Volunteering – Finish Funnel

Since reaching my 50th parkrun and since I have now moved house so I have a parkrun on my doorstep, I have been trying to get down and do more volunteering to give back to the running community that has given me so much so far. Up to now I have been doing roles that I have done before (yes, I abandoned the unique 1 in 1 volunteering concept) with stints as both a marshal and as a photographer down at Rhodes parkrun, but this weekend I did another role that I had not done before – Funnel Manager.

Now before I go into any details about the role, I just want to say that I absolutely LOVED doing this. It was probably my favourite of all of the roles so far and I think this might become a role that I will do most frequently over the next few months!

Okay, so the role itself might not exist at all parkrun events, I think it mainly exists at events that attract a large’ish’ number of runners, but for those events where it does exist I can imagine it is vital. Definitely a lot more vital than I initially realised when I started parkrunning. The main jobs for this role are:

  • Making sure the right token is handed out to the right runner by keeping them in an order when they cross the Finish Line, and letting the Token Distributor know which order they should be handed out
  • Making sure that the position number between the Timer and the Token Distributor remains constant and doesn’t go out of sync
  • Making sure that the traffic keeps moving away from the Finish Line to the Barcode Scanners to give room for people crossing the line
  • Making sure runners only cross the line once

In addition to the more functional jobs listed above, I would like to add that a key job that I also performed was to cheer the runners through the Finish Line and to spur them up to a fast finish or a race over the line if there are multiple people running together towards the end. The amount of smiles that this little bit of banter at the end produced made it all worth while!

As well as finding a new favourite volunteer role, today was also pretty special in that it allowed me to cross paths with a few ‘VIPs’ in the parkrun/running communities. Firstly, the run was attended by the well-known athletics commentating duo of Mossy & Robbo, the latter being the Event Director at the first parkrun in the Region Of Runners – Newy, and also the co-host of the former parkrun Australia podcast, so I guess he is entitled the use the moniker of ‘parkrun Royalty’. Mossy is no stranger to parkrun either though as he is also an Event Director in the Region Of Runners at Stockton. Both are well-known to enjoy their parkrun tourism and even record little snapshots and reviews on their Snapchat Stories about the parkruns they visit. As a little bit of a spoiler, the event at Rhodes today got a score of 4 runners out of 5 with the only criticism coming due to the road traffic noise at one section of the course because Mossy is a country boy at heart and prefers the blissful peace of no cars. There were some fantastic positive comments too, including that the volunteers on the day were the best and friendliest volunteers he had met at a parkrun! I’ll take that as a feather in my cap for being part of ‘The Best parkrun Volunteer Team’ today!

And as if one set of ‘VIPs’ wasn’t enough, there was also a group of runners there who were competing at the Australian Athletics over at the nearby Sydney Olympic Park that decided to come down and use Rhodes parkrun as a warm up, including Olympic athlete Jessica Trengrove, who won Bronze Medal for Australia in the Women’s Marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014! Strange how the presence of an Olympic athlete only got in at ‘VIP’ #2, but parkrunners stick together, so the host of the former podcast had to be ‘VIP’ #1.

Just goes to show how amazing and inclusive parkrun really is though, when you can have a medal-winning Olympic athlete line up at the start with someone who is maybe trying running for the first time. Well done parkrun, mission accomplished!

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