That was some wind this morning, the kind of wind that is going to seriously annoy you on 2 of the 4 straight bits at Strathclyde parkrun, fortunately I wasn’t running today, I was helping out at it – result! I mentioned in my previous blog about parkrun that I was going to make a serious effort to volunteer at one soon, I seem to have picked the right day for it certainly, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I arrived at around 0845, a little nervous as I always am when I need to meet new people but I had no need to be as everyone was friendly and welcoming. My first task was to be handed a tent pole to assist with putting up a wee tent in the prevailing hurricane – as someone with their Chief Scout Award this should have been easy meat – but it was no nijer tent like we used in Scouts so I probably was more of a hindrance at this point. Soon enough the rest of the volunteers arrived and we were issued with our high-vis jacket and lanyard with emergency information etc. on it, turns out being a marshal has some more responsibility than making sure people go the right way! I was assured I was in for a pleasant morning and was assigned to marshal point number 2 (the one I secretly wanted anyway!). I walked round the kilometre and a half to 2 kilometres to my point with the man who was going to be at marshal point 3 – he had 2.5k to walk. We had a good chat abut parkrun and running and I enjoyed learning about his running past and how well his children and grandchildren do at running (one of his sons seems to be a runner of quite some repute with some really impressive times). One note of encouragement for me was that he told me he didn’t put on a pair of running shoes until the age of 49 – it’s never too late to get started. We eventually got to my point and my fellow volunteer wandered off into the sunlight / cloud / rain / wind to his point further on. Here I was, now all I had to do was wait for the runners.
The wait was quite pleasant and it wasn’t long until I saw the runners streaming up the South West side of Strathclyde Loch. I could already see one guy had opened up a big lead (but it’s not a race!) – he was fair flying into that wind. All I had to do at my marshal point was make sure people went the right way along a fork in the path and offer some encouragement, I was a bit hesitant at first, not quite sure what to say but I soon got the hang of it. The reactions I got from all the runners made the morning really worthwhile. A few high 5s, load of people saying thanks to me, a few comments about the wind and a big smile from most had me smiling all morning as well.
Another great thing about being a marshal is getting to see the runners that are usually way ahead of me, the speed they go at it something I will hope to approach one day. Gradually more and more people came past and I recognised some of the people that are usually around the same speed as me, all looking far more comfortable than I feel when running! More and more people passed by with a friendly wave, a thumbs up, a “thanks marshal” or a smile. Being able to offer some encouragement to the runners on their way back past me for the second time was really rewarding, that was a tough stretch into a fearsome wind and every single one of them had all of my respect for getting out there on such a rotten morning and getting it done. When I said “great run” to them, I actually did mean it. I think I said well done, great effort to people just out a walk or a run who weren’t doing parkrun but even they smiled and said thanks.
While standing at the marshal point a couple of people stopped and asked me what was going on. I actually felt really proud to be able to tell them about parkrun and how it was happening all over the UK and how it was free and open to all abilities, I think I bored one guy with how much I was banging on about it as he wandered off mid-sentence! Soon enough the tail walker came by and I could pick up my little signs and make my way back round to the start/finish area.
On arrival back at the start we were thanked for our work and off home I went – via the bakers, I think I deserved a wee treat after being out in that cold! Overall, I loved this morning. Volunteering at parkrun is amazing, the appreciation shown by all the runners makes it such a rewarding and worthwhile experience and I would urge everyone to give it a go, I will certainly be doing it again – if they let me…
Just to add that just as I was about to hit “publish” on this, I got a text from parkrun saying:
“Stuart, thanks for volunteering today at Strathclyde parkrun. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by us and all the runners” – that was nice.
This is part of my London Marathon training blog, I’m running it for the RNIB, if you would like to sponsor me a quid or something you can text SMTR76 £1 to 70070. Or you can visit my justgiving page here or you could simply share this blog, that helps me massively too. Thanks a lot.