Volunteering at Henley ParkRun

volunteering at Henley parkrun

It was raining. I’d got back at 1am from a friend’s dinner party and there wasn’t any milk in the house so I hadn’t had a coffee…

Despite all this, Tom and I headed off to Henley park run on Saturday morning at 8am (via Cafe Nero, I NEEDED a hot coffee!) to don the high vis and volunteer as run marshals.

I say RUN marshals because I’ve been told off for calling it a race and our job as race marshals…parkrun is very serious business it seems.

We’ve run Henley parkrun a couple of times and had heard their request for volunteers at the start of each run, and Tom insisted that we needed to do our bit. He’s becoming a runner I tell you!

volunteering at Henley parkrun

Arriving at the start at 8.15, we were given large high viz jackets, emergency contact information, handed signs/cones and told to follow James, Henley’s Event Director, to help set up the course.

It’s very much a trail race, down narrow muddy tracks, up a steep hill and with roots, gates and rocks posing obstacles along the way. Our job was to help make the route safe, making sure there were cones to make runners aware of any trip hazards and ensuring that all of the signs were pointing the right way.

volunteering at Henley parkrun

volunteering at Henley parkrun

Looking good!

volunteering at Henley parkrun

After setting up the course, I made my way back down the hill to my station; the Sue Ryder Gate. My job was to direct runners up the hill, to ensure they didn’t go off course and to be there incase of any injuries.

The race in Henley starts at 9.02…and within minutes the first runners were at the gate. Because of the type of course and the weather, the runners are usually pretty spread out.

volunteering at Henley parkrun

volunteering at Henley parkrun

I really enjoyed encouraging the runners, having a little chat with some of them and warning them about the slippery corner – the mud was pretty intense!

I loved how friendly the runners all were, and it made me recognise just how important it is to acknowledge and thank the supporters – which I do always try to do. I love racing, and they wouldn’t happen without the kind support of the volunteers. I’m embarrassed that this was my first time giving back to the community that I love so much – it certainly won’t be the last time!

I’m not going to lie, I prefer running than volunteering, however these events wouldn’t be able to run if we all wanted to run. After putting the pic up of me at my Marshall point on Saturday, I had a lot of people let me know that they try to volunteer once for every 4/5 park runs they do – a great idea!

It’s so easy to volunteer, simply opt in to the volunteer email to find out when your local run is in need of support. We spoke to the Run Director at the end of park run last week, emailed to confirm our availability and were signed up!

If anyone fancies a fun, smallish parkrun, we’d love to see you in Henley soon! Tom and I will be there this weekend either running or volunteering again!

volunteering at Henley parkrun


  1. November 13, 2017 / 8:16 pm

    Good for you and Tom to take some time out and give back to Parkrun. They do wonderful things globally and deserve the recognition 🙂

  2. November 13, 2017 / 11:54 pm

    Volunteering at parkrun gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. Katie x

  3. Erica Klein
    November 14, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    Well done for volunteering Charlie. You should try barcode scanning next time – it’s lots of fun, and you get to chat to all of the runners. I have now volunteered 40 times!

    • charlotte
      November 14, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Wow amazing, well done Erica! I’m a bit nervous about messing up the barcode scanning!

  4. November 20, 2017 / 11:37 am

    It’s a run not a race! I love volunteering at my local parkrun and junior parkrun. Giving something back and meeting lots of new people.

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