It’s no secret that volunteers are one of the great success stories of parkrun. It’s staggering that since the very first event in 2004, where five volunteers supported 13 runners, more than half a million different people around the globe have pulled on the parkrun high-vis.
In the same way that parkrun couldn’t happen without runners, walkers, sponsors, landowner permission and staff, volunteers play a fundamental role in ensuring that events are set up, supported, sustainable and safe.
But while volunteers have always been one of the cornerstones of parkrun, the way that we view their involvement has evolved significantly. In the early days, our attitude was ‘how few volunteers can be used to safely and efficiently coordinate an event’. The focus was on minimising the number of volunteers and asking people to volunteer a certain number of times each year.
What we now understand, from the 500,000 people who have volunteered at parkrun, is that volunteering is as beneficial a form of physical activity as walking or running. It gets you outside, meeting new people, having fun, learning skills and being part of your community. We also understand that volunteering is exactly that – an act of choice. If you don’t want to volunteer that’s absolutely fine. Which leads us onto the next realisation: if you do want to volunteer at parkrun, there’s always an opportunity to do so.
These volunteering opportunities take many forms at event level: from setting up the course, handing out finish tokens and processing results on Saturday morning, to posting on social media, responding to emails and coordinating volunteers during the week. Each event has up to 25 different volunteering opportunities, including Sign Language interpreters, guides for Vision Impaired participants and Tail Walkers.
We’d love to know what is your favourite volunteer role? And why?
Send your feedback here.
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