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Hints for Hundreds Organisers - Chapter Four - Operations On The Day


'Although this chapter concerns what happens on the day of the Event, it all needs very careful planning beforehand!' That preamble is very apposite for the Hundred.

4.1 Walk headquarters organisation and operations

Read all five pages of this section (cross referenced in the intro.) carefully so that all aspects are borne in mind when considering a suitable venue. The sub-sections Staffing, Car Parking, Registration, Baggage, Control, Sleeping Accommodation and Provision for Marshals are especially relevant.

A large, mixed, secondary school often has the right kind of lay-out and equipment for the purpose: F.E. Colleges may also meet our needs.

Both Public and Private sector premises are worth exploring as in some instances the former will give a better deal than the latter and vice-versa. The potential publicity benefits to the School/College should be mentioned in negotiations. Although the whole of 4.1 is relevant, mention is now made of particularly salient points for Hundreds.

Staffing

'On a longer event the Chief Organiser will require a deputy to allow time for sleeping'. That sentence applies also to other key roles at HQ and to later checkpoints where two, three or even four shifts may be necessary if efficient service is to be provided throughout. Keep all marshals and helpers at HQ supplied with tea, coffee, toast, cornflakes and regular breaks, it will help to pass the long hours efficiently.

Registration

Entries on the day are not allowed. Accurate recording is essential so make use of calm, methodical people. Correct details of non-starters and starters' walk-numbers and start-times should be quickly passed to the checkpoints to help them keep track of progress.

Kit check

'Kit checks can easily cause bottlenecks if there are not enough checkers'. Additionally many walkers will have packed their rucksacks in their own way and will find it irritating to have to unpack and re-pack them. It is often better to ask each entrant to sign a declaration at the foot of the required list of items and only to issue the individual's check card when that declaration has been signed. Spot checks for particular items can be introduced later in the walk, e.g. torch, and sweater at a point which most people will reach before nightfall. Extra staff will be needed whether the check is at or separate from a checkpoint. If a kit check is required it is probably best done out in the open, at the end of a track or just after a gate that all have to pass through. Kit checks in small busy checkpoints are not practical or popular. Asking for a torch after dark is not much use. A torch before nightfall or compass set to the next bearing on the route description are two of the options that could be asked for. Should there be a need for disqualification, it is best to have a form to hand to the walker giving the reason to avoid any misunderstanding.

Route description and amendments

'Route descriptions.........are usually sent out beforehand.' It is good practice to release the route descriptions before Easter so that entrants for both Marshals' and main events have the opportunity to explore the area and walk out 'night' sections in advance.

Baggage

Labelling is essential. Different coloured tags can be posted with final details for entrants to attach to baggage to be left at HQ and for (smaller) items to be taken to the Breakfast Stop. Transporting baggage to the Breakfast Stop should be kept separate from other transport tasks. Some LDWA members have much experience in baggage handling and transport: ASK a previous organiser who they are.

Mixing space

Lots of it; near the tea urn but not too near registration and baggage check-in.

The Start

It is often a good idea to invite the Head of the School/College to play a role here. The LDWA President and/or Vice-Presidents may also be willing to participate. A loudhailer or public address system is needed at the start, and in the hall during the event when announcements need to be made (i.e. presentation of certificates).

After the start

The need to assemble accurate information about starters and non-starters and to disseminate it quickly to checkpoint and RAYNET staff is underlined again.

Control

'...........make sure that nothing is left to chance or overlooked' because the safety of walkers can be put at risk if those at HQ do not have an overview of the progress of walkers, who has retired and where, who is waiting for transport and since when. '..........the complexity of control grows rapidly with the scale of the event'.

All eight 'bullet points' merit careful attention but 'effective use of communication' is paramount on a 100.

The finish desk

The whole section, except the fourth sentence of the third paragraph, apply to Hundreds and direction signs to the finish desk, changing rooms, showers etc. are all required. Each individual's finish of the hundred should be a great occasion for that person so it is worth arranging the layout of the finish so that every entrant can be welcomed home by their friends (and anyone else around) without disturbing the concentration of finish desk staff.

Toilet and washing facilities

Obviously need to be of good quality and a mixed school has been suggested as more likely to have both male and female facilities. Climbing stairs to showers or toilets is NOT a welcome prospect after completing 100 miles on foot so try and avoid that one.

Sleeping accommodation

Very important but there is an added dimension in that, on the one hand walkers and helpers will need more sleep, whilst on the other hand the school caretaking staff will naturally want to regain entry to the premises to prepare them for the next day's school. It is therefore wise to establish the precise time when re-entry is needed and, if that does not leave enough time for late finishers and helpers to have a good rest before driving, to arrange the hire of a small hall separate from the school for sleeping purposes.

It is essential that provisions for all finishers and marshals to have adequate rest before driving (somewhere to sleep until late afternoon/early evening for later finishers). Large notices should be sited at car park exits stating 'It is essential that you have had adequate sleep before driving'.

Provision for marshals

See also paragraph above on sleeping accommodation.

First aid

'For longer walks.....' this is definitely one. See section 4.11.

Stores

Clear labelling of supplies for each checkpoint needs to be undertaken by the quartermaster and helpers. Some food, e.g. pasta salad, can be prepared at HQ and put in containers for transport to later checkpoints. It is more usual to leave the preparation of sandwiches to the checkpoint staff but they will need several hours and 'all hands to the pump' to get this done before the checkpoint opens so those booking halls will need to know about menus. Information about preparation times can later be given to checkpoint organisers.

Catering

As well as the whole of this sub-section and 4.13, Food matters; early thought needs to be given to the opinions of the School/College Catering supervisor who will be mindful, as the Organisers MUST be, of Food Hygiene Regulations, Health and Safety at Work, etc.

Information, displays and sales

Local information on transport and accommodation is useful; tables should be provided for entry forms for other events and for sales of Sweat/Tee shirts: staff will be needed for the latter.

Clearing up

A closing time should be agreed with the School/College in advance and should be kept. It is essential that the cleaning and tidying is done thoroughly. Make a map of the layout of tables and chairs in the dining room before you start. If possible a fresh team of staff who have had a break should be brought in on the Monday morning as others will be tired and the good reputation of the LDWA relies on the premises being left as we found them.

4.2 Organisation and operation of manned checkpoints

'Well-run, welcoming checkpoints are much appreciated by walkers and can make all the difference to the success of an event'. The word 'welcoming' in that opening is deliberately in bold type because walkers need every encouragement especially in the later stages of a hundred.

Staffing

Preparing food for 500 people takes time: that factor needs to be remembered when booking halls and later when giving advice and directions to checkpoint staff, e.g. 'checkpoint opens 22.30 hours, hall booked from 18.00 hours to allow time for making sandwiches'. The person in charge of the checkpoint will usually be responsible for liaison with the Radio team people on site: the organisers should ensure that the roles and responsibilities of each are clearly set out and understood by both parties.

Radio team staff: communication of up-to-date information; Checkpoint staff: all decisions relating to walkers, e.g. retirements or otherwise of those reaching the checkpoint after closing time depending on relevant considerations.

Documentation

'The checkpoint notes should be sent in advance to the marshal in charge of each checkpoint'. Cover ALL the bullet points in this section giving plenty of detail, e.g. the times when the checkpoint is expected to be busy - helpful for planning staff rotas. Send details on equipment, food and procedures to the checkpoint organiser well in advance of the event. This should leave checkpoint staff free to concentrate on their job of looking after the walkers.

The checkpoint information checklist form reproduced on page 72 of this leaflet and the equipment checklist in Appendix F of 'Guidelines' will be useful in preparing the procedure notes. 'Checksheets for recording walkers arriving at checkpoints will also be needed.' Electronic tagging systems, as often used on orienteering events, are NOT yet adequate, by themselves, to monitor walkers' movements and ensure their safety.

Lack of information being passed to checkpoints - there have been occasions when 24 hours after the start of an event checkpoints have not had any contact regarding non-starters, retirements etc (this information is essential for the efficient running of a checkpoint)

Setting up the checkpoint

'In arranging the checkpoint keep checking and feeding operations separate' - essential with the large numbers on a Hundred.

'It often takes longer than anticipated......' and it is very important to be fully prepared when the first walkers come through. Responsibility will lie with the people running the checkpoint but it is up to the organising committee to ensure that they are given all relevant information and know in advance the arrangements for collecting food, equipment and paperwork. The use of signs such as 'Welcome to the ..... Group checkpoint', 'Get your water bottle filled here', 'Foot washing area' is to be encouraged.

Checkpoint operation

If the checkpoint organiser has been given a route description in advance he/she will be able to brief the staff on facts of interest to the walkers, e.g. terrain, distance and ascent/descent to and opening/closing times of next CP.

Closing the checkpoint

Make it clear who has the authority to close the checkpoint: walking sweeper or sweeper in car (both appointed by the organisers) or checkpoint organiser after consultation with HQ. If it is decided, for whatever reason, to postpone the scheduled closing time then earlier and later checkpoints must be told and asked to tell walkers about the change. Walkers may otherwise push themselves or even retire unnecessarily in the belief that they will be 'timed out' at a later checkpoint. Obviously consideration will have to be given to changing closing times of subsequent checkpoints. If the opening and closing times have been based on sensible calculations of walkers' and runners' rates of progress at various stages then changes in the scheduled times should not be necessary during the event unless there are exceptional weather conditions. Avoid delay in getting timesheets back to HQ, try to ensure that someone is responsible for this operation directly a checkpoint is closed, as the following point relies on it being done effectively. Times through early checkpoints, retirements and early finishers can be fed onto a spreadsheet so that printouts could be put on a notice board to help with enquiries (it is useful to have a filing system for all paperwork at HQ to make checking information easier).

Recording walkers

The importance of this section cannot be over-emphasised. Inaccurate records create doubts, worries and unnecessary risks of entrants becoming 'mislaid'. Records of retirees are also very relevant here: if a wrong number has been recorded a walker's spare kit may have been returned to HQ thus creating frustration and worse at the Breakfast stop.

Arrival sheets (see Documentation) will be in chronological order; this is useful when passing details to the next checkpoint.

Feeding walkers

The organising committee should have ensured that there is an acceptable choice of different types of food and drink throughout the walk. Attractive presentation of food and encouragement to take some sustenance is appreciated by tired walkers; label the sandwiches, tell them what soup it is. If possible have a large water container, preferably with tap, where water bottles can be filled. A funnel is also useful. The 'filling station' should be labelled and, if possible, staffed.

Food/Drink Shortages at early checkpoints

Most walkers prefer to eat bulk/energy food early in the event and it is particularly important to the slower walkers that are going to be out longest. A reserve supply of food should be kept at early checkpoints, or food that is destined for later checkpoints that can be replaced or moved on as necessary

4.3 Other types of checkpoints

Breakfast checkpoints

In applying to run a hundred the organising committee will have stated (inter alia) that 'a more substantial cooked meal will be provided at a checkpoint between 55 and 60 miles or thereabouts'. More space will be needed and more staff.

Baggage checkpoints

'A baggage checkpoint is often combined with a breakfast stop'. This is the usual custom on a '100' but the two operations should be kept separate, indeed on some hundreds different buildings have been used but the walk between them should be no more than a quarter of a mile. Adequate washing facilities should be available: a sports pavilion may be suitable. It may be best to let the walkers themselves put their own baggage on the return pile and then double check with the departure sheets before loading the return baggage (this will alleviate walkers arriving at the Breakfast stop to find that their baggage has been sent back to HQ).

Unmanned checkpoints

These are useful to prevent people taking short-cuts and, of course, to reduce staffing needs. There should be grid references in the route description and they should be clearly visible so that walkers do not waste too much time 'hunting the clipper' and getting frustrated in the process.

Unannounced checkpoints

These are also useful to deter people from deliberately going off route and are often combined with kit checks.

Cut-off points

It is not normal practice in hundreds to provide a shorter route back to HQ

4.4 Keeping track of walkers

The whole of this section should be thoroughly studied by those members of the organising committee with responsibility for this important area. Check the bullet points in the third paragraph.

Procedures for detecting missing walkers

'A mechanism is needed to detect walkers who are overdue....'

It is suggested under 'Procedure for a longer walk', that times and numbers of those passing through each checkpoint and retirements should be returned to HQ periodically. Again it is indicated under 'Regular checks between consecutive checkpoints', that walk numbers and times should be passed on to the next checkpoint at regular intervals. It makes sense to devise procedures and incorporate them in briefing notes to checkpoint organisers so as to avoid any confusion. There is nothing worse for a walker to be told, on arriving at CP 9, that he/she retired at CP6 unless it is to be told also that their spare clothes have been sent back to HQ!

Action if a walker is suspected missing

This sub-section merits careful study because the risk of walkers becoming disorientated increases in the later stages of a hundred. Control should decide when 999 is to be dialled.

4.5 Sweepers

This is a useful means of keeping track of those at the back of the field (unless, of course, they have gone off route for any reason). If the Sweepers have mobile phones they can help to ensure that information is passed on quickly as well as looking out for damage and open gates and collecting signs and marker tapes.

Some LDWA members ENJOY this role so ask a previous organiser for names of those likely to volunteer. Probably three teams of at least two experienced walkers, good at map and compass work, are needed on a hundred.

4.6 Retirements

Ignore the first sentence of the section and the penultimate sentence in paragraph three, they do not apply to hundreds; the rest does.

'....several minibuses (may) will be needed.' (see Section 4.10, Transport).

Recording procedures are featured again in this context.

4.7 Grouping

The possibility of requiring walkers to travel in groups should be notified to walkers in advance, probably with the final details (see p.21) and NOT sprung on them during the event. If the need for grouping arises during the event, e.g. due to suddenly worsening weather, try to tell the walkers in advance, say at CP5, that grouping will be enforced later, say from CPs 7 to 10. Woodland areas can often present the tired walker with a bewildering choice of routes and grouping arrangements, probably with two members of the host Group who know the route well ('shepherds'), are worth considering especially if the woods will be encountered by some walkers on the second night of the event.

4.8 Breaking rules and disqualification

One might think that those accepting the challenge of walking 100 miles in 48 hours (max.) would have enough pride and self-esteem not to break the rules deliberately: Alas! It has been known to happen. Safeguards such as 'self-clip' points and unannounced kit-checks have been mentioned (Section 4.3).

Disqualification should only be imposed if at least two marshals firmly believe, with good reason, that the breach has been intentional and not the result of a genuine mistake or misunderstanding. The procedures for disqualification and for enforced retirement of someone deemed unfit to continue, including the rights of appeal, should be clearly explained to marshals whether at checkpoints, road-crossings or kit-checks.

4.9 Communications

'....lives may be lost if a message believed to have been sent fails to reach its destination'. That sentence serves to demonstrate the importance of this whole section which should be read early in the planning stages. This should enable effective means of passing information (see bullet points) to be set up and explained to all those, including the Radio team, who need to know. An emergency phone number at HQ should be widely publicised and the phone should be manned by a responsible person at all times.

4.10 Transport

Three different needs for transport are identified here: all three are relevant. '.....it may be worth basing a minibus at a distant point of the route for part of the event to reduce delay'. This should help to reduce the 'response time' for retired walkers. Expecting a vehicle-driver to be responsible for more than one role is likely to cause problems and prove to be a false economy.

For example a diversion to deliver surplus food to a later checkpoint could lead to delay and jeopardise the recovery of a retired walker suffering from hypothermia. If checkpoint teams are expected to take surplus provisions on to a later checkpoint they should be told about it in advance so that they can make their plans accordingly.

4.11 Emergencies and first aid

The likelihood of emergencies arising and first aid being needed is obviously greater on a longer event and will increase in the later stages. Read all about it! Many LDWA Groups will already have a first aid kit so ask those coming to help to bring theirs and, if they have them, one or two trained (St. John or Red Cross) first-aiders. It is usual to employ St. John Ambulance or the Red Cross and for their staff to be available at the Breakfast stop and the finish as an absolute minimum. Contact the local brigade in the planning stages and establish to whom the First Aid team is responsible.

4.12 Dealing with complaints

The need for consultation with local residents has been stressed earlier but complaints can still arise and, the Annual Hundred being the LDWA's flagship event, it is very important that they are dealt with promptly and with understanding of the other person's point of view. In the event of a claim for damages do NOT admit liability and consult the National Treasurer as soon as possible.

4.13 Food matters

Yes it does, never more so than on a hundred! It has featured in the budget and the need for variety and vegetarian options have been mentioned. Get hold of a few menus from previous hundreds and adapt their ideas to suit local needs. It may be sensible for those with very special dietary requirements (e.g. sufferers from Coeliac disease) to be asked to provide their own food supplies, duly labelled with walk nos., which the organisers can deliver, with instructions, to the checkpoints. In those cases a reduced entry fee should be charged.

The sample entry form asks for a 'Yes' or 'No' to the question 'Do you require a vegetarian meal at the finish?' Those who have answered 'Yes' may be given a special ticket at the finish and only those with a special ticket given the vegetarian option. This will help in calculating quantities of 'veggie' food needed but allowance should also be made for vegetarian checkpoint staff - Groups can be asked for an estimate of the number of 'veggie' meals they will require.

4.14 Supporters

Parking space is likely to be limited at checkpoints some of which can only be approached by a single track lane. If supporters are to be banned from visiting certain checkpoints tell the walkers so in the final instructions. It is better for walkers, supporters and marshals if supporters are encouraged to meet with walkers at road crossings between checkpoints when, for example, extra drinks may be welcome on a hot day. It is usual to include grid references of road-crossings in the route description so meetings should be easy to arrange.

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