I chose to volunteer with parkrun as my first venture back into the world of exercise. parkrun is a collection of 5-kilometer running events. They take place every Saturday morning at over 1,400 locations in twenty-three countries across five continents.
I dusted off my shoes and found my favorite pair of Balega socks. I was excited! (You need to own a pair of Balega socks to understand how a girl who never wears socks can get excited about them.)
A Little History
My friend’s bother and wife brought parkrun to St Petersburg, Florida. The whole family worked hard for several weeks to make this happen. I wanted to be there to support them on the first day.
For me, this was the first time I’d put on my walking shoes and socks in three years. I was a little terrified and a little excited. If I could get through the morning without falling down, injuring my ankle, or tumbling into the mangroves, it would be a good day.
I passed out numbered tokens to each runner/walker as they crossed the finish line. I had to keep them in order, which left me a little tense. Fortunately, I didn’t drop them!
47 people came to take part, including people from other parkrun events! It was wonderful to see my friend’s hard work pay off.
The 5K course winds through the Weedon Island Preserve in St Petersburg, Florida. Runners and walkers see it all from of mangrove swamps to the open water of Tampa Bay and occasional wildlife. It’s a very unique setting.
The group received a welcome and instruction on how things would transpire. Weedon Island Preserve (WPS) parkrun race #1 began!
As they progressed through the course they were met by volunteers who helped direct them and cheer them on. A “tail-runner” followed behind to ensure no one was left behind or came in last.
As folks crossed the finish line, an amazing phenomenon occurred. The people who crossed returned to the finish line. Everyone was cheered on. It was beautiful.
The After Party
After was a meetup at Starbucks. We took over two large tables. Data was compiled and uploaded, coffee was drunk, new friendships were made. It was a nice ending to a wonderful morning. The locals who attended were excited to return the next week.
Volunteering with parkrun
parkrun is a well-oiled machine. Volunteering with parkrun is easy. First, you register online with your “home parkrun”. Second, you print out your barcode. Third, you register to volunteer at a parkrun event. Easy Peasy mac’n cheesy! Each group has a variety of volunteer opportunities. There is always something to help with. When you volunteer with parkrun 25 times you’ll earn a coveted purple volunteer t-shirt! Can you say BLING?
Run, Walk, or Crawl
Anyone who can run, walk, or crawl may participate. Register as outlined above and choose a race. Be sure to bring your printed barcode on race day. You won’t be able to participate without it.
parkrun is a timed race. Everyone who finishes needs to have their finish line chip and barcode scanned. That information is uploaded to the main database. You can track your stats anytime from the website!
BLING surprise! There are milestone t-shirts for the runners and walkers. It was cool to see people wearing their “100 Races” tees!
If you’re into running or walking or interested in volunteering with parkrun, check out the parkrun website. The Weedon Island Preserve parkrun in St Petersburg, Florida takes place every Saturday at 7:30 AM, rain or shine. In the event of severe weather or a hurricane, the plan may change. Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with that! Check their Facebook page for updates.
I just may put those shoes and socks on again this week and try a little walking without falling down!
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