In my first post, I summarised the preparation for the event as Race Director. This post describes what happened on the day and some of the things that have happened since.
The day started early. Irene and I had decided to meet at 5 Acres at 7am to start setting up the start area. However, before that, I had to collect some equipment from Chris so had to call into his place at 6:45am. It was going to be a long morning!
Having collected the equipment, I headed for 5 Acres. The car was full of signs and other equipment.
When I arrived, the groundsman was already there and had opened up the gates to his compound and that gave access to the field where the finish was.
Irene arrived a few minutes after me and we were soon joined by Kirsty. We started to set up the start area. This consisted of sectioning off half the car park for the start enclosure and to prevent the cars of dog walkers from using that area.
As we set up, more of the LRR volunteers turned up, Di with another car load of equipment, Tony with a van load, Darren and Andy with signage. Logistically, the event is complicated. With many signs, tables, cones, etc etc etc, the equipment is stored in the sheds and garages of several members of the club and knowing who has what and how it’ll get to the right place at the right time on race morning is one of the challenges of setting up the event. Between Chris and Irene, all was in hand. Di had also done some magic to borrow some road cones from Eastleigh RC.
With the start area beginning to take shape, it wasn’t long until Irene and Kirsty had to head to Oasis Academy to set up RACE HQ and manage the volunteers. Fortunately, several others were arriving as 5 Acres to help with setting up the start.
Tim Withers arrived to set up a PA system at the start and finish area. The PA really added to the event. Many thanks Tim.
Before long, the race start was an hour or so away and the coffee van arrived. Shortly after, the UKA race officials arrived. These were the Event Adjudicator, Ian Murdoch, and the timekeeper and his scribe, Ken and Wendy Littlejohn. I had a chat with Ian to make sure he was happy and prove everything was in hand.
The first aid team from Collingwood arrived so I spoke with them and exchanged contact numbers for the morning.
By this point, I’d set up most of the finish area and the ‘runway’ to the funnel. Darren had organised a scaffolding company to put up a finish gantry. While they erected it, Ian and the Littlejohns looked on. I let them get on with it to go and check how preparations at the start were going and then returned to the finish funnel.
Unfortunately, the entrance of the gantry and finish funnel was a little too narrow and should have ideally been a couple of metres wider. Too late to change but duly noted for next year.
At this point, if I remember rightly, I headed for race HQ. I don’t quite recall why but it was a good opportunity to see how things were going in Oasis. It was packed. The weather wasn’t great with a downpour of rain and most runners were taking shelter. I found Irene and Kirsty to check how things were going and it was clear everything was fine. A few runners were mentioning that their clubs and race numbers weren’t right but the team were resolving the issues as they arose.
I had neglected to mention that I’d printed 530 personalised labels including a barcode and affixed them to each of the runner’s numbers on Friday evening. This saved lots of writing and although the barcode wasn’t used this year, the idea was that it could be used in future years to keep track of number/finish position.
I headed back to the start/finish area and found Chris who had a slight concern over whether the Siemens engineer would turn up to operate the traffic lights on a road near the start of the course. I asked whether he was able to head up there to make sure.
I’d neglected to think that sending Chris off meant he was no longer able to do the pre-run briefing. D’oh!
All of a sudden it was 9:50am and race start was 10 minutes away. At this point, I realised that I didn’t have the airhorn to start the race. Luckily, Andy Porter was happy to run over to race HQ to collect it. Thanks Andy.
On Andy’s speedy return, I grabbed the radio mike from Tim and started my announcement. As I finished, a few of the runners asked where the start line was so I got them to shuffle back behind it!
On your marks. Go! HONK!!!
The 509 runners were off.
The narrow exit from the car park caused the middle of the pack to stop whilst they squeezed through. First issue to resolve for next year. As the runners left the car park, they turned left and headed for Hillyfields before heading back past 5 Acres.
It wasn’t long before we saw the front runners flying past. As the middle of the pack runners started arriving, they were struggling with a few inconsiderate car drivers. Irene took control and guided runners to stick to the left side of the road. Another issue to resolve for next year.
As the tail runners passed, it was time to relax a little until the finishers arrived back to finish.
The first thing to do was to use barriers to guide runners into the Groundsman’s yard and then head back to the finish to add some extra ‘barriers’ to prevent spectators from wandering across the finishing straight.
The time flew and the runners started arriving back at 5 Acres. The finish line drinks station was set up, the funnel pushers were in place, the Event Adjudicators and timekeepers and scribe were ready for action.
Runner after runner crossed the finish line under the scaffolding finish gantry.
The timekeepers completed forms of time versus position and the finish position recorders recorded position and race number. Once each page was completed, ‘runners’ took them to the Groundsman’s Hut where the results team inputed them into their system to collate the results.
It soon became obvious that some runner’s allocated club were wrong. I stood by the results board and took notes of the reported discrepancies so that I could pass them onto the results team.
Feedback from the field was very positive.
The tail runner crossed the line and it was time to dismantle the finish area and prepare for the awards presentation. The issue with the discrepancy between runner and clubs for a handful or two of runners made collating the league results more complicated than it should have been and the results team worked hard to try to resolve the issue. In the meantime, I packed as much as I could into the back of the car. Meanwhile other club members dismantled the finish funnel and returned the car park to its original state.
Once a majority of the results were ready, I headed back to Race HQ for the awards presentations. Di and I shared the role whilst Jules took photos.
When all the awards had been handed out, it was time to enjoy a buffet for the volunteers and relax a little. The event was over.
I took the opportunity to thank the committee and all the club members that had volunteered. The event had been a success and we’d hit no issues. Great teamwork from all involved.
After a quick equipment swap with Di, it was time to head home. I unloaded the Galaxy-full into the shed and then logged in to see the feedback.
I decided to set up a survey to elicit feedback from the participants. Based on previous experience of using surveys, I decided to keep it really simple and ask one mandatory question – would you recommend the event to a friend? The survey also included an optional question for any other comments about the event.
I posted the survey and added a link to it from the club’s Facebook page.
The feedback started rolling in and it was overwhelmingly positive.
The main issues identified came as no real surprise:
- narrow exit from car park at start caused bunching
- traffic on Redbridge Lane causing concern
However, we had an amazing amount of very positive feedback about the friendly marshals, the great organisation, etc, etc. As a club, we’d put on a great event as the feedback proved.
Kirsty emailed the finishers with a link to the results and the survey. This lead to the floodgates of feedback opening.
In summary, we had 97% of respondents saying that they’d be highly likely or extremely likely to recommend the event to a friend. Over 140 of the 509 finishers completed the survey which was a great sample. Even more impressive was the pages and pages of comments.
One several occasions over the following fortnight, I shared the feedback received, summarised it, generated charts, word clouds etc, etc with the race committee and club committee.
Feedback was gathered from all the club members that had volunteered on the day along with suggestions for improving the event.
If we were to improve all aspects of the event that we’d received negative feedback on, next year’s event will be completely awesome. That’s our intention.
Over the last week or so I’ve been in discussion with a number of chip timing companies, contacted Oasis Academy regarding using more of their facilities for race HQ and Test Valley Council to investigate options for road closures to improve the course.
I am incredibly proud to have been associated with the event and to have worked with a great race committee. I’m hoping they’ll rejoin me next year to improve on this year’s success. An overwhelming positively- received event which sold out.
Many thanks to everyone in the club that contributed to making the event such a success.