I’m considering a career change. It’s just gone 4am on Monday morning and I’ve been dozing restlessly for only a few hours in a hazy tiredness. Even from within the van I am attempting to sleep in, I can hear the roar of wind as it stampedes around Melbreak before sweeping down to Loweswater and battering our Overnight Camp. I’m concerned for the participants, but more immediately I hear the crash of a marquee pole breaking loose. It is time to get up.
The main marquee is flappy wildly, a number of side poles have broken loose from their joints, some of the joints themselves have broken, the pegs holding the bottom edge have been pulled out, and the internal ratchet straps have loosened off; the entire structure is trying to take off with the strongest guests. I assess the situation. It certainly isn’t safe for the participants to use, and it probably is a hard hat area for me right now, but fortunately it’s raining, and therefore I have my hood up, and I hope that counts. I do what I can alone to tighten the ratchets, but it needs more than my input to secure it, and I reluctantly wake up Tom Hecht to help. Between the gusts, we manage to attach the windward side of the marquee to the adjacent vans. Littledave Cumins, one of my super volunteers, soon joins us, and we attach some additional ratcheting inside. By 6am, when the first competitors arrive, we feel reasonably confident that the structure won’t fly away, but I privately rehearse an evacuate plan in my head.
Today it is a no brainer. We are running the ‘Bad Weather Courses’ and I walk the camp field to announce this.
After a fantastic Alpine first day on Saturday, I’d mulled over the weather forecast for Sunday. At best it was poor and would give anyone venturing onto the fell tops a real test with high winds, rain and low cloud expected. I’ll be honest, I was tempted to switch to the bad weather courses on the second day, but on balance felt that a hard day in the hills has to be expected, and that if I tried to accommodate the lower experience levels within the entire group of participants, that I’d always be switching to the bad weather course.
At the Saturday evening briefing, I shared the weather forecast and my decision to run the full course on Sunday with the words, “suck it up”. I hope I wouldn’t live to regret them!
The last participants finished just before 10pm on Sunday night. Everyone was accounted for although about half a dozen didn’t make it to the Overnight Camp, and had opted to retire and stay in a B&B… Nice!
Having made the decision to run the bad weather course on Monday morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps the courses weren’t bad enough… The weather forecast predicted that the wind would ease by 9am and the rain and cloud would clear throughout the morning, but what if they didn’t? Right now, the weather was worse than forecast and I knew that conditions on the high ridges that all the courses needed to cross to reach Whinlatter, would be very challenging to say the least. I thought carefully about this as the Overnight Camp busied itself around me. Decisions, decisions, whilst time ticked away.
One of the things I learnt over the years of organising mountain races is that a good Race Director isn’t necessarily a popular Race Director, and that event safety, then event logistics have to take priority over the participant’s immediate pleasure. Most of the time these factors combine happily, but occasionally, I’ve made a decision (like timing out a participant) because there is a greater logistical need or safety concern, that has not been popular. Monday morning, felt like one of those moments when there was a good chance of annoying some participants by being extra cautious. I called in Kate Worthington to the admin tent, to act as a sounding board to my thoughts. I am a firm believer that utilising the wider team to discuss and solve a problem is usually the best approach, and Kate, as another experienced mountain professional, was the logical person to discuss my concerns with.
There is a time for caution and a time for boldness. Today I was going to be cautious and with just 15 minutes before the first start at 7am, took a marker pen to my map to replan the new ‘really bad weather courses’ on the fly.
In the end, the weather did exactly as forecast, and I probably could have run with the normal bad weather courses but it felt like the right decision then, and it still does now.
Everyone saw the muddy, boggy, horrible wet puddles that our tents were pitched on/in at the Loweswater Overnight Camp. Well, the main reason that my Race Director’s report with all its links to results, images etc, has been delayed is that we have spent almost the entire week after the event power washing, drying, sorting and storing the event kit. To say it was filthy would have been a major understatement! I’m pleased to say that 85% of it is now packed away and ready for the Cape Wrath Ultra next week.
The 2016 GL3D™ has been one of the hardest events yet for the team and I would like to extend a massive thanks to the largely volunteer team helping make it happen. This included;
- Ann Perry
- Bob Nash
- Colin Harding
- Duncan Kendrick
- Ed Terry
- Helen Samson
- Jim Imber
- John Bottomley
- Kate Worthington
- Leanne Shaw
- Littledave Cumins
- Nick Vonbratt
- Paul Imrie
- Paul Stenhouse
- Pete Gabriel
- Phil Wilkinson
- Rebecca Tate
- Tim Gosden
- Tom Hecht
After the event (whilst we were busy cleaning kit) Stuart Smith and Joe Faulkner helped collect controls, and James Harris (who completed the Elite course) finished them off this Saturday.
The GL3D™ is certainly growing but it is essentially a grassroots mountain running event support by the community and we all owe the event team a massive thank you.
The event has grown steadily in recent years and I have slowly tried to evolve the event design and logistics to accommodate this without losing that relaxed and friendly atmosphere we all enjoy. Assuming there is a little bit more growth in participation in 2017, I think the time has come to have a dedicated marquee at each overnight camp. This will provide a more robust overnight shelter, improve the atmosphere and camaraderie and also make our logistics much easier by removing the arduous and time critical job of breaking down, moving and reassembling the large marquee. Please tell your friends about the event and how much better it will be in 2017!
Stuart Bellamy left, Race Director Shane Ohly centre and Kerstin Rosenqvist right. Presented with another superb Lake District print from Heather Dawe.
Whilst we like to keep the GL3D™ low key I’d like to extend a special pat on the back to Stuart Bellamy and Kerstin Rosenqvist. Stuart has won the GL3D™ in 2013 and 2016, whilst Kerstin has travelled from Sweden to win in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and finished 3rd and 2nd overall in the last two years.
Finally, many many thanks to all the participants for another memorable weekend in the sunny Lake District. I’ll look forward to seeing you all next year!
Apart from the weather, my principle headache for the weekend was the bus logistic on Saturday morning (C and B course starts) and on Monday afternoon (C course finish). On each of these occasions the bus company showed up with buses smaller than we had agreed. The result was less capacity, delays and queuing. My gold standard approach to any aspect of the event is to ask myself, ‘How would I like this experience?’ Nobody likes queues and delays, including me, and I’d like to apologise to the small number of participants affected, explain precisely what happened, and how we can hopefully avoid this in the future.
On the Saturday morning, the first warning that we had a capacity problem was when the first bus arrived at 0800. By 0900 we had managed to organise two additional 8 seater taxi’s that arrived and were supplementing the two buses. Whilst the middle group of participants experienced the longest delays, we still had everyone away by the latest 1000 start time. We offered free coffee’s from Joey’s Coffee to those who got caught waiting. Hopefully that eased the pain.
Again, on Monday lunch time, the first warning (despite getting a reassurance on Saturday) that the wrong buses had been sent again, was when the first bus arrived at Whinlatter. This was very frustrating for us, and I am sure an annoyance for some participants waiting to return to the Event Centre. The shorter modified bad weather course, the higher number of participants opting to complete the C, rather than B course, added to the backlog here. Once again we managed to get two 8 seater taxi’s to reduce the backlog and had these up and running before the official finish time of 1200 noon. Not bad for a bank holiday Monday, but not the highest quality experience I am aiming for either.
In future, we will ensure that any bus logistic has much greater capacity than we predict. In part, the problem for us was that we had predicted too accurately the demand for transport from participants, and whilst we planned perfectly for this, just ten missing seats per journey built up a backlog. Therefore, if we think we need to transport 20, we’ll plan to transport 30 and that will give the event more redundancy. Once again, sorry to all those affected.
Economic Impact Survey
It would be extremely helpful if as many 2016 participants as possible would complete this economic impact survey. It will only take 2-3 minutes. We are asking participants to complete this survey so that we can clearly demonstrate to organisations (like the National Parks, National Trust and major landowners) the positive economic impact events have on the local economy at a time when many landowner organisers are dramatically increasing the fees they charge to events. This is really important.
We will provide 2 free entries for the 2017 GL3D to be drawn from 2016 participants completing this survey! Don't let this delay you entering though - if you're lucky enough to win and you've already entered we'll square things over.
The 2016 results are now live. If you spot any errors please let us know and we will investigate. Clearly the weather beat us all up a somewhat – participants and organisers alike - and the finish rate is much lower than usual.
Talk Ultra Photo Galleries and Report
Ian Corless from Talk Ultra was once again on hand to document the event in both words and pictures. You can checkout his photo galleries and report and visit our Facebook page to tag yourself and your friends in the 3 days' photo albums uploaded theree
Photos and Video
The following items were handed into us over the weekend. If you think any of them are yours, please contact us with a description and we will arrange their return:
- Camera x1
- Glasses x1
- Book x1
- Waterproof Jacket x1
- Waterproof Trousers x1
- Beanie x3
- Buff x1
- Gaiter x1
- Gloves (pair) x1
- Assorted Gloves x3
We would welcome any feedback from competitors… good or bad! If you enjoyed yourself, just a few sentences about your experience that we could include on the website would be greatly appreciated. If you feel we could have done something better please let us know. All feedback is valuable in making the event ever better! Please use our contact form to get in touch.
P.S. Well done Jane and Martin for your fundraising run back to Warrington after taking part in the event!
Not many dry bags = most competitors safely in camp. Photo ©Tom Hecht
We suspect that if you enjoyed spending the early May bank holiday weekend with Ourea Events, there's every chance you'd like to join us again (for even better weather?) in 2017. Enter the 2017 event now!
You might also like to take part in/follow the live tracking in one of our upcoming events. Here are some highlights:
Cape Wrath Ultra™ - for live tracking (entries closed!)
22nd – 29th May 2016
The Cape Wrath Ultra™ is a once in a lifetime, 8-day expedition race weaving 400km through the Highlands of Scotland. Starting in Fort William, the race will take competitors on an incredible journey linking ancient footpaths and remote tracks to the furthest northwesterly point of the British Isles, Cape Wrath..
6th – 7th August 2016
Marmot24™ combines the very best elements of the predominantly British mountain marathon phenomenon with the most exciting aspects of the more international, 24-hour rogaining events.
16th – 18th September 2016
Skyline Scotland™, home to three of the highest-octane mountain running races in the UK:
Mamores Vertical Kilometre®, Ring of Steall Skyrace™ and the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™.
Rab Mountain Marathon™
24th – 25th September 2016
The Rab Mountain Marathon™ is a two-day fell running and navigation challenge for solos and pairs with an overnight camp.
Yours in running,
Shane Ohly, 2016 Race Director