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I don't like rolling starts

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 13 April 2010, 1:22 AM  
I'd better start by explaining what I mean by a rolling start. It's my made up term for what happens at those races where regardless of what the actual start interval is (2 minutes, 3 minutes, whatever) there are people starting on every minute (done by splitting the courses into 2 or 3 or whatever groups). Like at the middle and long at nationals.

Now, I don't like them. I know it's useful at races with a lot of competitors, especially where there are many courses with similar early controls. But I still don't like them.

Why? Because the moment something goes wrong, any confusion happens, or the start marshalls get distracted, there is by definition one minute minus whatever time the problem took to happen minus however long it took to fix to get things back on track. This can mean some competitors are starting the race in a more rushed fashion than others, through no fault of their own.

So, I have two requests for situations where rolling starts have been deemed necessary: one, keep any briefings short and succinct - assume the marshall in charge will be interrupted and asked to repeat things.

Two, this is the important one. In addition to having the appropriate number of marshalls for the number of stages to the pre-start there needs to be one "floating". It is this person's job to take care of any problems while the others just keep the process running. For example, somebody turns up late? It is this person's job to find the next available time they can be slotted into, and if necessary put them in the correct pre-start stage, while the other marshalls concentrate completely on those who are supposed to be starting. Obviously if everything goes like clockwork then this person will get bored witless, but always assume cockups will happen.

I have twice now been going through the pre-start in a rolling start when someone has arrived late, and the marshalls have switched focus on to sorting them out. The first time I and the others starting at the same time (who had all turned up at the right time) almost missed our starts. The same thing almost happened at nationals, but I specifically interrupted the marshall figuring out where they were slotting in late person and asked if we were supposed to be moving through into the next box. So it does happen!


Show Profile  Michael Posted: 13 April 2010, 2:16 AM  
Those are two very sound requests, Oneminfanclub. They should be heeded no matter what the interval.

Show Profile  Keith Posted: 13 April 2010, 2:08 PM  
I've actually managed to get in the wrong box and start a minute late!
had no idea until I finished and wondered why after spiking the first control, my time was 1 min slower than everyone elses.

Show Profile  Southernman Posted: 13 April 2010, 11:25 PM  
We did have a floater at the Nationals (it was me), I dealt with incorrect SI cards and people who had completely missed their start time. I hadn't really thought about dealing with the late people (who could still make their start), but I did usually assist if they had to move to one of the front boxes. The only times we didn't have a floater were in the last hour or so in the Middle and Long when I was getting ready for my run, but by that stage we were down to two or less runners per start time (just so you know I do agree with your comments). Keith, sorry about that. I thought the only mistake we had made was late on the Sunday where two groups got away 1 minute early due to an empty starting time at the bottom of a page that was missed.

Show Profile  Keith Posted: 15 April 2010, 6:02 AM  
Southerman -> sorry, I should've been clearer, it was in switzerland last year not NZ!

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