Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Mid Sussex Tri 2021 and the MacMillan Mighty Hike Series

Happy to finish a 26mile hike for charity !

 Slowly things are returning to normal, as the unlocking continues, and as I write this we have one more week before the government will make a decision on the unlocking policy for the 21st of June. With cases doubling every week for the past three weeks (yes that's exponential) - I'm not expecting the full unleashing any time soon, hard as it is for those still not back to work properly or delaying celebrations. Having had 13 months of no work - we all know the difficulty of the situation.

In the time being - we need to make the most of things as they are - with Covid secure protocols at races - which means waved starts and mostly trail races and social distancing. To be honest - it's quite nice being in the middle of the countryside in nice weather doing the photography bit of the business hard work. Busy finish lines and loud music, generators and people shouting support over my shoulder into me ear - are not being missed for the time being...

Proper starting positions

We had the first of the Macmillan Mighty Hikes last week on the south coast from Brighton to Eastbourne - with a half marathon and marathon distance - almost 2000 participants - estimated to raise at least £800,000 by the end of the day for their efforts - an absolutely fantastic amount. We were busy delivering live images on the day direct to everyone - using the pic2go system - barcodes on show meant everyone was getting their personalised gallery for fundraising and showing off their achievements within moments of finishing - they already had all their start photos before they reached half way !

All the pictures are delivered with that iconic Macmillan text font and colour - so everyone looks like a proper Macmillan rockstar - as they were ! Pictures like these really help people with their fundraising efforts - the power of an image makes all the difference - proof of the participation !

That first length of the Mid Sussex Tri swim

This sunday has been a different work exercise with the Mid Sussex Triathlon setting off over 260 on their lane zig-zag swim, bike ride and 5k run. It's the nearest event to my house - so I can wing it at 6am to leave home for a 6:45 race start. Covid protocol for the waved swimming to ensure we didn't get a lot of long internal poolside queues meant a lot more careful marshalling and planning for the event, with grouped wave starts, introducing dead time for transition so everyone had space and time to get sorted, and making sure everyone could keep their safe distances. 

It did however mean the first finishers were coming in before everyone had swum their first length of the pool - so I apologise to those I missed as I had to move ! It is quite unique because of their swim method (16 lengths - just go up and down then dip across each of the 8 lanes to get 400m) it means I can get a shot of each swimmer - all they have to do is breath on their left so I can see their faces - at the correct moment. You wouldn't believe the number of swimmers who don't seem to need to breathe on their first length !

Free Photos for all at the Mid Sussex Tri

It always has been a free photo event - and that's just one of the many reasons that we like it - if you took part - then the gallery is here: https://sspimg.com/Mid-Sussex-Tri-2021-Gallery

Just "order" the free downloads selected into your order basket and checkout for free !

It was very safe with lots of distancing

Well timed breathing for the photo

well timed smiling for the photo !

stretch and breathe

stretch, glide and breathe

Telephone call ?

Two more laps

Hello !

Another two laps !

Good to be out on the bike 

Strong !

Pulling on those handlebars

Two or maybe three more laps

Strong finishing

Happy Sunglass weather

Taking the crowd salute

Ben getting some air

Proper double thumbs !

For the team finish !

Seriously well done to everyone in making this event happen - the extended swim wave starts to the race briefing online as well as the careful marking out - all managed to make it an excellent mornings event (if a little early). Thank you for booking the weather too. It is truly one of the great club events every year.

Next Events for your diary of desire

All events have free race photo downloads - some (most) will be live during the day (with that pic2go technology stuff)! Some events are almost full - so don't miss out and get entered. Many have covid delay guarantees too so you won't miss out if the laws change. NB No weddings are allowed during events.

Date Event
Sat-19/06/2021 Mighty Hike - Lake District
Sun-20/06/2021 Hampshire Hoppit
Sat-26/06/2021 REP Arun Swim
Sun-27/06/2021 Oxford 10k
Sat-03/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Yorkshire Dales
Sat-10/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Gower Peninsula
Sat-17/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Northumberland Coast
Sat-17/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Thames Path
Sun-18/07/2021 EG Tri
Sun-25/07/2021 REP Dawn on the Downs
Sat-31/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Dedham Vale
Sat-28/08/2021 Mighty Hike - Rob Roy
Sun-29/08/2021 Arundel 10k
Sat-04/09/2021 Mighty Hike - Jurassic Coast
Sat-04/09/2021 Mighty Hike - Lake District

Check out the 2021 race galleries - here 

Forecasting and computer simulation modelling of races for Covid safe starts

Race density for social distancing and wave start simulation

Whilst it is good for understanding and having a broad knowledge of the unravelling Delta variant, I can say that following the various Epidemiologists on SAGE and the alternative SAGE bodies is as depressing as it has become predictable. 

As once described - our Prime Minister is a man who waits to see what direction the troops are running and then rushes to the front to say follow me! I fear this is what we are again awaiting - for uncontrolled doubling week on week cases until the numbers are big enough to scare him into closing the barn door too late, and then he will do the minimum he can and call it later than everyone else was telling him to whilst telling everyone it's their fault for not getting vaccinated. 

At the time of writing - a few hours before the next announcement I expect the delay to unlocking to be put back at least until the schools are on holiday - that way avoiding causing extra toll on parental duties. I do worry about the Delta variants transmissibility in the young. If the cases are rising - then surely the weight of evidence is to lock down tighter - not to just pause unlocking further. Why can't politicians understand this. Give it 4 weeks and we will be back at January 2021 with it doubling each time. Last time I checked - 40% of the population being able to get ill can still cause a pandemic. Anyway, I digress...

Working out how a Half and a 10k with different routes can all fit through the pinch point !

On the upside of it all I have been using some computer simulation software (Anylogic.com) to help a friend doing some Covid related forecasting (on the grim side of hospital stats unfortunately at the start of this year) because back then - we had no work, however it's such good software it can actually be used for more race relevant activities like simulating mass starts at races or wave starts to see how crowded and congested they will get at various pinch points on the course. As well as running simulations of the overall race and if different race distances on different routes will clash or not when they return to the start - again - avoiding pinch points becoming a problem. (I used to use similar software to do manufacturing and factory simulations for process improvement, and then for business process improvement in financial services - it's all quite similar).

Races need to be able to get approval from their Councils SAG (Safety Advisory Group), so if they have some good computer modelling and data to back up their plans to avoid a potential problem - it helps ensure they can put on their race and that you can go to it ! Simple other things like predicted road opening times are important for the overall logistics of a day (and the councils agreement!) or indeed working out if running the course in the opposite direction helps the flow of the two different races.

We also need to be able to do this to work out our photography coverage - if a mass normal start happens - from experience we know how long to be at point A early on the course and when to move to point B later on the route. But with waved starts, or queued control starts - can you even move during a race if it takes 45minutes to start the race ? And how busy does it get ? - is it possible to be at a different point that might be more scenic later on ? All important questions - honestly !

So there we go - another service from your friendly photography company that you didn't know you needed - I might start having to make this a standalone product (but I won't tell you where to put your photographers). Race safety and crowd modelling requirements ? Get in touch...

ah...I've just seen the announcement on the not-unlocking date.

So with all that, and now having heard that we have extended the time to reducing restrictions, instead of actually re-tightening restrictions to reduce the Delta Variant transmission - I'm sorry to have to report that in four weeks time we will be at around 1600 cases a day going into hospital - and yes 4% of those will die, and yes we are already locked into that trajectory for at least the next two weeks - especially if nothing further happens to change behaviour and the vaccine roll speed out remains as it is. It's the poor buggers with long covid that I feel really sorry for - and that's another 4% of the cases.

So, keep safe until next time, please !


Monday, 24 May 2021

Three Forts Challenge 2021 and Ultra-X Spring Trail Series - Free Race Galleries now live


The Three Forts Challenge 2021 - the comeback year

The free download race galleries for this weekends races are now available and online !

For Three Forts Challenge - just go here, search by your race number and "order" the free digital downloads - http://sspimg.com/3Forts-Free-Gallery-2021

The Ultra-X gallery was delivered direct to participants live during the event using Pic2Go technology - register here to get your race images http://pic2go.co.uk/register - I'll try to do a roundup of that event next time.

It's been a busy weekend with a Saturday and a Sunday event as the outdoors countryside slowly unlocks itself. It wasn't my turn for the 4am start on Saturday - and the 100k/50k/HM/10k that was the Ultra-X over at Haslemere with a 6am first wave off - for what is frankly a very challenging distance to take on in any weather, let alone the wind and rain over the weekend. Fortunately the wind had died down from Friday - but that picked back up for Sunday !

Sunday saw the comeback year for the Three Forts Challenge - ably organised by Mike Airey - fundraising for the Rotary with some tenacity through all of the pandemic. It wasn't so funny that the event toilets left on site saturday night were set fire to in a bad case of arson, 6 of them gone into a molten acrid heap. The only one to survive was the marshal's loo for the the officials stuck near the finish line and various end services - and that one had survived (just) an arson attempt on it - two burnt holes by the sluice pump handle. So well done to the suppliers of WCHire on getting the replacement toilets on site on time.
To that end - the waved starts probably helped relieve what would have been the usual pressure on the facilities before a large race start ! Quite how the rain managed to start precisely for about 15minutes at the beginning of each races first wave I don't know - but it was perfectly timed to be exactly annoying.

HOW TO PUT ON A RACE NUMBER and why do I need to?
There's a lot of reasons why you need a race number to be visible - but I'm going to concentrate on just the one reason we need it - if we can't see your race number - we can't tag your photo with your number. You may well get a firm "show your number" shout-out and understandably you've put a temporary layer on over for the weather - but why ? I hear you ask...

It's all because the team in the office can't hear you later when you reply saying your number to us - the wind and distance sees to that, and frankly I can't remember all of you and relay that at a team briefing (You can picture it can't you - an office huddle with me trying to describe what they look like and saying - ah yes they're 651, don't worry I'm sure you'll recognise them in the 10,000 images we have to go through.). 

So I get that some of you don't want to put a pinhole in your latest £250 gortex breathable layer, so you pin them to your shorts. OK so far. However - you then pin them OUT OF SIGHT on the side. And I'm not going to get all rules and regulations about folding event name ID and sponsors names out of sight (meaning you could be running without entering - and yes we see a LOT of that each year).
So here's our best advice if you must pin it to your leg.

1. Have a big leg. 
2. Pin it to the front.
3. PUT IT VERTICALLY - so all of the digits can be seen from the front.

Here's a vertical number - but not on the front - you can see it would work better on the front - but this is almost right.

Vertical leg numbering (just needs to be on the front)

Side leg numbering doesn't work, even if it is vertical (ref the red legs) if you're on the wrong side

You'll see a whole load of examples from the photos below with side numbering, or where water/ultra harnesses cover the numbers - again - put the number vertically on your front so that the digits are between your straps and we can read the whole thing. It's absolutely useless if we can't read a digit on either end of your race number ! (it's even worse if we think it's a two digit and not a three digit number - because we then do it wrongly and you'll never see it).

So my apologies if you need to search on "000" results to find your unidentified pictures - especially as we might have read it at one spot because the photographer is lucky to be on the viewing side, it doesn't mean we will know the number when a different member of the team here is looking at you from a different location and can't see the race number ! So please do look through the "000" photo search results - just in case !

Here's a few from Sundays Three Forts Challenge - and remember you can get your free race photos from the gallery directly !

The legend that is Bob off on his way for a swift Half

social event bubble begins

smiling all the way from the start

It's just a short walkies today

they kept this up the whole way round

The rain made people do unusual things

Happy at the course split point and with his mask !

running with the wind behind gives you wings

Off for a cheerful marathon

Always a thumbs up

Looking thoughtful

Got to enjoy the puddles

Kate broke the chain, in direct contravention of Fleetwood Mac's instructions

What puddle ?

Quick sip of the natural water

Team running

Straight through the middle

Over the top - gives you wings !

Too early Frank...

walk the hills !

It's about this long

What do you mean no Ubers in Worthing ?

All ok for Arena80

Portslade Puddle Hoppers

good concentration in at the finish !

Front of leg - all digits in sight - vertical next time please !

2 walkies ?

classic first digit missing - vertical would have solved it

She's happy because she got all her race photos first search. He will not.

Best foot forwards - how light on your feet do you need to be

Hod Carrying practice

Debbie was practicing for her hod carrying too - 

Oh to have a knee lift like this after a 5k, let alone a marathon

Remember to sanitise afterwards !

Thank you to all the Rotary volunteers that make this event happen for you !

So that's about it for this weekends roundup. Off the back of doing some epidemiological forecasts for morgue capacity planning in Greater London when I had nothing better to do (don't ask) I've re-ignited my race simulation skills and familiarised myself with Anylogic.com computer simulation software.
It includes the ability to do map based (GIS) logistical simulations - so with a bit of touch and go - I can now do full time based race simulations - which for races with wave starts, different distances, and various unknown factors - can help event organisers and other support crew (like us knowing where to sit for when and how long) - and make the right decisions on timings etc. when things happen at the Finish line.

It does have the ability to also do public pedestrian density and crowd modelling for things like evacuation and building movement - which I'm sure that parkrun would be interested in for their slightly tighter courses and capacity planning - but for now - this sort of things is helpful enough.

How a 10k might run with a wave start

I'm going to be using it with the events we have going forwards in the future - if you need it for a race near you - just get in touch ! (Because it's not as easy as it used to be with mass starts!)
Our UltraX Finish line busyness forecast - runners per 5 minutes example simulation.

And with that, we move onto a lot of Mighty Hikes, planning for the summer months ahead and getting ready for a busy June and July. 

So, ultra runners - numbers on things on the front and vertical so we can see the whole number please - and if there are pic2go barcodes on there - make sure they are clearly shown too - thank you !

Until next time and very well done to everyone who managed a run out in those conditions !