parkrun volunteer – being a pom pom girl

I absolutely love volunteering at parkrun!

I love the atmosphere, I love the smiles and happiness, I love watching the fast runners go by and I LOVE watching those who struggle! That sounds really mean, but I do have a pretty good idea of what it feels like to be a beginner runner since it wasn’t that long ago. I clearly remember what it was like to put myself out into an environment that was foreign, strange and unfamiliar AND to feel like giving up. I love to cheer these runners on to finish!

Volunteering as a marshal at parkrun is the best job ever!

I get to stand and point the direction and as I point I cheer and encourage all the runners.

Today was show your colours day. Everyone was encouraged to dress in their team colours. Being the Unsporty Woman of course I don’t have a team, but Husband does. Those mighty warriors, those men of distinction for whom Husband is a countryman – THE ALL BLACKS! Cool, black is my favourite colour anyway 🙂 I made some pompoms and did a fairy bad, but very enthusiastic, impersonation of a cheer leader! I had a ball!

Taken on the farm, Husband was stuck in the dairy this morning

Taken on the farm, Husband was stuck in the dairy this morning

One unexpected thing that I have come to enjoy about volunteering is getting to chat with my fellow marshals as we walk out to our respective spots on the course. I have heard so many amazing, inspiring and encouraging personal running stories! One lovely parkrun volunteer, who is so incredibly speedy, I was amazed to find out had only been running for a couple of years! Another volunteer told me about her weight loss journey and how becoming a runner has transformed her life. And just recently I heard the story of a volunteer who was told to take up running to combat a health problem. This lady and I often run together and try to beat each other, so it was lovely to chat and hear her running story, about her challenges and successes.

Volunteering at parkrun is a chance to put away the worries and stresses for an hour or so and do something fun – it brings out the kid in me, lets me laugh and cheer and concentrate on good things.

One of the last people around the course today apologised for being so slow. I got out my pompoms and really cheered her on. I told her not to be sorry, that she was doing a fantastic job and that she was out in the cold giving it her best shot when so many people were still in bed! She smiled and went from her tired walk into a little run! That’s what I love about marshalling – being that cheery, audible voice who helps to defeat those soundless words of discouragement that often get so loud in the minds of beginner runners. My job is to cheer so loud that they are drowned out. The runner smiles and keeps going! I can do this! I will do this! YAY!

Volunteering gives me the opportunity to give just a little bit back to this wonderful organisation that has freely given me such a huge confidence boost with my running AND introduced me to some beautiful new running friends.

Sometimes parkrun has trouble getting a team of volunteers together each week. Everyone who participates is asked to volunteer three times per year. I’ve worked with volunteers in my paid job for over 15 years now. I know how hard it is to get things done in a program where there are insufficient volunteers so I’ve happily put my hand up to volunteer at parkrun since it started back in November 2012. The first time I volunteered I was very nervous. Despite having run the course several times I printed out the map and studied it to make sure I knew where to go. I felt a little foreign volunteering for a running thing! (I am the Unsporty Woman, what do I know about volunteering at a running event???) It was a bit outside my comfort-zone. Now, well, I love it. There was no need to be nervous at all! I wonder if this is why some parkrunners don’t offer to volunteer. Are they feeling a little too shy or nervous? If you are a parkrunner, please don’t be nervous, just give it a go and you’ll discover it’s the best volunteering fun you could ever have!

Happy running 🙂

22 thoughts on “parkrun volunteer – being a pom pom girl

  1. Love this post – I have now volunteered twice at my local park run over the summer and like you really loved it. I was at the end of the course both times doing barcode scanning and handing out finishing tokens respectively but I still loved it.

    My first day volunteering I saw the guy who came in first and he strolled in in a shade over 18 minutes looking for all the world like he’d just been for an afternoon stroll along the promenade – I should probably have been impressed but the person who impressed me more was the guy who came in second and doubled over looking like he was about to puke and fighting for extra breath – and I loved him most because I saw the dedication and hard work he put in for that time – He genuinely didn’t have a drop left in him to run faster and I really admired that.

    I also witnessed two of our most awesome runners – a blind guided runner who did fantasticly well on our difficult course, and an inspirational amputee runner who running with a blade on one leg worked so hard and did brilliantly. They both inspired me to work harder and they got the biggest cheers of the day at the finish line.

    I second your comment that everyone should have a go at volunteering it’s a great way to give back and keep your local parkrun going and it’s just good fun too.


    • Thank you! Glad to hear you enjoy volunteering. It is amazing to see people give their all! The more I chat with fellow runners I appreciate more and more the struggles that so many go through to keep running. Volunteering provides a rare gift to be that special encourager at one moment in time that could make the difference for a lifetime. I hope one day you can be a parkrun tourist at beautiful Launceston parkrun!

  2. Great post USW! I`m too lazy to even get up and park run on a Saturday morning. Damn. Though I love to watch runners towards the finish line. You really do see so many different running styles and abilities there.
    You`re inspiring me to at least venture on my first park run. I`ll look at vounteerring then some time after that!

    • Dear Red Hen you will love it! The running is good, chatting with other runners is good and the friendly coffee afterwards is GREAT! And totally agree with enjoying watching other runners. I had no idea that some of the super fast people huff and puff so much until I volunteered. And some look so effortless as they run – like they are just out for a little stroll rather than smashing 5k in the teens. By the time I finish they are all looking relaxed and like they haven’t even been for a run hehe

  3. Hey fellow Parkrunners, what an awesome blog. I was a Parkrun devotee for about six months before I had to leave Launceston (sob sob) to pursue work interstate. I volunteered twice in that time and had a great time…it was so much fun encouraging other runners, especially the ones who were struggling (I know the feeling). It’s a great excuse to get out of bed on a Saturday morning and you feel fantastic afterwards. Keep up the good work.

  4. Greatly admire this running community, and your spirit of encouraging others to excel. Oh and I forgot to laud you for that haul of wood you took out the other day.

    At your farm, or having shopped for it, have you ever seen a human-powered plow? I think that would be an awesome training tool.

    • Thanks Mike. The farm has lots of old trees that time and wind turn into firewood. Husband and a few chaps do all the heavy chain sawing and most of the splitting. I split the logs that are really dry (the easy ones!). A human-driven plough would be an enormous workout. I’ve seen some old photos of this farm and how hard it was physically to work the land – there wasn’t anyone in those photos who looked like they had spent too much time at MacDonalds.

  5. It was so nice and encouraging to read this post. I’m in the early stages of trying to get a parkrun happening here. I’ve now got a few people onto a team to work on finding a good spot and some funding. 🙂 I’m all the more excited about it after reading this today. Thank you!

  6. I love volunteering. Can’t wait until the minion’s winter Saturday morning sport finishes so we can get a few in (the minions also enjoy a good volunteer session). Love the pics!

    • Thanks Fiona 🙂 Minions playing some sport is pretty cool and glad to hear they enjoy volunteering too. There were a few small people working with their parents on Saturday – lovely to see 🙂

  7. Pingback: Tamworth Parkrun | The Tri Road

  8. Pingback: Weekly newsletter – 20th August 2013 | parkrun Australia

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