News - 8th February 2019

February Volunteer Update 2019


Welcome to this month’s volunteer update. Here is some of the key information for the coming period:


1. Important changes to event email accounts.

2. Embedding photographs in event news items.

3. Press and media.

4. Social media.

5. Recruiting volunteers.

6. Cancelling events.

7. Tail walkers.

8. Printed barcodes only.



1.  Important changes to event email accounts


You may already be aware that one of the current technical projects at parkrun is improving our email platform. We are now in a position to migrate event team email accounts from the current webmail system to Gmail.


This change will make event email accounts more accessible via mobile devices, more reliable, more secure, and, importantly, more user-friendly. Additionally, teams will also have access to other tools such as calendar, photo storage and document sharing that are offered by G Suite.


If you are part of an event’s core team, please check your mailbox for important information on this, including login details, that have been sent to the event mailbox on Friday, 8 February.


Access to your event’s current webmail account will be terminated on Monday, 18 February.


Please note: We will never ask you for your password or login details.


Jake Lodge
IT Support Analyst, parkrun Global



2. Embedding Photographs in Event Website News Items


Including images in news items on parkrun event websites has always been challenging. We’ve now made it easier by allowing images to be uploaded directly to WordPress. This process is much more intuitive and allows for rotating, cropping and resizing of images. A step by step guide can be found on the parkrun Wiki.


Ian Rutson

Technical Lead, parkrun Global



3. Press and media


Recently we have had a number of media organisations contacting our events directly. Please remember that if your event is contacted by any media organisation please contact us yourselves via or direct them to our support site.


Gill Fordyce

Chief Operating Officer, parkrun South Africa




4. Social Media


In South Africa we have a social media ambassador, Giulio Distefano, who helps manage the national social media, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.


At event level, we ask everyone to keep their social media posts positive and uplifting. Please click here for further details of our social media guidelines.


Should you have any queries regarding the social media please will contact


Gill Fordyce

Chief Operating Officer, parkrun South Africa




5. Recruiting volunteers


It seems that those events having the most success with recruiting new volunteers directly from the parkrunners on the day have a specific volunteer, a fun bubbly person to do this, who approaches people to volunteer for the following weeks.


Volunteering is fun and incredibly beneficial, and so recruiting volunteers should emulate this.
Cara Fordyce
Head of Event Delivery & Support, parkrun South Africa




6. Cancelling events

Whilst we attempt, where safe to do so, to deliver our events every Saturday, there are a number of reasons why events may need to cancel:


  • Dangerous weather – the most common reason for cancellation is dangerous weather. For example, events may need to be cancelled if their course is flooded, or if high winds or other weather conditions may have left some parts of the course unpassable or too dangerous.
  • Lightning also presents an issue from time to time and event teams should always cancel if they feel it presents any risk to participants.
  • Other events in the park – our events take place in public spaces, and occasionally these areas will be used for other events.
  • Serious incidents taking place before or during an event – in rare cases serious incidents do take place directly before or during events, and in these situations teams may need to cancel directly before an event or even after the event has started.


We urge all event teams to get in touch with their ambassador or head office (if prior to the Saturday), if they are unsure about cancelling.


Never be afraid to cancel, if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. The run director on the day is responsible for the safety of the event, and should they decide to cancel their decision is final.


If you do need to cancel please inform us as soon as possible via WebFMS and note the following:


  • Informing us via WebFMS triggers several changes to your event website; populating the volunteer roster column with the words ‘no event’ and the appearance of a red notice of cancellation banner the week before the cancellation on your home page and news page.
  • If you use social media please inform your audience of cancellation via those channels as people are as likely to check on Facebook and/or Twitter and the event website for updates.
  • Please do not process or confirm any volunteers if your event has not taken place.


You can read more about the Cancellation Policy here.


Cara Fordyce
Head of Event Delivery & Support, parkrun South Africa




7. Tail Walkers


This is a crucial role which must be filled every Saturday. The Tail Walker must start at the back, at the same time as the rest of the field, and should accompany the slowest participant, supporting and encouraging them on the route.


It is possible to have multiple tail walkers participating as a group, and at least one of them must carry a cell phone for emergency reporting, as well as a lanyard with emergency contact numbers for the event.
The purpose of the Tail Walker is partly to ensure that the team knows when the last person has come in, and at this point the event closes. The tail walker also acts as an extra safety person.


Cara Fordyce

Head of Event Delivery & Support, parkrun South Africa




8. Printed Barcodes Only


Across South Africa we process around 50,000 results per week, with another 200,000+ added around the world. Key to our success in this is keeping things as simple as possible and insisting that parkrunners bring a printed barcode (paper, plastic cards, or wristbands) with them if they wish to be recorded.

Whilst most people understand the need for our ‘no barcode, no time’ rule, we regularly find volunteers being asked to scan from mobile devices. We felt it would be helpful therefore to clarify our reasons for not accepting any form of digital barcode.


  • Emergency contact details (ICE) – In South Africa we are extremely proud that over 95% of parkrunners have added ICE details to their profile. These details appear on printed barcodes and in emergency situations can be accessed by volunteer teams. If people have their barcodes on their phones then the majority of these details will be hidden behind lock screens and inaccessible when needed.
  • Finish funnel flow – With many events in South Africa experiencing relatively large attendances we consistently see more than one finisher per second, and work hard to keep this process as simple as possible. Our belief is that, at scale, digital barcodes held on mobile devices would add an unacceptable amount of processing time per participant.


Chris Sutton

Tech Support Ambassador, parkrun South Africa



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