Adventures in parkrun volunteering – tailrunner!

I’ve been longing to take on the role of “tailrunner” at parkrun for ages. It’s an opportunity to volunteer whilst taking part – what’s not to love? Plus you’re supposed to come last, meaning no PB chasing, you can just enjoy the route.



Here is the official “tailrunner” definition from the parkrun website.

The Tail Runner stays right at the back of the field and should be the last person to cross the finish line ensuring that everyone is accounted for.

They are encouraged to carry a mobile phone in case of emergencies.

They let any marshal out on the course know that they can collect nearby signs and leave their post.

Please note that not all events have a tail runner.

Volunteers undertaking this role receive both a run credit and a volunteer credit.

It’s a popular role and as I’m taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon tomorrow, I thought it would be the perfect leg loosener. After taking part in an energtic Boxercise class on Thursday, I have ached since, so tailrunning turned out to be a wise move to get things moving again!

I’d been told by friends that tailrunning is a lot of fun, but is sometimes more difficult than people expect it to be. For example, some back finishers are really chatty and like to be encouraged along, whereas others just want to be left in peace and you have to try to read what people want. I also started worrying in case I missed the person at the back,

After the briefing by Colin, who is awesome (in case he’s reading this), we got ready to start. I let everyone go by then jumped in at the back, walking with a lovely lady who was aiming to complete one lap with her dog as she is building her strength back up again after illness. We had a lovely time chatting as we walked and jogged our way round. With a cheerful wave, she withdrew at the end of lap one and I ran up the hill at the start of the lap to catch up with the “new” back runners – a pair of ladies who’d never run before. I settled behind them as they walked and jogged their way round and they told me this was their first parkrun. At the end of the second lap, I asked if they were going to go round and finish it off and they said “ok”. We settled into the final lap, one of the ladies saying she might need to walk more as her foot hurt. After reaching the first marshal and pulling him “off duty”, she then decided she wanted to try and run to the next marshal.

So we did.

AND the one after that as well.

I think their final lap was actually faster than their second and I really enjoyed the chat with them. To go from nothing to finishing 5k on your first attempt is bloody brilliant!

For anyone tempted to try tailrunning – give it a go! It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. Watching the fast runners is awesome, but being more of “back of the pack” than front myself, I know I love the support from others.

Thanks parkrun for a great morning! Bring on Royal Parks tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “Adventures in parkrun volunteering – tailrunner!

  1. I want to give tail running a go! I’ve been tempted by offering my services as a 30min pacer as well, but have always panicked and at the last minute decided not to step up, despite having consistently ran 30min parkruns on a number of occasions whilst chatting with friends the day before races.
    I think whichever role you volunteer to do there will always be some element of worry, but the good always outweighs the bad. Maybe I shall see if I can be a run-marshal of some sort next time. If you’re a run marshal it still counts on the path to a 50 t-shirt too! :)

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