Let me tell you a little about myself so we can get better acquainted.
I work one day a week, and just for a few hours, but it’s a satisfying gig.
Sometimes I’m on active duty and sometimes I’m just on call if there’s a smaller crowd of runners and walkers.
The rest of the week I live on a re-purposed wire coat hanger that was bent into a shape meant to keep 200 or so of my buddies and me in order and easily accessible. I’ve heard that some of my cousins live on pipe cleaners, knitting needles, shoelaces and the like.
I experienced a slide and free fall off of that wire hanger once, and if I had a stomach it would have been in my throat. My companions and I spent about 15 minutes on the ground as a few yellow-vested volunteers scrambled to put us all back in order before the first runner crossed the finish line. They did it (yay, teamwork) and everyone survived the ordeal! Usually the sorting just happens AFTER parkrun.
I’ve been held by kids, adults, young and old. As much as I like barkrunners and admire them for how they run and walk with their humans, I’m glad that (so far) none of them have gotten a hold of me. Phew!
I’ve been nearly buried in a pile of snow, dropped in the mud, rubbed between sweaty fingers, kissed, and even clenched in teeth (ick)!
All of that means I get a little grimy, but once in a while (especially after a rainy parkrun) the volunteers are kind enough to give me a wipe down.
I don’t mean to brag, but I get photographed A LOT. People have taken selfies with me in front of the parkrun flag or next to a piece of paper with their name and barcode. I can’t smile but I enjoy having my photo taken. In fact, I think after the parkrun flag and perhaps the high-viz vest I’m the most photographed piece of parkrun equipment!
Probably because of my celebrity status, the parkrun Run Directors and volunteers are pretty protective of me. They tell everyone during the run briefing that they can’t keep me, that I’m not a souvenir, and some have even chased after participants who have tried to walk away with me (intentional or not). I’ve heard that some events have signs saying “You shall not pass” with a picture of me near the finish line. Other events write messages in chalk at the finish line reminding people to give me back after getting scanned.
Oh, and let me tell you about the scanning! It’s my proudest moment each week. My (temporary) owner presents me (along with their personal barcode) to a volunteer. The volunteer has this cool little gadget, which I call the keeper of the red light. It beams a magical red laser light onto the personal barcode, and the keeper of the red light beeps as it accepts the message that the barcode sends it through the light. Then, it’s my turn! The keeper of the red light aims at me, its magic red beam appears and hovers over the barcode printed on my side. It makes a beep to tell the volunteer and me it has received my message and then I know my job is complete.
The day when the keeper of the red light doesn’t beep will be the day I retire, but that’s a long ways off because I’m plastic and fantastic! I know plastic gets a bad rap these days, but I need to be durable and since I’m re-used time and time again, it’s kind of a necessity. I plan to have a long life of service.
Some of my comrades, though, have had close calls. Despite the best efforts of the volunteers, a few have been slipped into pockets or the cup holders of strollers and taken on an adventure away from parkrun. Some have returned, grateful to nestle back in among the ranks, others have disappeared into the abyss (or perhaps a laundry washing machine) and have been replaced by a new token with a sticker matching its predecessor’s number. Please pause with me for a moment of silence for all of my missing relatives…
Well, it’s been fun to share a little bit about my purpose in life with you, and I hope you’re my (temporary) owner at some point during your parkrun adventures.
Yours (temporarily) truly,
A parkrun Finisher Token
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