either through technical or human error, and this would have resulted in the entire field being given a time of 59:59 on at least one occasion this year already. The extra stress and pressure this would put on the volunteer operating the timer would make that role even harder to fill.
Only one person on each of finish tokens and barcode scanning means that queues will build up.
With finish tokens, this means that the funnel may overflow, and people won't get the correct place or time, and human nature being what it is, runners will get impatient, and the volunteer giving out the tokens will be under more pressure, and thus is more likely to drop the tokens, etc. Again, this makes the role more stressful, and more difficult to fill.
Barcode scanning will just take longer, and runners will get cold, but again, this is likely to result in increasingly harassed and pressured volunteers, with more mistakes, and less willingness to repeat the job.
No photos, no halfway timer, and only one marshal.
These things will not make the event un-runnable, but they will make it less pleasant for the runners, with less support, and no photographic record of the day.
In terms of Health and Safety, we have NEVER had to cancel an event This, in part, has been because when conditions have been less than perfect, we have had sufficient marshals to ensure that all the potentially dangerous parts of the course are negotiated safely. As the roster currently stands, if it is icy, we won't be able to do this, and I am not going to put an event on if the course is not safe.
I am aware that we have, historically, been very lucky with volunteers, and it is sad that with the largest numbers of runners we've ever had, our volunteer numbers are at an all-time low, with the roster often being filled late on a Friday night as a result of frantic text messages begging for support from some of our stalwarts.
So, if you're still reading, (and I'm aware that I'm preaching to the converted to some extent) please see if you can help. The event needs you.
Our email address is email@example.com
Thank you, as always.
Riddlesdown parkrun team