Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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Volunteering at Park Run – Ted Talks!

This week I have been talking to Coalition member Ted who recently started volunteering at his local parkrun event.

Ted has been aware of parkrun for some time as his daughter is a keen runner. She has been parkrunning at her local event for around 5 years. During a visit in the spring of 2020 Ted’s daughter tried to persuade him to volunteer at his local event but Ted wasn’t keen “I’d been putting it off as I didn’t want to do anything that involved getting up early on a Saturday morning!”. Then, of course, parkrun shut down completely during then pandemic.

Two years later and parkrun was back on the radar as we started to talk about it during the Get More Active café chats. Information was shared that it was not just for runners but that you could also walk, push, use your powerchair and be an active and much valued member of the community by volunteering. I remember Ted saying at the end of one of these meetings that it had encouraged him to think again about parkrun. I should say that Ted has unofficially volunteered on many occasions – helping me with information about accessibility of the courses and assisting Jane with her registration!

Ted’s daughter came to visit again in April. Once again, she suggested that since he was coming along to parkrun to cheer her on, he might as well sign up to volunteer and cheer some other people on as well. This time Ted agreed. They registered Ted on the parkrun website (www.parkrun.org.uk) and got his barcode printed out. That Saturday morning, they woke up early and headed down to the local park. Ted met the volunteer coordinator who said that an extra body is always helpful and suggested he take the marshal point at the final bend before the finish line since it was his first time volunteering. Usually, volunteers sign up in advance but if you happen to wake up early enough on a Saturday and feel like giving it a go you will always be welcomed and there will always be something you can do.

Since Ted’s local parkrun is a two-lap course, Ted was able to join some of the other volunteers in cheering people off at the start and at the end of their first lap before he needed to take up his position as marshal on the final bend. He was able to give his daughter a cheer and call out encouraging comments to the runners before walking back to his marshal post and directing people to the finish line at the end of their second lap. Ted clearly already knows an important skill for marshalling – how to clap loudly but without making your hands sore! Soon he was cheering his daughter through and then in time, the last walkers and tail walkers came through and it was time to pick up the signage and walk back to the finish area. That afternoon Ted received a thank you email from the parkrun organisers which he said is always nice to have.

Ted’s advice if you are thinking about volunteering at parkrun – If you know someone who is participating, and you are thinking of going along to cheer them on why not sign up to volunteer as well? You can support your friend or family member and the organisation at the same time.

I was so pleased to find out that Ted has since volunteered at parkrun a 2nd time as well as continuing his volunteer role for the National Trust.

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