Tail running

The weekend before we went away, I decided to volunteer at parkrun. I had seen they had new roles that allowed you to run, including a tail runner. I liked the sound of it, as I love encouraging people.


The weather was lovely- a bit breezy so clouds kept on rolling over, but mainly sunny and not too hot. I had worn a long sleeved top but tied it around my waist.

The start was interesting- obviously I had to start at the back, but probably even 5 minutes after they had started, people were still running into the car park and up to the starting corner. I think I ran quite fast for the first bit, because the last few people were pretty speedy. But soon I caught up with a couple of families with young children (two were 5 or 6, and one child was probably about 3 I think)- they were doing pretty much a walk (and the little one was having piggy back rides for most of it), so I hung back and gave them a bit of space. (I did try to cheer them on a bit, but they seemed fairly shy and I think it didn’t help, which is why I stayed further back after that).

I had been asked to pick up any signs along the way, and hand them to the marshals as I passed them. I got to the second marshal point (at nearly 2k in) and another person overtook me- they shouted something like “this is what happens when your alarm doesn’t go off!”


At the top there are some beautiful fields, so I took a few pictures, and let the families go ahead, before running fast to catch up.


I could never tire of the views from this place.

The first few marshals were heading off back the way I had come, but after half way they walked the route of the end of the course, so we walked together, collected signs and chatted. I think I even managed to recruit a new member to OH ladies, because the lady (who runs for another club in Welwyn) had a neighbour who was interested in any Hatfield based clubs. Nice work!

As we were heading up to the finish (a good 50 minutes after the start) just behind the families with little children, another runner appeared and headed up the hill! We could not believe it- she either started very late, or got lost although we are not sure how.

My dad (who had picked me up, and then run it in 25 minutes) was waiting for me at the top, and shouted “don’t get a token as it will mess up your average time”, and then as the last runner appeared we all started chatting about it. I was going to ask if I could get a token as it was my 40th run, but I got distracted and so didn’t. So although my 40th parkrun, it didn’t count towards my total.

It was very enjoyable to tail run, although I must admit I thought I would do a little more running. Of course it depends on the week- sometimes the final finisher is at around 40 minutes, but you never know who will come along. I had a 12 mile run the next day, so I didn’t want to run hard on the Saturday anyway, so it was perfect timing for me. I did miss the anticipation of the results text and email, although you get a text as a volunteer too, thanking you, which is always nice, and unexpected.

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I did consider a quick run when I got home, but by the time Dad dropped me off it was about 10.30, and I was so hungry, and had a big pile of work to start on, so opted for breakfast instead.

I think on balance I prefer marshaling, because then you can cheer on everyone. Plus I wasn’t quite sure what to wear because I didn’t know how fast I would be going. I got to walk/ run the whole course though, so that was a bonus.

I love that there is a tail runner, because then no-one is the last finisher. It is something that will encourage people to join if they are worried about being last.

Anyway, parkruns are basically brilliant. A free timed run every week, run by volunteers, in a beautiful park setting. What more could you want?

Which roles do you like to do when volunteering? I like doing the barcode scanning too, as you get to see everyone, but the thought of being a timekeeper is very stressful indeed!

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9 thoughts on “Tail running”

  1. I would find being a tail runner really difficult, because I would never know what to say or how to act. The last thing I would want to be is irritating, and different people like different levels of encouragement. Personally I wouldn’t want cheering on at all, but I know other runners often feel lifted by it. I’m sure I’d just end up making things awkward!

    Good on you for volunteering 🙂 I know I’m always so grateful to all of the race volunteers every time I run one, regardless of their role. And what stunning scenery too.

  2. I was tail runner this morning behind a family with littlies …. 01:01:09 yip 1 hour+ but it was so cute to watch little miss with her pink cat hat on. I actually think I now hold the record for slowest 5km time at my local parkrun 😉

  3. You’ll be proud of me Maria, we’ve all registered for parkrun! (notice the correct capitalisation 😉 We didn’t get yesterday as James wasn’t feeling well, but we had the right intention! Either next Saturday or the following one we’ll be doing 🙂 Sounds like a nice volunteering role!

    1. butting in on your comment, sorry.
      Just wanted to say that you won’t be sorry and don’t be afraid to get chatting to others there, its such a fantastic family feeling & if you push Fin in the buggy consider it a full body workout 😉 x

    2. Hooray! 🙂 And well done 😉
      I am sure you will love it when you go along- hopefully it will encourage a love of running for you 🙂

  4. The tail runner for us is usually a guy called Aurelio and he is just lovely. He does so much pacing with other runners for races – mainly slower runners to help them out and lots of marathons. He’s just such a kind-hearted guy who doesn’t care about his own running. I like to help set-up and clear down as it means I can still run and I like to catch up with people as I’m doing it.
    You have such lovely views at your parkrun! Ours is in a lovely park but not quite as scenic as that!

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