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By Mike Atkinson | Drive producer and digital content creator

I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw Michelle’s entry come through for our Year of Volunteering competition I was immediately drawn to her volunteering cause as it involved running.

I’m a keen ‘park runner’ myself — I have been involved in two 5km timed events down at the Maylands Peninsula Parkrun. The evidence is at the bottom of this article (along with my daggy orange shorts that should have been thrown out a while ago).

Michelle, who has entered our competition and become volunteer #20 in our search for 300 volunteers to win two tickets to station sponsor Volunteering WA’s exclusive volunteer garden party at Government House in December, volunteers with her family at the Canning River Parkrun to help keep the event ticking along.

Michelle said Parkrun’s start at 8am every Saturday morning around the world.

“Parkrunning is a free timed 5k run that is held at lots of different locations all over the world. It started in the UK and it came to Australia and we actually now have 23 Parkrun locations in WA,” Michelle said.

“Some of them have 50 people, others 300 but some of the big ones in the UK have over a thousand every week.

“My family and I all run. I’m at nearly 150 parkruns and volunteered about 27 times. I’ve got just under 21 minutes (as my fastest time) but that was a little while ago now.”

There are several key roles that volunteers fill for each parkrun, ranging from tail-running to maintain the safety of the course to scanning barcodes to log finishing times for competitors.

“There’s all different roles and a roster for each of them. So basically you get onto the Facebook page for the event near you and send them a message saying you’d like to volunteer. You can either be a marshall, so just directing runners where to go on the course or you can help with scanning times at the end,” Michelle said.

“We also have a photographer every week who uploads the photos to Facebook and there is a tail runner who just walks the course at the back of the field to make sure everyone finishes safely.

When quizzed on why Michelle volunteers she admits that volunteering is sometimes more fun than running and keeps the legs fresh.

“It’s actually really fun! It’s more fun than running most of the time. Parkrun encourages everyone to volunteer for one in every ten runs so if everyone does that then the events can go along.

Podcast: Michelle with Jeziel on Drive

“Come along to any of the parkruns! Send the team a message on the website or the Facebook and the jobs are all really easy. You get full training at the start and you can encourage everyone from older people to family members on their run.”

Do you volunteer? Tell us about it and you’ll go into the draw to win two tickets to station sponsor Volunteering WA’s exclusive volunteer garden party at Government House in December.

As promised. Here’s a picture of me running the Maylands Peninsula 5km Parkrun.

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