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On-line Routegadget Review: Wednesday 11th May at 19.00
There was a Zoom meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss route choices and mistakes from the Welwyn Garden City event, see how other people ran, and find out more about Routegadget. We also had the planners and mapper available to explain how they went about planning the event and some of the complications they had to overcome.
We hold these meetings after all HH events and they generate lots of interesting discussion.
Organiser’s Comments (updated 10-May)
Only two years late, our Welwyn Garden City Centenary Race has finally happened. But only just!
Although we received final approval from Tesco about three weeks before the event, it seemed nobody had got round to telling their security team, who on seeing us on site, obviously had to regard us as unwelcome trespassers. Eventually after visiting their office with copies of the very sketchy, approval e-mails I had, they managed to raise a member of Tesco facilities team who was able to say yes – just twenty minutes before the first start was due to head out. But apparently that wasn’t all. When I went back at the end of the event to report we were all off site, I found out that, permission had subsequently been rescinded by someone else, because they hadn’t realised that we would be running all over the site. Fortunately, security stood up for us and told them they couldn’t do anything now as the event had already started.
Unfortunately, one control in Shire Park was mysteriously disturbed during the event. Fortunately, the was only for a short while and only 5 people didn’t find the control. After considering the various options and implications we have made this control optional. A couple of individuals spent some additional time looking for the missing control so will have been disadvantaged and while this did not affect the course leaders we apologise for this.
Otherwise, I hope everyone had a good time in the lovely sunshine and for those of you who went that way, enjoyed the fabulous display of cowslips in Templewood Vale and the many carpets of native bluebells in Sherrardspark Woods. Welwyn Garden City really is a fantastic mixture of town and country, especially at this time of year.
Many thanks to everyone who supported our event, especially Tesco who made it possible for us to offer virtually traffic free junior courses around their substantial headquarters site and their security team who eventually managed to save the day for us. Thanks must also go to Workman, who manage Shire Park overall, other occupiers of private buildings in the park, who gave us permission to include their land, Oaklands College for allowing us to use their buildings and car park for our event centre and of course Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. Also a special thank you to Welwyn Garden City’s centenary group, WGC100 for giving us financial support to offer local residents free entry and Welwyn Garden City Business Improvement District (Wonderful WGC) for managing WGC100 residual affairs now the centenary organisation has been disbanded.
Finally, a great big thank you to David Dixon and David Hodson, for planning interesting and challenging courses; Hedley Calderbank for controlling the event and giving me moral support in the dark days in early April when we were on the verge of cancelling the event due to a complete lack of permissions; Mike Bennett for managing entries, Kevin Parkes for managing download and results production; and of course all our faithful volunteers, who turned out in force to smooth over the many cracks in my event organisation.
Planning for this event started over three years ago, with the event scheduled as part of Welwyn Garden City’s Centenary celebrations in 2020. Of course, 2020 didn’t quite go to plan and the event was postponed, first to 2021 and then to 2022. Key considerations during planning were to bring competitors to the town centre (being in receipt of generous sponsorship from Centenary funds) and to give the juniors a proper urban race experience. The solution to the latter was to use Shire Park – a large business park that is almost deserted at the weekend and close enough to the town centre to be usable. Permission was initially denied in autumn 2019 but we were later able to reverse this and get an agreement in principle.
Fast-forward two years and despite all the early planning work it still turned into a bit of a rush! Starting everyone in Shire Park gave the opportunity for a sprint-style section; adult courses then left to explore the rest of the garden city. Welwyn is not blessed with significant areas of navigational complexity so instead we focussed on route-choice, with a secondary consideration of making sure competitors saw some of the “garden” aspect of Welwyn Garden City. In that respect we picked a good day – Welwyn looks great at this time of year and glorious weather helped too. As a result of the late closure of the Campus West car park for re-development this did remove some of the route choice between the town centre and rest of the course but we hope it was worth the long legs to get a run around the open areas in the town centre.
In addition to the organiser’s thanks we must also call out the mapper, Simon Errington, who has built us an excellent map from scratch. Simon was insistent that we should not compromise on map scale and go for 1:4k rather than 1:5k, and I’m sure that although that gave some large maps it was absolutely the correct decision.
We hope you enjoyed your runs around Welwyn Garden City and please do add your route and comments to RouteGadget when available so we can see how you all found it.
David Dixon & David Hodson
An album of photos from today’s event from David Dixon is available here.