Hints for Hundreds Organisers - Chapter Two - Designing The Walk
2.1 Choosing a date
As has been said this is pre-determined but beware changes at Government whims, e.g. because of a Royal Jubilee. The Marshals' Walk is occasionally held over the August Bank Holiday weekend of the preceding year to avoid a sensitive stage in the grouse breeding season at the beginning of May.
2.2 Location of walk headquarters and checkpoints
Early booking of HQ is essential. Schools and colleges, many of which have the accommodation and facilities required, often get booked up well in advance. The checklists in sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) are very useful in assessing the suitability of premises for a100 HQ but REMEMBER greater numbers mean more space.
Additional considerations for the annual hundred may include the following:-
- The National event can be a good publicity opportunity for both the LDWA and the School/College;
- Cultivating good relations with School/College staff, e.g. Head, Caretaker, Catering Manager/ess;
- Sleeping accommodation from Friday night on will be needed for walkers and helpers;
- Facilities for Parking caravans/motor homes and pitching tents in the grounds are useful;
- Accessibility from major roads, from rail/coach stations and to rights of way;
- Broad tracks and no stiles for the first few miles to avoid congestion and frustration;
- Sleeping accommodation should be provided after the event so that both entrants and helpers can rest before driving: the HQ may not be able to provide it so look elsewhere.
The Breakfast Stop Checkpoint is an extra element which requires careful consideration. It is usually at about the 2/3rds distance of the walk i.e. about 55 to 65 miles, depending on suitable premises. Points to be borne in mind include:-
- Ample space for storing, preparing, serving and consuming food and drinks;
- Washing facilities, preferably showers, space for changing clothes (M & F);
- Space for storing baggage waiting to be collected by walkers;
- Space for storing baggage waiting to be transported back to HQ;
- Seating and blankets for retired walkers waiting to be taken back to HQ;
- Accessibility from roads and parking for marshals' and other vehicles;
- Ideally space for supporters to park their cars but, if not available, TELL them in advance so that their cars don't block the track for, e.g. an ambulance.
It is worth underlining the checklist at the bottom of this section in 'Guidelines' because space will be needed for all the functions at the Breakfast Stop and for most of them at the other checkpoints - don't overlook any of them. In the planning stages a checkpoint checklist form is useful.
2.3 Planning the route
The whole of this section merits careful study for a Hundred but it is worth repeating the last two sentences:-
'Most walkers will follow the official route, but there may be some who will be tempted to take any obvious shortcuts to reduce their time. The possibility of short-cutting can be minimised by careful route design and judicious placing of manned or unmanned checkpoints'
Unmanned usually means a clipper point mentioned in the route description. Route planning and locating possible checkpoints needs to be completed 18 months before the event so that the route can be checked and groups staffing checkpoints given details. Once the route description has been completed by the Organising Committee it is worth getting hold of two or three experienced LDWA members from outside the area and asking them to walk the route over (say) 4 or 5 days. Someone planning to do the event or the Marshals' Walk may welcome the opportunity to do a 'recce' and report on any parts which are unclear, where more detail, e.g. distance to next stile, would help, where inserting a compass bearing or a grid reference would be useful. Non local people are likely to pick up points which locals may have missed.
2.4 Length of the route
Again the whole section is relevant but the accuracy of measurement is especially important with Hundreds as are intermediate and cumulative distances and ascents.
2.5 Time limits
The 48 hour time limit is pre-determined but attention is drawn to the following:-
'On some events later start times are provided for runners and fast walkers. A staggered start can reduce congestion at HQ and early on in the walk and will slightly reduce the length of time that later checkpoints need to be open, but increase it for earlier checkpoints.'
Conversely it can be argued that different start times only highlight the walkers v. runners' debate and that it is better to have a mass start. There is no easy answer. It may be advisable to have a 10 a.m. start for walkers and a 12 noon start for runners: the small number who expect to finish in under 26 hours can be asked to start at 2 p.m. A graph showing checkpoint opening times against distances may be helpful.
2.6 Styles of event
This section begins; 'It is important to ensure that the walkers remain on the route: considerable bad feeling will be aroused if walkers trespass on to private land.' Good relations are vital with a Hundred. There will be a route description - see 2.13.
2.7 Consultation and liaison
Study the list in the third paragraph of this section and make sure that ALL relevant bodies are consulted. It is often advisable to use local shops for checkpoint supplies and to let the Tourist Information Office know about the influx of walkers and helpers seeking B & B accommodation, camping sites etc. so that the event is welcomed by people in the area.
2.8 Environmental considerations
Because there are usually nearly 500 starters, the factors mentioned here, namely ground erosion and disturbance to wildlife, are particularly significant and again local consultation is important. Find out who is active in local environment bodies and talk to them.
This is not just a matter of larger scale: walkers are likely to 'rush ahead where angels fear to tread' in the early stages and to become disorientated in the latter stages of a Hundred so identifying foreseeable risks and taking steps to ensure that walkers avoid them are essential. Again the list in this section is worth reading carefully.
The last paragraph of this section refers to other safety matters in Chapter 4 and specifically mentions 4.4 Keeping Track of Walkers, 4.9 Communications and 4.11 Emergencies and First Aid.
All these are important but attention is also drawn to two paragraphs within 4.1 headed 'Sleeping Accommodation' and 'Provision for Marshals'. Both walkers and marshals are likely to be very tired by the Monday of the Hundred weekend and will need SLEEP before they drive home. Our duty of care does not stop at the end of the walk.
2.10 Restrictions on entrants
All entrants for Hundreds must be 18 or over on the day of the event and must have completed a qualifying event of 50 or more miles in the 12 months preceding the closing date for entries. It is not normal practice to ask entrants to supply birth certificates. It is usual and sensible to ask for proof of completion (most commonly the certificate) of a 50+ mile event, including 50 or more miles of the previous year's event. These restrictions are included in the form 'Application to Stage a Hundred' and it is advisable to spell them out on the entry form so as to avoid any doubt on the part of the entrants. Other comparable qualifications may be allowed at the organisers' discretion.
2.11 Young participants - Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations
Because entrants under 18 are not allowed the Regulations do not apply. It is, however, worth noting the definition of 'trekking' in the 4th paragraph in the context of safety.
2.12 People with disabilities
Entry forms should provide space for entrants to say 'visually impaired, will walk with X', 'one-armed, chopped food welcome at breakfast and finish', 'deaf but not daft' etc.
2.13 The route description
Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the whole of this section. Accuracy and consistency are essential so it makes sense to have a 'Route Editor'. Too much detail can be confusing but attention to detail is vital from 35 miles onwards, when it will always be dark for somebody, and in the latter stages when exhaustion sets in.
2.14 The marshals' walk
The different scale of the Hundred means that the Marshals' Walk needs to be more organised than is often the case on shorter events. Some under-cover checkpoints should be provided, e.g. at the Breakfast stop, and especially in the latter stages.