Yesterday saw me perform my first official stint as Run Director at Gravesend junior parkrun.
The day dawned grey but not too chilly and with no bracing riverside wind in evidence. As the start time approached, adults and children began to congregate in front of the cafe where we meet. But by 9.20am we were still a bit light on marshals and with junior parkrun, the event can’t go ahead without sufficient marshals. By this point, any adult approaching me was greeted with a “yes please” as I assumed they were about to offer their volunteering services. They could just have been about to ask what time the run started but they suddenly found themselves with a whistle, a foam hand and adorned in a yellow hi viz jacket.
I think I may have mentioned before my dread of “public speaking”. So how do you face your fears? Stand up in front of 49 children and associated adults with a megaphone – yeah! In the end, the run brief wasn’t as tortuous as I’d expected and on reflection was probably the easiest part of my responsibilities that day. So run brief, wristband distribution and warm up done, the children rushed to the start area and then they were off!
I didn’t actually see anyone cross the finish line as word got to me of a twisted ankle at the furthest point of the course. So I abandoned the finish funnel and hot footed it across to the other side of the park, just stopping to pick up the first aid kit en route. I like to think of this as my “Baywatch” moment, dropping everything to rescue a child. Although Pamela Anderson I aint! Middle aged woman in jeans and a hi viz jacket with no chest doesn’t quite fit the bill! Although I do have a red swimsuit 🙂
Anyway, I dashed through the park, knocking runners left, right and centre (only joking!), I could see the marshal on the gates waving frantically. Oh goodness, what was I going to find?
Well actually, nothing! The runner with the twisted ankle had sat down for a few minutes, then seen his mate coming and decided to run off with him! Grrrrh! Being a responsible adult (?), I thought I’d better get back to the finish area as soon as possible to make sure he was alright. I ran back, encouraging another small child in her attempts as I passed her by, only to find no sign of anybody limping when I scoured the area. And nobody seemed to be aware of any problems when I made enquiries. Oh well!!
But during my absence, another child had tripped and scrapped their knee at the finish area and would probably have benefited from the contents of the first aid kit. Unfortunately, it was on its travels with me. Apparently said runner was declared fine by his mother so all was seemingly well.
After the final finisher had crossed the line and as marshals started to arrive back from the far flung corners of the course, I discovered that only one of the timer watches was useable for results processing. This is not a problem, and this is why you have a back up timer, so hopefully there is always one timer containing an accurate set of results. I myself have been guilty on a number of occasions of pressing wrong buttons so I wasn’t unduly worried!
This is definitely not a problem, unless of course you are me! To avoid confusion, the valid watch was hung around my neck for safe keeping. However, during the walk back to my car, the watch must have got knocked and re-started itself! OMG, time to panic. Would this wipe out the only set of recorded results? How would I explain away no results? Would I have to make up times?
The three mile journey home to process the results was tortuous. Made worse by the fact that when I eventually got home and turned on the laptop, Windows had decided it was time to “install updates”! Aaaargh, it took FOREVER! Fortunately, once everything was downloaded, the official results were still there and all was okay. Hopefully the children were none the wiser.
But by the end of yesterday, I needed a lie down and next week I’ve put myself down to volunteer for an easier role!