In what’s believed to be a world first, 14 members of the Hand family (15 if you count Trixie the Toy Poodle) took on all volunteering roles at Nepean River parkrun on Saturday 22nd December.
While family participation at parkrun is nothing unusual, what made this event unique was that every single person on the roster shares the last name Hand.
Regular parkrunner and volunteer, Graham Hand, was Run Director on the day. His work began weeks prior to the event, signing up his team of Handy volunteers. Three generations of the extended family helped make the event a reality, including some who had travelled from as far as the NSW Central Coast (approximately 1.5 hours’ drive) to help on the day. The team also included a number of family members who had never completed a single parkrun, and had to register just to get their names on the roster.
Graham said one of his toughest jobs was telling his sister Susan that she wasn’t allowed to volunteer because she had changed her last name when she got married many years ago. “Normally as Run Director we spend the week recruiting volunteers but this time I had to tell people we were full. In fact, our regular volunteers Andrew, Val and Christine had a forced vacation so we could make sure only Hands were on the roster,” Graham said.
In another first, regular volunteer timekeeper Andrew Kilminster completed the Nepean River parkrun course for the first time, despite having volunteered 80 times previously. Rumour has it he even ran in some parts, and was surprised when he reached the cross country section because he wasn’t aware that the parkrun course veered off the main path along the Nepean River.
While it was a little risky having the roster taken over by people who were unfamiliar not just with Nepean River parkrun, but with parkrun procedures in general, Graham said careful planning ensured the key roles were filled with the most experienced volunteers. “My daughter Maddie is an experienced parkrunner, so she led the tailwalking team with my nieces Kirsty and Shennay, and our dog Trixie,” Graham said.
“My sons Bailey and Jordan have also done timekeeping and finish tokens before, so they helped my cousin Richie who was doing the backup timekeeping.
“My brother Ian is a regular at Nepean River parkrun, so he showed our mum, Myra, to her marshalling spot while he took up the other marshalling position himself.
“My sister in law, Melanie, has also done parkrun a few times so she took on double duty – marshalling in the carpark before taking on the barcode scanning.
“My dad, David, loves photography, so we knew which role would be perfect for him. It was photography, just in case that wasn’t obvious,” Graham clarified.
“My cousin in law Annie had never done a parkrun before, so she helped me set up the course and then ran the parkrun herself. She was chuffed to be first female over the line, so I’m pretty sure she’ll be back at parkrun again in the near future.
“Richie and Annie’s kids, Abbey and Jake, helped pack up the banners and cones at our finish line – so we had jobs for everyone. “We also had more family members join us for their first ever parkrun – it was great to have a big family get together just before Christmas,” Graham said.
Despite the inexperience of some of the volunteers, the parkrun went off without a hitch, demonstrating just how easy the volunteering roles can be. “If people who have never even done a parkrun before can volunteer, then people who are regular parkrunners shouldn’t be at all nervous about adding their name to the roster,” Graham said.
“Volunteering is a lot of fun and very rewarding – everyone should give it a try.”
And when asked if he’s worried about another family somewhere in the world beating the Hands’ record for the most volunteers from the same family taking over the roster, Graham just smiled. “We’ve got a big family with lots of aunts and uncles, cousins and kids. I’ve got plenty more relatives who will lend a Hand if we need to defend our record,” he said.
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