Why I volunteer at parkrun

I’m pretty sure the first time I volunteered was under the warm encouragement of Terri. Terri is a superwoman who volunteers every.single.week at Kingston parkrun. Kingston parkrun swallowed me up in their warm embrace when I was a new runner, with a small community, friendly faces and cheap and cheerful cafe. Running your first parkrun is one thing, but signing up to volunteer can be equally daunting. Here are a few things that ran through my mind.

  • What if no one likes me?
  • What if I do it wrong and ruin everyone’s day?
  • What if I can’t do it?
  • What if I’m too cold?

The last one is kind of down to you, always take more than you think. The other three are up to the volunteer team, and I can assure you of the following:

1. There will be at least one other volunteer (if not them all) that you instantly warm to.
2. You can’t really do it wrong, and even if you do there is a back up timer and that’s the only role with any jeopardy.
3. Everyone has turned up for a free 5k in the park, if anyone complains offer them a refund.
4. If you can’t (or don’t want to) do the role you are initially assigned, simply ask to swap.

Even if you aren’t ready to volunteer yet, I urge you this week to introduce yourself to one of the hi-vis clad volunteer army at your parkrun, or even buy them a coffee. Who knows what you might learn.

For those of you asking ‘what about my run?’ there are plenty of roles that allow you to run and volunteer:

  • First timers briefing (photo above)
  • Tailrunner
  • Pre event set up
  • Post event close down
  • Run report writer
  • Token sorting
  • Pacing (if applicable at your parkrun)

Or you can be completely selfless and volunteer for the hec of it. If you really must run, you could even get there early and run before (Guilty) or do your run after coffee and before lunch (Guilty).

Think of this as your way of helping make parkrun happy. Our volunteers are heros and you can be one too.

I’ve come a long way from tentatively helping out one week at Kingston and I now volunteer every week at Homewood parkrun where I am lucky enough to be member of the core team. I meet new parkrunners every week, get to know all the other fab volunteers and get filled with joy each Saturday morning when the results are in.

I’ve volunteered at 100 mile ultra races and crewed for dear friends. I actively look for opportunities to volunteer now and love the camaraderie it brings.

If you still aren’t convinced send me your questions/queries/concerns/worries. I’ll see what I can do.

4 comments

  1. Maria @ runningcupcake says:

    What a great post! I first volunteered a few years back, when they asked people to volunteer 3 times a year to pay it forward. I really liked it but didn’t do it many times as I didn’t go to parkrun that regularly (once every few months at first). Since then two new parkruns started closer to me, and I try to volunteer once a month. I’ve done quite a few different roles- I like being a marshal in the summer (it;s fun to cheer, and not as hot as running) and I actually like doing the new runners briefing, despite being very nervous about public speaking!

    • Stephanie says:

      Hvaing closer parkruns definitely makes it easier! In the summer I might go early, run and then marshal. I agree, so many benefits for work and life from volunteering, it’s definitely improved my confidence.

  2. Ben says:

    I rarely run Park runs because of other commitments on a Saturday morning (though have run Homewood twice, infact the back of my head is in one of the photos above!), but really appreciate the role the volunteers do. I opt to donate a little instead. When time permits I’d love to volunteer too.
    Love the blog – you echo a lot of the thoughts I have about running.

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