The job of a marshal is not an easy task. It requires 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, to make sure that you are on the right track. And lastly, because of so much of dust trail and carrying 8 participants (2 country teams), you constantly need to look into the rearview mirror to find the participants.
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 the breakfast has to be done before this and packing and loading of your luggage has to be done before breakfast. So our wake time was 4:30 AM. As a first time marshal are used to make sure that I bring back my teams as early as possible so that 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 we used to have our debriefing meeting at 10 or 11 PM. 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.
During our Marshal scouting day, our job is to make sure that we understand the roots that we understand the viewpoints as well as the fuel stations because 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 and take 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 couple of days because of rainfall as well as in few places there was no sunshine or we could not get time to dry our clothes. And this is just the beginning because GS Trophy has not even started. But we were kind enough from the organizing team, for arranging the washing and drying of our clothes when our scouting was done.