Queen Elizabeth parkrun tourist takeover

The one with the many cow cowls. It was a fresh autumnal start this morning with the first real frost set in overnight. Extra layers were duly extracted from the wardrobe prior to de-icing the car. These layers were definitely required as I wasn’t running today, choosing instead to be part of the UK parkrun tourist group takeover of Queen Elizabeth parkrun.

You may or may not be aware there is a group of dedicated parkrun tourists who visit a different parkrun each week or whenever possible, I’ve seen people on certain parkrun Facebook groups say it’s a secret club but that really isn’t the case, there is nothing secret or elitist about it. Once you have attended 20 or more different parkrun locations you get onto the most events table on the official parkrun website, this earns you the unofficial title of ‘Uber tourist’. It is at this point you can request join the UK parkrun tourist Facebook group and sport what is known as a cow cowl. What is a cowl cowl I hear you ask, well it’s a distinctive black, white and yellow ‘not-buff’ designed by Kathy Brown which members of the most events table are welcome to buy to allow themselves to be spotted by other tourists at home or away. It’s completely unofficial and features no parkrun branding. Funds raised from the sale of cow cowls go back into the new parkrun fund too, lovely jubbly. I made it onto the most events table earlier this year, having now completed 20+ different parkruns since I started touring back in April.

So this morning it had been arranged that we ‘evict’ all the usual Queen Elizabeth volunteers and take over their event, providing them with a full complement of volunteers, this is know as voluntourism. There were three Queen Elizabeth core team members (all tourist group members), six volunteers all the way from Havant (lol), one from Chippenham, one from Riddlesdown, one from Worthing, two from Poole, one from Winchester, one from Pymmes, two from Wycombe Rye, one from Conkers, one from Panshanger, one from Guildford and one from Bath Skyline, I don’t think I’ve missed any there, but stand to be corrected. So as you can see a collection of 22 volunteers, all members of the tourist group, from far and wide all brought together by their love of parkrun and parkrun tourism. Many made the trip down to volunteer haven’t actually run at the event either in the past or today.

I didn’t run today, I was the funnel manager, a role I’ve not done before but clearly it is important sounding and perfect for a man such as myself, “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me, I’m very important, I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany”. The Funnel manager is responsible for the smooth operation of the finish funnel. It’s vitally important that runners stay in the same sequence after they cross the line so that their time is kept in sequence with their finish token and results don’t get screwed up. So my job was to remind runners of where to go, help them if they pushed a bit too hard, and cheer them over the line. The role can be described as a mix of school teacher and cheer leader! Armed with high-vis I flitted between the time keepers and the finish tokens and ensured that the numbers matched, which fortunately they did from start to finish. All 86 runners got the correct tokens and times and it was all peachy. Looking through the results table you see the usual mix of clubs listed, but today I had to laugh, there’s the best club name ever in there, the ‘Derek Zoolander Centre for Kids Who Can’t Run Good’, I feel I may have found my future parkrun club. I absolutely love this, sheer genius!

It was a lovely turnout and for me it was great to put some faces to names and also catch up with previous acquaintances. Obviously I wasn’t the only one, I could hear many conversations in the cafe afterwards around what parkrun people had previously met at as well as plans of where they are going next. Swapping stories about various different locations and hints and tips of each location. There was a nice bit of cake out today, with a bit of ‘Ricky Road’ supplied by the lovely Cole family.

As sure as Saturday is parkrun day, parkrun day is Cornetto day! #parkruncornetto it’s totally a thing!

Photobomb courtesy of John Cole!

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