If you’ve arrived at parkrun during event set-up or have volunteered for your local event, you’ve likely watched a Run Director pull all of the parkrun gear out of a Mary Poppins-esque bundle. It’s true that parkruns happen with minimal equipment and intentionally have a small footprint. Each event has the same tokens, stopwatches, scanners, flag and volunteer vests. However, it is interesting to discover the variety of custom touches beyond the standard gear in a community’s parkrun kit. Let’s take a look.
There are many types of vessels that work well to store and transport a parkrun kit. Wagons, rolling suitcases, plastic storage bins and backpacks all fit the bill. Some are organized, with pockets, bags and compartments within. Others are a happy jumble of everything that lovingly (if not neatly) gets tossed in at the end of an event before the crew heads off to the local coffee spot for social time.
Capes, sashes and crowns
Handmade or store bought, these garments are used to celebrate our milestone achievers on the day they reach their new status. It’ll be a few weeks until they can don their new t-shirt, so these stand-ins are proudly worn for the event and turned back in to the kit for someone else to use upon reaching their milestone in a future week. Jamaica Pond is the only event that currently has a crown, which first appeared on their 1st anniversary and seems to now be a permanent part of their kit.
Token sorting system
Many events take a leisurely approach to token sorting and complete the task over coffee after the event. Others enjoy the challenge of sorting their finish tokens before even leaving the parkrun venue, and have added special token sorting trays to their kits. Clermont Waterfront gets an A+ for organization!
Most events have cones or flags to mark turn-around points and/or the finish funnel, but they come in all shapes and sizes, just make sure there aren’t any critters hiding in them before wearing them as a hat!
Instruction and safety cards
All parkrun volunteer roles are able to be taught the morning of the event, but sometimes it’s nice to have a written reference as backup. This is especially true for first-time volunteers or those trying new roles. We know of several events that have created instruction cards to help ease any worries volunteers may have. Some even have printed photos to help marshals identify tricky turn-around spots and emergency procedures for those volunteers out and about on the course.
While we generally love how parkrun is an event without all the “bells and whistles” of a typical paid race, there are, in fact, actual bells at some events. These are generally bells to be rung by first-timers or those who suspect they’ve run or walked a personal best (PB) for the day’s event. We haven’t heard about whistles at events, though, unless they’re part of a safety kit or the kind made by pursing the lips and blowing air to encourage a fellow parkrunner on the course.
First aid kit
All events have some sort of first aid kit, but these vary based on event geography, proximity to medical facilities and experience. Several events have recently teamed up with local first responders to review the contents of their kits and assess their emergency preparedness.
Hand Warmers and Ice Packs
In colder climates where temperatures plunge in the winter months, hand warmers are key supplies to make the volunteer experience a bit more comfortable. After all, it’s hard to handle tokens, press buttons on a stopwatch or use a barcode scanner when your fingers are numb. Mansfield even had a portable propane heater as part of their kit this past winter!
In warmer climates, ice packs and ice water are can be found as part of parkun kits, in the case someone gets overheated on the course.
Some events have permission from their local parks to utilize chalk to help mark the course and provide encouragement to their participants with friendly messages underfoot. Mountain Goat Trail’s chalk game is on point, as evidenced by these photos of their path. Several other events do the same, often providing entertainment for young volunteer helpers at the finish line.
More and more of these are popping up in event photo albums and it’s fun to see the local pride reflected in their design. Whether they’re chalkboard or dry-erase, these are used for various purposes including volunteer sign-ups, welcomes to new events, and milestone recognition.
Leakin Park’s sign sports the Maryland flag colors, checkerboard pattern and crab. Mountain Goat Trail’s sign features a baby goat and the phrase “The New Kid”. Fletcher’s Cove has a white-board with 4 weeks volunteer rosters for participants to sign up for future roles on-the-spot. Roosevelt Island led the trend of bringing a re-usable sign to display messages to new parkrun communities as a part of a photo opp welcome.
TP & Hand Sanitizer
If your event is lucky enough to have a restroom facility on site, you may still need some backup supplies once in a while. While our event teams aren’t responsible for stocking the local park’s facilities, some events have deemed these as “nice to have” supplies for the kit.
Walkie Talkies, Bullhorns
For events with larger crowds, nearby road noise or happy sounds from others playing nearby in your park, voice amplification devices can come in handy. College Park and Clermont Waterfront both have bullhorns to the relief of soft-spoken Run Directors and back-of-the-run-briefing-pack members. Tailwalkers and marshals benefit from quick communication with the Run Director over walkie-talkies donated to the Renton event by a community member.
Look over the Run Director’s shoulder and take a peek into your event’s kit the next time you’re at parkrun and see what unique supplies may be included!
When we look through the photos from 40-odd parkrun events every week, we love seeing so many happy faces. It’s a great reminder that, despite all of our differences, parkrun brings us together. There’s nothing more powerful than the shared joy of moving our bodies outside, whether it’s in the heat and humidity of Florida…
We all know that parkrun events are free, friendly, forever thanks to the volunteers who make every parkrun happen. Less widely known is that the local teams are supported by the parkrun ambassadors, volunteers who support new and existing events and much more besides. This past weekend the parkrun USA ambassadors team held their…