Harvester Trophy 2007, Penhale, 03/06/2007Comments: Organiser; Planner; Controller.
In the beginning I was enthused by the opportunity to run the Harvester at Penhale and persuaded the Club to host the event. Even so we didn't have much time! I asked Erik Peckett to plan and he is properly competent to further update the Penhale map of which, surprisingly, there is considerable change due to a altered use by the military and more active management by Natural England. I also asked Katy Stubbs to control as she was due to control BOC 2005 but vanished to the other side of the world before she could - she wasn't going to escape that easily this time.
The usual permissions were obtained, largely by a personal approach, as KERNO has established excellent working relationship with all controlling bodies. Paperwork was relatively easily re-jigged from BOC 2005 and new equipment made.
On publishing the paperwork there was a certain amount of debate on the interpretation of the Harvester Guideline. However, a helpful intervention by Rules Group chairman, Barry Elkington, cleared the way forward. I should also say that it was very disappointing that at the closing date we didn't have enough entries to cover the cost of the deposit on the marquee! At the time of writing I don't have a set of accounts to share with you but I am not confident of the club making a surplus.
Now, on a more upbeat note, I'm assured that the event itself was "awesome" and a real race to the end. How about the A Race with the leading three teams setting off for the last lap covered by less than a minute. Even more impressive was the Junior team winning the B race outright!
Lastly, I must thank the following;
the staff at Perran Sands for some fantastic support throughout the weekend;
Michael Napier for his coolness when generators fail, his computing and the technical extras from Ian/Jon Marsden as well as;
the support from members of KERNO
The Challenge of Penhale - in the dark.
"They couldn't have made it more difficult". This comment I overheard from an early finisher, and took as a compliment, I suppose sums up the reaction from many competitors. I have news for him. We could have if I had arranged for some fog to come in.
All week we had our friends from the Met. office in Exeter were giving us revised forecasts. As the threat of rain receded we settled for some sea mist and unless you had glasses the only thing that was really affected was the maps - more of this later. Thank goodness the event was not the previous weekend.
Penhale has two problems; well three if you count the excess of contours. The western slopes down to the sea and the central bogs.
Only the long day leg went onto the area west of the coastal path and then only during the day. I do not like getting my feet wet in the bogs and Natural England did not want us to go there either. It was from this that the "moths" were born.
The guidelines for the Harvester distinctly mentions head to head racing. I was able to watch the A course set off for their first controls. They rapidly became a single column until they reached the track at the end of the re entrant then they separated into two lines as they went towards their different first controls except one headlight suddenly veered right to go towards the American Cross which was one of the first controls. Who was that?
If you examine the times for any relay you will find that physical speed will rapidly separate out the competitors. How do we get some element of head to head racing especially with rather small numbers involved. Well if you kept coming back to the same spot you just might see another light or two.
The other rule I had in mind was only to use the large contour feature that abound as control sites. Yes there were two small depressions used but both were at the top of larger dunes including the pixy (214.) which I have always wanted to use. Penhale abounds with mythical beasts. Have a look?
The radio control was a bonus. Discussions with Michael Napier suggested that it might be possible. By chance 210 was at the end of a slot in the terrain in direct line with the last but one control which had the cable to the results tent and then to the screen in the marquee. Sounds complicated but it was easy in the end. I was able to put the aerial up on the top of the small hill. As this entered the planning late it was not possible for all laps to have access and as it came at different points on some of the "moths", I did not feel it right to give away the "gaffling". I can recommend the principle and would build it into the system next time - it adds to the fun for the waiting competitors and the planner.
The results can offer you a happy few minutes if you are interested in that sort of thing. Because I used fewer laps ( it saves printing costs) and re used them several times both night and day. It is possible to get an idea of competitors speed during the day and night.
Course NL, for example, was used for four laps -some night some day. AA and AB are virtually the same as are BA and BB. But please remember that some competitors on AA/AB will have run their lap during the day.
One last thing; it seems that the mist and damp may have had some effect on the maps. I was keen to use plastic coated paper as it saves the difficulty of reflections from plastic bags. Was it only during the run. Well the first leg runners maps came straight out of a dry bag. Did any of you have any problem or was it leaving them on the map tree for 7-8 hours? Let me know ( ) and I will pass it on to BOF Map Group for next year..
To Katy Stubbs and Dave for being such diligent Controllers.
To Michael Napier for his professionalism in producing the results and the nice things he said about the event.
To the KERNO members who helped put out the boxes and brought in the flags.
To Roger Hargreaves who invited me to plan and for his hard work in promoting the event and organising the infrastructure and his team.
To you the competitors for coming the short distance to Cornwall. I trust you enjoyed our efforts it was fun having you.
Having run at the British Night Championships on Penhale I was well aware of how technically difficult an area it is to compete on at night so my first concern was that control sites were placed on or near large contour features rather than small point features. My second concern was safety, and the height of the water table when controlling in April lead to a crossing point being designated on the large gully/ditch. In the end the water levels had dropped enough that a rope wasn't needed although most people still got their feet wet. Finally Erik planned the courses so that only day legs went down onto the western slopes above the beach.
It was a joy to work with such an experienced and competent team.
Thanks to Dave Stubbs for checking sites with me both before the night and on the day.