News - 28th April 2023

Volunteering, parkrunning and exploring!

Claire W 2

Claire Wynarczyk found the experience of volunteering at the Olympics 2012 very rewarding and wanted to continue and this is where parkrun came into her life.


I chose to volunteer at Newcastle parkrun (now Town Moor parkrun) as part of a ‘sport maker’ programme after the Olympics 2012. It was an initiative to keep up the legacy of volunteering and earn points for volunteering at sporting events. Also a friend of mine was into parkrun so I thought if I go along I would see her there.


My first parkrun volunteering role was as a marshal back in May 2013. I absolutely love directing and encouraging people so the experience was perfect. Once all the parkrunners had passed my marshalling spot I walked to the finish area and witnessed all the different volunteering roles in action there. I decided I wanted to try out as many roles as possible, which I did over the next few weeks.


I have now volunteered over 370 times (a mix of parkrun and junior parkrun, sometimes doing multiple roles). I am known as queen of the barcode scanners at Town Moor as it’s the role I have done the most. I have enjoyed scanning barcodes, handing out the finish tokens, providing the first timers welcome, tail walking, marshalling, results processing and most of the other volunteering roles that parkrun has to offer.


When I started volunteering at parkrun I couldn’t run for a bus! However, seeing all the parkrunners each week got me thinking I could complete the 5k too. So in August 2013 I plucked up the courage to complete my first parkrun, which I did with a mix of running and walking.


Building up to running a full 5k was a very slow and gradual process. I only did a few parkruns between August 2013 and late 2016. I was, at this time, far more focused on volunteering, I just loved it.


There was an initiative called Jantastic which got me out running more than once a week, which I have a lot to thank for. I also joined the Tyne Bridge Harriers running club, attending their beginners sessions and slowly managing to build to running the whole parkrun without needing to walk.


Claire W 4


I gradually began to do more parkruns and became hooked and as a result was inspired to train for 10k events and half marathons.


I now regularly pace at parkruns too! I just love helping people.


parkrun offers me the chance to socialise with friends and meet new people. Volunteering in particular has built my confidence and enabled me to improve my communication and organisational skills which have all helped me in my day job too.


parkrun has also provided the opportunity to explore areas of the country I wouldn’t have normally thought about visiting as well as many scenic places such as Fountains Abbey and Whinlatter in The Lake District. When I travelled to Bushey Park I even got to meet Paul Sinton Hewitt!


Claire W


parkrun has taken me overseas too, most memorably where I experienced parkrun along with a flock of speedy sheep at Caffarella parkrun in Rome and loved visiting Zielona Gora in Poland, a city that would probably never had crossed my mind to travel to had it not been for parkrun.


Claire W 3


I am about to head on a trip to Australia where I will be doing my 75th different parkrun location in my seventh different country (UK, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Denmark so far).


I’m excited to be involved in a new local parkrun that is in the works here in the North East, where I will be part of the core team bringing my volunteering experience to help other new members learn their volunteer roles.


I can’t imagine a Saturday without parkrun. A Saturday without parkrun is not a Saturday. It is the best way to start the weekend and it provides the perfect opportunity to meet many friends along the way and try out all those different post parkrun cafes!


parkrun will keep me volunteering, parkrunning and exploring – all the things I love!


Claire Wynarczyk

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