With Southampton junior parkrun only 3 sleeps away, most of the preparation has been done.
It started a few years back simply trying to find out whether we could have a junior parkrun to more recent discussions with Chrissie Wellington and the team about the new weekly Juniors series, policies and procedures, etc etc.
In parallel, there was a need to find a course and funding. That meant lots of emails to various people within Southampton City Council, Active Nation and Sport Solent.
Once a venue shortlist had been agreed, it was time to find a suitable 2km course. Online mapping tools came in handy there along with Google Maps and, of course, trips to the venues.
As funding applications were being prepared, the venue was finalised. More detailed plans of the course needed drawing up to get an idea on what equipment we’d need in terms of signage and cones.
Funding was agreed so things could rev up a gear. Event details needed preparing for the event’s website. The Risk Assessment needed preparing and submitting to parkrun HQ along with the event details.
With the course decided, it was time for the event team to recce the course and measure it. That then needed documenting and an equipment list generated and an order placed to acquire it.
Next up was bringing the event’s Facebook page to life. Fortunately, Danny Norman had set that up so I didn’t have too much to do.
The shopping list of equipment covered the basics but there are always a few nice-to-haves to make the event run smoothly.
The trial event was fast approaching so preparation of course maps, marshal positions and manual entry for design was next. After that, printing and laminating as required. Several re-designs of each map/plan meant the printer, laminator and myself worked overtime.
With the event’s equipment starting to arrive, it was time to check out the gadgets. Laptop, barcode scanner, stopwatches all needed checking. All 300 finish position tokens needed popping out of their sheets and loading onto a lace.
Next, making up the signs (just one of the 12 or so – rest are in the shed!)
Yet more to do. Folders of applicable documentation; child safeguarding policy printed in full and then summary sheets prepared. More copies of marshal and course plans printed and laminated.
Inventory lists generated. Trying to squeeze the equipment into as small a space as possible to ease transportation and storage (my shed looks like it’s owned by a race organiser).
More equipment arriving.
Trial event goes without a hitch but extras marshal positions identified. A revamp of the plans needed. A shortage of stakes means another batch ordered just in case. Taller cones that the juniors will hopefully see as they find a path to the finish line.
Chrissie Wellington’s article in the Telegraph brings in some media interest.
Phone calls. Emails. An article in the local paper.
Having several Run Directors, it’s necessary to try and work out a rota. More difficult than I’d hoped but think we have a starting point!!
People start coming forward to volunteer for the first event from emails and Facebook. Built a roster template and them started allocating volunteers to roles. This will be an ongoing task week by week.
A need for ’emergency action cards’ identified. Time to design something appropriate before review by HQ. Lanyard and ID card holders ordered to hold them in alongside a pump air horn for the start.
Time to ramp up the social media with the Twitter Account bring brought to life.
More posts and subsequent interaction on Facebook.
Suddenly, only 3 days until the event. Time to mark the occasion with a Facebook cover photo. Quick design and some jiggery-pockery at it’s up on the Facebook page.
Decide that a large course plan near the start would be useful. Don’t have an A3 printer so use blockposters.com to take an image and break it into 6 A4 PDF pages which are then cut, laminated and stuck together. Not perfect but should do the trick for the first few weeks.
So, that, in a nutshell, is a whistle-stop your of what I’ve been doing to prepare for the event.
I wouldn’t like to estimate how many hours I’ve spent so far. Hopefully it’ll all be worth it. This isn’t the first parkrun I’ve set up (it’s the 3rd). Blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights each time (exaggerating with the blood and tears a little). I once got told that I was an Event Director for the glory :-S Surely, there must be easier ways!! I do it because I love every second of bringing an event to life. I’ve stepped away from 3 events I’ve previously ED’d as their teams and events have flourished. Each time it’s been a difficult decision to hand over the reins. Each event has taken lots of my time and passion to get off the ground and then the time and passion of their respective teams to thrive and grow. Giving them up isn’t easy!
3 more nights. Hopefully not sleepless!!