I didn’t get to run at parkrun today, because I was taking a turn at volunteering instead.
I had volunteered once previously, when I was given the responsible job of handing out finishing tokens. These record runner’s positions, which in turn allows timings to be allocated to the correct runners. Big responsibility. This time, I was trusted with the even greater task of timing each runner as they passed the finishing line. I was quite worried.
I need not have worried though; I was in the safe hands of Caroline, an experienced timekeeper. Caroline showed me what to do, and explained when to click ‘stop’ for each runner, as they pass The Cone. I realised that when I run, I’ve probably been slowing a moment too soon, just before I pass said cone. Useful insider information.
I learned all about the challenges faced by the volunteer team, like runners who pass the finish more than once, or those who pass before they have finished. And that there must be two timekeepers in case it all goes horribly wrong. I learned that parkrun in January is much colder for volunteers (and today was a relatively mild day). Next time: fingerless gloves.
But most of all, I found that it was an enormous privilege to watch 125 runners cross that finishing line. Everyone – whether they were fast athletes, parents with children in tow, those out for a walk, or those overcoming personal barriers – everyone was a champion.
Now that’s all well and good, but what about RED January? Standing around in the cold, however noble, is not active.
Arriving home I needed to think about doing something active. This was hard – my body, my brain and my appetite thought I’d just been to parkrun. Even if I did just stand around.
Fortunately, the dog saved the day and told me (by sitting staring at me, tail wagging) what I needed to do. A nice long walk.
We were out for about an hour, and walked one of my usual running routes. Archie was keen and walked with a little spring in his step. Although Archie is always keen to go walkies, once we are out of the garden gate he usually decides that he’d really rather just stand and sniff. But today, he was energetic and trotted along nicely.
There seemed to be a touch of spring in the air – birds singing, snowdrops in bloom and daffodils on their way. Maybe this accounted for Archie’s good mood; it certainly boosted mine.