An organisers plea to all of you…..

The 33rd Cannock Chase Trig Point race was pretty stressful from an organisers point of view.

The race uses SI timing as well as old school number taking at each check point and a sweeper runner. Check point marshals contact the next one to report numbers passing and race numbers of the tail-ender runners. This means that generally any “missing” or “lost” runner can be identified as the race progresses rather than after the last one should have finished.

So it was that we believed 1 runner who had left check 2 had not got to check 3. A manual check of numbers identified the runner so we thought we knew who we were looking for. We phoned his given mobile but it was an invalid number (too many digits). We phoned the emergency contact - no reply.

The worried marshals were told who it was but by complete chance one knew him, and had spoken to him at check 3. So, it was clearly not him. However, that marshall had not seen his colleague who she knew had travelled with him and was running, so we worked on the basis that, although his number had been recorded at all the check points and everyone else was accounted for, assumed they had mistakenly swapped numbers.

This was confirmed when he finished and “his” SI dibber was the one issued to his friends’ number.

We are now at the point of calling in the SI boxes to interrogate them for exact last known location – people dispatched to the various check points to collect them and activating the search teams who were on standby. Fortunately, again, the marshall is able to contact him through a mutual friend and establish that he had in fact got lost, was quite near his home, and had gone home but not thought to contact us.

A real worry and pretty stressful time now over. A simple human error caused all the grief. The two runners had sat down together and just inadvertently pinned the others number on their vest. They had not taken the emergency contact numbers with them.

But the stress was not yet all over...at the very end when the organizer is about to lock up the registration club house and notices a lone car in the car park. Given all the above he felt the need to ensure it was not another runners. A look through all of the entry forms - where you should enter vehicle details (and correct phone numbers) was interesting. Some had put basic registration, some make, model and maybe registration, some had put against Vehicle…..”yes” , many had just not bothered.

So began another happy task for the organizer who tried to identify all the possible runners that the vehicle may have belonged to. Essentially potentially phoning all the entrants with incomplete or no vehicle details on the form. After 30 minutes or so the car disappeared. It had been parked there after the race, in a free slot, as the car park in a nearby café was full and the cricket car park gate more or less opposite was open.

The organizers plea then is this…..which I guess will resonate with all organisers:

  1. The form details are all necessary, so please fill them in carefully, especially phone and vehicle details.
  2. Always check that the number you are issued with is the one you run with.
  3. Always make the number is visible to marshals and be patient when they need to record it.
  4. Critically, if you retire inform a marshal or the emergency contact numbers given to you.

and, for organisers using SI as backup, meant we were able to be absolutely sure how many had started, and which check points they had visited, or had not visited. So we were able to prepare a potential search plan before the end of the race and in the area they were most likely to be lost in.