Saturday 10th March 2012
Great Malvern Urban Race
Nopesport Urban League
As you can see from Mike Hampton's excellent map, Great Malvern town centre is actually quite small and so the challenge was connecting the areas of interest together in a way that would keep the competitors on their toes.
It looks like some people struggled with having to read the map from the word go but I make no apology for not being predictable from the off set. I bet you'll be paying more attention once you pick up the map next time because I'm pretty sure this won't be the first time you face this opening gambit! Hope you liked the long legs on the long courses and the variety of terrain, everything, from parks, formal private gardens, sports grounds, common land and urban streets.
Very many thanks to Mel and Barry Elkington for their constructive and positive controlling and to Lynden for her thorough and imaginative approach to organization.
Lester Hartmann (HOC)
We would like to start by thanking Lynden and Lester Hartmann for all the work they put in to the event to make it happen. Malvern is a lovely place, and the atmosphere in the park around the start and finish area was fantastic. Many competitors also took the opportunity to walk around the town and help boost the local economy. Rumour has it that the local council were so impressed that they want a repeat in two years time.
By negotiating the use of Priory Lodge as the event centre, Lynden had plenty of room for registration and download, and several projectors to display the results. Lester planned some interesting short legs in the town centre, and excellent long legs across the map. How can anyone know whether they made the best route choice without subsequently going and running all the options ? Mike Hampton's new map of the area was fine, and given that maps improve over time any mistakes this time round will be corrected on the next version.
Urban races provide far more problems than traditional races in the forest, and these always result in long threads on nopesport. Most of the points mentioned here have already been debated at some length so this will be a brief summary, in no particular order, of things that arose. Hopefully they may be of some use to organisers and planners of future urban events.
It was unfortunate that a control on the junior course got moved during the course of the competition. Once the planner and controller had inspected the site and confirmed what had happened (someone had gone to considerable effort to break the gripple and move the control) it was quickly decided that removing the leg was the right course of action.
What do people expect from an urban race? Some competitors were not keen on the rocky slopes up to the wall and crags on the hills, whilst others appreciated the variety of challenge. Hence you will probably get what the planner likes.
It was surprising to read that some people had problems with locating the start banner and/or the finish. As everything was in full view most experienced competitors took the opportunity to work out where everything was before they started.
There is no symbol for a narrow flower bed which can be jumped with ease and is only shown as such to stop competitors treading on it. In hindsight some tape should have been used to direct people to either the steps or round the end of the flower beds.
There are still problems with people climbing walls despite it being clear from the map (and when the wall is six foot high also on the ground) that they are not to be crossed. The worry is less about disqualifying people or not (they probably don't care and would do it again if they thought they wouldn't be caught) and more the potential loss of a really good part of the area.
We felt the crossing points under the railway looked obvious on the map, but this was evidently not the case for everyone so maybe a better way needs to be found of making them clearer. The red crossing point symbol appears to be the official way to do this, although we are not convinced it is the best.
There was also a "hidden tunnel" that is not open to the public but which some people found. It is to the north east of control 36, and the map had been "doctored" so that it wasn't obvious. (The original version of the map had it correctly shown and then overprinted with the out of bounds symbol, but this only seemed to draw attention to it as a possible way to take an illegal short cut.) Anyone finding it would either have to have been lost and arrived there by mistake, or someone with local knowledge.
Despite doing a very thorough Risk Assessment, one unexpected discovery when checking the controls on Saturday morning was that the area near control 36 was being used by two people with bows and arrows. Although full permission had been obtained from the tennis club to use their land they had forgotten to tell anyone about the archery club. Fortunately the archers had gone home by the time the first runners started. This only goes to prove that no matter how much preparation is done something unexpected will always happen.
Melanie and Barry Elkington (OD)
Initially when Lester suggested we take this on I thought - well it'll only be like organizing a really big MADO event - how hard can it be? Well as a summary of the on-the-day organization that was pretty much the case. Everything went pretty smoothly, all the helpers performed in a fantastically efficient and polite manner (as I knew they would) and most people seemed to enjoy themselves. It was the six months leading up to it which was not like any MADO event. All the asking permissions and making appointments and getting authorizations. After all that the day itself was an absolute pleasure.
My thanks go to the fabulous ATBRU Rapid Response team who tended the lady who collapsed with vertigo before she'd even left the building, to Lester for his challenging courses, to Mel and Barry Elkington for their thorough and helpful controlling, to Mike Hampton for his beautiful map and to all our wonderful helpers and marshals who worked throughout the day.
The sun shone and no one died which were the two things I most wanted.
Lynden Hartmann (HOC)
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A pair of extremely well worn trainers of
indeterminate make, about a size 7 (I don't want to get too close to them). Can
some one please claim them quickly - they are going in the bin at the end of