Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Helping Hand - Frimley Park Hospital 10K

Something a little different today. Rather than running a race, I was helping out as a volunteer at the Frimley Park Hospital 10K. I've run this race 3 times in the past and is the race I currently hold my 10K PB at.

For once I would be the other side of the barriers
and not with the runners gathering for the race
It was an early start, arriving at the hospital for 8am (the race start was 10-30am) I didn't know exactly what I was doing until I arrived, but it turned out I was one of a team of 4 at the finish line who would be responsible for relating finishing times back from the finish line to another team collecting the data. So no pressure here then!!!

I'm friends with one of the Race Directors, Bob who introduced me to Steve, who would be looking after me and giving me my orders today. Now Steve must sleep well every night, because I've never seen someone so energetic and enthusiastic as him. His energy made me feel quite tired, so just as well I wasn't running today. Steve organises the Frimley Lodge Park run, so I was in good hands.

Steve (In red) briefing a fellow volunteer
It was the first year the race organisers were trying a new timing system. Rather than chip timing which is costly we were using a similar system to what is used for the Park Runs in the UK. In fact we had the timing team from the Bushey Park Run, the biggest Park Run in the country, who are used to dealing with getting a similar volume of people across the finish line.
I think I was more nervous than the runners today. The briefing made things sound rather complicated. As the runners came across the finish line we would take it in turns between the four of us to pick out random runners, take down the runners finishing position and race number, follow alongside them as they made their way down the finishing funnel and relay the information back to Ann (From the Bushey Park Run) who would record the results. We would then run back to the Finish and repeat the process. At the same time stickers were being placed on the runners which had their finish position (which should be the same as what we recorded as they crossed the line the other end). They would then make there way past 4 tables where everything was finally uploaded......Phew! Sound Complicated?

At the finish line.
As the finisher came across the line we had to check their position on
that small device on the table and remember along with their race number  
You can see the finishes 'funnel' on the far left of the
picture with Ann and Ray (Bushy Parkrun) in the centre
I still don't quite know how it all worked. But work it seemed to, and the whole thing turned out to be a great experience. It made me really appreciate just how much work goes into such events and it was great to see things from the other side of the fence, so to speak. 
Volunteers Unite!
One thing I never get to see, as I'm usually running somewhere in the middle of the pack, is to see the winner come pounding across the line, and today I was the first person to see them across the line. I actually really enjoyed this part as there was not too much for us to do with the first runners coming through, it was not until the main bulk of runners from 40 minutes to 60 minutes came in where we had our work cut out. 

It was difficult to know quite when the race had finished, we talked about it afterwards and that it would have been good to have someone cycle behind the last runners so you would know when everyone was in. There was a couple of times when we thought of packing up only to see someone come running through. But I can say it was just as satisfying to see the last person come through as the first.

I would definitely say to anyone who gets a chance to volunteer for a local race, to do it. I will now run future races and really appreciate just how much hard work and effort has gone in to make the race happen. 


  1. Volunteers make the racing world go round. Way to get out and lend a hand.

  2. I've volunteered at a couple of races and it really does take a huge amount of work to get it running well.