Sunday, 6 April 2014

Harlech 2014

We’ll forget about training and stuff. Let’s just say I haven’t been well for a while which manifested itself in a massive abscess on my gum another between my back two teeth which are now both loose and I’m likely to lose so super strength antibiotics and onwards and upwards.

More importantly…

On 1 March I completed my Local Technical Official’s course. It was run by Tom Roberts of Welsh Triathlon and Sue Taylor of Triathlon England. They are both extremely talented and experienced officials who made the course interesting, informative and highly enjoyable.

I didn’t know calf guards were banned in the pool. I didn’t know “competitors may not run on the defined run course without shoes.” There’s probably an awful lot else I didn’t know but when you’re being taught in such a pleasant environment the lines between what you know and what you’re being taught blur slightly.

There is an extensive knowledge test which has to be completed in your own time (you can use the course material and rule book!)
Llangefni didn’t have a Race Official so I was unable to shadow.

Tom very kindly put me in touch with James and Belinda Glover the Officials for Harlech who kindly agreed that I could shadow.
I had no idea how much pre-preparation goes into being a Race Official. Belinda sent me all the information she had been sent by the Race Organiser including Competitor Information and Risk Assessments. It took an age to read and, more importantly, digest. We agreed to meet just after 7am.

The forecast was pretty grim and Belinda (and Tom) had advised me to take a change of clothes. After my experience at Bala Standard last year I will NEVER attend an event without a change of clothes and towel.

There was as much preparation (if not more) than if I was racing. All the paperwork, whistle, pins, gaffer tape, full change of clothes, 2 coats, baseball cap, gloves, spare shoes. With hindsight I should have packed the car last night.
Alarm went off at 4.30!!! I left by 5.20. Everything was going swimmingly, SatNav eta 7.07 which to me is just after 7. Just before 7 I hit road works and as the blokies running the road works walked towards me I knew things were going pear shaped. A tree had come down blocking the road. They told me I’d have to turn around and make a 70 mile detour (I’d only done 62 miles!) I explained I was on my way to a triathlon and the race couldn’t start without me (what’s a while lie between friends?) I pleaded with them to be let through. They were amazingly polite and professional but wouldn’t budge. I told them I’d drive under it and take full responsibility but they were having none of it. They did let me “inspect for myself.” Walking back they were coming towards me. They’d cobbled together various handsaws and tools to cut down offending tree. The queue behind me was all competitors and marshals!

On my way back to the car I discovered this little fella

I arrived at 7.30 so it wasn’t too bad; met James; inspected Registration (which was absolutely immaculate) and had a butchers at the race permit then off to meet Belinda in the pool.

We listened to the race brief and watched the first dozen or so swimmers off and then I had a word with a cyclist who was walking pool side wearing the timing chip to tell him his swimmer would have to run down to the bike with him only to be shut up by being told his swimmer was blind.

She was amazing. It took an awful lot of self-restraint not to cry.

Somebody got out of the pool wearing…. calf guards. Off to the race brief I popped to ensure “calf guards are not allowed in the swim” was included and to let the body markers know.

Saw a lady heading to the swim wearing calf guards and asked her very politely to remove them to which she replied “Why?” “Because they’re illegal.” “Since when?”

I headed outside. It wasn’t cold just breezy. Lots of disk wheels which we had to warn to take extra care (why would you knowing how exposed the bike route is and the forecast for such strong winds?)

A few little chats about displaying numbers, then I asked a guy heading out on the bike where his number was. He showed me – on the front and on the back of his T shirt. Fine, but, he was wearing a jacket. I explained that his number needed to be displayed on his back so that it could be seen. He argued that it would ruin his waterproof. We compromised and I ended up taking his waterproof to his supporters.

It started to rain. It started to hail. I encouraged a few not to attempt to use earphones for the run. I suggested it might not be such a good idea to run in your cycle helmet. I was relieved by Belinda who sent me to get a hot drink and a bacon bap. It was massive and gorgeous but it was only when I got back out there I realised how absolutely cold and wet I was. I have never seen so many competitors struggle to add layers and do up zips, many gave up trying and head out in trisuits.

When the motorcycle sweep returned it was time to get back to the car and move up to the castle for the finish. I had to sit on a towel to drive up and had an absolute wardrobe malfunction trying to get changed in the car. I think I, kind of, empathised with the athletes obviously their plight was far worse than mine.

No penalties. No disqualifications. I received many thanks and many congratulations for which I’m really grateful. First shadow complete, lots of lessons learned and very positive feedback off the Glover’s in my Log Book.

Lots of positives from today. One of the highlights was a customised transition box which I thought was pure dead brill.

Next stop Chirk – bring it on!

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