Earlier this week I had the pleasure of representing Porirua parkrun at the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards alongside fellow Event Director, David Sinkins, Porirua parkrun founders Astrid and George van Meeuwen-Dijkgraff and this year’s recipient of the most volunteers at parkrun, Janet Webster.
We placed runner up in the Health and Wellbeing category so congratulations to everyone that participates every week.
What struck me was how many good causes rely on volunteers. That got me thinking about why I volunteer? – now I could polish my halo and say I do it because it allows me to make a difference in the community – while this is true it is not the main reason I volunteer. I do it because I enjoy it, well most of it. I also do it because somebody else did it when I first started at parkrun, and somebody else will do it when I am running at parkrun.
As some of you know I am one of the current batch of Porirua parkrun Event Directors and I also act as a Run Director and results processor (58 times) for 2 weeks out of 10. These roles are the ones I have to do as part of taking on the responsibility of keeping parkrun going. This is the halo bit.
Now for the selfish bit. The volunteering roles that I actually enjoy are the additional ones that are open to anyone at parkrun, my favourite being timekeeper (55 times) and photographer (20 times).
Timekeeping gives me the opportunity to interact with every parkrunner as they finish their event, cheering people into the chute as they use the last of their energy, seeing how focused they are on the finish line, a smile as they recognise a familiar face or realise they have achieved a good time.
It is worth noting that the finish cute team are focused on the finishers and not on the equipment they are using – when you enter the chute you are the most important person at parkrun as you are a finisher. Everything they do is geared towards accurately recording your time and finish position and getting people through in order.
Timekeeper got me interested in parkrunners as individuals – photography gives me the opportunity to capture parkrunners in the midst of parkrun. Some of you smile, some make funny faces or gestures, not all of which I understand, some do the kiwi nod but most of you are focused on getting to the finish – if it is any consolation I don’t think anyone finds parkrun easy judging by what I see in the viewfinder – yes I normally see you before you see me and put on your face for the camera!
While you run into view I am constantly scanning between face and feet looking for an interesting expression or the elusive double flight – I don’t always catch it but I have noticed that it is most likely to happen near the finish rather than in the middle.
I know a lot of you have friends/family that enjoy seeing photos at parkrun judging by the comments/likes – this is especially true for the kids that take part who make it very easy to capture their enjoyment of parkrun as they seem to have boundless energy. There are a few of the older participants that have amazing faces – I really enjoy capturing your expressions.
So that ends my double stint as run report writer – I can disappear into the background again for another 8 weeks and concentrate on getting back into shape.
Till the next time, To Infinity and Beyond!