Bangor parkrunners Colette McIntyre and Gillian Shorter have been timekeeping and barcode scanning using the Virtual Volunteer app.
Here they tell us how it works, how easy it is, and why they never want to go back to using the previous equipment.
I’ve previously done timekeeping with the old stopwatches, and scanning with the barcode readers, so I was a little nervous about using the app. But last week I gave it a go for the first time.
I can honestly say I would never go back to the old methods, the app was so much easier.
I use an iPhone 6 and the app was so simple to find in the app store and install.
It is very straightforward to use and provides clear instructions for recording the times and submitting the results. What I love about it is that when you are timekeeping the phone screen is much more responsive than the buttons on the stop watches.
I’ve had issues in the past where when I had pressed the button as a parkrunner crossed the line I hadn’t pressed hard enough and it didn’t register.
With the phone screen you can see the record for each person appear in a list on your screen which reassures you that you have recorded their time.
Top tip – once you have started the timer be careful not to touch the screen until the parkrunners start finishing or you may record a phantom finisher.
Submitting the results was really easy and quick, the app walks you through each step, which is great, and the results were submitted within a second or two at the most, with a nice reassuring message to say it was successful.
This week I tried barcode scanning for the first time with the app and was also really impressed. As you scan each barcode and finish token the numbers appear in a list on your phone screen so you can easily check that it has been recorded. With the old barcode scanners I was never confident that they had all scanned properly, I had no worries this time. Again submitting the results was very simple and lightning fast.
I’d recommend the app to anyone, I’m not a technical wizard but had no problem using it and I love the way you can see the records appearing on your phone screen.
It gives you confidence you haven’t messed up, not that it matters at parkrun, but it’s nice to know you’re doing everything right.
I think Colette has covered lots of it in her story there – but it’s brilliant.
The two positions of timekeeping and barcode scanning are actually quite similar.
I have a OnePlus Android phone and it works just as well on both platforms – just don’t forget to charge your phone and have the app installed ready to go.
For barcode scanning, you download the app, scan your own barcode (so make sure you’ve got a copy of your own barcode handy too).
Scan the parkrunner first, then the position token, all using the camera on the back of your phone.
Submitting results is super easy. You get the QR code from the Run Director, follow the steps on the app, and the results upload automatically. And that’s your job done!
As Colette has said, seeing things on screen takes all the guesswork out.
You can even complete the parkrun and be a Barcode Scanner too, just get your phone out when you’ve crossed the line, let the event team know and start scanning.
If you don’t want to do the 5k, or maybe you are training for an event that requires a long or easy run on your Saturday, then honestly nothing is more motivational than seeing all those happy faces coming through the finish funnel, and telling you all about how they’ve got on.
When the Tail Walker has finished, been scanned, and your results have been uploaded, you are really motivated to go and enjoy the rest of your day, and maybe do your own walk, jog or run.
Colette and Gillian, Bangor parkrun
You can download the Virtual Volunteer app at the links below.
App store http://parkrun.me/2rqcf
Google play http://parkrun.me/3ua02
Want to see a video of barcode scanning in action at parkrun, and hear from some more volunteers? Head over to our parkrun YouTube channel by following this link.
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