OMM 2016: Event Directors Report

Stuart Hamilton

Event Director

I hope that all of you arrived home safely following the event and that the well-earned satisfaction from undertaking something both physically and mentally challenging is balancing out the aches and pains from your exertions.  It is a great time to reflect on the event, publicly recognise some of the work that goes on behind the scenes and address some issues.

I would like to start by saying a huge thank you to Ian Turner and Dave Chapman who have spent weeks on the Galloway Hills (often in much less pleasant weather than we enjoyed for the weekend of the event) carefully crafting the courses and arranging the access permissions to allow us to roam the hills freely.  Every area presents its own challenges and the feedback we have received so far suggests that the courses offered the right level of route choice and challenge commensurate with the level they are pitched at.  Dave Chapman was ably supported by a team of hugely experienced ex competitors which he mentions in his report, however it is humbling to be sat in a room with over 200 years of experience on the OMM and to be able to use them as a resource.

Every year the OMM moves to a new location and this presents some organisational and planning considerations for myself and the team.  This was the first year since 2008 that we have used a tented Event Centre and I hope that you enjoyed the ‘Castle on the Hill’ setup that we opted for.  Archie McNeillie (Forestry Commission), Huw Jones (Landowner), Willie Laurie (Farmer), Meta Maltman (Chair of Glentrool Community Association) and Jen and Fran (Glentrool Caravan Site) could not have been more supportive of the event, without their support and that of the local community, it would just not be possible.

The overnight campsite was located at Caldons, surrounded by some of the most ancient oak woodlands in the UK and is sandwiched in between several designated areas.  David Broom has been a long-time supporter of the event, both as a competitor and hill marshal, but over the last few years has been instrumental in guiding our best practice with regards to our environmental and ecological policy making.  Prior to the event David conducts a full assessment of the event area which subsequently informs our course planning choices, an assessment which is then repeated following the event over a 12 month period.  The evidence generated over the past four years has shown that the event does not have any lasting damage on an area, giving the OMM much less restricted access to areas with significant designations.  By working very closely with Scottish Natural Heritage we could open large areas of the fells to the event without restriction.  I hope you enjoyed the flat, scenic and sheltered location this year, perhaps next year it may be a little more rustic!  Love them, or hate them, it is hard not to imagine the haunting sounds of the bagpipes echoing around the same valley in centuries gone past and it is a truly special way to see the dawn break in the Scottish mountains – thank you Jonathan and well done for finishing the Elite Course in the 1st Veterans position.

I know that there was an issue with the quality of the encapsulation on the maps this year and we are in the process of working with Harvey Maps to discover why this happened.  Dave Chapman has addressed other course issues in his report.

I had the immense privilege of presenting entry to the 20 Year Club this year to Andrew Fishwick who works on the registration and communications elements of the event.  Alongside this I presented membership of the 40 Year Club to Jen Longbottom, Stan and Verena Johnston and Thomas Williamson.  Without their support and a small army of those volunteers behind them, the event would not happen.

You can see the different teams that support the event in the event programme as well as on the website so I shall not list them all here but I will say that each one of the team leaders come on several pre-event visits and take at least three days annual leave to come and support the event – enough said!

Well done to those of you reaching the milestones of entry into the 20, 30 or 40 Year Club, full details of which can be found on the website.

We changed the allocation of start times this year to category teams (female, mixed, vet) first with those teams competing in the overall category getting the later times.  This is to allow maximum time on the hill for those teams that are statistically slower and seemed to work well on Saturday.  On Sunday morning we ran a chasing start lane for the linear courses for the overall category but not for any of the others as these teams, if they had not made the chasing start, already had an earlier start time allocated.  We also ran the chasing start lane in parallel to the main body starts to maximise the time on course for all teams.  Those teams that finished late on the Saturday were put into the first start window prior to the start line opening fully so that they also had maximum daylight to complete the courses.  It was an oversight on my part not to run a ‘chasing start’ for the top score teams as this delayed the prize giving, particularly for the Long Score, so we will address that for next year.

As many of you know, the OMM is run on a not for profit basis and so the focus on the planning and organisation always comes back to the same question – ‘what would I want as a competitor?’  and I openly welcome your feedback in whatever form that may take so that we can continue to improve your weekend.

My final point before signing off is to say thank you to you.  I have received a letter of thanks in from Mrs Bourne who lives in Caldons House on the overnight campsite.  She was incredibly complimentary about the conduct of everyone on that site and impressed with the complete absence of any litter once we had left.  There have been no issues with residents or landowners, for which I thank you, and as we stand the OMM will be welcomed back to the area with open arms.

Preparations are well underway for the 50th OMM taking place in 2017 and I am looking forward to celebrating this event with you all, wherever that may be.

ADDITION: 22nd December –  Mapping Statement

We have been working closely with HARVEY to investigate the encapsulation issues experienced at OMM 2016.  HARVEY discovered that whilst the finish to the encapsulation was changed from that used in 2015, (gloss to matt) to give a better handle and improve the readability of the map, this had no impact on the durability of the encapsulation.  HARVEY said “the cause of this was found to be a fault that developed during the encapsulation process and that was undetectable until use.”  This only affected a proportion of the maps, which is why the degree to which some of you experienced durability issues, varied so greatly.

HARVEY and OMM work continuously to find solutions that make for a good competitor experience.  HARVEY has many years’ experience of printing maps on plastic and other materials. Harvey has now developed a different process in order to deliver a lighter, more usable, durable map option.

We’re excited to roll out this new mapping, some of you have already used this on the OMM Lite and Bike North Yorkshire 2016, and you will all see it at the next event.  In the meantime look out for some videos of us doing our own confirmation testing.

We would like to apologise to those of you who had your OMM 2016 affected as a result of these production issues and look forward to seeing you soon.

stuart-hamilton-omm-copy2Stuart Hamilton

Event Director

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