I love parkrun*. I love the venues, I love the people, I love the t-shirts, I love the low key nature and I love the statistics. It turned me into a runner, it turned me into a collector and it gets me out of bed on a Saturday, week in and week out.
Since I ran my first parkrun back in January 2011, I have been at a parkrun every week except when I have been out of the country visiting relatives in Canada.
But for all its detail, for all its statistics, my parkrun record does not reflect the whole of my relationship with parkrun, because it does not show my volunteer history. The weeks when I have volunteered, which to me are an integral part of my parkrun experience, are not recorded. There is no record of the venues, no record of the roles, no reminder that I was there.
When I asked about this back in November 2012, I was told that:
“We don’t believe it would be conducive to our community atmosphere to start totalling volunteer records, as it could provoke rivalry. Volunteering should not be thought of on as something you can total and produce statistics on. It’s best to think of it on a weekly basis – as something you do to help your local community because you want to do it, not to watch a number rise.”
To which my considered response is:
- Please don’t tell me how it’s best to think. I’m injured, and could have stayed in bed for a month of Saturdays. I choose to volunteer because I welcome the opportunity to give back to a community which means so much to me. I do it because I want to, not to watch a number rise. But I would still like to be able to see that I volunteered at this venue on that date in that role, because it forms part of my whole and I find it unsatisfying not to have that information.
- Not all parkrun data is visible to everyone, for example my barcode page. If rivalry is a problem, then a volunteering history page could sit within My Profile, and be mine to cherish and not yours to envy**.
**To which the response may well be that resources are stretched and better spent on other things. Fair enough. It was just a thought.