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2006 – Controller’s Comments

The area used for this years event is in my opinion the best area in the Lake District for mountain marathons. With the exception of the bracken around the start of day 1 and end of day 2 it is mostly runnable terrain with enough technical detail to keep even the best navigators thinking. Chris Hall (the planner) did a great job of getting the most out of this area, designing courses which seemed to go down well with teams of all abilities.

I would guess that one of the abiding memories most will have of the event is the heat. I am sure this definitely slowed people down, particularly on day 2. It did however help achieve a good atmosphere at the overnight camp, despite the score in the football.

Talking to teams on some of the more technical courses after the event it appears that some people had difficulty in accurately marking up their maps with the correct control locations. Generally those people who took time to read the descriptions and measure the grid references got the controls in exactly the right place, but those who rushed sometimes marked them on the wrong feature. What is certain is that some of the control features used this year were more technical than those used over the last couple of years and this caught a few people out.

Following on from comments I received last year something we did do differently on the control descriptions was to not put on any heights. Last year several people who do not have altimeters complained that when I used descriptions such as “E most Spur, 690m” it favoured people with altimeters. Conversely a couple of people who did have altimeters said that when I used descriptions like this that the controls were not in the correct place because their altimeters did not say exactly 690m. I think both of these complaints show a lack of understanding of what I was trying to achieve, which was to help people to accurately mark up their maps. However to try and avoid these sorts of comments we did not use any heights on control descriptions this year, which in retrospect I believe made it harder for people to accurately mark up their maps. In future I think it will be better to return to using heights where appropriate, as when used correctly they do aid clarity. However competitors should always be aware that they are on descriptions to help mark up maps and may not accurately reflect what an altimeter says, partly due to inaccuracies in the altimeters and partly due to inaccuracies in the maps.

Although generally everybody behaved responsibly there were a couple safety issues which competitors need to remember when competing in future mountain marathons. One of these relates to pairs splitting up, as one of the key safety features of an event like ours is that we assume that if an accident happens to one member of a team then the other will be able to look after them and raise the alarm. Obviously once a pair splits up this no longer applies. For the Klets course where the top competitors run as individuals we have a separate checking procedure to make sure that all of these competitors are accounted for, but for teams we expect them to stay together at all times and take responsibility for looking after each other.

Another safety issue which was highlighted this year is to do with raising the alarm when an accident has happened on the hill. Following an incident on Saturday morning we received a couple of verbal reports of a pair needing assistance. However the reports were both ambiguous and contradictory and took many hours to get to us. Please remember that on the mandatory kit list is a pen/pencil and paper. This is there so that any incident reports can be written down, giving details of location, time, team involved, nature of any injuries and action being taken. When a casualty is serious enough that their partner cannot leave them to raise the alarm themselves then another team should be summoned (you all carry a whistle), given the written incident report, and requested to go to the nearest phone to raise the alarm.

Finally can I say thank you to the many people without who’s help and cooperation this event would not have taken place:

  • The National Trust – owners of most of the land you competed over.
  • United Utilities – owners of the fells in the NE corner of the map.
  • Grasmere Sports Committee – for use of the assembly field and buildings.
  • Nick and Tracey Gill – for use of the overnight camp.
  • The Backpackers Club – for manning several checkpoints and helping us gather in controls.
  • St. Johns Ambulance – for providing first aid cover at the overnight camp and finish.
  • Wilf’s Outdoor Catering – for providing all of the food at the assembly area.
  • All of our helpers – for just being so helpful, even when it came to doing the boring jobs like car parking!
  • Chris Hall – for all of the time and effort put into planning such good courses.
  • Bob Saunders – for sponsoring the event for the 28th time and for handling entries.
  • Charlotte Webb – for organising the event (for the last time – after 16 years!).

See you next year.

Mark Hawker