Capes would be good. I mean, I do like the milestone tees, they are a unifying and egalitarian gesture. Anyone can achieve them, if they turn out on the pre-requisite number of occasions and – in the case of runners at least – are clutching their barcodes at the finish. This is fine and dandy and altogether delightful. However, I was a bit taken aback recently, when I discovered what should have been obvious to any of us really, if I’d actually thought about it for more than a millisecond previously. I speak dear reader of those tireless few,who have almost literally given birth to new parkruns after lengthy gestation periods and sometimes bloody, prolonged and painful labour too. All of this pre-parkrun planning goes under the radar in terms of public recognition. A year of blood, sweat, tears and worse still – planning meetings and fund-raising too, and not so much as a single credit to bring you closer to achieving the much coveted purple volunteering tee. Yes, yes, seeing the event come to fruition may well be ‘its own reward‘ but, hey, we can do better than that surely?
It is time we gave more public recognition to our superheroes within. Those, who having had the spark of an idea that a new parkrun is needed, actually went ahead and ‘made it so!’ They put in many months of tireless – and let’s be honest, sometimes frustrating and potentially thankless work so that we the many can get out and run. Their efforts bring new life to the international parkrun community, be it the standard issue 5k or the glorious fun-sized 2k junior option.
It’s not that this work is unappreciated, but be honest, I can’t be alone in sort of forgetting about it over time. I rock up at my local parkrun or a new venue as a tourist, I do thank the marshals and I do thank the run directors, I volunteer from time to time, and I am on record as being willing to bow down and worship at the feet of P S-H himself, but as to the inaugural start-up teams. Nope, no idea who they are for the most part. Currently, it is inevitable that years down the line I have no idea which precise individuals at the various runs I go to got down and dirty (not like that smutty-minded people) and did the hard graft to get it off the ground in the first place. Maybe it doesn’t always matter, parkrun is a collective community endeavour at its heart and we have all seen in recent months the dangers a cult of personality can bring to the world… however, I think some sort of visual symbol to alert the many of the sacrifices of the few would be a grand thing. We have our milestone tees, why not something for the parkrun startup teams who have laboured locally?
A symbol that would mean anyone of us could recognise and honour these individuals. Let’s all celebrate our own Totally Awesome parkrun Startup Superheroes. I suppose that makes them TAPS? Well, what we call them isn’t the important thing, think of it as just a working title for now – what matters is how we celebrate their unique contribution to the parkrun family. Just as a run that isn’t on Strava is doomed to be forever lost from the collective mind (you might as well have stayed in bed, it basically didn’t happen), so too we are in danger of overlooking the contribution of our local TAPS if we don’t set about some sort of recognition scheme PDQ.
There are accolades aplenty to choose from. Lapel badges (yawn), sashes (bit reminiscent of school netball for me), laurels (not great for running in), bronze statues (would necessitate more fund-raising and committees), carriage clock… blah de blah, but what we need is something more distinctive, life affirming and joyful. Also something that would be absolutely fabulous when running – or for non-running TAPSS standing about in with authority or whilst generally striding about purposefully (with or without clipboard). Dear reader, the solution is clear. What we need for these super-heroes who move amongst us are parkrun themed running capes.
No really, I’ve researched it, and the idea is genius.
Think about it. There is a reason why superheroes wear capes. They imbue authority and flourish, they are available in a variety of colours and FACT they make you run faster, or longer, depending on what you want. What’s more, any child could tell you the donning of a fine superhero cape enables you to fly! I think our TAPSS teams have earned that gift just for starters. I think once we get some momentum behind the idea we can improve the offer too. I’m thinking they could be customised to leave a trail of glitter in their wake and be accessorised to shoot off fireworks or ticker-tape for example on special occasions. At the very least, people should be able to choose between long billowing out behind types, or short ripply ones. I dare say there is already research out there on swishing and swooshing options according to width and length. Right now, I’m just wanting buy in in theory. Design specs are details really, as long as we have amazing capes for amazing people. Just imagine the whoosh of capes as these superheroes come whizzing by or simply move amongst us. Sigh. Glorious indeed.
The TAPSS are already superheroes afterall, the cape is just a bit of rubber stamping by way of fabric. What’s not to like?
Just saying. Who’s with me?