on... Volunteering

Volunteers – those people who are stood around at parkrun on a Saturday morning, bright and cheery whatever the weather. It amazes me that some people take it all for granted – they turn up, run and leave – oblivious of what goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen.

Luckilly, parkrun recognise these special people, naming them on the Web page, sending a little “thank you” e-mail and giving out points. Ever looked up the Points tables for the local parkrun? You may be in for a surprise! Essentially, points are dished out on the basis of 100 to the winner, 99 to the second in, 98 to the third and so on until you get to position #100. Ladies have a separate bag of points, and interestingly all of those “no barcode” places are assumed to be Male, which makes sense, seeing as they are the more disorganised of the species. Anyway, getting back to the point (as I normally do), when you volunteer at parkrun, you get 100 points – for the first three times that you do it. That’s got to be an added incentive to anyone!

There are loads of different things that need doing – from placing the Km markers out, constructing the funnel, getting the flags up (which can be a challenge in the winter when the ground freezes). Then there’s the timekeepers, the number “hander-outers” and number “bleepers”, marshalls – on duty to guide people the right way, look out for injuries and shoot children that walk over the “crocodile bridge” (or is that just my kids?) On top of all of that, there’s the Run Director who organises it all, makes the announcements and starts the run (not to mention leaving their car boot open for coats and drink storage). The tail runner deserves a special mention too for being the most understanding, cheerful person there – carrying the first aid kit and any runners that just need a little assistance or encouragement to get around. I still have fond memories of walking with Rachael, Badger and Dexter together with their sleigh (containing First Aid wrapped up as presents), myself dressed as a Christmas Tree in case I was spotted by the surgeon who fixed my knee 15 days before!

Not just the official volunteers  either – I know of one chap, let’s call him “Lyndon”, who’s dad turns up every week to watch him run, rain or shine. I have talked with him in the past and he never fails to cheer me on - he’s a really nice guy. I’m not subconsciously having a go at my dad for never watching me run – alright, I am a bit. I’m really grateful to Caerphilly council for arranging the Caerphilly 10K, starting about 500m from my parent’s house so that it is nice and easy for dad to drive there. There’ll be a grand outing from our family – not exactly “Davies-style”, but me, the whippit (James), my brother (he’s 30, a bit younger than me, so I’ll leave him standing!), brother’s fiancée and two nephews and one of their fiance’s. If you see any strangers with “TeamFN” on their backs, cheer them on for me – and shout “Nigel’s ahead of you”, (unless of course I’m not).

One of my sons (MattFN) enjoys photography and makes his contribution by taking pictures and video clips in the past. These are generally enjoyed after being uploaded to Facebook, or better still the Lliswerry Runners Website. Matt’s saving up for a new Camera, so he can easily be bribed into making sure there’s a picture of you being taken or even the capturing your finish on video. Not sure if that’s allowed, but you know where to find us!

So, once again, it’s all about the volunteers – parkrun is free, it’s run purely by the volunteers. Without volunteers there’s no parkrun. What would you be doing on a Saturday morning at 09:00 without parkrun? Come on, let’s do our bit! Take a look at the “Volunteers” section on the Website (top right corner, next to “Results”), pick your date, pick your position and then e-mail [email protected]

Nigel.