2011 – Planner’s Comments
It was my first time, and it was a baptism of fire. Back in October Chris Hall emailed me to say they had accepted my application for course planner and that they would like to talk to see if I could still do it and if I still wanted to do it. The answer of course was yes, even though I knew I had a busy winter. We were selling our shop and going online completely. This was happening in January. Then I moved house in March. I then had 2 friends depart from the world due to cancer, the list could go on I guess, as all folk have problems, but it didn’t help with my planning.
The start point was determined as Chapel Stile, Bruce Rowand the Farmer at Bayesbrown had agreed the use of his campsite and fields, the midway camp were to be Wythburn, Gavin Bland (yes of the Billy Bland, all time fell running master who STILL holds the BG fastest time, family), who is a fell runner himself, had agreed we could use his fields as well. All to be arranged now by the team was permissions to cross the land in between. The United Utilities, the National Trust and the Commoners Association were all contacted and permissions were granted. Now comes my part, and believe me, it wasn’t so easy… or not at least as easy as I thought it might have been. Now came my job to pour over maps, look for viable courses, set viable courses and then have them agreed by Chris and Brian, my controllers. For those who don’t know, as I didn’t, the planner plans, the controllers look at the planners routes and agree if they are too tough, not tough enough, whether there are hazards, if there are, then how can they be minimized or do they need to be changed, whether they are any good or not etc. I did my best to keep the courses within reasonable bounds, but to keep the shorter courses interesting, i.e not running the same ridge each day, then I had to route them into other valleys, causing more height gain than previous years. For the longer courses, well unfortunately for them, I believe their courses should be tough. After all, it’s a game of wits, pitting yourself against fell, terrain, weather and the course planner. I like an interesting course, lots of route choice, hard navigation and lots of ups and downs, so for Kirkfell and above, this is what they got. Although the hot weather didn’t help and compounded the fact that the courses were harder than last year, I hoped that everyone would still enjoy them…. It was a little late in the last week we had before the event to change everything around and planner I might now be, but weather setter I am certainly not.
After looking at the results from the first day and second day, and listening to as much feed back as I could gather, I think I have a pretty good idea of how to go about next years planning, if the controllers will allow me the pleasure again. The upper end of the classes were full of compliments, just what they wanted, the middle group liked the technicality, but found the courses physically demanding. The lower end was a mixed bag, some liked, some did not, there were different aspects they noted and the sun had baked many. There was a higher rate than normal for people missing controls or deciding to stop racing and return to mid-way camp. I guess it is hard to please all. I know on some MM’s I have competed in, I have found the days to be easy or hard from year to year, and depending on who has planned, and where the MM is held. I guess that is called luck of the draw. The elements I do know which will make all the difference, and this is from experience as well, don’t under estimate a MM, never think you are going to have an easy life, train as much as possible, stay hydrated and consume more food than you think, and if you still find it tough, well then train harder for next year and if you get a soft touch, enjoy it for the surroundings.
For me, the best thing about the weekend was watching all the competitors set off at the start of each day, ready for a days navigating and running, then watching them come back in at the end of each day, hot, tired and full of endorphins. It was one of the best senses of well-being I have experienced, it filled me with appreciation for my fellow MM lovers, it gave me a total high. I would have loved to be out there with you all, running, but I experienced a different side of the MM scene, and I loved every minute of it.
2011 – Controller’s Comments
Last year I made some very pointed comments about conduct during the Event. How does this year compare with last year ?
The first thing is that David, the Organiser, arranged for marshals to do rounds of the Mid Camp collecting empty cans. This lead to an improvement in the cleanliness of the site when you left but it was not any where near perfect. I also ask the question : “Why should the marshals have to clean up at all ?” There is a simple rule that you should apply : If you pack it in, you pack it out. If you want a lesson in efficient waste management, look at the rubbish that the teams doing Klets or Scafell generate. It squashes up into a ball the size of a fist and weighs practically nothing. With a little preparation and planning, everyone could achieve the same. Then there is the Landowner, in this case United Utilities. They are very concerned about pollution in a water catchment area. That is why the Wythburn was made Out of Bounds. I have my suspicions that some of you went downstream to wash. Do you not get the message !?
When we get access to the land we negociate the conditions under which we can use it. This puts restrictions on us and we plan accordingly. Thus, if a wall or fence is marked as uncrossable on the map we do not expect you cross it. We mark the crossing points on the map. The arrangement we had with the farmer at the Mid Camp was that I would supply marshals at the crossing points. He would have my ‘guts for garters’ if his flock strayed. Thus I ask the question : why did you cross a wall that was marked as uncrossable ? GR315124 on Day 1 and GR320123 on Day 2. I had to apologize to the farmer that we had transgressed.
The ground the Event was held on was rougher than last year so the courses were bound to be more physical. There was also the problem on how to get you back to the Event Centre on Sunday. I do not like having competitors running along busy, narrow country roads and will try to avoid that, if possible. Thus, I decided that we would go round the top of Langdale. The consequence of this was that the 3 shorter courses where slightly longer on Day2. One of the benefits was the final run in to the finish. Many of you expressed your appreciation of this.
Charlie’s courses generated universal approval. I will leave it to him to make any comments. However, I have one apology to make. Control 147 at GR248066 was slightly lower than it should have been. My process of checking that all controls were in the correct place failed. Again my apologies.
Along with Rob Howard, who was photographing the Event, we were trying a few new ideas. The first one was for prize winners. Rob took pictures of most of the prize winners which are available for them to download on his web site. In addition, we have been working on a certificate for each team. The certificate is free of charge without the photograph. If you want the picture as well, you buy this and it will be incorporated into the certificate.
Next year we will change the way prizes are allocated. At this year’s prize giving, we could not award several prizes because many veteran teams were not yet in. Next year, we will change it so that the Mixed and Ladies will be allocated before the Veterans.
The time of year this Event is held is one of the warmest. Although we can have wild weather, as epitomised by last year’s gales, we frequently have a lot of sun. Our resident doctor, Rhona, has suggested that we have a sunhat as part of the kit. This would help reduce the number of sun related injuries suffered.
Setting up an Event like this requires a team of dependable people. Apart from the main officials that you know about, there are several others that contribute significantly to the overall success.
Rhona, the Doctor, and Karen, the Physio.
Phil and Barbs who help setup the courses and run the starts.
Joe and Paul who help set up the courses and provide valuable assistance throughout the weekend.
Andrew who supports everything to do with the computing over the weekend.
Bob who David, the Organiser, invited along a year or so ago and seems to have stuck.
The Backpackers Club who man some of the controls and do sterling service in helping to bring in the controls once they are closed.
In addition, there is the team that David puts together to man the registration and help out on car parking and administration of the Event Centre.
Then we have Martin and Jessica who normally compete but this year saw the Event from a different perspective.
Without all the volunteers the Event could not take place.
So we now look forward to the next year. The main officials will have a de-brief in the near future and look at our performance. We also need to find a planner. How about you ? You do not need to have any experience of planning. After all, Charlie knew nothing about it a year ago and his courses were universally appreciated. We will guide you through the process and try to develop the ideas that you have about an Event such as this.
Vote for the best competitor photograph. The winner will receive a small prize and be used for next years Event. Email me with your choice.
As part of the Event policy, I try very hard to use local resources.
Pete Bland of Kendal who provided some of the prizes
The cider was supplied by Cowmire Hall Cider of Winster Valley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Catering by Scotts of Plumgarth nr Kendal
Event entries and results by SPORTident of Sleagell, Shap
Web site support by MKH Computer Services of Brampton
Looking forward to meeting you again. Put Saturday 7th/ Sunday 8th July 2012 in your diary.