The Rush For The School Gates As ITERA Gets Ready To Go
The Milburn Academy was a hive of activity today as teams made final preparations for the race, and they were on deadline. The school was closing at 5pm so everything needed to be done by then, and as is always the case with a deadline things became more frantic the closer it got.
All of the bags, personal, paddle bags and bike boxes had to be packed and on the race trucks, there were more briefings for marshals and captains, team photos had to be taken, and trackers had be to given out.
The captains Q&A always has the potential for an endless detailed discussion, but it was kept to an hour and any inconsistencies or instructions that were not clear were gone over so everyone was happy and could return to their packing.
Fortunately more of the missing bikes and bags had arrived overnight or in the early morning, including the final bike box for SWECO, but some were still missing. Marina Verdini of the Brazilian team Tubaina was still waiting for her personal bag to arrive and not expecting it until late tonight.
More importantly a team was still missing in transit. The French team GC- Princes Noir had an enforced stop in Holland due to 2 cancelled flights. Gloria Sobrero, the Catalan racer with them, managed to get a flight to Aberdeen to arrive for the briefings, but the other 3 didn’t arrive until 3pm today! They are busy sorting out their gear in the Youth Hostel tonight and the race will get it to the right places for them. When I saw them they didn’t seem stressed and insisted on an Acro pose for their photo!
After the briefing teams had time to finish packing before picking up their trackers and checking in their bags at 3pm. I think the plan was they were all ready to go at 3 and could weigh in their kit, get a photo and tracker and it was job done. The only problem was they were not ready, some had bike boxes were outside the allowed sizes and lots of the bags were too heavy and had to be sent away for repacking.
From all that had gone before they should have known the race applies rules strictly. All of the teams had to get paddling qualifications before arriving (otherwise there would be no paddling for them) and just yesterday buoyancy aids were taken off them and tested. They were put in the water with a 10kg weight ... and a fair number of them sank! The race found new buoyancy aids for them to hire.
So, having oversized bike boxes wasn’t going to be let go, and nor were overweight bags. The Brazilian team had to cut down an oversized cardboard box discarded by another team then repack a bike and a lot of teams were sent packing as overweight (or sent for repacking). The queue and the pressure built and the time moved on so it all got a bit frantic at the end. The marshals on the weighing scales (Tanya and Gill) were at the sharp end of any racer frustration but were steadfast and somehow the trucks were loaded, more or less on time.
School was out at just after 5pm and the teams could relax (or go back to map marking), except of course the unfortunate GC Princes Noir team, who have a busy night ahead.