The role of the Chief Marshal(s) on the Snowman Rally (or any other rally for that matter) is to engage the marshals required to man and run all the stages of the rally to the requirements of the event Operational and Safety Plan.
This agrees with the requirements as laid down by MSUK.
That’s it …The End.
That was easy……..I wish!
Several months before the rally, and once the Clerk of the Course has planned the route and the stages to be used, the recruitment begins.
First job – Invite Stage Commanders to run the stages for us. Historically they have been from the local Northern Clubs – 63 CC, Stonehaven CC, Aberdeen CC and Mull CC. The Stage Commanders should have the appropriate grade and experience to safely run a stage. Safety is a priority.
Things to consider when allocating the stages:
Stage Start times and which teams are likely to be able to start early. Marshals need to be at their posts 2 hrs before the first car! This can mean Stage commanders being at the start of stage at 6 am.
Length of stage and marshal numbers required to man the stage, and which clubs will be able to muster larger teams than others.
Stages with spectator areas, need more marshals than those without, and also need suitable Sector Marshals to cover those areas. Not everyone’s favourite job!
Stages that are being run twice- we wouldn’t expect marshals to travel from Mull for a single run stage, for example.
While we are waiting for a response from them (this can take a long time, and many calls and emails!), the seemingly endless job of contacting every possible marshal we can think of to ask for their help begins.
Hopefully we have the list from the previous year, and this is a starting point, even better if we are using the same stages.
I personally travel far and wide to marshal for other events, so I live the hope that the favour will be returned from the people I assist.
Funnily enough not everyone wants to travel to the Highlands in winter to possibly stand for hours in freezing conditions….where is the dedication, I say!
Then there are those who have ‘gone over to the dark side’. Yes, I’m talking about those who have decided that becoming a radio marshal is a far better idea, as you may be able to sit in a warm dry car all day. The radio controllers are delighted, of course, me not so much! However, they don’t all get to escape, as, if they come in twos , then one of them is expected to make up our numbers , and might even have to crawl out of the warmth to assist with an incident in a water filled ditch.
For every appeal for volunteers we make, either by e-mail, text, phone, or social media, we ask that all marshals complete our registration form. We are either attaching this is the email or providing a link to the form on our website. This is so we can assess their grade and experience so we can best place them on post on the day.
These days all marshals are expected to be accredited at least, although un- registered and non-accredited marshals are still allowed as long as accompanied by someone who is accredited.
Marshals are also expected to take part in training every two years so that they are up to date with all aspects of what is required in their roles.
There are various grades to work to, if you wish, after becoming accredited.
We also try to arrange a marshals training refresher day prior to the rally, particularly since we are usually the first event of the year, and many people have had a break over xmas.
Initially we get a flurry of volunteers, and things are looking good.
I also make a point of going on stage recces, as this gives me a visual of the posts. This is very helpful, because looking at a map does not allow you to see where cars can be parked, or whether 4x4’s are needed. Sometimes we can see where marshals can be better place, or even where we can reduce numbers, which is always good, if we are struggling.
It’s good to able to give out information about the stage to the Stage Commanders in advance, it all helps in the recruitment and placement of marshals.
Our job on the day is to drive through the stages, stopping to talk to the Stage Commanders, find out if everything is in place, if there are any issues to address.
We are on our way, in constant contact with HQ, as we go.
Regardless of what the Stage commanders tell us, we still invariably find posts with no marshals, marshals set up where they are not needed, camping stove out, bacon cooking, ten marshals where we just need three ( because they are all mates and want to be together), marshal cars that need to be moved. It’s a moving target! There is generally much radio communication to the safety vehicles behind us to ensure we get people shifted and everything covered as per the safety plan before the safety delegate is on stage. The Safety Delegate can cancel a stage if he is not happy with the set up, and that is the last thing we want.
Then there are spectators to contend with. We can also gently remind them where they should not be standing and also feed back to HQ if we see any issues to be addressed by the safety crews behind us.
What we want to see is the ‘thumbs up’ from all our marshals in post to show that all is well, and the stages are ‘good to run’. It’s a relief to get to the end of a stage and know that all is in order before we head to the next one to repeat the process. There is also a tight time schedule to stick to, but if we are lucky, we will get breakfast at the first stop off at service.
Once we’ve cleared the last stage of the day, we might even get to spectate for a short while before heading back to HQ at the end of the day, otherwise we would barely see a rally car in action.
And that’s it, after weeks of preparation, late nights, and anticipation, it’s over…well apart from the ‘thank you’ emails to all our volunteers, and the marshals draw to perform.
Why do we put ourselves through this….well Charlie's mantra is, and it is repeated throughout the whole process ….” We do it because we love it”…repeat several times…to convince ourselves.
This really is The End…. Till the next time, take care, and remember, without marshals we don’t have a rally!
Wilma and Charlie- Snowman Rally Chief Marshals.