Saturday, 4 February 2012


Before parkrun my most recent experience of volunteering was two weekends working for an organisation called Serious at the 2011 London Jazz Festival.  That showed me that commitment to doing a great job can be completely unrelated to money, and that volunteering can get you doing things that your paid employment never could.

My first parkrun at Greenwich as a runner left me with a really positive impression of the technology behind it all. Getting the bar code before the run, and seeing the results online and by email after the run were quick and easy. But of course that is not only down to great technology, it also depends on the work of volunteers.

As a first-time volunteer at my home run at Avery Hill Park Greenwich I felt some stress. If I made a mistake, could the efforts of all the runners go unrecorded?  Could runners doing lifetime personal bests hold me responsible for those pbs being forever unofficial?

My wife had wisely encouraged me to volunteer while it was still mild. But I delayed and on 14 January Greenwich had its second real frost of the year.  My task was handing out the numbers to runners after they crossed the finish line. Next to me was another Paul who was pressing number 1 on the timer box each time a runner came through. We kept warm cheering on the runners and complaining to each other – Paul about how cold that timer box was, and me about how fiddly those little number cards were with cold hands.

All went well and a couple of hours later, 85 runners’ results were displayed on the website. Well done Paul and all the Greenwich parkrun volunteers.

The next week I was volunteering again at the test event for the new Bexley parkrun which has its launch on 4 February. Perhaps more on that in a future post, but for now here are a few tweets I did from the event on @paulhruns:

Being unfaithful to Greenwich #parkrun. Sneaking off to Bexley parkrun test event. Meeting by Danson Park lake. Feeling guilty but excited.

Bexley #parkrun test run underway!

First runners past my marshal point at Bexley #parkrun test event.

Congratulations to Les Pullen on doing a #parkrun double today - @greenwchparkrun at 9am and then the Bexley test run at 10am. Impressive.

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