LOTS of parkrun people (Fareham RC takeover)

LOTS of parkrun people, the abbreviation LOTS stands for Lee on the Solent which was the Hampshire venue for Fareham Running Clubs takeover of volunteering and supporting roles on September 17th. As a long standing member of FRC I popped down to the coast to offer my services on this bright crisp morning. The parkrun philosophy has always been inclusivity with everyone welcome, I’m sure that on the day we achieved that. Giving something back to your chosen sport is always satisfying so it’s a win -win.

Before I go any further I’d like to credit the official parkrun photographer from the day, Peter Soddard for the images in my blog. This was event 313 and had 418 finishers with 66 PB’s !!

On my arrival the scene was set for another coastal parkrun with views across to the Isle of Wight and the chatter of anticipation. I didn’t have a specific role assigned to me but as is often the case two opportunities presented themselves as the morning unfolded.

In amongst the gathered runners and walkers I spotted Paula Williams who was coordinating our club’s efforts to facilitate the fun. As with all parkruns the set up, funnel staff, timers, token takers, barcode scanners, marshals and coordinators were all in evidence as well as our club supplying numerous pacers. I think it’s a pretty good chance that the pacers would have contributed to many of the 66 PB’s.

I decided to make my way along the coast to see what part I could play. Within a hundred meters or so I stopped to chat with Sarah Macbeath. Her role was to marshal the cluster of small rocks that are just off the promenade. With a field of 400 + it was clear that the starting line would be some fifty or so people wide and that the folks at the front would want to merge onto the prom as quickly as possible.

With the prospect of hundreds of well intentioned runners charging straight for her I asked if she’d like another “rock marshal” on the grounds that doubling our forces would hopefully mean less chance of any accidents.

If you have a sharp eye you will see in the photo below there are two of us pointing in the opposite direction to the rest of humanity !! Sarah’s fair hair and placard can be spotted with the “40” on its reverse. The phrase “Caution Rocks” was written on the sign, a phrase that we both shouted out along with “Mind the rocks” and for my part I decided that the volume of my safety advice was the best bet.

Within less than a minute a good proportion of the field had passed us by and we both agreed it had been quite exhilarating. No one tripped, no one ran into us and there were numerous “Thank you Marshals” so all in all it was job done. Top marks Sarah.

With the drama of the start behind me I chatted with a few of our club members who were manning the finish funnel and also the photographer from our local paper, The News. Here’s a selection of our club volunteers below with Mel, Rebecca and Co. then me, far left. These volunteers were centered around the funnel, however, we had guys up and down the length of the course.

I chatted with Ed and Mick Macenri who I haven’t seen in a long time and Mick mentioned his wife Liz was one of the pacers. The nature of this parkrun is an out and back route along the prom so as the guys got into their positions I looked around for my next contribution.

I didn’t have to look a lot further than my “Caution Rocks” pal Sarah as she was safeguarding one of the large litter bins, as, by the time the parkrunners have returned along the Prom these black bins do merge into the background and would present a painful experience with a collision.

So, yes you guessed it, I progressed from “Mind the Rocks” to “Mind the bin” it doesn’t get much more rock & roll than this but at the same time safety first has to be the answer for a successful event.

The funny thing about spectating / supporting / marshalling is that hundreds of people pass you with flashes of coloured kit, comments shouted out and to be honest it can be a bit of a blur !! I shouted encouragement as well as mind the bin to everyone that passed and name checked as many people as I could.

I think the first person I saw at the sharp end of the parkrun was Phil from our running club who is running the London marathon for charity. He will be wearing a large foam star and is hoping to break the Guinness world record time for a fancy dress marathon star. Through the morning I saw Mike, Simon and Andy, all friends that I’ve known for twenty five years or so from my Stubbington Green runner days. Added to this there were Gosport RR /Bayside Tri & 545 runners like Hayley and Lee, Fareham runners like Trevor and Chris. Well done everyone.

With the nature of people running past you and you only seeing them at the last minute I was pleased to see Emma Noyce from Gosport RR after she’d finished. She shouted “Hi” mid run but I wanted to congratulate her on her British Empire Medal. Emma is a keen open water swimmer, as well as runner, so we were on her patch by the sea. Congratulations Emma on your award.

In summary there were numerous positive comments on social media praising our clubs involvement so it was hats off to Paula for coordinating and a round of applause to all Fareham Running Club volunteers. Oh, and apparently there were a number of cakes donated too from the club, but sadly I had to leave before sampling any.

For my part it was great to see so many running friends and I thoroughly enjoyed helping out.

The phenonium that is parkrun continues to thrive, inspire and motivate both our local community and across the country. Octobers parkwalk will bring even more people into the fold. Exercise truly is a common denominator, we arrive from all walks of life and we leave glowing with the physical and emotional benefits. Your legs are empty but your heart is full.

Chipping in to volunteer is well worth it.

Thanks for reading, Roger

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