Volunteer Roles: Timekeeper

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 Timekeeper from Millwater parkrunner Sofia McLeod.

Sofia McLeod has volunteered at parkrun on more than 50 occasions, with almost half of those as timekeeper.

Sofia McLeod (right) timekeeping at Millwater parkrun.

The 15-year-old says it’s a job that requires a clear mind.

“Volunteering as timekeeper is probably one of the roles people are most stressed about until you know what you have to do.

“You need to keep a clear mind and press the button [or tap the screen] when someone crosses the line.

“That’s all there is to it.

“You have to tap it as fast as you can. Practice makes perfect and with the app you can practice at home.

“It’s better than the old system, we’ve more control. One thing I feel they should add on the app is being able to swipe and delete if you’ve done a wrong entry for some reason.”

At Millwater parkrun Sofia can often be timing between 150 and 200 runners who finish from 17 minutes to an hour.

“My advice for anyone who has never been Timekeeper before is to make sure you’re in control and you have a clear mind.  Stay completely focussed and watch people coming through.

“Touch the screen when people cross the line – imagine there’s an invisible line and that’s when you touch the screen.”

She says the worst thing that’s happened while timekeeping is when it was raining and the raindrops were so hard they were being registered as finishers.

“It’s important to check you’re in sync with the other timer and whoever is on finish tokens. If you’re constantly checking then if something goes wrong you can nip it in the bud.”

Sofia started coming to parkrun with her mum, Nuria, dad Rob and brother Bruno. Soon she discovered she could volunteer at parkrun and have it count towards her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. This award requires three months of service.

She’s now working towards her Silver Award, which is six months of service. As a consequence she’s run just 12 times, though she says she does her running outside of parkrun so she can be involved as a volunteer.              

There are two main roles she’s yet to volunteer for – Run Director and Run Report Writer.

“I’m thinking of writing the run report when I’ve finished my Silver Award. I’d like to do Run Director.

“It seems like a lot of fun, standing on the bench and talking to people.”

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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