Parkrun thrives on volunteers- At each location, everyone from the run directors, to the time keepers, to the marshals are volunteers. You’re not forced to help out if you run, but lots of people do, and so many say what a fun experience it is and how much they get from it. So when I started Parkrunning, I said that when I’d done ten runs, I’d do my bit and do something useful.
A little bit later than planned, after run thirteen, I found my super-cold still clinging on for dear life, so I decided to take a week off, wrap up warm and not go out in my trainers. The call for volunteers came towards the middle of the week and as it was my Parkrun of choice’s third birthday, and there would be cake, it seemed like the perfect time to make good on my promise, so I volunteered my services to scan barcodes and sat back, ready for the warm glow of doing something good to wash over me.
Saturday dawned bright and windy. Very very windy. I resisted the temptation to stay in bed, put on an unfeasable amount of clothing and got in the car. Still waiting for the warm glow of helpfulness. Standing in the cold, in my sexy hi-vis tabbard with the barcode blipper, waiting for the runners to finish was fine, if chilly- I had a nice chat to my fellow volunteers, and then after the last person had been bipped, and the stuff handed back in, I started back to the car. The run director thanked me for helping out, and we got talking- I explained that I wanted to help out after I hit the ’10 runs’ mark, and he very sweetly said that everyone comes to parkrun for different reasons, and nobody should feel like they need to volunteer. Which was good, because to be honest with you, on the way home, I sort of felt a bit unfulfilled- As OK as ‘doing my bit’ was, I would have rather been out there trying to beat my PB, or snuggled up in bed, getting a few extra z’s in, after a week of cough-based sleep deprivation, not to mention the fact that I felt very guilty about my my post-lunch chocolate eclair.
So I think in the future, I may just be a little bit selfish- If it meant that my run wouldn’t go ahead because of a lack of volunteers, I’d of course be straight out there, donning a fluorescent yellow jacket, but I’m not going to feel guilty if I go the next year without being helpful.
What do you reckon? Would you rather be out there week in week out, running the course, or do you mind mucking in and doing your bit?