Hosting a parkrun in winter is a different challenge to the other seasons. The most obvious one so far has been the drop in temperature.
This creates a few issues. In the warmer months, Meadowvale parkrun has made use of high school volunteers looking to get their community service hours for their graduation quota, but as the cold sets in, the number of volunteers each week has dropped.
Next, the phones that are used each week for the timing and barcode scanning start to have much shorter battery life.
So far Meadowvale has had enough volunteers each week to fulfill all the important roles and I am hopeful that this will continue as the temperatures drop even more come the usual deep freeze in January.
For the phones, the solution so far has been to make use of a portable powerbank battery that is kept in a pocket for warmth. This is then connected to the phone via the appropriate USB cable. So far this has worked, but will be closely monitored as temperatures drop.
Meadowvale parkrun is 3 laps around a lake on a paved surface. Due to the location being a residential area, this is ploughed by the city of Mississauga whenever there is a snow fall. This helps keep the route viable for parkrun, however, there are 2 small flat wooden bridges that can’t be fully cleared by the plough. These get checked for compacted snow or ice during the pre-event setup, and any issues are
passed on during the normal briefing.
The path around the lake has several junctions, and the usual way to mark the course is a combination marshals, orange marker cones and staked signs. A few times the grass verge has been too frozen to insert the signs, so extra cones are then deployed at these junctions to help point the right way. In warmer weather when volunteers have been available, we have posted marshals but with fewer students we have had to rely on visual signs only.
So far, attendance has not dropped significantly. Meadowvale parkrun has been getting its’ regular attendees, but noticeably and not surprisingly, overseas tourists have been much less frequent.
The plan is to have an event every Saturday that conditions permit, and hopefully any future winter issues are small ones.
Written by: Lawrence Jeffery
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