Volunteering – Timer

After spending a couple of months on the sidelines recovering from surgery for a broken collarbone, I decided to ease myself gently back into parkrun this weekend by volunteering down at St Peters parkrun in Sydney again.

This time was a little different though as a friend of mine was taking his bow into the world of Run Directoring and I thought I would offer my services along with a bunch of friends to help things go smoothly for him. After doing Finish Tokens and Photographer the last two times I was a volunteer, I was asked to help out in the position of Timer this time with it being the one that puts the least strain on only having one fully working arm.

All that said, it sounds like it was the best job for me, but this was the one volunteer role that I have always thought to have been the worst and have dreaded the most. One wrong move and everything that makes people get out of bed in the morning could have been ruined! Finish Tokens can’t go wrong because you just give them out in order and worst comes to worst people will wait in line for their token, there is no time pressure. Photographer was even less pressure because you are literally just standing somewhere taking photos and then wandering somewhere else to take some more photos, there is even less time pressure. But Timer? That quite literally is TIME pressure!

Volunteering as a Timer - St Peters

Volunteering as a Timer – St Peters

The job of Timer starts nice and simple, one little press to start the timer at 08:00 and then standing about doing nothing for 15 minutes or so before being called back into action again for approx 30 minutes. Sounds uneventful, yes? You’d be wrong, well on this occasion anyway, as 23 seconds after setting everyone off on their merry way the battery cover on the back of the timer fell off!!

After a desperate scramble and some quick fingers I was thankfully able to keep the battery in the device despite losing the cover – phew! Although that did then mean that I couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t happen again so the next 45 minutes were a very uncomfortable tight grip on the timer with one finger on the battery casing. I afterwards found out that the spare timer also suffered with the same problem and the battery cover was held on with tape, so perhaps it’s a common occurrences in parkrun world?

The actual job of Timer though, despite my reservations, was great fun and nowhere near as stressful as I had imagined. There was only two buttons I had to concern myself with – one to start/stop the timer, and one to press each time someone crossed the line (343 times today). Surprisingly it turned out to be probably one of the least stressful roles on the day.

I did notice though that the timers only have 500 lap memory, so I wonder what bigger events do as the one device won’t help? Or even more so, I wonder what smaller events do when they hit 500 for the first time? That has to be a nervous time for the Timer when you are clocking close to 500 knowing that the limit of the timer’s memory is close! Maybe one to ask next time I am at an event with more than 500 runners.

I’m hoping to volunteer in a couple of months on my parkrun anniversary again, wonder what role I’ll do next time? Hopefully something new again, starting to get a kick out of doing different volunteer roles as well as different parkrun courses now! 🙂


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