Finally it is time for the big moment we have been working towards for months. The first ‘Oorah’ from Cynthia echoes over the start-finish area and the first group of participants starts their Strong Viking journey. For me (Sam) in the CP a very important test: is the track correct? Are all the fences in the right place? Do the obstacles work out as planned? Did we think about the hammers for the Hammer Banger? Is the power on at Thor’s Lightning? All those thoughts will be haunting me for the next two hours.
As soon as the first participant has started, the track coordinator will go and follow this person. This is the only way to be 100% sure that the entire track is perfect. There are always two people responsible for this job, simply because you can’t reach every part of the track by vehicle. At some places a colleague has to run with the participant to be able to visually check the track. This is especially fun at the OCR Series, you will hear some panting through the walkie-talkie, then you know the athletes are running at a good pace.
The track coordinator reports every obstacle the first participant had reached. The more obstacles reported the more peace and quietness reaches the CP. Of course there might me some start-up issues, but everything the track coordinator sees in his first round is solved immediately by one of the repair teams.
When does your heartrate go down?
As soon as the first participants are climbing the Walhalla Steps we know that the track works out. From that moment on we continue to monitor the track and the start-finish area. Sometimes there are small queues forming on the track or at other facilities like the baggage or registration tent. At the moment this kind of report comes in we will determine how to solve this issue and we might ask for help from the start-finish coordinator.
Other examples are parts of obstacles that might need a small repair during the run. We can check them a thousand times before the run, but sometimes after participant 3651 there might be some repair needed. The repair teams are always ready to solve problems immediately. It might be a small thing like adding an extra rope. But it is also possible that the sprinklers of the Mud Slide are full of sand, they have to close the obstacle for a short amount of time, to detach the hose, flush the hose and install it back.
The last start wave on Saturday
About ten minutes after the last start wave we will follow the very last participant of that day. If this participant is past an obstacle the volunteers can start making it ready for the next day. Afterwards we bring them back to the crew tent, where we thank them and give them a voucher for a free run. So next time they can run the Strong Viking themselves. The sector commanders check all the strings, fences, obstacles and garbage. So everything is ready again for the next day.
In the CP we receive an update of every obstacle the last participant has conquered. So we can start scaling down on facilities like the rescue team and traffic controllers, retrieving valuables from the track and starting the final checks for the day.
What needs to be done to get the track ready for day two?
As soon as the volunteers and participants have left the track, the sector commanders will make a final round by bike to check everything in their own sector. The repair teams are checking all obstacles again. Some editions have a Family Edition on Sunday, in that case we adjust the track on Saturday night so it is ready for all Viking kids and parents on Sunday.
And when all of that is ready?
Then it is time to gather at the CP/Trailer. We end the day together with the entire crew with a short evaluation of the day and important points for the next day. At the end we make a toast on the successful first day and go for dinner together. OORAH!
What is different on the second event day?
The Sunday is partly a repetition of the Saturday. But as soon as the last group of participants starts, a new process begins. At the moment the last participants are past a part of the track, we start cleaning the strings, fences and sometimes even the obstacles. At the start-finish area we can start removing the first facilities. We won’t be needing the start numbers tent anymore, so we can start cleaning up this tent. It is important for us that our participants are not bothered by this, so we only start cleaning places where there are no participants anymore.
Breaking down obstacles is always guided by the CP. The CP has oversight in priorities, like radios and expensive parts of obstacles that have to go back to logistics. The dismantling on Sunday is usually limited to the small ‘pick up’ obstacles: the obstacles that we can (in parts) easily drive back to logistics. In the CP we are keeping track of the obstacles that are already back, the more we remove from the track on Sunday, the smoother the rest of the dismantling will go. Sometimes the first truck is already at the terrain on Monday morning to load for the next event.
At the same time at the start-finish area all the finisher shirts, medals and merchandise are loaded in a small truck that will drive back to the office in Cuijk the same evening.
The event is over, what now?
The end of the second is similar to the end of the first day. Only with some more bags under the eyes of a few colleagues. We end the day together, everybody is thanked for their effort and we grab a bite together. Some events runs entirely spotless, but sometimes there are things that go a little less smooth. No matter how it went, on Sunday night the edition is finished and we have worked hard with our big team to make this edition a great success. After the event it is amazing to read all the online reactions, in the end this is what we do it for after all. Making participants sweat with a smile, that makes me as an event manager very happy!
On to the next one… OORAH!
Sam van den Brink
Event Manager Netherlands