Sunday, 25 November 2012

My first time as a parkrun Run Director...part 2

Following on from part 1 written earlier today...

And then I was the timekeeper....

A couple of minutes before the first runner was expected, the final set-up of the timer was done by plugging in the finish button. I then headed over to the finish funnel and took my place beside the finish line. The numbers guy was in place...check. The numbers checker was in place...check. I was in place...check. And then the first runner arrived, I pressed the button, I heard the beep and the timer showed number 2 (number 1 is the start time). Runner 2 quickly followed and then more and more runners crossed the finish line.

I concentrated hard to make sure every runner had a button press and a beep and therefore a finish time recorded. At the busiest of times there were 5 or 6 runners in the space of a second or two. But often there were then breaks of a few seconds to collect my composure. Heaven only knows how they cope at the biggest events like Bushy park where they regularly exceed 800 finishers.

Knowing that I had the results administration to look forward to later I was very keen that there were no mistakes, so I was very pleased as the number checker confirmed we remained in sync as we passed 50 then 100 and on to 200 runners. Unfortunately, around the 260 mark there was one blip, but the cause was soon identified and it would be no great problem to resolve during the results administration.

The worst part of the timer role was coping with cold hands. It wasn't a warm morning and by the time the last arrivals were crossing the finish line my hands were quite painful, even with two layers of gloves (I even had a third pair just in case!).

I was very grateful that the final finishers told us they were the back markers and then leaving the timer running just in case there were any stragglers, the tidy up began. We packed up the finish funnel, packed away course markers and signs and folded away tables. Again, really simple tasks.

All that remained was the timer, barcode scanners, laptop, cables, names of un-scanned barcode holders and the volunteer roster. All those being required for the final part of the jigsaw puzzle, the results upload.

A quick run around the course to pick up any remaining signs and that was that part of the task over.

So next it was time for the results upload....

Andy (my brother) took charge of the laptop here as we worked through the process with me reading through the instructions. Nothing too complicated as long as you read the information provided.

Barcode scanners plugged into USB ports and barcode records downloaded. The timer plugged in and times and positions downloaded. Next on to filling in some gaps in the results. We took the sheet of un-scanned barcodes and added names to positions via athlete barcode numbers. A quick results change was needed to handle the earlier finish position problem. Then there were some updates to the event volunteers list to add those that turned up and asked to volunteer on the day. And then the results were sent to parkrun HQ for processing. And that was it.

It really wasn't hard at all. I'm really pleased that I have done it and that it all went well. There are potential pitfalls I'm sure, but everything went well and I am sure that I will do it again in the future.

I really hope that after reading this you will consider putting yourself forward as a parkrun volunteer. I know that being the Run Director for the day isn't right for everyone. But it really isn't as hard as you might think, especially when you have such a good team of volunteers making it easy for you. And if I haven't been able to convince you to try your hand as a Run Director, then there are plenty of other worthy volunteer positions that may suit you better.

parkrun volunteering, go on, give it a go!

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