The One Time I Was A Run Director At Parkrun

The One Time I Was A Run Director At Parkrun - group photo of Blackburn Road Runners as volunteers at Hyndburn parkrun


A couple of months ago I noticed a request on our running club newsletter to organise a "club takeover" for a local parkrun so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Hyndburn parkrun is a fairly new parkrun course (this was their 46th event), it's one of our nearby parkrun courses and is one that I really enjoy running. So I was put in touch with their Run Director, we chose a takeover date and I was given a list of jobs roles that I needed to fill on the day.

Our club members really enjoy parkrun and we have at least 12 courses within an hours drive from our central point in Blackburn. This year we have a couple of challenges available to encourage you to get out of bed on a Saturday morning; there's a "12 in 12" challenge where we can be awarded a badge for visiting twelve different locations during the year and we have a volunteers badge available for rocking up and helping out on at least 10 occasions in a year. 

One thing I do love about our running club is that we have a very supportive core membership who are readily available to step up to the occasion, whether that be supporting at races, organising club events (running and social) and getting involved in one-off requests such as this. I had to have a minimum of 23 volunteers for the "takeover" to be effective and, boy, did our club step up to the challenge. 

Fifty club members arrived en masse at Hyndburn with children, dogs, cow bells, foam hands and even a drum(!) and were sent out across the course to the regular marshalling points. We had extra hands on deck for timekeeping, barcode scanning, funnel management and photography and I nominated myself as Run Director for the day.

I was very nervous because, even though we had guidance from the regular team, I really wanted to ensure that the event went without a hitch and that our club was well represented.  I didn't need to worry on either score because, on the surface, everything ran smoothly and any little hiccups were ironed out with support from the regular Run Directors who were there to keep an eye on things.


The One Time I Was A Run Director At Parkrun - parkrun logo


One amazing achievement that was celebrated on the day was from regular parkrunner, Karen Shackleton. This was Karen's 322nd parkrun and her husband, Barry, had worked out that when she hit 1.69 miles on the course, she would have run 1000 - yes, one thousand - parkrun miles!  It was an honour to have cheered Karen on her acomplishment! 

Now, anyone who runs regularly at parkrun will be very appreciative of the High Viz Heroes who line the course week after week, pointing them in the right direction, shouting out encouragement and ensuring that everyone is well looked after on their Saturday morning run.  What you may not realise is that there is a whole world of responsibility going on behind the scenes. Run Directors and their support team turn up at 8am to set up the course signage and finish funnel, and to ensure that they have enough hands on deck for the event to run safely and effectively. They then hang around afterwards to sometimes provide refreshments and process the results, sorting out any anomalies so that runners can receive their times and positions as quickly as possible - it can be 10.30am, or even later, before your results are accurately processed. Then there's the recharging of all the equipment and the washing of the volunteer bibs...it's only then that the volunteer team can officially stand down.   

Many parkrun events struggle to maintain a bank of regular volunteers week on week and I wanted our runners to appreciate the effort that goes on to organise a parkrun instead of turning up a 8.50am, chasing a PB around the 5km course, having a slice of cake and going home to continue their weekend. As a club, we're received some amazing feedback from regular Hyndburn parkrun attendees and tourists alike but going forwards, I have a new found respect for parkrun Run Directors and their team and I  will definitely strive to have more of a volunteer/run balance. 

The One Time I Was A Run Director At Parkrun - getting jumping and posing tips from Rowena!


Photo credit : Gemma McAuley Photography
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