Volunteering at Fareham parkrun

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For all details relating to the Fareham parkrun e.g. location, parking, facilities and todays results you can visit their website here http://www.parkrun.org.uk/fareham/

If you want a relatively flat trail parkrun with estuary and harbour views then you won’t do much better than Fareham. Today I was volunteering as “half way turnaround marshal” which meant I walked out with my orange cone, two signs, hi viz vest and official lanyard.

This blog is also the race report but I thought I’d do something different by writing it from a walking volunteers perspective rather than an actual runners. My aim is simply to encourage more people to both run and volunteer at Fareham and other parkruns

The Fareham parkrun course

After setting off from the Cams Mill public house / car park area there’s a good 360 metres for the runners to string out before taking a right turn onto the Fareham Easy Access Trail which weaves its way around the outskirts of the golf course for a mile. The initially enclosed tunnel of trees and bushes soon gives way to views of the golf course to your left and Fareham Quay to your right. This compacted surface underfoot is also good to run on. By the first 1K you may not have noticed the track has gradually dropped down because you’ve been taking in the views. The next 1K is flat and the views ahead stretch out further down the golf course and across the water where various wading birds can be see.

The end of the Access Trail (2K) is signalled by two benches and the terrain becoming less even underfoot once you start to run on the original coastal path for the remaining 500m. The harbours yachts can now be seen for quite some distance as well as Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower on the horizon. The trails wide open views are then reduced by bushes on both sides and this is where I placed my “slow down, turn around point, 20 metres ahead” sign as well as my orange cone, 20m later, to signify half way and hopefully no one falling as they rounded the cone.

Granted an almost “dead” stop to turn around a cone isn’t ideal but with my encouragement ringing in their ears people were soon on their return trip. Naturally the leaders were now returning on the left hand side of the trail. The 3K mark is virtually as you’ve joined the better surfaced trail and the 4K is when the trail bears around to the right. At this 4K point you will defiantly notice the gradual incline, it’s not a hill but if you’ve gone too hard too soon this 500 ish metres will seem a “fairway”. All that’s left then is your original 360 metres back to the finish and a well earned “subsidised” tea or coffee from the pub in its lovely surroundings and patio.

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My “experience” of the Fareham parkrun

Parkruns “do what they say on the tin” they are a run, not a race, in a pleasant area but they also offer more too. As a marshalling volunteer my motivation was simply to “give” something back to our local running community that I enjoy so much but I hadn’t bargained on getting so much back. As soon as I arrived and collected my various accessories (see the photo below) I was thanked by Andrew Smith, todays run director, for offering my services. While I was awaiting my final instructions another chap turned up out of the blue and asked if there were any roles that still needed filling and he was assigned traffic control. I chatted to volunteer Ros, who I know, and not only was she the tail end runner but she was helping set out the start too. Volunteers are “givers” !! I missed Alison that I know from twitter but I saw her at the end, she was timekeeping.

So, as I left the start line and headed out towards my half way marker I was keen to offer my enthusiasm and support. I certainly got some strange looks from a number of walkers, cyclists and a “couch to 5K” lady. They all received my parkrun smile and a quick summary of why I was carrying numerous day-glow banners and an orange cone. The “couch to 5K” lady said she’d definitely return when she had built up her confidence, #converted 🙂

I received countless “thank you marshal” comments as I both encouraged runners and advised them to watch the stones near the turning cone. Numerous Fareham Crusaders got name checked (17 I think) and I have to name Paul Pickford who was running with his guided co runner Richard Twose, this partnership summed up the day really, one runner helping another. As I was at the half way point naturally this meant the inbound runners coming towards me and the outbound on the left running back out.

The parkrun “love” was again evident with the encouragement of fellow runners passing each other in different directions whether they knew them or not. High fives and shout outs are very much a feature of parkruns and it’s great to watch and be a part of, even as a standing volunteer. As Ros came into sight with the two people that were furthest away from the leading runner it was almost disappointing that my involvement was over. Ironically as I walked back thinking this I met up with Chris (photo’d above) who was also marshalling at the 2/4K point and we chatted about how positive the morning had been.

It wasn’t just the lovely surroundings that made today enjoyable it was the parkrun spirit that’s so infectious. Whether you run or volunteer it really is a different kind of running. Old/young, quick/steady, experienced or a novice, as Nike would say, “Just do it” !!

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2 thoughts on “Volunteering at Fareham parkrun

  1. Clark Hind June 18, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    I volunteered at our parkrun in Huddersfield this morning. Always an enjoyable experience. Fareham looks a great course!

    Liked by 1 person

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