For my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I volunteered at my local Junior Parkrun. The volunteering system was very structured, with a rotation system so people are allocated different roles each week, but also, for beginners like myself, a system that allowed me to experience each role from a marshalling point to run director.
Initially, I started as a marshal, clapping and encouraging the runners around the course. I could hear the sound of the runners’ feet and heavy breathing approaching coming past my point, which allowed me to know when to start encouraging the runners when they were passing my point.
After a few weeks of marshalling, I moved on to giving out the tokens at the finish funnel. Each time I held the token out, and the child took it from me, so I didn’t have to find their hand each time — it went very efficiently, especially because the tokens were already in the correct order as they were always put in order after being used.
After giving out tokens, I moved on to barcode scanning. This could be a bit fiddly, but after a few practices, it went well. The scanner beeped every time the barcode and token were scanned successfully, meaning I knew when the barcode and token number had been registered. The auditory feedback from the scanner made it easier for me to do it on my own, which I really liked. When the child brought their barcode and token to me to scan, they gave them to me face up so that I knew which side to scan, which made the process much easier to do independently.
After that, I did time keeping. I could tell when runners were finishing from heavy breathing and their footsteps, but we also had someone who would count us in ‘three, two, one’, as there are always two time keepers. When you press the button to record the time on the stopwatch, it also beeped each time so you knew that the time had been saved.
My penultimate task was tail walking. This is an important role as you make sure everybody has travelled around the course safely, and you also encourage the final runners. As I was already familiar with the course due to running it previously with my guide runner, I was able to tail walk without support, although a guide was available if necessary.
My final role was being Run Director and organising the whole event. I was sent the notes of what to say in advanced so I could read them on my Braille Note at the marshals’ briefing and then the runners’ briefing. I memorised the warm-up, which I then led before the run, as I had this in advance too.
Overall, volunteering at Junior Parkrun has helped me to understand the organisation that makes the run as enjoyable as possible. My favourite role was scanning because I liked the independence I had with it with the audible scanners but also it was nice to congratulate the runners when they had finished.