The GS Trophy is a very large scale project. A marshal’s job is not an easy task. It requires an immense amount of attention to detail as well as focus. On top of this, you need to keep your participants engaged.
Most of the time when I was riding with the participants, I was focusing on 3 things. First, the road, because the roads in New Zealand are winding and the corners are blind. To make it interesting, there is a majority gravel on the routes that we had chosen. The second focus area of vision is your Navigator 6 GPS. You need to make sure that you are on the right track. Lastly, because of so much of dust trail 8 participants (2 country teams), you constantly need to look into the rearview mirror.
Daily schedule – Marshals role
Each day, in the morning at 7 AM the first team starts the day and after every five minutes, the next marshal follows. I was starting at position number five or position number seven. This means the two teams need to be ready and briefed half an hour in advance.
My briefing to my teams consisted of three things, firstly the importance of safety gear. Secondly, where have I kept my satellite phone? And thirdly, what to do in case of an incident and the protocols. I also used to tell them what the day would look like what kind of terrain we are entering the weather situations as well as where we are going to take the breaks for lunch and fuelling.
Just to remind you that we need to finish breakfast and start loading the luggage before breakfast. So our wake time was 4:30 AM. As a first time marshal, I made sure that I bring back my teams as early as possible to the campsite. They can start picking up their tent and taking a shower before we move for dinner. The dinner time was long and intense because everyone is waiting for the day’s scoring and team positions. But the marshal’s job is not over yet. The debriefing meeting at 10 or 11 PM is still pending. Imagine riding that long on top of that sleeping less along with this the stress of managing the participants and to make it interesting you have been riding for 20 days before this.
Marshal scouting days – Marshal role.
During our marshal scouting day, a marshal’s job is to make sure that we understand the routes, waypoints, and fuel stations. In some areas, if you miss one fuel station they won’t be another one in the next 20 or 40 km. As a marshal, you also need to understand the alternate routes. You can take prompt decisions based on the weather conditions as well as the skill set of the participants. One big challenge that I personally faced was my clothes. During the marshal scouting, I was already riding with wet clothes for a few days because of rainfall. This was just the beginning because the GS Trophy had not even started. The organizing team was kind enough to arrange the washing and drying of our clothes when our scouting was done.
The organizing team decides which marshals would lead the teams and which marshals would be part of the special stages. Every day there are 2 special stages and all special stage marshals need to be present at the special stages before the teams arrive. This means they need to leave even earlier than the regular marshal and construct the special stages. This special stage is unique in testing your riding skills, teamwork, endurance, and open thinking attitude.
Each marshal then has to put together the counting and share the team results with the scoring team. This becomes very challenging especially because the time for the first team marshal to arrive and leave to the last team marshal can be very long. On top of this, we all need to be back on the track and then reach the Special stage 2. The SP2 is usually in the second half of the day at a point that is closer to the evening basecamp. Again, the requirements and commitment are the same from the participants. But the marshals standing over here face a different challenge. They are the last ones to leave the SP2 and at times it can take very long for them to reach the campsite.
Safety is the utmost priority at this event, also it’s part of a marshal’s job. No marshal is allowed to install any action camera. All marshals are trained to level 1 paramedic safety. Needless to say that you have to be a certified instructor from International Instructors Academy to be a marshal at the first place. There are specific guidelines that all marshals need to follow in case there is an accident. This starts from the position of the motorcycle to high visiblity vest, from emergency calling protocol to communicate with the other oncoming marshal.
All of this makes for an amazing team.
So here are the list of all marshals who were there and their roles:
- Christoph Zimmerman – Sportive Director & Special stage marshal
- Tom Weinmayer – Special stage marshal and Sportive director
- Gerdy Sietz – Special stage marshal
- Michael Eberwein – Special stage marshal
- Patima Kongpetch – Team marshal
- Leonard Van Greunen – Team marshal
- Brian Kiely – Team marshal
- Aloisio Frazao – Team marshal
- Jennifer Huntley – Team marshal
- Stephanie Rowe – Team marshal
- Peter Fischer – Team marshal
- Robert Schwieger – Team marshal
- Matthias Winter – Team marshal
- Matie Albulescu – Team marshal
- Shahnawaz Karim – Team marshal
- Marchant Maasdorp – Team marshal
- Jean Luc – Team marshal
- Faizal Sukree – Team marshal
- Miles Davis – Team marshal
- Christian Pingitzer – Sponsors and BMW Motorrad Team marshal
- Thomas Lange – Doctor Marshal
These are the core people managing the show. However, it would have not been possible without the special mention of the people behind the show.
- The Doctor’s team – Dr. Thomas Demhartner on the Motorcycle, Dr. Brend on the backup vehicle and Dr. Aaron in the chopper.
- Backup vehicle team – Greg Paul, Bryan, Gordon Lidgard and Rohan Lidgard
- Marshals for scoring and overall results – Kelly Vague, and Kim
- All our arrangements managed by Anne, Thomas Offerman, and Stefanie Grund.
Here is a small video that would explain it in a gist:
All of the marshals are selected based on the training that they have been doing in their local markets and the way they are growing them.
So do you think it’s an exciting role? Let me know in the comments section below.