Tail Runner - priorities and how many ?

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Aug 2019
12:05pm, 9 Aug 2019
3,104 posts
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K5 Gus
We had the local village Highland Games on Wednesday which has a hhill race. I would normally race but as I'm a bit injured and unfit I volunteered to be the tail runner, which I've never done before at any race or parkrun. I knew the slowest runners would just be walking up, and I was absolutely fine with that.

Hot sunny day, and as well as the usual gnarly local hill runners, quite a few tourists had entered and not realised what they'd let themselves in for as you can't see the whole height of the hill from the park.

Off we set, and pretty soon up it goes and I'm walking. The guy at the very back is pretty slow ( find out later he was 72 and just his 2nd hill race ) but I'm more than fine with that, and soon the ones ahead or almost out of sight. Then we come across someone on the ground, one of the young tourists guys looks to have collapsed, thankfully a couple of other runners had stopped. Think he had gone off to fast, and is very wobbly when back on his feet. The other 2 who had stopped offer to walk him back down which was very kind of them to give up their race.

So, the question is, if they hadn't stopped, was my priority to walk him back down and the leave the race without a tail runner, or stay as tail runner and hope he got back down ok ? I'm pretty sure I would have stayed with the guy who collapsed and got him back down, but the old guy I was behind got slower as we went further up, and although I thought the path was well flagged and pretty obvious, a couple of times I had to call him back from going off in the wrong direction. Not sure where he would have ended up if I hadn't been there.

If you are a race director, do you insist on 2 tail runners to deal with scenarios like this ? ie one to stay with any injured/in trouble runners and the other to carry on as tail ? If just one, what do you tell your tail runner to do when there is any incident ?

The other problem was I had no walkie-talkie or phone number to ask someone to come up and help the collapsed runner, then I could have tried to catch up the back of the race.
Aug 2019
12:39pm, 9 Aug 2019
161 posts
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Love Lettuce
I've never been an RD so I have limited authority from which to comment. However, I think your last paragraph summarises the key lesson from this incident: as tail runner you should have been given a way of contacting the RD/HQ so that you could call for backup - ideally the nearest marshal. That way if the other runners hadn't kindly stopped to assist, you could have arranged for help to arrive then caught up with the last runner. The tail runner's priority should be the last runners. there should have been enough other marshals/officials available for someone else to help out the collapsed runner once you'd called it in.

I appreciate that's easier said than done when putting on small local races, of course. In any event, it sounds like you did a great job and made the right call on the day. Well done!
Aug 2019
12:46pm, 9 Aug 2019
1,150 posts
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LL has it spot on, I think.
There should be a way to call in support - and then you, or Ann Other continue with the tail role. If it's anythig serious, eg needing medical treatment, evacuation etc, should always be able to know who and how to call in.

A hill run + tourists is probably at risk of generating more than one issue to deal with.
Aug 2019
1:47pm, 9 Aug 2019
13,900 posts
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I've only tail run once, been a marshal many times. All of us have to have our mobiles and contact info for RD and emergency first aiders. We always have roving bike marshals too, though that may not be practical for non road races!
Aug 2019
4:40pm, 9 Aug 2019
3,448 posts
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I'm head marshal for the races our club organises (admittedly two road races). We have a lead bike, tail bike and marshal points at approx 0.5 mile intervals and all junctions. All are issued with a radio and the phone numbers for me, the RD and the medics. If the tail bike came across an incident, I would expect it to be radioed/phoned in and then once help arrived for them to continue with tailing.

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Maintained by K5 Gus
We had the local village Highland Games on Wednesday which has a hhill race. I would normally race b...

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