For only the third time this year, I wasn’t stood on the start line of a parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning. With my first 10k on tomorrow morning, I didn’t want to push myself too much and risk having tired legs. But instead of taking it easy and watching back to back Disney films with the boys in our pyjamas, as any normal person would, I still decided to head on over to Burnley parkrun, to help marshal the event.
Typically disorganised as ever, I didn’t get the boys up and dressed and dropped off at my mums in time to make the volunteers briefing at 8.45am. Instead I turned up just as the running latecomers were speeding up the avenue to the start. A few nice lady marshals took me under their wing and suggested I head on over to one particular part of the course which was free. I grabbed a vest and headed off to get there before the first runners arrived.
From my vantage point I could see the huge colourful crowd of 300+ runners all gathered in front of Towneley Hall. It was a pretty amazing sight to see them all suddenly mobilise and set off from a distance. My spot was about 500m into the run so I didn’t have too long to wait before the front runners came thundering past.
Before sitting down to write this, I had a look on the volunteer page and it listed all the different roles. It says:
‘Marshals guide and encourage the runners around the course warning them of any obstacles or hazards, as well as ensuring that other park users are aware of the run. They are also the eyes and ears of the run director out on the course. Marshals perform a crucial function; if there aren’t enough marshals then the event can’t go ahead. So if you’re running and see them out on the course, please say thanks (particularly if it’s wet, windy or cold) and always follow their advice. They’ll most likely be wearing high vis – so they should be easy to spot.
Well there weren’t any hazards near my area, but once I got over the ‘I feel a bit silly stood here on my own clapping’ feeling, I like to think I did a good job of cheering and encouraging the runners on. My most useful moment was probably relieving one of the runners with a dog from a small plastic bag full of … well I’m sure you can guess. She looked pretty happy not to have to carry it around for another 4.5km!
It was interesting seeing the huge variety of runners and I still marvel at what an amazing event is. From the clearly talented runners finishing in under 20 minutes to those struggling at the back but persevering with each and every step. From the tiny dots only 5 years old to the more senior runners of varying speeds and abilities.
After seeing the last runner past my post, I ran back to the finish line to try and catch as many as possible coming through. By then I had no worries about clapping and cheering them on and stayed until the last runners came through.
If it wasn’t enough to received a lot of smiles back and a hefty number of ‘thank you’s’ from the runners taking part today, I even got a thank you text message instead of my usual run time and position. I had a great morning and it only took an hour or so of my time. Although I am concentrating at getting fitter and better at running myself (with parkrun’s help) I hope I can give up a few more Saturday mornings to help out.
So now I am just preparing for tomorrow. All my kit is laid out ready. I’m just hoping that the aches and pains in my ankle and knees are just psychosomatic seeing as they have just appeared in the last 24 hours!! Wish me luck!