What does a parkrun volunteer do?

If you follow my page you’ll probably see we often post about being a parkrun volunteer when we aren’t running or if its a junior event – But I keep getting asked what does a parkrun volunteer do??

Most of you will already know that parkrun is a free weekly event – it is a 5km timed run (or walk!) that takes place every Saturday morning.

Lets go over some of the roles I have covered at our local parkrun

Whichever role you cover, you don’t need any particular skill, you’ll get to wear a snazzy hi-vis vest and will forever be part of the hi-vis heroes team! Oh and you can even earn yourself one of the milestone t-shirts too.

Chasewater parkrun

Course Marshall

This is one of the easiest yet arguable one of the most important roles – without course marshalls you couldn’t have a parkrun. Marshalls stand at certain points around the route to not only guide runners but also to help put our signage to warn other park users that the parkrun is taking place.

Many are also first aid trained so should there be a medical emergency they are able to assist. Depending on the parkrun you may also have walkie talkies to communicate with the rest of the team on where the tail walker is etc

Some parkruns have such regular marshals they rename the marshall points after that person because they become so well known for being there!

We’ve marshalled with the girls (including with a stroller) and lots do it with their dogs too, seeing the marshalls cheering you on when you are a runner is also a massive boost so we are always thankful to see them!

Timekeeper

As runners cross the finish line its the time keepers job to record their time, this is done by pressing the stopwatch as each person passes you and this then corresponds to the token they will be given at the end of the finish funnel.

We did used to use actual stopwatches but we now have a virtual volunteer app with a stopwatch feature on it which makes it a little bit easier as you can just use your own mobile phone.

There will also be 2 of you doing this at an event, so don’t worry if you make a mistake as between the 2 of you most mistakes can be sorted!

Once you have finished you’ll need to forward your timer data, your event with a QR code for you to scan

Funnel Manager

Lots of people are scared of this role as it has the word manager in it they automatically think it will be difficult, but it isn’t!

I love this role and Holly loves helping me with this one. Your job is to make sure as runners come past the timekeepers they stay in the same order until they have collected their time tokens.

This is super important to make sure everyone gets the correct time. One thing I have learnt doing this role at both the parkrun and junior parkrun is that under 14s are way better at listening to you when you ask them to stay in order than adults are!

You will also keep check that the timekeepers and finish tokens are still in sync!

Finish Tokens

As mentioned above, once runners have passed the Timekeepers and go down the funnel (in the correct order!) they need to grab their token with their time stamp to go over to the barcode scanners.

In the finish tokens role you will be handing out the time tokens to the runners as they come through usually there will be 2 of you (one to sort the tokens and one to physically hand them to the runners)

Your funnel manager will be indicating to you if anyone has swapped positions while coming through the funnel (as mentioned above adults seem to have trouble sticking to these rules!)

Barcode Scanning

When parkrun runners finish they are given a small token with a barcode on by the finish token handlers (see above). This token is synced with the timekeepers stopwatch and gives the runners their finish times.

These tokens then need to be scanned with their runners ID barcodes so the result is linked to them.

We used to have to do this using a ‘bipper’ (I’m sure that isn’t the technical name for the bar code scanner but it is the noise it made!) But now we have an app you just download on your smartphone which is so much easier as you can see exactly what you have (or haven’t) scanned.

Usually there are at least 2 of you doing this on the day so you always have someone to help you if you get stuck but it really is as simple as just scanning the runners ID token and then the barcode

Tail Walker

This is another one of our favourite volunteer roles, it’s also one of the few that you can get a run credit and volunteer credit at the same time. Sometimes it is referred to as a tail runner, but I most definitely only walk!

You can do this role with littles ones, strollers and even your dog. You get to do the parkrun route at walking pace making sure you are behind the last participating parkrunners.

We usually take around an hour to one hour fifteen minutes when we tail walk but its a great way to get the girls out being active while also helping the parkrun being able to operate.

Photographers

If you are handy with the camera why not volunteer to do photos?

You can upload them to Facebook or use a platform like Flickr – we love finding our photos but very few volunteers come forward to do this so it is usually only at Burnham On Seas run we get them.

It would be great to see more photographers volunteer at parkruns!

Other roles

There are a variety of roles at the parkrun (that I haven’t done) such as

Run Director who oversees the whole event from pre-event setup to finish, they generally also do the first timer’s briefing although this is listed as a separate role. Run Directors also usually take on the results processor role along with publishing all the results.

Volunteer coordinator who as the name suggests, coordinates all the parkrun volunteers

Another role that isn’t often filled but also isn’t a key role that must be filled for runs to go ahead is the run report writer. We love reading the run reports but again they are few and far between.

Some also have a lead bike where someone rides ahead of the first runners to ensure the route is clear.

They also have specialist volunteer roles such as time Pacers and even Sign Language Support and VI guide helping visually impaired runners.

I hope you have found out a bit more about volunteering at parkrun and I am happy to give further details and answer any questions you have!

Why not find out where your nearest parkrun event is here and click here to register you will need to register on the parkrun website whether you want to be a volunteer or a runner

ChrissyJ xxx

You can read more about the parkruns we attend below

Bromsgrove Junior parkrun
More than just a walk in the park
Burnham parkrun
Arrow Valley Redditch

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