Volunteer Roles: Finish Tokens

It wouldn’t be a parkrun without the volunteers. In this series of blogs we’ll be learning more about the key volunteer roles and the people who fill them.

In this blog we learn about the role of Finish Tokens from Lower Hutt parkrunner Glynis Ng.

The second volunteer most commonly found at a parkrun’s finish area is the person handing out finish tokens.

When parkrun first started these were washers stamped with a finish number.

These days they’re small plastic tokens with a finish position and a barcode on them, though if you’re reading this you’ll more than likely have been given one, or 100.

Lower Hutt parkrunner Glynis Ng has volunteered on finish token duty five times out of her 32 volunteer times.

Lower Hutt has an average attendance of 146 parkrunners.

“I choose jobs that don’t require a lot of co-ordination so timekeeping wasn’t a job I was going to volunteer for.

“For finish tokens you need warm, clean hands. You’ve got to keep an eye on the order of people coming through the finish line, to make sure no one jumps the queue – the places matter.

“You’re multi-tasking, if there’s a lot of people coming through you hope the finish funnel manager makes sure they’re in single file so they get the right token for their place.

“You have to make sure everyone gets a token and they go to the next step, which is barcode scanning.

“It’s important that everyone crossing the finish line gets a token, even if they don’t have a barcode, as it helps with results processing.

“The big rush is generally from 25 to 30 minutes, that’s where a lot of people finish.”

Glynis says there are a few things she likes about this volunteer role.

“You get to acknowledge everyone who comes through. It might only be for two seconds but for other you might have a little longer.

“Any of the jobs in the finish area you experience parkrun from the other side of the fence.

“You get to see people’s happiness when they finish. I like that.”

Glynis says when she’s on finish token duty she tends to wear something with deep pockets so she can keep the token stack on her person.

“The biggest fear I have is dropping the tokens and for them to get out of order, but if that were to happen you’d make a note of the first token you hand out and the results processor can make adjustments.

“I hold the string in my left hand and I pull up 10 tokens so they’re ready to hand out.

“Having the pockets means I can have the next set ready to go.

“At Lower Hutt we have two timekeepers and they’ll yell out what number they’re up to so you can check you’re in sync.

“You’ll want to do that after a rush has come though.”

Glynis has run 233 parkruns since she got her barcode in October 2014*.

“I found out about parkrun by chance. A friend had started doing it. With it being an 8am start I could run and then have time to get ready for work.

“I got hooked on parkrun when I saw the red shirt and wondered how I could get one. I just kept on going.

“Everyone was so welcoming and inclusive, that was a big thing for me. You have the very fast people and then those who are slower.

“Then the competition with myself to go faster, I enjoyed that. I also like that it’s family-friendly, open to all ages and you don’t have to run the whole way – you can run, walk or a bit of both.”

One of the roles she’s not yet done but would like to give a go is one marked down as other.

At Lower Hutt this is collecting the turnaround cones at the end of parkrun and then putting it out the following week.

To volunteer at your parkrun send them an email with what position you’d like to do and when, comment on the volunteer appeal on facebook, or chat to the event team when you’re at parkrun.

*Correct as of November 2020

One reply on “Volunteer Roles: Finish Tokens”

Yes, “other” covers a variety of things! The first time I ever volunteered was at a junior parkrun event in the UK which my sisters partner is heavily involved with. Some local hooligans had demolished a safety rail on a small bridge used by the course, so my job was “substitute fence”! That wasn’t covered elsewhere.

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