I went on another recce recently, with a group much larger than the previous one I wrote about. Now that the course has been set, more of the experienced volunteers who hold roles critical to planning the event are being given a glimpse of what is to come this year. The prospect of working with expertise from the fields of security, hospitality, air traffic control, PR, digital marketing and various engineering all coming together to put the final touches for this event is … bizarre… I can’t quite find the words or phrase for it … “thrilling” may be somewhere on the mark.
We are effectively planning and laying down the infrastructure for a mini-town which will be inhabited by over 3,000 people, for a very short period of time (seven days) but requires all the fundamental infrastructure that a town needs – water, transport links, shelter, food source, law & order, security, medical facility and even political hierarchy! For those familiar with the computer game Sim City, we’re close enough to playing that in real life!
Access to all venues has always been restricted to 4WD vehicles for good reason. On this trip, one of the vehicles in the convoy had its bull bar fall off, on the road TO the venue. We hadn’t even reached venue check-in. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you turn up in a box (because you’ll have lost the Pro very early on)!
On this recce we were without “The Office”, the map and pin-board that holds the course design. So one of our expert course designers improvised as he explained the course layout to the others – using carrot sticks. Yes, as primitive as it gets perhaps but as effective as the real thing. What surprised me even more was that the volunteers all got their bearings within minutes of looking at the map… of carrots!
From the previous recce I had learnt how to combine a map and a GPS to identify a potential ‘point of interest’. I gave it a go this time and funny enough I found an important ‘point of interest’. The feeling of achievement and elation may not be so much if I end up on course design next year! I am also becoming more acquainted with the power of GPS and it makes me wonder how this event ran without them say 20 years ago?
This year we have an interesting dilemma. Two points of interest that have historically never been close to one another are this year too close. We have a few options:
- Move either of the points to another location, yet to be identified.
- Create a road that could end up being a disaster depending on some specific venue related circumstances.
- Allow access to one point through the other point.
My personal opinion is that one point has to be moved, though I have no suggestions on where that point could be. My colleagues are convinced the road creation is the best option. It’s over to the Clerk of the Course to make a decision – thankfully we have a decision-making hierarchy.
A critical infrastructure requirement still needs to be looked into. The water source and how we ensure there is enough storage capacity, an adequate number of outlets and doing the maths to check if we are likely to have more demand than available supply. In recent years we have been lucky that the venues have had sufficient supply to match demand and it has been relatively safe water. Each venue has its own pumping technology to get water from source to storage, either solar, windmill or hand-pump, but the one that gets used the most is the more trusted fuel powered water pump! This year one technology has already failed between recces and I doubt it will be rectified in time, or ever. Such is the unpredictability of our venues!
And just to leave you begging for more, we did check out the gauntlet again as there had been some minor changes made on a recce that I wasn’t able to go on. Sometimes I think the devil lives through the course designers…