Sunday, 13 January 2013

The 'If only...' 50

This week I turned up to my 49th parkrun. It was snowing. I ran a PB. Next week will be the 50th Saturday morning I have set the alarm (although suffering from early morning insomnia I rarely need it), dragged on suitable clothing and made my way to an event. Actually, technically 2 of these have been Tuesdays for New Year and Christmas Day but you get the point. However, although I fully intend to run next week I will not be joining the 50 club. Did I forget my barcode? No! The DFYB message in the parkrun show (what do you mean you don't know what it is!) has got through loud and clear.
 I have, instead,  volunteered 4 times therefore haven't registered a run for those weeks.
I admit when I realised the significance of next week's event I did, for a few seconds think 'If Only' I hadn't volunteered. I joined parkrun in November 2011 so haven't really missed many. I have been chasing that 50 shirt all year, even running on Christmas day! But then I thought back, what would I have missed if I had simply turned up and run each of those weeks and had never volunteered?
I would have missed the chance to see every parkrunner pass my marshall point twice one (freezing) morning while I clapped and cheered them on. I saw everyone's running styles from the first to the last person and the effort everyone put in from the fastest to the slowest. This is what parkrun is all about.
I would have missed the chance to hand a token to every finisher and congratulate them on the completion of their run.
I would have missed the chance to speak to other runners who volunteered who run in a diffferent time to me and therefore don't see.
I would have missed the chance (twice) of scanning barcodes and learning a few more names of runners, and chatting to people about their run of that day.
I would have missed the chance to pay back something to parkrun.
Without volunteers parkrun cannot operate. According to an article published on this site last year fewer than 25% of parkrunners ever volunteer. parkrun only ask for 3 Saturdays a year. At Coventry we have an amazing team of volunteers some of whom never run but every week turn up whatever the weather and allow us runners to have our fun. Its not a big ask for runners to not run for one Saturday

I still have 5 more runs to go before I get my 50 but I don't begrudge those 4 sessions of volunteering at all. I feel more part of the parkrun community because I have got involved in as many ways as I could in the year.

So, when an email, tweet of facebook request comes your way asking for volunteers, if you haven't done it yet why not? Without it parkrun would fold. Then what would we do on Saturday mornings?


  1. Great post. Without volunteers parkrun is nothing!

  2. Alison, Your attitude towards parkrun is wonderful. I get a great feeling when I volunteer and lots of thanks from parkrunners. I volunteered 7 times in 2012 and hope to do 10/12 in 2013. Enjoy your 50th!!!


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