Thousands of volunteers show up at their local parks every Saturday so we can all enjoy parkrun. Here’s a quick guide to volunteering and how you can get involved.
The Volunteer Roles
Every parkrun has:
• Event Director – gives the briefing and makes sure the event goes to plan. Don’t worry if it’s your first time, this role is usually for experienced volunteers.
• Timekeeper – uses the stopwatch at the start and finish to record everyone’s times.
• Finish Tokens – hands out finish tokens to each person as they cross the finish line.
• Barcode Scanner – scans the finish tokens and personal barcodes after the finish.
Many parkruns also need:
• Marshals – these friendly folk stand at intersections to help other park users cross the route safely.
• Tail Walker – only has to finish last! parkrun is an inclusive event regardless of ability. We don’t want anyone to be anxious that the finish team is waiting for them. The Tail Walker walks or jogs at the back of the pack, so everyone can feel comfortable going at their own pace.
• Photographer – our parkrun community loves seeing photos of our events online. If you’re nifty with a camera then come and capture all the action for us.
I want to volunteer, but I also want to run!
Some parkruns need volunteers to help set up or tear down the course, sort barcodes or lead the charge to the nearest post-event cafe. Just ask!
How do I volunteer?
Contact your local parkrun (via the website, email, Facebook or at an event). Say that you’d like to volunteer, when you’re available and ask what time you need to arrive.
What happens on the day?
You will usually be asked to come early for a volunteer’s briefing.
When you arrive, find the Event Director and introduce yourself. They will give you a volunteer vest to wear and explain your role. For example, if you’re the Timekeeper, you’ll be shown how to use the stopwatch.
• Bring your mobile phone. If you will be out on the course, for example as a Tail Walker, the Event Director will give you their phone number in case you need help.
• Give the Event Director your parkrun barcode number. If you volunteer 25 times, you’ll be eligible for a coveted parkrun volunteer t-shirt!
• Have a little spiel about parkrun ready because you’ll get asked about the event by many curious passers-by. For example: “This is parkrun. It’s 5k, every Saturday at 9:30am. Everyone is welcome – runners, walkers, kids – and it’s free. You can get more info at parkrun.se. Come and join us next week!”
Volunteering is super easy, rewarding and fun, plus parkrun organisers know that you are also keen to run or walk, so it doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment.
A big thanks to Katherine Thompson from Malmö Ribersborg parkrun for this overview!
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