Well, erm, maybe not… I’ve just had an email informing me my volunteer role at Junior parkrun tomorrow is that of ‘timekeeper’. It’s that role I’ve been dreading. Can I handle the responsibility, what if I muck it all up! Can pressing A, then B a lot, then A again really be that daunting? Time for a bit of research…and maybe some prayers to the Google lords for accurate and easy to understand instructions!
The parkrun description of the timekeepers role is as follows:
“The Timekeeper is responsible for ensuring that the finishing time for every runner is recorded as they cross the line. This is one of the higher pressure jobs in the finish area, and should be reserved for those who are not easily flustered. parkrun uses a variety of timing devices, and it is important that the Timekeeper is familiar with the particular device in use at their event.”
Timekeeper is undoubtedly the one volunteer role that parkrunners fear the most. Apparently there is no reason to, I’ll be the judge of that, and it is supposed to be very simple, we’ll see! Due to the fact parkrun works with two timing devices, if there is a problem with one stopwatch there is always a backup, this is supposed to be reassuring, although I’ve read this in a few places I am not reassured yet!
The devices of fear and terror…
There are only two buttons to worry about, marked A and B in the diagram above. The other ones are just to be ignored (but what if I accidentally press another one….)
When it is time for the event to start typically the Run Director will check with both timekeepers that they are ready and that their device is still in the correct operating mode. When the signal is given to start the timer presses button A once.
Doesn’t sound to complicated so far… Just press A at the start (but what if I accidentally press another one…)
When the first finisher comes into view it is time for action. The two timekeepers position themselves on opposite sides of the finish funnel. When each runner crosses the line (on their own two feet) the timer presses button B. This will then record the time for that finisher and it will show the number of finishers along with the time of the last finisher on the watch display. The Funnel manager (or RD) will periodically ask the timekeepers for the number of finishers which they will then check against the number of tokens handed out. It is also good practice for the two timers to check with each other to make sure you have the same number of recorded times.
How hard can it be right?
We’ll find out tomorrow I guess where it will either be a story of success or more likely one of distraught children soaked by the tears of disappointment, with angry parents baying for blood and me curled up in a ball on the floor rocking gently backwards and forwards muttering “just press B, how hard can it be..” over and over and over…