Anyone who knows me eventually finds out how much I love parkrun (I do tend to talk about it quite a bit). A free weekly 5km timed event that is growing in popularity all over the world. Last week, according to the Australian weekly parkrun newsletter, there were 70,000 people across the globe lining up to run those magic 5kms. I was one of them!
Before parkrun the only other runner I knew was my Husband Paul. parkrun in Launceston started in November 2012, that’s about 18 months ago – a year and a half. Since it started I now know very special people who I call running buddies but honestly are more than that to me. Precious people who share my love and passion for running and who get it. I don’t have to explain or try and get them to understand why running is so important – they are runners, they know, we understand each other.
To keep parkrun going the local events need volunteers. This is a totally free event, all that is asked is that participants volunteer three times per year. My favourite volunteer role is that of marshal. I get to stand somewhere on the course and point in the right direction and cheer the runners on. It’s lots of fun.
How much time does being a volunteer take?
At Launceston parkrun volunteers are asked to get there 35 minutes before the start. Then we are out on the course or at the finish line doing our volunteer thing for about an hour and then it takes about 10 minutes to pack up. Afterward we stay and have a coffee or a late breakfast at the nearby coffee shop but that’s only if we want to.
All up it takes about an hour and three quarters maximum.
These are my stats for events and volunteering. I’ve done a little bit more than what’s asked, but nowhere near as much as other runners I know. Technically I have one more volunteer role to do this year and I’ve done my bit. BUT once I get those nine parkruns done to qualify for the magic 50 Tee Shirt, I’m going to put up my hand to do a lot more volunteering – it’s so much fun AND I’m very grateful to an event that has allowed my running confidence to grow and grow.
And did I say it’s fun? It is. Fun and friendly.
So why is it of late that so many events are struggling to find volunteers? To keep up with a few of the parkruns I would like to visit I’ve started following them on facebook. All up I get newsfeeds for eight parkruns. All of the Australian and New Zealand parkruns are constantly looking for volunteers every week. What a drag for the run directors. That would take the fun out of it for them. These people put in way more time than an hour and three quarters! They have to get the roster happening, collate the results, always be there every Saturday…it’s a big time commitment for people in a volunteer role. It makes the standard weekly volunteer roles look like a walk in the park.
Considering that the average 5km run costs about $25 to $35 here in Tasmania, parkrun is very good value for money – it’s free! Giving parkrun three Saturday mornings per year is all that’s asked. Bargain! Runners need to go to the parkrun website and register and bring along their personal barcode, then results are put up on the web site – it’s the most efficient system I’ve seen in regards to getting those results up quickly. Did I say it’s free to register?
Registraion is a simple online form at www.parkrun.com. Each Saturday runners bring along their unique barcode (no barcode no time recorded). These can be printed off in lots of six – being a librarian I took mine to work – it’s exactly the same size as a library card so I put it through the laminator (shhh). But the little round tokens are pretty cool – they are from BentLogic Australia, cost AU$6 including postage and $2 is donated to parkrun Australia. I have mine on a hair band and it hangs from my watch. Others tie them in with their shoes laces or pin them on if they don’t have a pocket.
Come on parkrunners…put up your hand and volunteer. If you are feeling nervous about it please don’t be. The event directors will show you how to do things and if you are like me and the stopwatch and the barcode scanner make you feel nervous (yes it’s true that they do) you can always be a marshal or someone who hands out the finish tokens…none of these jobs are difficult (the brain of the Unsporty Woman can handle these tasks).
Make your local parkrun director’s day…go through the calendar, email them (the address is on your local parkrun page) and give them some dates over the next few months that you can volunteer. You will love it, they will be grateful and you might meet and make some new running buddies – sounds like a win win win situation to me! If you are a regular parkrun volunteer I want to say thank you! Especially thank you to the volunteers at parkruns where Pauly and I have been parkrun tourists. And if you do parkrun volunteering I would love you to comment and tell me how much you enjoy the role too.
If you haven’t experienced parkrun visit the parkrun website to find out all about it.
If ever you are coming to Australia and make it down to the beautiful island state of Tasmania please put Launceston parkrun on your to-do list AND let me know so I can make sure I’m there to say g’day.
Happy running 🙂
PS foot is holding up well, way beyond expectations. 7kms done last night with Pauly – it was so good to be running!