News - 17th May 2023

parkrunning Xavier’s way

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It’s an inflammatory opinion, but Xavier Bell says ‘Tail Walking sucks.’


This view may cause some consternation amongst parkrunners. Tail Walking is many people’s favourite volunteer role because of the leisurely pace, the chance to chat, and the bonus of both volunteer and walk/run credits.


Maybe Xavier’s honesty comes from the fact that he is only 12 years old, but it belies a conviction of purpose. Xavier wants to volunteer 300 times at parkrun. Yet he doesn’t want to ever run or walk at an event again. Tail Walking once was enough.


One person who has a more positive view of Tail Walking is Xavier’s father. Steve is a long-time parkrunner who started running after weight loss surgery. He visited events with his friends for years but couldn’t convince any of his family to join him.


When Xavier found out that he needed to do some volunteer work as a part of his studies, Steve suggested that even though he might not want to run, Xavier would be welcomed as a volunteer at parkrun. Xavier’s initial reaction to parkrun wasn’t overly enthusiastic. But he quickly discovered that he actually liked it.



“I went there once, and I really enjoyed it,” Xavier said.


“So, I went again, and again, and again.”


Quickly Xavier gave himself a goal, to volunteer ten times and get himself a milestone t-shirt, something that his father was keen to encourage.


“Xavier has a lot of interest in computers and stuff like that, so parkrun is a really great opportunity for us to get out together.”


“We have some really interesting conversations driving to parkrun at 7:30 in the morning. It’s become a real bonding experience for the both of us.”


With Xavier volunteering regularly Steve realised that they might be able to reach a milestone on the same day – 10 for Xavier and 100 for Steve.


“It was a really special day but it was even better when we got our t-shirts and Xavier was able to volunteer in white and I was able to run in my black 100 shirt.”


Xavier’s involvement with parkrun has seen Steve become a Run Director at Warrandyte River Reserve parkrun.




“It’s funny that I got him involved. And now he’s got me even more involved”


Steve says he enjoys Run Directing because it gives him an extra point of connection to the local community.


“I was visiting lots of parkruns and used to say ‘hi’ to a few people but since starting Run Directing I’ve got to have real conversations with people, especially the other volunteers.”


Only time will tell if Xavier manages to volunteer 300 times without Tail Walking again. And Steve says this shows what he thinks is the true spirit of parkrun.


“It’s not about running. It’s about getting out and meeting people and being part of the community. People shouldn’t be scared of the word ‘run’. Xavier has shown me that it’s so much more than that.”



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