NEIL BONNAR COLUMN: Being a volunteer on the Bolton parkrun was not easy

The Bolton News: Neil Bonnar Neil Bonnar

THE wonderful Bolton parkrun organisers have a time honoured tradition of beginning their weekly website blogs with the words “this is the one when…” followed by some witty ending (the Bolton parkrun being a free, timed 5k run at Leverhulme Park every Saturday morning, by the way.)

So, keeping in the spirit, I will begin my weekly blog on the important job I was given at last Saturday’s event with “this is the one when Neil Bonnar shocked the world and actually volunteered at Bolton parkrun”.

I do the parkrun every Saturday and I am ashamed to say I don’t do my full whack when it comes to volunteering.

In fact I scarcely do any whack at all. You’re supposed to do three Saturdays a year. Last year I managed none and in three years I’ve volunteered three times.

I and my wife Judith put our names down to volunteer last week because we were doing the Bolton 10k the next day and two runs in two days simply isn’t an option.

I jumped out of bed early to check the Bolton parkrun website to find out what job I’d been allocated.

And there, next to my name, large as life were the words: Finish Tokens.

We’re not playing games here. Get that job wrong and the whole shebang goes belly up.

They only put one person on Finish Tokens – no back-up. You’ve got to be on the ball, give every runner a ‘token’ at the ‘finish’ (see where the name comes from?), and in the right order.

If that’s not enough you’ve got to direct the odd first time runner towards my colleagues on Barcode Scanning (guess what they do).

The pressure was on.

Judith, by the way had been allocated a job as Marshal. There were 13 of them.

I’ve done Marshal. It basically entails clapping, saying “well done” 500 times and making sure no-one runs off the course. Important job, but no Finish Tokens.

Tristan Kent, an excellent runner who also decided to volunteer last week, was on Funnel Management a few yards away.

He was like a coiled spring waiting to manage the funnel if the funnel needed managing. It didn’t, so basically his job entailed standing at the finish line. Important in its own way, but no Finish Tokens.

With organisation like this what could possibly go wrong? Well, for a start, when the first runner, Shaun O’Dwyer, came in I gave him token number 27. Thinking on my feet, I spotted the error early and rectified it before Andy Parker came in second.

I enjoyed my day on Finish Tokens. I felt I made a difference and I won’t leave it so long before I volunteer again.

I’m hoping I impressed enough on Finish Tokens to get New Runners Briefing or Pre-event Setup next time.

Or Funnel Management if I fancy an easy ride, eh Tristan?

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