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!
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 🙂