Last week I was over in the UK taking part in a ‘parkrun Global’ Operations meeting. They collectively make sure that everything works properly on a Saturday morning around the world. It’s been a chance to see how the decisions for parkrun events get made, and have the opportunity to also contribute to this process, bringing our experience and viewpoint from the Nordics to the table.
Yes, we have very different challenges – for example events in the UK may get 500, 600, 700 or more people taking part each, meaning a whole different level of logistical challenges, both recruiting a sufficiently large volunteer team and then getting that team to cope with those kinds of numbers on the day. Here there is talk of ‘double-funnels’ at the finish and a whole host of roles (“Tokens support”, “numbers”, “funnel manager”) that we don’t often need (yet) in the Nordics.
And on the flip side, not many events in Australia have to deal with 3 or 4 months of the year where there is snow on the ground and having to continuously assess whether how icy the surface is, and whether it will be safe to run on next Saturday.
But at the same time, there is so much that every parkrun event has in common. And part of the role of the Global Operations team is to maintain this consistency, so that wherever you run parkrun in the world, the basic experience will be the same – that you will be taking part in a timed 5km event on a Saturday morning, that you’ll get a friendly welcome from the team when you arrive and that the course will be well marked and safe.
There’s a huge amount of expertise within this group of people and they really have seen it all before! For example, parkrun has now been collecting ‘incident reports’ from all events over the past 10 years, ands so now have an incredible database that they can refer to when analysing how to respond to situations – for example, if a runner collapses out on the course.
We also had an early morning conference call with Renee Gimbert (the Australian Operations Manager) and her team to catch up with the latest news from there. parkrun has become a huge success in Australia and they also are working flat out to keep up with the pace of growth.
It really is humbling to be a part of this global organisation, and to see how the Nordics fit into this big family. Yes, we are different countries, with different traditions, customs and values. But the promotion of physical activity, community, and a love of outdoors have a universal quality that is relevant everywhere.
So back to the Nordics I come, inspired by the trip away and looking forward to many more Saturday mornings at our growing parkrun family here in the Nordics.
See you on Saturday.
parkrun Nordics Manager
Susan Birkby and her husband have completed an amazing parkrun themed caravan holiday around Northern Europe this summer, spending three months travelling around in their motorhome, taking in an amazing 13 parkruns in their travels. Susan picks up the story: “My husband and I left our home in the UK on 13th of…
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