Couch to 5K
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Screwed up Parkrun. I mean TOTALLY screwed it up

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?

7 Replies

Well you might have screwed up the barcode, but you laminated it (ok it turned out to be the wrong thing to laminate) but in my books laminating means hi tech!

You didn't screw up the run and that's the main thing. In fact, compared to running on a treadmill, you have climbed Mount Everest!

Happy New Year and Happy Running :)


Hi TJ. Mount Everest will be next weekend - the Great Winter Run seems to be uphill for the first 3k! At least the last 2 will be downhill ... and it's electronic timing so no bar code to screw up (:->)


Well that didn't sound anywhere near as bad as I was expecting from your title! Sounds like the run bit of it went really well- which is surely the main point of parkrun? Walking round the route first sounds like a really good idea.

Thanks for the tips about the barcode business. It does look a bit confusing for first-timers. When I eventually get to the point of being able to enter a parkrun I'll come back and check up here!

Good luck with your 3k uphill - sounds dire! No, that's not encouraging. It sounds... very challenging! Have fun!


Just registered for parkrun so thanks for the tips. It didn't sound quite the disaster I was expecting to read. Well done for getting there. To the next time ... in 2013!


Sorry your first parkrun wasn't what you hoped but if it's any consolation I found your tips really helpful! So thank you for posting :)


There's often a smattering of unknowns in our local Parkrun (one week the first finished was such) so you're not the only one to make a mistake with your barcode. I once read of a runner who printed off the sample (specific to no one) barcode off! I recently volunteered as a marshal & they tend to put you as a human signpost to begin with, leaving the funnel/token positions to the more experienced, which is fine by me as I'd worry I'd make a Horlicks of it.

Best of luck for next time, I'm sure it'll be better. :-)


The first time I did a parkrun I had my barcode printed on some icetags ( Unfortunately it did not work and i was in a similar situation to you. However the 2nd person at the end of the race wrote down the number from my barcode and everything worked out okay. I;m guessing your parkrun musnt have this system in place.


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