People can hear the word parkrun and be put off by the “run” part of the name. Most regular parkrunners have probably had a conversation with a mate or family member and assured them they don’t have to run, that walking, jogging and any pace in between is more than welcome at parkrun. But then there is the other way to be involved in parkrun, without having to do any running or walking at all.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of parkrun, and without them, it simply would not happen.
A parkrun newcomer Gavin Blue is the president of volunteer-run charitable organisation, Heartfelt, so he said he knew first-hand how vital volunteers were to making things happen.
Gavin said he first heard of parkrun a few years ago and registered at Albert Park, but had only previously attended a parkrun event in Brisbane a few months ago when on a work trip. “My first experience of participating was when I was working in Brisbane and there was a parkrun that started 100m from my hotel and I happened to have the Saturday free,” Gavin said. “I headed down and the atmosphere was surprisingly welcoming. Someone noticed I looked like I didn’t know what to do and a volunteer kindly steered in the right direction.”
When Gavin didn’t have any kids’ sport commitments last weekend, he visited Diamond Creek parkrun with a friend. “At Diamond Creek, a totally different part of the country to Brisbane, there was a totally different community, and another incredible atmosphere created by the volunteers,” Gavin said. “Like my first experience, after the welcome, veterans were acknowledged (after the warning of ice on the bridge), newbies publicly welcomed and there was the chatter of friends catching up. “I love the concept that parkrun is run by volunteers and the experience that creates. During the run, marshalls are acknowledged, thanked and “high-fived” by at least every third person and I noticed that in the very chilly Diamond Creek air, the marshall wasn’t going to let having a newborn (warmly wrapped) stop her from volunteering. That makes me feel like this is something special.”
Michelle Ramsay, who has done 135 parkruns and recently notched up 25 volunteer stints to become the proud new owner of an aubergine t-shirt, said by volunteering at parkrun, she was able to stay in touch with her friends at her beloved Saturday morning ritual through injury.
“Friendship is very important and parkrun keeps me in touch with my fellow runners and gets me out of bed on a Saturday morning,” Michelle said. “I get a great feeling helping out at parkrun and it keeps me motivated through my injury.
“Encouraging and supporting my running buds by volunteering at parkrun is awesome,” she said. Michelle said token sorting was her favourite role while she was letting her injuries heal, as she was able to help out by staying seated. After four months of no running, Michelle returned to parkrun a couple of weekends ago to walk with her friends.
Thank you volunteers of parkrun.
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