A week and an hour in the life of a Run Director.
This was my second time to volunteer as Run Director, and with the excitement of Halloween and Castletown's second birthday over the past couple of weeks it seemed like it would be a 'normal' parkrun event.
So what does a 'normal' week in the life of Run Director look like as you approach a Saturday?
Well, thanks to the helping hands of the rest of the team, it is pretty much the same as my regular week with just a few extra tasks thrown in. So what does happen behind the scenes you may ask? Well, here's a quick "peek behind the scenes"!
Saturday - Nov 04th:
I happened to be doing the results after the event. If you were happy with your result, then it's all down to the skill of the person on the laptop who uploads the text files to the website after the event every week !!
If you didn't like your time, then the weather and conditions are at fault! But the good thing is that we get to do it again next week.
Getting the results out, ideally before Sunday evening, is something we try to do early after the event each week, though there will be times when our volunteers are busy, but this week it was done in the Courtyard Cafe immediately after the event.
Sunday - Nov 05th
With Saturday done, there was a chance to review the day with the upload of a few sets of photos to Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/groups/castletown-parkrun/)
The volunteer roster for the event looks almost full so no need to send out any communication about it.
Monday - Nov 06th
All quiet on the parkrun front.
Tuesday - Nov 07th
I skim the parkrun manual for the event just to familiarise myself with what needs to be done during the week.
I've had the parkrun loudhailer in the kitchen for the week and decided to test it out, just to see how it works.
I've no idea what the neighbours four doors down thought when they heard the words "Step away from the fridge and come out with your hands up" over a loudhailer!
The weather forecast is checked and it may be cold this coming Saturday!
Wednesday - Nov 08th
There were a few queries that came in about bad scans, or results that were not recorded, so a little detective work was needed to see if there was a problem. That just meant looking at the text files from the stopwatches and the scanners to see if there was anything was amiss. The team behind the e-mails managed to field and resolve other questions that landed in earlier in the week.
There is a manual for the event that has everything that needs to be done so understanding where the signs go, which marshal will go where, and familiarising myself with the details is the key thing to do for preparation.
There was a post up on the event Facebook page about doing a little parkrun tourism in Copenhagen in case there was anyone planning to be there for the match.
Thursday - Nov 09th
Each of the lanyards that we give the marshals have the phone number of the Event Director on it, and each week we change out the phone number of the person who is the Run Director. This week it is my number that gets held in with the paperclip. If anything happens on the day, that's the number they'll call this week.
Now it gets serious...time to charge the barcode scanners (by hooking them up to a USB port for a few hours) and to clear and reset the stopwatches so that there are no results left when we start the next event.
Laura, who's the absolute business as our volunteer co-ordinator confirms the roster, so all the volunteers get an e-mail with details of when to be there (9:00 am sharp) and what to bring - i.e. appropriate clothing for the weather being the most important advice!
Read and review the volunteer list to see that we have someone on each role, review the briefing that needs to be done to ensure that I'm au-fait with the key messages and that's today's preparation done.
Two more sleeps to #parkrunday!
Friday - Nov 10th
The Run Report for last week makes its way out for last week. This means that everything for event #99 is done, and it is just a question of the last minute preparation.
A final confirmation on the roster so I print it out as the last step for the day.
We had three clipboards: One for the Run Director, One for the person who is on Finish Token Support (bad scans and volunteers for subsequent events) and for the person doing the New Runners & Tourists briefing. A few blank sheets are added to them and we're almost ready.
The final step is packing up things that I have to bring - the parkrun laptop, the lanyards and "the black box". I'll miss having the loudhailer around, it was fun!
Saturday - Nov 11th - #parkrunday 100
Time to get this show on the road.....there's 70 of us acting as Run Directors across the country this morning and parkrun awaits.
We had Aileen and Frances arrive at the start well before I got there and we were all dressed for the rain that may have happened, but thankfully things were clear since nearly 8 am, so hopefully things will hold.
Conor on pre-event setup takes the lanyard that marks which signs go where, and heads out to check the course and mark it out as well. He's my eyes on the state of things and his feedback gets into the pre-run briefing.
More volunteers with our two TY students drafted in on tokens and barcode scanning - though we'll train them in once the event has started.
I have the safety briefing with the Marshals - ask them to take the few "Keep Off the Grass" signs and send them out to cheer and encourage all of the participants. They are the eyes and ears over the 2.5km course to keep you all safe.
Philip takes the First timers and Tourists Briefing and we have visitors from both Bere Island and Lough Key - so I'll have to mention that in the pre-run briefing.
Timing is the order of the day, so a little after 9:25 I get to use the loudhailer again, and the "siren" function to get everyone's attention.
I tried to project my voice during the pre-run briefing itself.
The few things to note were:
a) It's wet out there with puddles so take care
b) A lot of first timers & tourists today - though not all raised their hands!
c) Tourists get a mention! [Hello Lough Key and Bere Island]
d) Under 11's need to be near their adult guardian, and only one dog (on a short leash) is allowed
e) Assist the marshals if they ask!
And at 9:29:39 everyone was away!
To the few folks who were a little delayed arriving....whatever about missing the start time guys....you missed the briefing!!
A little training with the rest of the volunteers.... including Niamh our Timekeeper who was on crutches having to be confined to a chair for the event! Thankfully there are roles you can do no matter what your level of mobility!
Normal run reports finish with a photo of the entire team on the day. Today finished a little differently, but I'll relay that story in a moment.
Some of our volunteers from Event #100
Feedback from the field
After the event we had a lovely note from one of our parkrun tourists, from Lough Key parkrun.....
"I visited Castletown park run yesterday for the first time, glad to take an opportunity to try out another parkrun and encourage my sister who lives locally to give it a go. It is such a pretty parkrun.
Coming from Lough Key I am hard to impress but the Castletown route is nice and flat, it’s pretty clean even with a few puddles, and the autumn trees, the Liffey which was flowing fast beside part of the route, and the beautiful house all make a lovely experience.
The parkrun was very friendly, volunteers helpful and it has a lovely welcoming atmosphere.
Thanks very much for a love great morning run. I’d definitely recommend a visit!"
Helen also shared a tale or a little trick that they use to sort out the tokens in Lough Key and we found a photograph that describes it. After you get your position token scanned, you pin it onto a wooden board. This minimises the number of lost or missing tokens. Waterstown do something very similar!
At around a quarter to 10 we had a parkrunner fall during the event. They were assisted by other parkrunners near where they fell.
It happened near a marshal at position 4 (which is the right turn near the lake, where you turn onto the tarmac ). Lots of you have marshalled there yourselves in the past. Participants who were going past the start/finish line also relayed the message about the incident.
The event First Aid kit was brought out, they were treated for a cut, brought by car to the Primary Care centre and seen by a doctor, who advised on how best to treat the injury. We've been assured since that they've followed up appropriately, are fine and they have expressed their thanks to everyone who assisted on the day.
Indeed, we hope to see them on Saturday again!
I'd like to say thanks to everyone who stopped to assist, the Marshals (Frances in particular), the core team (John & Philip) and those that assisted today (Paul in particular).
Indeed we'd like to thank all of you who assist and marshal at each event.
This is the 1 in 100 occurrence which is why parkrun events do a safety briefing with the marshals before each event, each week.
It is also why we ask for everyone's patience and attention at the pre-run briefing, and ask that people pay heed to, and assist if asked, the marshals during the event.
If you've not updated your emergency contact details, then this would be a good reminder to do so. Check out the "Edit your details" link in the result e-mail that you get every week.
With that said, we look forward to seeing you all again next Saturday for event #101.
I'll be a marshal this weekend, so hopefully I'll be there until the end and make the final photo. Thankfully everyone is okay, and we can enjoy parkrun again on Saturday.
All in all, an interesting week as Run Director and a busy end to the event. I'm very grateful to the whole team on the day, that swung into action, and I'll just have to pick a date to be Run Director again soon!
Event #100 Run Director
This week 229 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 36 were first timers and 28 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 14 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 20 volunteers:
Peter ADAMS • Sharon ASHMORE • Laura MCMANUS • Gerry EGAN • Philip SLATTERY • Eavan CONNOLLY • Sheila HYNES • Niamh DREW • Karol WIRKUS • Laura MURRAY • Conor DEVANEY • Frances KEARNEY • Katelyn KIERNAN • Roisin KIERNAN • Sean HENEGHAN • Joann BOWES • Darragh BOWES • Brian KIERNAN • Aileen KELLY • David HEPPLE
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Castletown parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Louise REILLY who recorded a time of 19:19 on 28th May 2016 (event number 28).
The male record is held by Martin HOARE who recorded a time of 16:36 on 24th June 2017 (event number 81).
The Age Grade course record is held by Gary CONDON who recorded 84.06% (16:44) on 20th August 2016 (event number 40).
Castletown parkrun started on 24th October 2015. Since then 3,334 participants have completed 17,214 parkruns covering a total distance of 86,070 km, including 3,784 new Personal Bests.