The one with the purple shirt. This morning I had originally planned to be heading down to Brockenhurst to tick off another Hampshire parkrun. They are switching to their winter course today which is supposed to be the better of the two, so I’ve been waiting for that announcement before planning my tourist trip there. This would be parkrun 52 in location 24 for me and see me just one away from completing all Hampshire parkruns! However, earlier in the week I’d seen this call to arms in my social media feed.
Now Portsmouth Lakeside isn’t my home parkrun, but it is just a short trip down the road and the Event Director is a friend (who I’ve met through parkrun) so how could I not give up my run this week to go help out. One quick message later and I’m all signed up on the roster and their marshals quota is sufficient enough so that the event can go ahead. Yay! “Sense of welldoing” status achieved and plus one for “voluntourism”! Everyone involved in parkrun should go along at least once a year and help out, the official guideline used to be three times a year, I believe that’s since been dropped but I still think everyone should pay something back. It is rewarding and you do get to see what goes on behind the scenes. On that note, I’m also marshalling on Sunday at the Meon marathon rather than running, so I’m really making a weekend of it. In fact Friday I had the day off work so I offered my services to help lay out the marathon course. I spent a good chunk of the day running around the countryside in the rain putting up signs and it was awesome! Full 3 days of volunteering and it feels great, smug mode engaged!
It’s a chilly old morning and the car has to be de-iced before I can head down to Lakeside, but the sun is threatening to make an appearance. By the time I get to the site at 8am to help set up the sun is doing its best to warm us up. Setting up is easy enough and most places you can do the set up and still run so you get best of both worlds, though it does seriously help to know the course! The RD, Rob, informs me that I’m going to be marshalling the turn around point at the far end of the course and loads me up with a sheet of instructions and some cones and signs. Before I head off to get set up I get a sign to stick on the back of my jacket (don’t worry, it was transferred onto my hi-vis)! Today I join the 25 club, I’ve volunteered at parkrun 25 times this year! This entitles me to claim an aubergine volunteers shirt.
After setting up the start/finish area it’s just past 8:30am so I’d better head off to the far end and get the turnaround point set up. Once there it doesn’t take too long to follow the instructions and get the cones, markers and signs in place, though I reckon a laminated sheet would improve things a bit. I’m all done and dusted by 8:50 and the sun is out and it’s warmed right up where I am, off comes the coat and there’s plenty of time for some gratuitous selfie action, yeah baby!
Shortly after 9am I’ve got to get my cheer on as there is a steady stream of runners heading my way, time to look both authoritative and happy at the same time, see picture above, yep, nailed it! I’ve just got to make sure that all the runners stick to one side, loop round me and head back the way they came. As the numbers increase I get a few hearty congratulations and thanks from the runners, hmm, then there’s a few “well done on 25!” comments. Clearly something was said at the pre-run briefing, thank you Rob. It’s great to see so many happy faces and clap and cheer them on. There are quite a few friendly and familiar faces, I get congratulations from Graham Bowpit from Denmead Striders, I get a kiss and a cuddle from Paula Williams of Fareham Crusaders, a few high fives, a cuddle from Debbie Cox and a hello from Ellie Randall from Portsmouth Joggers and yet more congratulations from others. I’ve said it before, but you do get to meet so many lovely people through parkrun, it is so much more than a run in the park. As the tail runner comes past I get my position all packed up and head back to the start, it’s as if we were never there!
Obviously, post parkrun coffee and cake is a must accompanied with a bit of socialising. As a volunteer at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun I get a 50% discount on my goods in Starbucks, which is a nice little perk. Sadly no Cornetto this week, but never mind, I got a blueberry muffin to console myself! It’s been great fun from start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed my 25th volunteering event and will wear my shirt with pride when it lands on my doorstep.
Get involved, it really is rewarding!