I recently passed the 50 mark for volunteer roles performed at parkrun. A half century, to use a cricket analogy. I’m not a huge cricket fan but having Malahide as my home parkrun has meant cricket has been unavoidable on occasions over the years whenever the Ireland bandwagon has rolled into Malahide Castle, requiring us to adapt our route to accommodate their presence.
I started parkrun in 2013, a few months after it arrived in Ireland. At the time it was ideal for me. I’d become tired of the competitive nature of many races and leagues I was used to running in, and disillusioned with the money being charged for various races at a time when the recession was hitting many people hard, myself included.
From the start I appreciated that parkrun only happened through volunteering, and took my turns from early on. At first I preferred volunteer duties such as Pre-Event Setup or Pacer as that meant I could also run, but eventually I developed a liking for being a marshal as it was something I could involve my children in. This was their introduction to parkrun, and once Albert College junior parkrun started up near us in summer 2016 they took to that very keenly.
Aside from volunteering as a marshal, I also enjoy doing lead bike, although on one occasion at Malahide a guy almost broke the course record and I had to work hard to stay ahead of him. I think I was more exhausted at the end of the run than he was! On another occasion I had the honour of cycling at the front of a run that included Olympic athlete Catherina McKiernan.
parkrun has turned out to be everything I thought it would be, and more. I always enjoy seeing new people arrive, stick with it and get into doing something that will improve their health and wellbeing. It’s great to see people taking part who maybe wouldn’t have felt comfortable getting into running in the events that were on offer before parkrun came along. In a nutshell that is the beauty of parkrun; it is for everybody, it is a community and it places the emphasis on taking part and enjoying the run rather than competitiveness. It’s a place to make friends and a place to bring your family.
So, 33 duties as Marshal, seven as Lead Bike, and three as Barcode Scanner, Pacer and Pre-event set up, along with solitary turns as Funnel Manager and Tail Walker. My 51 volunteer roles were carried out on 49 occasions, which means that on two occasions I did two jobs. I think on one of them I did the pre-event set up, ran, and then jumped onto one of the scanners afterwards, to effectively triple-job that day. I suppose we all have to be able to multi-task these days!
I’m stuck on 131 parkruns at the moment as I’m out injured long-term but I still volunteer most weeks, especially at the local junior parkrun. I think it’s important to stay involved even if you aren’t in a position to walk or run, and volunteering at parkrun is such a rewarding experience.
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