Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bad weather courses


Back in the Spring, I planned the courses for our club's annual Regional (Badge) event. The venue was Coate Moor, one of the Cleveland Hills which rise sharply up from the Tees Valley plain to over 1000ft. As the area includes grouse shooting moors, and lots of bracken, it is only available in February and March.

I had done some scouting around the area whilst planning a sprint race, so had some basic ideas about the courses. The mapper was plugging away.

Time constraints meant that my main planning visits were set for the Xmas/New Year period. But at the beginning of December, it snowed. And it continued to snow. And the snow stayed. Right through to the end of February - 3 weeks before the event!

So the controller and I did all of our work in the last few weeks before the event - no time to test run courses, just get the sites tagged and agreed. Tagging was done with 6 inches of snow on much of the area, and two weeks before the event we had to hurriedly leave the area in a hailstone shower before the access road became impassable!

I thought the courses might be short, and some people queried the lengths in the final details, but I felt I ought to err on the side of caution, given the exposed nature of the area.

The day before the event, it was wet and thick mist, but on the day, it was clear and fine, and many courses were won in quite short times. Nobody really seemed to mind - probably just glad of a run out after a spate of event cancellations.

If the snow hadn't thawed in the couple of weeks before the event, or if the event had been on the day before, there would have been some tired and cold people out for much longer. We could have had hypothermia cases, or had to call out the Search and Rescue Team.

But should I have erred on the side of caution and planned such short and 'low level' courses, or should I have stuck more rigidly to the guidelines and planned longer and more physical courses? Is this another example of the 'dumming down' of the physical challenge?

Thinking as a sometime Organiser and Controller, I would probably have advised my planner to do as I did. Better to be safe than sorry!

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