We all know that parkrun wouldn’t happen without the volunteers that organize every event, every week. And we probably are aware that the volunteers are parkrunners just like ourselves. But there are so many reasons to be a parkrun volunteer beyond a sense of duty or need to keep the event afloat.
Here are 5 reasons to want to be a parkrun volunteer.
Washing up and mowing the lawn are chores. They have to happen, but you probably don’t look forward to them. Have you noticed that parkrun volunteers seem to be enjoying themselves. It’s rewarding, it’s working as part of a team, it’s creating something wonderful for your community.
As a parkrun volunteer you are the public face of something that people like a lot. So you get to meet lots of people. You meet the other volunteers, you meet lots of parkrunners. People appreciate what you’re doing. It’s hard to feel isolated when you’re a parkrun volunteer.
If you’re an introvert at heart, parkrun gives you a great way to connect with other people. A number of walkers and slower parkrunners told us that they enjoy that volunteering makes it easier for them to talk with more people who might be gone by the time the later finishers arrive.
This sounds backwards. How could not parkrunning make you do it more? Again, it’s all about the community connections. Researcher at Loughborough University in the UK found that volunteering at parkrun helps people to feel more a part of the community. That in turn makes them more likely to keep coming back.
Staying healthy and active is about more than huffing your way through a gym session. Getting outdoors in a natural setting, on foot, engaging with other people, and having fun are all good for your physical and mental health. Calories burned are easy to measure, but that doesn’t make them the only thing that matters.
The very first parkrun was started in London in 2004 because Paul Sinton-Hewitt was unable to run and saw the benefits of getting outside and doing something positive with his friends.
If you volunteer on 25 occasions then you join the parkrun volunteer club and earn a free purple V25 shirt from parkrun. They’re lovely shirts, and they signal your commitment to the community. But we suspect that by the time most people have volunteered 25 times, they have figured out that there are plenty of other good reasons to volunteer at parkrun.
We recommend a recent interview by parkrun COO Tom Williams on how parkrun’s thinking about volunteering has evolved over the years. In the past it was seen as just a means to an end: staging free running events as efficiently as possible. But now they regard it as beneficial in its own right, as a way of contributing to the goal of creating healthy communities. In the four-part interview, the volunteering discussion is in Part 2. Listen to the interview.
We asked some of our most frequent volunteers why they do it.
Tom Hornik (Leakin Park parkrun): “I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that overcomes me every Saturday just after 11:00.”
Eden Gray (Roosevelt Island parkrun): “I enjoy helping others achieve.”
Rory Murphy (Delaware & Raritan Canal parkrun): “I love the Run Director role because I get to tell everybody what to do.”
Andrea Zukowski (College Park parkrun): “There is no Saturday that I don’t come home feeling better about the world, and better about my own ability to effect positive change.”
Pam Marcus (Kensington parkrun): “I just like to volunteer.”
So, how can you get in on the fun and feel the warm glow of being a parkrun volunteer? Check out the “volunteer” page on your local parkrun website. Talk with a team member on any Saturday at your local parkrun. And ensure that you’re signed up for the once-weekly email that most parkruns send with news updates and volunteer information. You can sign up by updating your profile at parkrun.com.
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