The return of junior parkrun

M doing the warm up at junior parkrun.

I was delighted to be at the return of junior parkrun today. It gives me hope that life is returning to normal.

I was volunteering as a barcode scanner at New Milton junior parkrun. This is an event that is close to my heart as it was the first event that I became involved in as a parkrun ambassador. It’s got a fantastic friendly event team who’ve helped to make the run a success.

Junior parkrunners lined up at the start line of New Milton junior parkrun with the Co-EDs standing at the front.
Co-EDs Alistair and Penny at the return of New Milton junior parkrun.

M was also excited to be taking part in her first junior parkrun since becoming eligible for a barcode. She had on her new tracksuit and was keen to get started. (However, I think she was also regretting refusing to wear a coat as it was quite chilly).

M hopping in a group with others. She is wearing a floral tracksuit and is smiling.
M taking part in the warm up.

Virtual Volunteer app

It was brilliant to be back in a high-vis vest talking to happy runners. I was given the role of barcode scanner, which is one of my favourite volunteer tasks. I love the new Virtual Volunteer app. It’s so easy to use. Pre-pandemic, I often stepped in as a barcode scanner after running, if the queues had grown long. Unfortunately, my fellow barcode scanner had some troubles with getting the app to work today. I’d recommend that you install the app and explore it before volunteering at a parkrun. You need to have a fully charged phone and also need to have your barcode handy, so that you can scan yourself in.

I scanned about 40 of the young runners. As junior parkrun is currently restricted to runners aged 4-10 (instead of the usual 4-14 year olds), a lot of the runners were tiny. They were so full of enthusiasm and pleased with how they’d done – I think for most of them, the taking part was far more important than their time.

Radio fame?

Whilst I was scanning, a radio reporter attempted to interview me. I suggested that he spoke to some of the core team as I was busy and also thought it would be more appropriate for them to talk about their event. The reporter told me that it was for national radio. I’m wondering whether any of the interviews from New Milton junior parkrun made it onto the show. (I’m not even sure what station it was for).

When I’d finished scanning, I needed to upload the results. This is one part of the virtual volunteer app that has changed since I last used it. It was necessary to scan my details and also scan the event’s QR code which is held by the ED. I had a few problems with this as I didn’t have my barcode on me and the app suggested I could enter my name, but that didn’t seem to work. I emailed the results to New Milton junior parkrun and then was able to upload them properly as soon as I got home.

Thank you email

Thank you email for volunteering at New Milton junior parkrun (event #95).

It was wonderful to get a thank you email from parkrun this morning. The experience of being at the return of junior parkrun was exhilarating. I’m a sociable person, with running forming a large part of my social life and my identity. I see very few people these days as I work from home and I’ve not been on a group run since March 2020. Interacting with over 40 people today made me feel so happy.

It was lovely to see Alastair and Penny, the Co-EDs. I also enjoyed having a brief chat with Helena a fellow member of Southampton Tri Club. She was also volunteering. She is also in the process of setting up a new parkrun in the local area, so hopefully I’ll be able to blog about running that at some point in 2021.

So how did M do?

M was really pleased that she completed the run. She was also pleased that she picked some flowers (dandelions) on the way round. I’m happy that she enjoyed herself and wants to run again.

Next week, M will be back to her swimming lessons on Sunday morning, but I’m hoping that she’ll be able to take part again at half term in June. I don’t think the swimming lessons continue in the summer holidays, so she should be able to run then. She starts school in September, so may be able to have swimming lessons on a weekday. That will free up Sunday mornings for junior parkrun!

Did you volunteer at a junior parkrun today?

5 Responses

    • It must have been frustrating that it wouldn’t work. I prefer it to the old barcode scanners… but they were generally reliable. Designing an app that can work on so many different phones must be a huge challenge. Did you hear the finished radio broadcast?

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