I stepped behind the parkrun magic curtain this week and saw first hand what goes on to set-up our weekly Gunnersbury timed 5k run. I had ended up with all the parkrun kit in my car following the club 5k handicap race during the week so was pulling into the Gunnersbury car park at 8am to make sure everything was available on time.
I had The Son with me and we met the run director to carry everything down to the finish area and help put everything together. We were also briefly joined by a parkrun tourist who was checking to confirm that he was in the correct place and that it was fine to leave his car in the car park.
First was the parkrun flag and the tables for all the tokens etc and the km markers were taken around the course as other volunteers began to arrive by bike. The other volunteers started to arrive intermingled with some early runners and I took the time to say hello to my fellow scanner. I hadn’t taken on the scanner role before so just wanted to make sure that I understood everything.
The Son was bored so grabbed some cash from me and walked to the cafe to get an early hot chocolate but he was disappointed to find that the cafe had not opened yet so returned empty handed. He then proceeded to sit under the little table and play with his iPod – not the task I had in mind for when I put his name down to marshal!
Thankfully there was an abundance of volunteers so with The Son continuing the guard the table, the run briefing took place and the runners were soon streaming down the slope. I cheered everyone through as they completed the first loop before taking up scanning duty as the first finishers passed through the funnel. The runners began to cascade into the finishing funnel and an orderly queue began to form as we beeped our way through athlete ID scans and finishing token scans.
I really enjoyed being a scanner for the morning and it was nice to say hello to people who I would not normally get a chance to meet. It was also interesting to see how other parkrunners look after their barcodes. The most common was a single folded barcode on normal paper but there was also a good sprinkling of laminated barcodes, a few taped to the back of smart phones, one specially made plastic barcode looped through the laces of a running shoe, and the local football team who each have their barcode in a business card folder so they scan everyone in one go. The toughest to deal with were people who print out on A4 paper but do not cut into separate barcodes so you’re presented with a crumpled sheet of paper that has been folded many times over.
I am back to volunteering again next week as a marshal so I can rest my legs following the Richmond Park Marathon and take some time out from running.