Our guiding principles for volunteering are:
- Volunteer for the love of it
- Treat everyone as a friend
- Be kind and respectful
- Unite as a team
- Be reliable, responsible and attentive
- Be helpful and enthusiastic
- Do your best
- Respect our principles
Volunteering at parkrun is a hugely positive experience, and is a form of participation that is inclusive, respected and accessible to everyone.
It is absolutely our belief that volunteering should be done simply for the pleasure of helping out and for the benefits that are gained from doing so. Volunteering at parkrun is an equal form of participation, where the act of volunteering itself is the reward.
There is so much to gain from volunteering:
- Social connections
- Improved physical and mental health
- A sense of belonging
What do the volunteers do?
Volunteers are fundamental to the delivery of all events, and carry out roles such as setting up the event, marshaling, timekeeping, scanning, handing out finish tokens or tail walking, to name just a few.
We encourage each event to have as many volunteers as they can and to never turn down an offer from someone to volunteer. A course can never have too many Marshals and multiple Tail Walkers can make the event even more fun!
However, there should be no pressure for parkrunners to volunteer at events. While the roster does need to be filled each week, we ask people to volunteer when they would like to, and for event teams to create an environment where people feel welcomed, included and supported.
We know from experience that some people will volunteer regularly while others will seldom or never volunteer. Event teams need to remember that volunteering is a choice, and everyone is welcome at parkrun whether they volunteer or not. If an event is having trouble filling the volunteer roster or would like some ideas to encourage people to volunteer, they should speak to their Ambassador or contact email@example.com
Each parkrun event is managed by one or two event directors, who are responsible for ensuring the event is delivered appropriately, for building relationships with landowners, and for liaising with parkrun HQ.
Volunteers are welcome to be accompanied by their children. However, they can be distracting and volunteers may find themselves in very challenging situations, so volunteers must be mindful of this at all times.
We have a dedicated parkrun volunteering video series to empower event teams to showcase to their community just how enjoyable and easy volunteering is. These videos below are a tool to inspire, excite, educate and invite anyone to get involved as a volunteer at parkrun.
On each event day, the volunteer opportunities are many and varied. Some volunteer roles are essential at all parkrun events, and the roles that are compulsory at all events are:
The Run Director has overall responsibility for event safety and oversees proceedings during the event and at the finish line. They must be near the start and/or finish area at all times. The Run Director has the ultimate authority to decide whether the event should be cancelled or postponed or if an adjustment to the course is required.
The Run Director also welcomes all parkrunners to the event via the pre-event brief and communicates all important messages prior to the event start, recognises the contributions of the volunteers, acknowledge visitors, first-timers and ensures everyone understands the event and stays safe for the duration.
The Run Director must not participate in the event or perform any other volunteer role whilst it is taking place.
First Timers Welcome
This role is to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for first timers and visitors by describing parkrun, its inclusiveness and ethos, and highlighting any course-specific information. Seeing this role on a volunteer roster may be very comforting to a brand new participant.
Event Day Course Check
The Event Day Course Check involves checking that the course is safe to use and is free from anything that may make it unsafe to participants and volunteers. The check is to take place on the day of the event as close to the start time as reasonably possible.
The Timekeeper is responsible for recording the finish times of all participants at the event (using the Virtual Volunteer app). Ideally, events should use two timing devices to protect against losing one set of times.
The Finish Token volunteer is responsible for handing out position tokens to all participants working in a team with the timekeeper. They may be assisted by a Finish Tokens Support volunteer.
This volunteer scans the personal barcode (using the Virtual Volunteer app), followed by the barcode on the finish position token, to ensure every participant who completes the course receives a result.
Every parkrun has a Tail Walker volunteer (or volunteers) who sets off at the start of the event and walks at the back of the field. A Tail Walker is entitled to receive both a volunteer credit and a walk/run credit (providing they brought their barcode with them to be scanned) when carrying out this role.
Please note, that the volunteer carrying out this role must be a registered parkrunner in line with our safeguarding policy and that we are always happy to see more than one Tail Walker at an event.
The role is compulsory at all 5k and 2k events globally.
Also compulsory at junior events...
Marshals at junior parkrun events are positioned no more than 100m apart and maintain line-of-sight to the next Marshal. Marshals perform a variety of tasks which include giving directions, ensuring safety on the course and cheerleading.
The Funnel Manager is responsible for the whole finish area and is primarily focused on ensuring the participants move smoothly and swiftly through the finish funnel.
At junior parkrun we have children as young as four participating unaccompanied, and when you add in parents trying to shepherd their own children as well, this can make the finish funnel a challenging area to manage. It's critical therefore, to both the safeguarding of our younger participants and efficient event delivery, that every junior parkrun finish funnel has a dedicated volunteer who's sole responsibility is to ensure the children pass through this area safely and appropriately.
This junior parkrun specific role involves taking everyone through a short pre-defined warm-up routine. It is an opportunity to not only warm up the participants but to help foster a fun environment. parkrun has developed the warm-up routine below that should be used.
Please note: To lead a warm-up at a 5k parkrun event a volunteer would be required to have sufficient qualifications. Therefore, due to the level of administration involved to monitor this across the thousands of parkrun events globally, we do not allow warm-ups at 5k events unless delivered by official parkrun partners.
Other volunteer roles, that may be needed:
The parkwalker role is a friendly face or faces who provide support and encouragement to walkers, as part of our commitment to increasing the number of people who walk at our events.
This is a separate role from that of Tail Walker. The parkwalker should be positioned ahead of the Tail Walker and walk at their usual pace to demonstrate that walking is welcome at parkrun.
A parkwalker is entitled to receive both a volunteer credit and a walk/run credit (providing they brought their barcode along to be scanned) when carrying out this role.
We ask that this role isn’t filled by the same person each week and whenever possible multiple people carry out the role. This is both for safeguarding purposes and to provide as positive and sociable experience as possible for everyone.
Car Park Marshal
This volunteer marshals car parking areas as directed by the Run Director to ensure cars are parked within designated areas and to help ensure the safety of pedestrians.
Equipment Storage and Delivery
The volunteer consolidates and stores the event equipment and ensures it is available for course set-up the next week.
The volunteer writes a report for the weekends’ event that is available to view via the event website. Different events go to different lengths in their report writing and there is no expectation from HQ that a report will be published at all.
Finish Token Support
The role involves preparing small stacks of tokens and passing them to the Finish Token volunteer/s, who hands them out to those crossing the finish line. This role is often used at larger events where the Finish Tokens volunteers may be under pressure to hand out finish position tokens in a timely fashion.
Each event has different requirements for Marshals depending on the complexity of the course, the number of participants and any location-specific issues. The main tasks performed by Marshals are guiding, interacting and encouraging the participants around the course, warning them of any obstacles or hazards, alerting the Run Director to any incidents, as well as ensuring that other park users are aware of the event. The Marshal should stay in position until the Tail Walker passes them for the last time.
The Number Checker is responsible for recording (but not correcting) discrepancies that may arise between the timer and the numbers that are given out. They work closely with the Timekeeper and Finish Tokens volunteers.
Pacer (5k events only)
We use the term Pacer to identify those accompanying a walk and/or a walk/run group. Those volunteering as Pacers agree to identify themselves to the other participants and try as best they can, to complete the course in an agreed time or pace.
This volunteer takes photographs/ videos for inclusion in parkrun communication and social media channels. Photographers must always…
- register as an official volunteer
- make themselves known to the Run Director/s
- wear a high-vis vest at all times
We do not support photographers charging individuals for event photography at parkrun events, nor do we allow any watermarks.
Post-event Close Down
These volunteers help clear up and return any kit to its storage place - leaving our parkrun space as we found it.
The Pre-event Setup volunteers help the Run Director prepare for the event. This may include: the placement of markers and/or signage around the course, setting up the start/finish area including the finish funnel, and placing signs and/or cones to indicate the route.
The Results Processor is responsible for compiling the results and submitting to parkrun HQ for processing.
Sign Language Support
The Sign Language Support volunteer signs the First Timer’s Welcome and the Pre Event Brief for our deaf and hard of hearing participants.
The Token Sorting volunteers sort the finishing position tokens back into order for the following week. This role is often performed at the post parkrun cafe and reinforces the social benefits of volunteering.
We warmly welcome people with visual impairments as walkers, joggers, runners or volunteers. The Guide accompanies a visually impaired participant at parkrun. This volunteer should receive a finishing time and a volunteer credit. Please note that parkrun do not directly provide trained or checked guides.
The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for filling the volunteer roster each week. They use the WebFMS or EMS software to manage the roster. In addition to that, they may use the various communication channels available to source volunteers (WebFMS or EMS, volunteer email appeal, and social media) and respond to offers to volunteer.
This is one of the roles where the volunteer does not have to attend the event and, very often, the same person will perform this role for consecutive weeks.
Volunteers are requested to:
- Wear a volunteer vest to make them clearly visible as a person who can help.
- Keep a watchful eye as people arrive looking for those who are there for the first time; they may be looking apprehensive and unsure of what to do.
- Greet people with a warm welcome, asking where they are from and what brings them to parkrun.
Sometimes people offer to volunteer on the day of the event. It may be that these individuals are not registered parkrunners and/or have not volunteered at a parkrun event before.
If such an instance arises the Run Director or Volunteer Coordinator should…
- Take the name and postcode of the volunteer using the safeguarding declaration form.
- Ensure that any such volunteers are not placed in a role that is unsupervised (e.g., as an isolated Marshal or Tail Walker).
- Brief the volunteer on their role, including any necessary health and safety or safeguarding information.
- Encourage them to register for parkrun
The unregistered volunteer form should be filled in and signed by the volunteer.
On the rare occasion that event teams need to ask someone to complete the safeguarding declaration, they should photograph or scan it, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org so that it can be placed on file. The paper copy should be destroyed.