In this edition of WCGWWGW we look at how efforts to improve a course led to a misplaced control on the day of the event.
A month before a scheduled event, the organisers of an OST event visited the relatively remote area and spent the weekend taping control sites. One particular site was to be used on a moderate course and they weren't totally convinced of its suitability when they visited it. As they weren't going to get a chance to revisit the area before putting out controls the day before the event, they taped the site anyway, but made a mental note of a few alternative locations nearby just in case they ended up deciding to move it.
Once back at home, they reviewed the course in CONDES and moved the control to a more appropriate location, not far away from the original placement. They made sure to update the control description and checked that all the affected courses had the update.
Then they went back to daily life. Due to COVID19 it turned out to be months later before they returned to the forest to put out controls. This was a big job - there were lots to put out and of course there was also all the other jobs to complete the day before the event.
What they hadn't remembered was that although they updated the maps and courses, they hadn't updated the tape itself, so in the general flow of getting controls out to their pre-taped locations, they forgot that the tape was no longer in the right spot for that particular control. Subsequently the flag didn't end up being in the right spot either.
Luckily in this case, an early runner reported the mistake to the organisers who were able to rectify the problem before too much damage was done, but it was a near miss and could have easily caused a lot of disappointment for the very hard working organisers and competitors alike.
So how could this have been avoided?
As soon as the control got moved on CONDES to a location that was no longer taped, the organisers had a risky situation on their hands. Ideally the site would be retaped immediately, but due to the area's remote location this simply wasn't practical (or even allowed as the COVID19 shutdown was in place).
So if an immediate retape wasn't an option, the next best thing would have had to make a note of the situation on the master map in CONDES (using the text option in the software), or failing that, to make sure the issue is noted on a list of 'Event Things Not To Forget' - to be consulted before returning to the site.
Some might argue that the person putting out controls should have spotted the error, and I'm sure they would have if the control number had changed or the location had moved significantly, but in this case it hadn't. Also the person who takes the controls to the taped sites should be able to trust in all the work that has gone before them and not be re-assessing the validity of each taped site as well as wrangling the stand, flag and correctly numbered box into place.
COVID19 was certainly a contributing factor in this case however for future organisers it's important to recognise (and mitigate) the risk that is introduced to an event once a control site is moved on the computer, and not on the ground.