Volunteering at parkrun is like a warm, welcoming drink on a cold winter’s day. It brings that Ready Brek glow (other breakfast cereals are available) and an all-over feeling of well-being, even though you may be soaked to the skin, have just dropped the tokens into the mud and the scanners have packed up.
This week marked my 100th volunteering stint at parkrun, the free weekly timed 5km run that started in Leeds in 2007, becoming the first event outside London where it all began. With up to 400 runners a week at Woodhouse Moor, we always need volunteers to carry out the various tasks which range from marshaling, scanning barcodes, handing out tokens, generally shouting, clapping and cheering and timing. I’ve done them all except timing, I’m not to be trusted with something that requires 100 per cent attention. Sorry, what was that?
In addition, there’s assertive organising to be done, some may call it bossing about, I’d refute that. There’s also handing out high-viz jackets and untangling the plastic tape for the finish funnel and the all-important opener-of-the-toilet, a great relief to many parkrunners.
The post-run work is then to be done, clearing up, putting stuff in the stores, making our way to the cafe for coffee and serious discussions on the issues of the day. OK so there are no serious discussions, but the biddly-beeping thingies need to have their string of numbers uploaded into the computer thing (another of the tasks I’m not to be trusted with).
But the most wonderful thing about volunteering is that instead of just turning up, running, then going home and waiting for the results, I get to see everything that’s great about parkrun from start to finish, witness how people run hard, run moderately or just jog around, then how they come back week after week. Just like me!