What is it like behind the curtain of sporting events?
07. 06. 2019
Racing events such as city runs, half marathons, marathons, bike marathons, mountain runs or cross-country skiing marathons called Laufs are currently very popular and in demand. The participants are willing to pay a lot of money for the opportunity to appear on the starting line with the number at one event or other but they often do not hide their criticism of the organizers after the race, saying that some thing or other did not work. Mostly those who criticize are those who have failed for some reason - their expectations have not come true, regardless of whether the criticized defect had or did not have a direct effect on their "failure", or if it could simply be attributed to the momentary indisposition of the organism, a defect or poorly set performance goals and expectations arising from them. So the organizers really have to think about everything, forecast the weather and sometimes even divine with a crystal ball…
I have already taken part in teams organizing events such as the Zlatá Tretra athletic event, the Biathlon World Cup, etc. several times. However, unless you try what it feels like when you have to bear the responsibility, you may try to imagine it but you have no experience. Indeed, the experience is communicable but not transferable.
Good Dragon Charity Run
Even the "fun" events like the Good Dragon Charity Run event strive to meet the expectations of the participants. However, when it is the first year, no one knows how many people will come to support the selected handicapped participant. It is no longer true that a few people come together, race a bit and then go home again. For each event, the organizer needs to arrange countless things: from the permission of the owners of lands which the race route is going to cross, to the environmental department of the competent authority if - God forbid! - the race is held in an attractive location of a protected landscape area, a national park, etc. Marketing, web administration, social networking, etc. have become integral parts of the organization of any event. Another pitfall is the refreshment - every chef, business, anyone who is ordered to provide some catering, wants to know an estimate of how many meals to prepare. But how can organizers tell the number of portions when they do not know how many people are going to come? They just have to guess it, divine from a crystal ball. When someone lends / rents you some kind of a facility or if the organizers use a “party” tent, there are other problems like sanitary facilities or garbage collection.
And then comes the race itself: marking the route so that no one gets lost, as well as removing the marking and collecting eventual trash left behind by the racers, checkpoints along the route, timekeeping, result service, facilities at the starting and finish line, organization of parking, etc. All this means that the organizers usually don't sleep much before and often even after the event.
I am glad that as an ambassador of KILPI sports brand, I could ask the company for support, both material (prizes for participants or small pieces of equipment for organizers) and marketing one. Thank you very much for supporting the event. A month before the event, we still did not know, whether there would be 30 people, 50 people or nobody at all. In the end, a respectable number of 140 competitors arrived and we managed to raise CZK 50 000 for Mrs. Iveta. Mrs. Iveta, who ended up in a wheelchair after a head surgery, dreams about "skiing" again! And so our goal was to help her fulfill the dream - to learn how to ride monoski.
My long-time friend, Véna Hornych, asked me if I could help him with marking the routes for NOVA CUP - bike marathon race series this year. Sure, why not? Véna is renowned among bikers for his difficult and technical tracks; he strives to preserve true mountain biking, and he also wants to bring Czech bike marathons closer to similar events abroad, especially the Alpine ones, where there the superelevation over 3,500 m per 100 km is no exception. Planning a route is not just about sitting over the map and drawing the track with your finger. Again, it is necessary to deal with the authorities, often even foreign ones when the route crosses the borders, and it is also necessary to know the whole route in the context, so, ideally, you have to ride there personally. And so, when planning the route in Dolní Morava, we rode along the entire short route and the 20th to the 70th kilometre of the long route (watch the video). One then knows where to place the refreshment points, where they can get by car, off-road, 4-wheeler and where they will have to go on their bike. Based on this, it is possible to estimate how much time will be needed to ensure that everything is perfectly and precisely marked in time. Marking a cycling race is a completely "different sport" than marking a charity run; the bike is going fast, almost flying, so there must be much more "marking" than at a running event, where the majority of the participants do not even compete so much.
When marking the route of this year's first Nova Cup in Hradec Králové, Véna asked me: "Can you ride a 4-wheeler?" "No," I answered. He immediately assured me: "That doesn't matter, you'll learn." In half an hour I was already riding the machine down the road, over the roots and stones to mark the route. The next day they put me behind the wheel of an off-road, saying that as a fragile blonde I would be warmer behind the wheel and the boys would jump off the footboard on the car's towing device and hang the arrows. And so the moment came when Véna stuck his head into the window and said: "Now it's going to be a little downhill drive, so change the gear to one and avoid the ditch with your wheels..." But Véna's "little" means a little more for most mortals; when riding a bike in the opposite direction, it is roughly on the border determining whether you can still ride up the hill on a bike or not. At other times we arrived below the hill where the road had almost disappeared and Véna said: "Here we are going up the hill, so turn in this direction, align the wheels and then stop, engage the four-wheel drive - the second lever forward - and go up the hill without stopping. There may be stumps, so don't get stuck on them and try to fit in between the trees…" And when there is a tree lying across the road? Then we just take a chainsaw, cut it and move it aside. And what if you need to turn off the road into the forest? We have a hoe and a rake and we just create a new trail. All in accordance with the permits from the competent authorities, though.
And if I start feeling idle? Then - aside from removing the marking of the route and collecting litter dropped by competitors as well as "foreign" litter, we take camera operators or photographers to the most exclusive places to take perfect photos. When we were organizing a race in the Stolové hory (Table Mountains) I was also asked to take a big camera in my hand (photos from the Nova Cup Stolové hory event). And I have to admit that working as a photographer in the field is not as simple as it might seem.
Being in the background of big races is a great experience, and with Kilpi as a partner, it makes even more sense. When marking the Nova Cup routes on cold days, I cannot do without Kilpi Adventure and Kilpi Gironavest. Waterproof clothing was needed during the Table Mountains race, so it was great that I had Kilpi Metrix as well as Kilpi Nuuk pants. For the base layer I use either Kilpi Jager, a woolen polo neck or bamboo Kilpi Nixtop that also serves me very well. In Dolní Morava I made good use of Kilpi Trackee loose cycling shorts because a large part of the route was inaccessible by car and it was necessary to ride a bike or run there. I always have a packed Kilpi Hurricane, Airrunner or Rainar jacket in my pocket as well, depending on the type of activity, the "strength" of winter and the likelihood of rain.Martina Chrástková