Tuesday 5 August 2014

Dartford parkrun 2 - Signs, Tarzan and an Interview

The second Dartford parkrun gave us a chance to implement some changes following the lessons we had learned at last week's inaugural event. As far as the course signage was concerned, the only thing we needed to work on was;

The turning point at the last corner, which is where the runners leave the path and cross the grass towards the finish line, wasn't defined very well at the inaugural event and left the exact turning point somewhat open to each runner's interpretation. This week, we placed the cones in a much better configuration which took away any doubt as to when to turn. By the looks of it, this worked well so am very happy with that.

the improved cone layout at the final corner

In addition to that, we also had to get the finish funnel working better. At the inaugural event the timers and finish token volunteers were not in the correct positions, so the funnel system wasn't properly implemented. This week we got it a bit better but the timers and tokens were still too close together, so again the finish funnel was not used to its full effect.

I met Richey (event director) at the library at just after 7am to begin setting up the course. As we went around, we found some interesting things - A penis drawn in chalk was one of them. Of more concern and not quite as funny was a tree branch which had been broken and was hanging right in the middle of the path. Richey managed to sort it out with a tarzan-esque technique.

richey and mick

A late addition to the marshaling team was Sir Mick Jagger, who was draped in a volunteering vest ready for his duties. Although, I do think he might need some further training on pointing runners in the correct direction. We'll have a word.

Just before the start of the run, it became apparent that some of the volunteers had not turned up, so Richey spent some time recruiting. After taking the amazing, late volunteer additions to their posts, he returned to give the pre-run briefing and start the run. If you'd like to read the full course description take a look here.

7t [photo: brian page]

I paced myself around the course, I thought, a bit better than I did at event 1. But looking at my splits, they were almost identical to last week's. The good news is that I ran a 4 second course best. It was still a very warm morning which made running tough. So hopefully that means faster times are to come once the air becomes cooler at the end of the summer.

Straight after the run, I picked up the purple bumbag, put on my volunteers vest and got to work on scanning the other runners' barcodes after they had finished their runs. It went pretty well. There were a couple of finish token issues to deal with, but nothing major.

7t [photo: brian page]

After this event, I think there are a few more lessons to learn from. The main thing is that we should include some extra signage out on the course in order to reduce the number of essential marshals. I've been thinking a lot about this and we'll need a few extra arrows before it can be implemented. The current marshaling systems requires 6 marshals out on the course, but with a reviewed placement of the signage, we can easily take this figure down to 3, with the possibility of it being 2.

We were also visited by one of the main presenters of the parkrun show who interviewed me and Richey after the event and has profiled our venue in episode 152: 'You Shall Not Pass!' of the parkrun show. Click the link to have a listen - in fact, just start at the beginning and listen to the whole lot - the entire back catalogue is available on the Marathon talk website. It's a brilliant podcast and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in parkrun.

my current obsession - signage

Anyway, after all of that, I had a vO2 max test which was fun, and the results were really interesting.

Remember we are always looking for volunteers to help us to put these events on, so please have a look at our volunteer page and/or future roster page, and follow the instructions for signing up to our volunteer appeal emails -  we can't do it without you! Remember to also keep an eye on our news page, facebook and twitter feeds for all the latest news from Dartford parkrun.

See you all next week!

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