Tuesday, 13 November 2012

parkrun Volunteering made simple...being a Marshall

There are plenty of roles that any of us can take on as volunteers at parkrun. Many of these roles are very simple and anyone should be able to do them.

My aim is to make it as clear as possible as to what is involved with each role in an effort to break down any barriers that may be stopping runners from coming forward to volunteer or to take on certain roles, perhaps perceived as too tricky.

So today, I want to start by explaining what is involved in being a Marshal at a parkrun event.

Being a Marshal is very simple.

To volunteer as a Marshal it is normally advisable to contact your event, either in person a week (or more) in advance, or perhaps via email. If you specifically want to be a Marshall, make sure that you say so.

It is likely that you will be told in advance, or get an email, or even both, telling you what your role will be on the day.

You will probably be asked to turn up a little before the parkrun event start time. Thirty minutes before would normally be plenty, but I am sure that your volunteer co-ordinator will make this clear.

Your first task on the day is to report to the Run Director, or whoever is co-ordinating volunteer roles on the day. You will be told what your role is for the day, if unclear just ask. You will probably be given a parkrun high-viz top so that you stand-out as a volunteer.

Before the run there may be some course set-up to do. Perhaps a quick look around the course to ensure that there are no unexpected problems or obstacles. And of course putting out any directional, distance and start/finish signs. These are all simple tasks that can easily be carried out by marshals and free-up the Run Director for anything else that may crop up.

In general, the responsibilities when being a Marshal will include:
  • Being on hand to answer questions before the parkrun.
  • Directing runners to the start.
  • Ensuring safety on the course:
    • standing in a problem area, maybe where runners cross or pass in both directions.
    • warning runners about narrow, slippery or other obstacles or less than ideal sections of the course.
  • Directing runners at a given point on the course. Typically at turns or intersections of the course with other routes.
  • Looking out for any runners who look unwell. And offering help or friendly advice as necessary.
  • And of course giving general encouragement to all the runners and cheering them on their way. This has to be the best and simplest task of all for marshals, just cheer and clap as many runners as you can, particularly the kids!
There really is not much to it. Anyone can do it. My kids have even helped me marshal.

Also, not that it bothers many runners, but you do get the full 100 points towards the annual points competition, should that sort of thing float your boat.

And that is pretty much all you need to know to be a marshal at parkrun.

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