Volunteering – Marshal

Two weeks, two different volunteer roles. This weekend I headed back down to my ‘home’ course of St Peters parkrun to volunteer as a marshal and pick up yet another different role.

As always I was one of the first to arrive at the course, which turned out to work in my favour this time as it meant I had the pick of the spots on the course! There were three different marshal points around the course to choose from:

  1. Approx 1km into the run so most runners have passed by approx 5-10 minutes into the run, but then walk a short 50m across to a point 4km into the run to pick up the last marshal point as well (great position because you get to do two spots to keep you busy with a short walk)
  2. Approx halfway round at the bottom of ‘the hill’ (great position because it is the shortest walk from the start line and the first to finish)
  3. Approx 3.5km into the run at the top of the sports field (great position because

Because I was volunteering so I could help a friend move into their new house in the area near parkrun, I chose option 2 – the shortest distance and the first finishing. Had I not been under time constraints I may have chosen option 1 so that I got to see things from two different perspectives, however that may have just been hindsight and I might have always chosen option 2 given the choice. However as you can see above, all of the choices have a very good reason why you would choose each of them!

When I arrived at my position I found out straight away that this was actually a very easy position to be in, because as I said last week, the course markings on the floor were just brilliant and I again ended up just standing behind the chalk arrows telling everyone to turn into the park and head up the hill.

Marshal chalk course markings - St Peters

Marshal chalk course markings – St Peters

The first runners came past me very soon after I arrived. If you think about it, the fastest runners would be reaching the halfway point in about 7 or 8 minutes! Then there was a short gap with a couple of people passing me, then came the mass of people. I ended up constantly repeating the words “Well done”, “Halfway round now”, “Congratulations” and other phrases of encouragement. I even uttered the words “Come on, that’s cheating!” to a child who was on a scooter at the side of his Dad, to much of his amusement. Then again there was a short gap and the Tail Runner came through with the last few and it was a short walk back to the finish area to cheer in some of the runners.

After all that, this sounds very bad to say, but for me the Marshal position is one of the most important behind the key roles of Timer, Finish Tokens and Barcode Scanner however I couldn’t help but feel that it is probably the least rewarding role I have done so far as well. That is not to take anything away from the role or the people who do it, quite the opposite, I think it has increased my already high appreciation of these volunteers who turn up on a regular basis to something quite a bit more. I completely understand that volunteering is not about getting something from it, but I did get so much more from the other roles and enjoyed them more. Suppose that is the beauty of opinions, I can guarantee there will be a lot of people who would disagree with me on this!

What next though? There are far less volunteer roles than courses. Looking at the roster for St Peters I reckon there is only Funnel Manager, Pre-Event Setup and then Run Director I have not yet done, and I am not sure I am ready for RD duties just yet! We’ll have to see I suppose, however I do have a couple of runs planned in the next few weeks so it might be a bit of a gap for me to make up my mind!

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