In this blog, we hear Sharon’s volunteering story. She tells us why you won’t regret signing up to be a volunteer at parkrun!
In January 2017, I was taking part in a 5k a day challenge for the Donal Walsh charity. Also taking part with Siobhan Kearney (our esteemed local event director) and she invited the group along to do their Saturday 5k at Tralee parkrun. I might as well I thought, I have to do 5k anyway so along I went.
Despite doing a running challenge at that time, I was a fairly reluctant runner, I ran but didn’t enjoy running much, and parkrun didn’t change that immediately but it gave me a different focus. One thing I noticed at that very first parkrun was the volunteers, I was fascinated by how they appeared to be having so much fun! They were smiling, there was laughter, at that first parkrun I went along to, there was an announcement about the upcoming parkrun birthday and they all really seemed to get along like a family.
I have to admit I was intrigued!
I didn’t put my name down for a few weeks, I was a little nervous of the techie stuff, the stopwatches, scanners and barcodes and such but I plucked up the courage and volunteered and was assigned the role of timekeeper. I still remember the nerves of that first time, what if I got it wrong or made a mistake. I need not have worried, training was given and yes mistakes can happen but it’s not the end of the world and there’s pretty much nothing that can’t be fixed especially with Tony Higgins on the case.
I loved that first volunteering day, I felt as part of the parkrun as if I was running the 5k itself and perhaps even more so because I got to be part of making it all work. Since then I have volunteered 180 more times (I’ve only run 105 times!).
I like all the different volunteer roles – they all have something special. I love scanning and getting to congratulate everyone after their parkrun and I like timekeeping and seeing the big effort put into that final sprint across the finish line (this is especially great at junior parkrun).
I love the photographer role trying to capture some special moments and I loved pacing (back in the days when I could run a bit faster). I also love guiding visually impaired parkrunners.
If you’ve a bit of a creative nature, and you like dressing up, singing, dancing and poetry then there’s a volunteer opportunity for that too!
For me, volunteering is just as enjoyable as walking, jogging or running. I never see it as “giving up my run” or something that is a bit of a chore or something that’s an obligation in some way. It’s definitely not boring and I’ve met much more people volunteering than I have running and I don’t even need to break into a sweat or get out of breath!
I encourage my children to volunteer too and they love it also, the pride my youngest feels as she’s doing her favourite role of photographer is just incredible and is a huge boost to her sense of herself.
So if you’re thinking about volunteering, think no more… just message your local friendly parkrun or pop along on Saturday and give your name to the lovely Communications volunteer at your local parkrun and they’ll be delighted to hear from you and just give it a go.
In this week’s people of parkrun entry, we hear from Bosco Reid from Buncrana parkrun. He gives us his advice to anyone who hasn’t been to parkrun before and tells us what he loves about parkrun! Name: Bosco Reid Occupation: Osteopath Local parkrun: Buncrana in Co Donegal How did you get involved in parkrun? Following a…
Volunteering has always been one of the cornerstones and great success stories of parkrun. But the way that we view the involvement of those who volunteer has evolved significantly. In Ireland, the volunteers clock up a staggering 78,000 instances of volunteering between them every year. These participants proudly wear the parkrun hi-vis and, in…