The easy format of “show up> run> get scanned” is so simple that its ability to be replicated is a strong factor to the global success of parkrun. Aneez from Whitby recently had the opportunity to run or volunteer at 4 different parkruns over 4 weekends in Canada and the UK, and took note of a few common sights that might not be intentionally replicated, but are also drivers of parkrun success!
Participant counts at these events ranged from 10 to 300+, including the launch of a new parkun! But no matter which of the 1500+ parkruns worldwide you attend, you’ll be sure to encounter the following:
a) Friendly volunteer team!
A chat pre or post run is a great way to get to know the course, and find out local knowledge of events. In chatting with various volunteers I was fortunate enough to be told of a nearby airshow (Sunnidale, Barrie), as well as trade trivia about James Bond writer Ian Flemming (Wormwood Scrubs).
If you are a regular, get to know your volunteers and what else they can offer besides your weekly token, time or scan.
b) The Nervous First Timer!
We’ve all been there. You’ve heard about parkrun. You sign up. You heard some more about parkrun (and possibly tried to sign up again). Some weeks may pass by but you finally you make it out for your first 9am run! The Nervous First Timer will be eyeing up the group wondering why they are there first thing Saturday morning. The group gets started and approx 20 mins later when the finishers begin to cross the lines, the parkrun magic happens… The Nervous First Timer did it! First parkrun in the bag! Feels good to get scanned in! What? I have to return my token? Where’s the medal? Ohhh now I get it, I come back next week for a PB, possibly cakes! Why didn’t I hear about this sooner?!
c) The Milestone Runner!
The Run Director will point out those who are completing their 10, 50, 100, (or whatever other significant number may come up). Many will provide cakes, drinks, etc for the group. Seeing runners complete milestones is great motivation to keep taking part. Personally, I think those who come out for their 2nd run should be applauded loudest!
d) The Tourist
Similar to the First Timer, they may look a bit out of place at first. Quite often they are armed with a flag or apricot jersey from their home runs. The tourists have great stories to share about their travels, and reasons for being at this run today. Have a chat, make a new friend with these smiling faces.
e) Finish Line Folks
These are some of the best folks around, and help motivate those crossing the finish line. I’ve seen them in various guises. From the guy who claps and high-fives every runner before he even gets scanned; to the young lady who regularly crosses the line with the flourish of a handspring; to the guy who uses his last morsel of energy to flash a crazy pose to the photographer I enjoy seeing the kids who break into in a sprint, away from their parents who proudly smile as they finish 20 seconds later.
Recently, I was witness to a photo-finish by a couple of lads who ended up entertaining the whole group with their shoulder-to-shoulder final 60 yard dash to hit the 5km mark.
Whether you run under twenty mins or walk over an hour, we all complete the same 5km, and there is no better feeling when you are welcomed across that 5km line.
See you Saturday!
Aneez Kanji, Whitby parkrun Event Director
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