Day 1 Controller’s Comments
At 10 o’clock on Saturday morning I had a phone call from Bridget as she was struggling through a blizzard looking for the 4" bamboo canes marking the control sites in 6" of snow; at that point I did wonder whether we had made the right decision not to cancel the event. However, later on in the day, as the competitors appeared over the hill, disappeared into the quarry and reappeared (some more quickly than others) at the finish, I was glad that we had been able to go ahead.
The technical challenge that Pen Rhiw Wen offers is very dependent on the weather conditions: Bridget put a lot of thought and effort into ensuring that the courses would be as challenging in perfect conditions as in the thick mist that in my experience covers the area for 75% of the time. Although, by the time 80 competitors had run round the Welsh Championships course there was a very obvious track leading straight to most of the controls, the final few controls in the quarry where all 3 courses overlapped still provided a challenge.
On behalf of the competitors, I would like to thank Bridget and Roger and the rest of SBOC for all the effort they put in to make the event a success in difficult conditions
Alice Bedwell (BOK)
Day 1 Planner’s Comments
Suddenly the dark cloud that's been hovering over the valley is right overhead, and little balls of polystyrene are whirling all around me. I drop my burdens to the ground and haul my Gore-Tex out of the backpack, then try to shake off the worst of the snow before slipping into it. By the time this is done I can barely see 50m - just a white world all around me except for the darkness overhead; the usual landmarks and features all long since blotted out from previous snowfalls. I take out my phone: "Alice, how bad does it have to get before we cancel?"
This is a question we've all been asking for the last few days. Roger, the organiser and my husband has been watching every weather forecast on every TV channel and internet site for the whole week, as more and more snow has fallen and temperatures plummeted. Great for tobogganing but not so good for an 'O' event. Crux day - the Friday before the event - had come and gone, bringing sun and relative warmth from a cloudless sky, (and some fun with the toboggan), and lulling us into a sense of optimism. Now here we are on the Saturday morning putting out the controls in a mini-blizzard.
Controller orders to carry on, so shoulder the backpack and stakes and flags again and stagger on through my beautiful white world. What an amazing experience! The next control site is against a small crag where the snow has drifted high above my little cane marker's head. Check the description and place the control anyway. Stagger on again. Drag the sack of stakes when the hill gets steep and make even more of a trail for the competitors to follow later. Oh well, if it snows much more it will cover my tracks anyway.
The heavy going is making the control hanging even slower than usual and I'm grateful when Alice catches me up and helps with the load. Even better when she says she couldn't find the markers across the valley, so we drop everything and scamper down the hill in the fresh snow, unfettered, and able to really enjoy the scene and snow experience properly. But every control we visit we leave a clear trail to - sets of footprints the only marks in the snow for miles around. So sometimes we go off course a bit - heh heh!
Well, the snow stopped and the sun came out and the competitors came to the event and they ran in the snow and they loved it! And they followed the trails to the controls and they followed some trails not to controls, and they followed some trails to the wrong controls, so it seems the event was worth holding after all. Thanks to all of you who took the trouble to tell us that afterwards. Yes, we know that it was easier for the later runners and that there were elephant tracks to most control sites, but we certainly got the impression that most who ran would regret having missed the experience. I for one can certainly say that.
Trust Pen Rhiw Wen to give us another epic!
Bridget Stein (SBOC)
Day 2 Controller’s Comments
With the outset of the winter weather our major concern was with your safety. We had established early in the organisational cycle our cancellation criteria. Phil, Roger and I visited the area repeatedly, running on limestone pavements and scrambling down rocks. When the snow first fell Phil was unable to drive to the car park, our Friday visit led us not to make an early cancellation and by Saturday afternoon much of the high ground was clear. The further snowfall on Saturday night made progress through the area very difficult.
With many courses of varying technical difficulties it would be impractical to plan shorter adverse weather variants. All the competitors will have found their courses very challenging and tiring and times were long. I hope however that you will have still enjoyed Phil’s great planning. Congratulations not just to the champions but all who managed to complete.
If it was tough for the competitors spare a thought for the officials. They all deserve our thanks for their perseverance, which led to SBOC putting on another successful race.
Charles Daniel (BOK)
Day 2 Planner's Comments
The story began at the start of December, my first walk around Ogof Ffynnon Ddu to recce the area was without a map or compass, “cos I know the area” and resulted in me getting terribly lost on the limestone area, with darkness approaching and the temperature dropping. I hope you enjoyed your course even those who were out at about 12:00 and caught in the snow flurry. Safety to the competitors was our biggest worry but as the forecast for the weekend was good and the decision was made on Friday to go ahead with the weekend.
I was able to visit both areas in the week preceding the weekend, on Wednesday I was unable to drive up the hill to OFD and on Thursday, Pen Rhiw Wen was full of sledging joe public, mild panic set in…..
Many hours have passed on the computer and trampling over OFD and the event is now over. My huge thanks to Roger Stein and Charles Daniel who helped me plan my first Regional event.
Thanks to all who came, sympathies to many especially from North Wales who could not make it due to the snow.
Phil Jenkins (SBOC)
Writing these comments a week after the event as I tidy up the last bits of the results and the accounts it seems like it all happened a long time ago. The planners' and controllers' comments give you an idea of some of the problems we faced. It was good to get support from them and from other experienced people both in and out of the club. I remember when we had to cancel the event at Pen Rhiw Wen many years ago due to the weather and though I was not directly involved in the decision process then, I remember how difficult it had been for the decision to be made. Although the majority of people who had entered, were able to get to the event and appeared to enjoy their runs (thanks to all those who emailed me to say so), it was a pity that some people could not come due to the weather conditions in their area.
One email I got just after the event was telling me about their local event the following week which was "on a nice area, and the weather forecast was fine. At least we don't have snow" it said. Well I really enjoyed driving there yesterday through 3 or 4 inches of snow and being able to run over the snow covered hills with lovely views! I can see better now why you all enjoyed our event so much. You never really know what will happen on the day.
I think the facility to do bulk emails to all online entrants and to be able to update the SBOC web site regularly helped to keep many people in the picture about what was happening.
It was also great to have such a good team of helpers within SBOC willing to put themselves out a bit and in some cases even missing out on having a run. I have tried to thank each one of them individually but if I missed any of you out then please accept my thanks for all you did. That only leaves me to say thank you to all of you who came and enjoyed our event. We hope to have many more in the not too distant future! (In fact we have a nice little weekend planned for mid summer on the Preseli hills - I hope we can cope with the extremely hot temperatures forecast!)
Roger Stein (SBOC)