Thisis a long story. But there may be a bit of enlightenment for first time Parkrunners who, like me, probably aren't as smart as they think they are ...
With the Great Winter Run next weekend, and being a delicate flower who uses a treadmill in the winter, I guessed it was time to get acclimatised by heading outdoors. Although I registered with Parkrun way back in the spring, I hadn't actually been to any of their runs. But as someone who is meant to be reasonably bright, I read the info on the web site, printed my barcode from the link on my 'welcome' email, laminated it in case it rained (which it did, and then some), and headed off.
My local run is in Craigton Park, just outside St Andrews. It is three laps of the park perimeter, mostly on gravel paths but with a link section across grass (mud). I got there early, found the start and walked a lap as my warm up. Now I knew where to go & what to expect. After all, I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of all these expert runners, did I?
So far, so good. Lap 1 went fine. The grass was OK - I had used my recce to pick the least muddy route, and that strategy was working Lap 2, and the heavens opened. Now, remember what I said about being a delicate weed who winters inside to save running in the cold, wind and rain? They all hit the run with a vengance. This time over the grass, the green had mostly turned to sticky, slippery brown yeuch - and the grass that was left was saturated. Did I say "yeuch"?
Lap three and the rain went off. I avoided as many puddles as possible, just accepted that my lovely shoes were ruined (;-<) but got to the finish. Actually, I felt pretty smug. I had faced my Nemesis. My Nemeis had thrown all it had at me. And I had laughed in its face. Well, maybe laughed is not entirely an accurate decription of my demeanour. Over the finish, collected my tag and headed for the timekeeper to get my barcode scanned.
Now this is where it all went totally kerphlut! My barcode would't scan. I saw everyone dropping their finishing token into a box, so I did the same. Then I took my own barcode to the 'office' to get my details noted. But nobody knew what to do, so I just left my details and code. In the evening I checked the results and I wasn't there. There was an "unknown" runner which I presume was me.
So what went wrong? Two things. The main problem was that the link from the 'welcome' email showed my barcode, so I printed the page and laminated it. Job done. Except I hadn't noticed the 'print bar code' button underneath. The code on the page is a small scale version and you only get the full size code when you hit the 'print' button. When you print, the page tells you not to resize the code or it won't work. Blast. - although the first code IS your code, it IS resized So lesson one is in two parts - as a runner, read the information CAREFULLY. But part two is for Parkrun - help careless new runners avoid making the same mistake. Either show the barcode full size or just delete it from the web page.
Lesson two? Ask one of the organisers how the system works. I think I now understand - the volunteer at the finish line probaby records the code on a finish token then, as you go over the finish line, records your finish time and gives you the token. The timekeeper scans your code AND the finish token - hence they know who finished at what time. Even without getting my barcode scanned, they could have slotted me in by using my finish token. Except I put it in the box without getting it scanned.
I guess that might have screwed up all the results for Saturday's run. If that's the case and someone had to spend a lot of time undoing the damage, I'm REALLY sorry. I did what I thought was right, but ....
I promise to cleanse my soul by acting as a marshal for a few weeks. In fact, come to think of it, wouldn't that be a good idea for all new Parkrunners? Get your feet wet by helping out. Then, once you know how the system works, you do your first run.
Then again, most people probably are probably brighter than myself, they get everything right first time and don't screw things up. Do they?