Fifty nine minutes and fifty nine seconds. A time achieved by 9 parkrunners across the country since parkrun began in the US. Until last weekend.
Despite a stopwatch malfunction that caused 194 runners at Clermont Waterfront in Florida to be assigned a 59:59 time, everyone still had a great experience and event leaders received heartwarming feedback.
You’re probably thinking “we’ve had mistakes at our event, too!” Maybe the finish tokens slid off their holder, creating parkrun abstract art on the ground below. Perhaps the barcode scanner results weren’t deleted from the prior week resulting in 2 finishers for every place. Maybe your turn-around cone has been a few meters shy of its usual spot on occasion. These are shared experiences within the parkrun volunteer community. Though we all hope we’re never the one to make a mistake, or be holding the technology when it falters, rest assured that parkrun will go on.
Not only will parkrun go on, but the true spirit of the parkrun community will shine, as it has in Clermont.
Event leadership posted informative and apologetic messages on their Facebook page and in their run report about the issue over the weekend and there was a flood of responses. Each and every one was positive. We urge you to take a few minutes to read them here. They will give you enough warm fuzzies to keep you toasty through the coming winter (even if you’re one of our parkrunners in Eagan, MN).
Here are a few, as a teaser.
Comments came from Clermont regulars like Joyce DeVoe Tucker who wrote, “No worries. You do an awesome job. I am so glad I found out about parkrun and am loving doing it no matter the time! Everyone is so friendly and encouraging.”
Shelly Linder had similar sentiments; “Thank you for all that you do Clermont parkrun volunteers. This free weekly event has changed my life and I love you all!!!”
Those visiting from other countries were also quick to point out that there are more important aspects to parkrun than times.
Ann Murphy said, “It’s a run – not a race!!! And what a beautiful run – my first parkrun outside of Ireland – thanks for being so welcoming and thanks to all the volunteers – none of us would have this wonderful run if not for all the volunteers who give their time so selflessly each week.”
And, even though it’s not a race, there were a few humorous comments like this one from Larry Jenkins: “Tied for first!! Can’t complain about that. All is good.”
Some even benefitted from the mishap, like Jason Mercer who commented, “So the fact that I turned up 10 minutes late didn’t have any negative effect then. Bonus!!”
There were even messages of solidarity from around the world.
Northala Fields parkrun wrote “Clermont parkrun, what a great bunch of parkrunners you have! We all know that could happen to any of us at any time.”
People also stepped up to volunteer for coming weeks as a show of support and to help fill the role of 2nd timekeeper, which has been added to the roster.
While the tone of the responses likely didn’t surprise those who understand the ethos of parkrun, it’s still wonderful to have written affirmation of what we know. The parkrun community is made up of understanding, respectful, kind people who come out every week to have fun, improve their health and build community.
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