Rachel Gould and Sara Phipps are both delighted to be back volunteering at junior parkrun. Rachel has been recovering from Coronavirus, and Sara is on crutches following a bike accident, but they didn’t let that stop them.
Here they tell us their parkrun stories.
As Ambassadors for parkrun, we enjoy volunteering and meeting with our local event teams, so we were both excited to recently attend Stratford upon Avon Rec junior parkrun to volunteer as marshals.
We were a little tentative as we are both in recovery, with myself, Rachel, having succumbed to Coronavirus at Christmas and taking time to recover from that and Sara having had a bike accident and still needing her crutches and wheelchair to get about!
Stratford upon Avon Rec juniors kindly found us seated marshal positions!
It was lovely to be back amongst the parkrun family. Attending a junior parkrun is always special. You see what fun and enjoyment the children get from it, with parents and grandparents attending to support them. A real family affair.
The event was really well organised with everyone feeling safe. The smiles on the children’s faces said it all. It gave us confidence that when the 5k events return, they too will be safe, enjoyable events for everyone, both the parkrunners and volunteers.
Around 5 years ago, my husband began parkrunning at the Arrow Valley event in Redditch and I would go along and walk around the park with our daughter, but quickly got drawn into volunteering.
I have never been into running, it has always been my husband’s thing. However, the parkrun volunteers were so friendly and from my first marshalling role I was struck by how inclusive parkrun was. I loved the family and community feel.
I am a paediatric nurse in my day job and felt I had spare time on a Saturday to volunteer and it also meant we were all taking part as a family. Initially, our daughter would volunteer with me, but quickly changed to parkrunning with her Dad, until she was old enough to parkrun by herself.
I was the Tail Walker at our daughter’s 50th event and my husband’s 100th. It was great to be able to walk /jog the course and complete my one and only 5k parkrun on that day with them. Our daughter thanked every marshal along the way. Many of our regular parkrunners lined up to cheer me through the finish.
I carried on volunteering at Arrow Valley, week after week, in all the different roles and very often being the Run Director. I enjoyed training new members of the team and when a vacancy for a West Midlands Ambassador came up, I applied. I wanted to share my passion for parkrun and help develop new teams in the area.
After a few years, due to the expansion of parkrun events through the West Midlands, an opportunity to become a parkrun Regional Ambassador came up and I put myself forward for the role. I wanted to be able to influence the training that Event Support Ambassadors received, providing them with the support they needed using the experience I had gained from setting up several new events.
In this role I support 5 Event Support Ambassadors. Together we support both the existing parkrun teams and the teams setting up new events.
I love seeing the passion that new event teams have about starting their parkrun having identified the need for an event in their community. I really enjoy supporting and training them, then standing back at the inaugural event, watching as the team deliver the parkrun and witnessing the happy smiles of everyone taking part.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling people get when they attend parkrun. It is an amazing, free, weekly event that is truly inclusive and accessible to all. The volunteering side is also so rewarding.
I can’t wait for the 5k parkrun events to be able to return. I will continue to volunteer at Bromsgrove and Stratford upon Avon Rec junior parkruns, as they are both my local junior events. I’m hoping that we can continue to expand the number of events so that more local communities become involved.
My first parkrun was the Coventry event in 2016. I had done the Couch to 5k programme with a friend who then convinced me to try parkrun. It was not at all what I had been expecting. It was so much greater than I could have ever imagined.
I was hooked from my first parkrun. Then, out of the blue, I was contacted to join the team at Bedworth who were looking to start a new event. I started as a Run Director, then when one of the Event Directors left I took on that role.
I revel in seeing the joy parkrun brings to others. It is brilliant to see people’s faces as they fall in love with parkrun and all it involves. Watching parkrunners’ journeys evolve is fantastic to witness, from the timid and shy when they first give it a go to returning week after week, delighted to be getting fitter or feeling warm and appreciated when someone thanks them for being a volunteer.
I have always admired Rachel for her involvement and commitment to parkrun and the parkrun community and I wanted to do the same. When an ambassador opportunity arose, I jumped at it.
As the pandemic hit us at around the same time, I have not yet been fully involved in my role but my aim is to shape and build a strong confident team that will go on to inspire others to join them and continue building the parkrun community.
When parkrun can return, I hope to initiate many more events in my area, encouraging lots more people from right across our ethnically diverse local community to join the parkrun family to run, jog or walk at our free, weekly events.
Rachel Gould (Regional Event Ambassador for Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull & Coventry)
Sara Phipps (Event Support Ambassador for Warwickshire & Coventry)
We took another big step forward last Saturday as 5k events returned in Denmark, the ninth country to see events restart post-COVID, plus we welcomed back junior parkrun events in Scotland. In total nearly 60,000 people took part in 775 events around the world last weekend, including nearly 2,500 for the very first time….
As we move through the reopening process for parkrun and junior parkrun, we are publishing a UK-specific update every Friday to keep ambassadors, event teams, parkrun communities, and landowners informed on our progress. 5k in England On Monday evening, following the announcement by the government of the delay to Step 4, we confirmed…