South London Orienteers Regional Event: 13th September 2020
After the club decided to cancel the City of London race for 2020 there was discussion about the possibility of a replacement forest event. After initial investigations, we settled on Glovers Wood
SLOW uses SIEntries, which has been updated during lockdown to add some extra functionality
We started from the initial position of 2 starts, each with 10 competitors per 15-minute block (and a defined maximum number per course at each start) and an initial window of 3 hours. When this filled up, we extended to 4 hours. When this was close to filling up new BOF guidance meant that we could expand to 14 starts per block (again with restrictions per course). Note that due to limits on numbers on any one course in a block, in practice this meant about 13 starts per block.
Total Entries = 392
By looking at past events we allocated courses to the two starts with the aim of an even balance. We got to within 10%. SiEntries allowed us to define how many starters per block, plus how many starters on each course per block (e.g. 5 Brown, 3 Short Green & Light Green combined etc). When entering competitors were shown which course/block combinations were available for selection
Start 1: Brown, Short Blue, Light Green, Short Green
Start 2: Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow
A new feature of SiTiming which allows the automatic interface of SiEntries into SiTiming enabled us to keep late entries open online until 12:30 on the day of the event – this is configured by the club in both systems so can be changed at any time. We see this as a way forward for the future, eliminating significant paperwork and data entry on the day of an event and also the handling of either cash or credit/debit cards at the event. On the day one competitor entered on their phone online in the event field and ran a few minutes later!
SiTiming has a simple function for allocating hire dibbers. The operator picked any one of the hire dibbers from a grid box and then placed this in an SI master station and the competitor gave their name to the operator. Once this was selected from the database the transaction was complete. No need for the effort placing hire dibbers in envelopes etc. The operator handed over the SIAC to avoid the risk of other SIAC’s being touched (and used sanitizer frequently).
There were 2 Starts, set approximately 70 metres apart in the main field. Start flags were also separate. Since there would never be more than one starter per minute there was only one start lane in each (3m grid), which ensured that competitors did not bypass the various SI boxes, which were all set on stakes and not handled by start officials
After Start Line
The finish was deliberately set in the forest, 200m from download, to ensure that people had stopped breathing heavily/sweating before they approached download. A Safety control was placed 10 metres after the Finish to check all competitors out of the forest.
DOWNLOAD & RESULTS
SLOW uses SiTiming at events. This enabled us to set up an unmanned Download station driven by competitors using the new ‘Self Service download’ option. We see this as a way forward for the future, reducing the number of Download helpers required. If a competitor had an issue with their splits, e.g. used a different SI card, a download would still occur but a message on their splits told them to visit the Troubleshooting desk.
We ran a second download station for those with hired SIACs which was also the SIAC hire and Troubleshooting desk. Returned SIACs were placed in a bucket by the competitor where they will be left for a week before returning to store One concern we had about this set up was that a competitor with a hired SIAC would (incorrectly) go to the Self Service Download and not hand in their hired card. This happened twice but we spotted them from the colour of the SIAC and as a result we lost no SIAC’s. SiTiming are looking at changing the message that appears on the computer at the Self-Service download for Hired SIAC’s to say “Please hand in your Hired SIAC” in red instead of the current “Hired” message. We are also looking at having another monitor on the Troubleshooting desk linked to the Self-Service Download to allow live remote monitoring.
To avoid bunching, the decision was taken not to provide results in the arena, either in paper form or on a monitor. There was no negative feedback from competitors on this. The intention was to use a feature of the SiTiming software to publish results online every 5 minutes. Unfortunately, we were unable to get this feature working before the event. We aim to implement this at our next event.
3m length cables were used for the download stations and printers to separate competitors from equipment and, in the case of the troubleshooting desks, the operator.
The entire Download operation was run by the equivalent of one person throughout the event
Common contact areas were wiped down with sanitizer regularly. These included
Our biggest issue on the day was an unusually active hornets’ nest – resulting in 5 known stings, including 2 juniors. The nest was discovered late on in the planning and was judged to be very quiet at the time. We posted warning signs around the tree in question but on the (warm) day the hornets were very active and hence the stings. The nest was only on the optimum route for one course, but the Hornets proved to be more wide-ranging than expected. At least one competitor was disappointed that the club first aid kit did not contain antihistamine cream, but the provision of medication by unqualified personnel (attending a first aid course does not count) is a thorny issue. We shall review the options.
Based on the number of requests for help out on courses there is anecdotal evidence that juniors have forgotten skills. Planners may wish to consider this factor in planning
We estimate that the competitor/car ratio was about 1.8 – with more than half cars single competitor. This is a moderate variation from pre-COVID where we would have expected a ratio of about 1.9
Competitors behaved responsibly, observing social distancing, and following officials’ requests with good nature and lots of smiles! However, we did have a few coming to investigate the Start before their block – they were firmly sent away!
We had no issues with the general public on the day, indeed other users seemed cheerful and happy (must have been the sunny weather). However, we attached great importance to the Organiser bringing the Risk Assessment and all other up to date guidance etc, to the event. As well as the usual reasons for having the RA at the event it would help defuse any challenge on COVID grounds from a member of the public. Organisers should be aware that orienteering isn’t on the list of sports specifically mentioned in section 3.16 of the government guidance because it isn’t a team sport, and for no other reason.
As a general principle, we are spacing out events so that there is always more than a week between them. The same principle applies to hiring equipment to other clubs. This means that we can leave kit, including hire dibbers and SI units to sit for a long enough period to remove the need to disinfect it.
We had lots of happy punters. A lot of people went out of their way to say “Thank You”.
SLOWs next event is a Level B on Winterfold in late November. This is a bigger forest but will be taking place when the onset of dusk can be a challenge for ensuring all competitors are safe and control collecting etc. Therefore, we will want to reduce starts to a 3-hour window, preferably by starting 2 competitors per minute at each start or by running 3 or more starts.
We should add extra comments in Final Details (lifted from recent Army O event details)
The challenges of COVID have accelerated our move to using new features of SiEntries and SiTiming to minimise face to face contact. At future events, we expect to:
And finally…This link is to a video from a runner's headcam on the Short Blue course at Glovers Wood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL6Dx1a5UEg. It shows how few people the competitor encountered on their course at an event with nearly 400 participants - and they are all social distancing. A (shortened) version may be of use when trying to sell orienteering to decision-makers at organisations such as Forestry England, National Trust etc.