Volunteer Profile: Lead Bike

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 Lead Bike from Anderson parkrunner Andrew Jones, aka Ajay.

There are some volunteer roles that aren’t mandatory but still play a vital role for their events. One of these is Lead Bike, which is only in use at a handful of parkruns in New Zealand.

Ajay leading out runners at Lower Hutt

Ajay has fulfilled the role at Lower Hutt, Anderson and Porirua parkruns – 166 in total at the time of writing. Overall he’s just 40 parkrun finishes, it’s pretty easy to tell which he prefers.

“I started at Lower Hutt in 2013 when [my wife] Joce finally dragged me along. I did one then jumped on the volunteer roster after that.

“I took on the role of lead bike for the best part of six years.”

One of those occasions was a New Year’s Day Double occasion where he was lead bike at Lower Hutt and Porirua.

“Lead bike involves keeping track of the front group. Although many runners are quick they don’t all know where they’re going. When you get elite runners they shoot off.

“I worked out that I have to maintain 17kmh and no one will catch me. It became a numbers game.

“I tried three different bikes on the same course on one afternoon to work out the best bike.”

He said he passed on his numbers to the run director in case any runners wanted to try to catch him.

Lower Hutt is an out and back course and on a path that is well used by non-parkrunners.

“I go about 200m ahead of the start and talk to anyone who’s out on the course. I let them know what’s happening and if I have time I can fill them in more.

“I stay with the lead group for the entire 5km. Once the lead group have come back then I’ll roll back out and see if there’s anyone in trouble, such as with asthma or cuts and scrapes.”  

Ajay usually does a course inspection before the run starts and when he heads back out after the lead group have finished he packs the event down behind the tail walker.

Aside from being able to stay ahead of the faster runners, Ajay says volunteers who take on this role need to have spatial awareness.

“Some runners aren’t always the most attentive.

“You also should be positive and friendly to everyone. At Lower Hutt I’ve had high fives from runners on their way out as I’ve been coming back..

“I’ve had a flat tyre once in the entire time I’ve been doing this, there was a bit of glass in there. I still came in second. Luckily I had an apprentice and told them they had to do it.”

Ajay says he’s tried every volunteer role available bar Run Director, though don’t expect him to give that one a go.

“I like the camaraderie from volunteering. Being there to support everyone else.”

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.

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