Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New World Record set in Indy!

Well, not exactly the kind you want to set; but in Indianapolis this past week, we conducted the coldest Challenge yet. The prior week saw temperatures in the 70°s; Wednesday, during setup, we’re wearing our traditional garb of shorts and sandals. Then the wind picked up and the temperature plummeted 40° overnight.

A drizzle moved in and started to freeze with a quarter inch (8mm) of ice covering the tower resulting our canceling the day’s races. Regrettably, about 15 competitors in the open class had to return to work, so they were unable to run Thursday. Our apologies. Such is the danger of holding events in March in Indiana. The good news is that the date returns to April next year. The reason for the switch was that Indianapolis won the bid to host the NCAA Final Four.

Despite the weather, hundreds of spectators stood in the 25kt wind, mesmerized with the competition. This is a great platform and we are excited about growing the importance of this event in the out years.

A lot of the off season hard work of Chuck DeGrandpre and Bill Alexander was on display. The heated Keisers were probably the most appreciated. It will be difficult to ensure that the trays will always be at a precise temperature. But with the mercury hovering around freezing to the very low 40°s, we were able to get the temperature to 80°.

In a practical sense, this means that shadows will no longer have the dramatic effect of the past. Our preference will still be to orient the course N-S. But sometimes that’s impossible.

We’ve added a shortened (height) banner as a delineator so that there is less confusion as to which way to go when you come off the Keiser. We’ll monitor the placement to see if our location is proper.

The second generation of the start system has been created. We found out that our Alge timing system does not like these cold temperatures and gets balky. This is the same device that the Olympics use for downhill racing. Maybe they have it in a heated environment?

ProTech has donated gear bags for a random winner; the prize is made at the conclusion of the Awards Ceremony; you must be present to win. Scott McClellan, regrettably had left.

Just a note of caution regarding the start. You can adjust the pack, but you cannot touch it once you are set on the start pads. To avoid a false start (red light penalty: 5 seconds), you must remain motionless for 2 seconds. I know for some of you, that’s a lot to ask. Attention to this simple request will result in no false starts this year. While considerable discussion on this topic took place at the CAB meeting this past year, not present was Chuck, with his compelling research conducted over last year’s off season. This was the topic of my earlier post on this topic. Let’s move on; or, err, not move for two seconds before moving on.

We will never change the nature of the Challenge as a head-to-head competition. For the obvious reason that there is no head-to-head competition anywhere in the world that allows people to self start, we will likewise adhere to the tried and true, one clock for both competitors. Imagine the crowd trying to figure out who’s actually in the lead?

Very few crashes at the finish line, we’re happy to report (maybe one?). It’s your responsibility to stop the clock; failure to do so will result in a 2 second penalty.

Thinking that the boot issue was finally put to rest, a competitor asked me “Where does it say that you have to be NFPA compliant?” I was astounded. I attempted to politely respond that NFPA 1971 has been the standard since 1991 and we have never changed this rule since the inception of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge. He said he never saw this on the website. I’m wondering if we’re looking at the same website. On the subject of enforcement, I tried the following analogy: let’s say you’ve been doing 80 mph down I-95 for years and you get stopped. Try telling the cop that since you’ve never got caught that your driving velocity should be allowed.

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