The Turning Point for a HAM operator
By Paul Cronshaw KF6TRT
When Jug (wa6mbz) called me several month's ago to see if I would
volunteer for the Santa Barbara Triathlon, I thought he meant that he
wanted me to participate in the race. Thank goodness he meant
providing HAM communications during the race. I could race to my spot
and remain stationary, the only exercise would be walking around my
truck with an HT. :)
As the race day drew closer, Jug sent out a great email with the
instructions and operator assignments. There were many veterans on
the list so I didn't mind being on the backup list. I figured I would
be placed where needed. As I read through the list I was amazed that
40 HAM operators had volunteered for this event. What a great team!
Jim Henry(AJ6IM) called me the night before the race and asked me to
take his place at Station 5 on Cliff and Los Positas, one of the
critical turning points for runners. As it turns out Jim's wife was
participating in the Triathlon and he decided it would be more
appropriate for him to be at the finish line that at Station 5. I
could not agree more and so said yes to my new position.
Today was race day. I got up early and drove over to the site but
did not see anyone. A quick call to Jug gave me an answer to look for
the 2 cones with signs: "Watch for Runners" and " Turn Around
Point". I set the cones up and waited for the action to start.
Listening to my HT, it was great to hear all the check-ins. Names,
call signs and locations quickly became familiar. I was thankful
that I had a copy of Jug's assignment list and a map from the
Triathlon web site to help me learn the locations. Many operators
used their site location (eg B1, B2, W1, W2) as the code for their
location. It wasn't too long before Jack (WA6DQK), net controller,
had the net going in a good rhythm.
Word came through that the first wave of swimmers were in the water
at 7 AM (brrrr)
Then we began to track the first 3 male and female bicyclists. 427
became the lead rider and remained in this position throughout the
Paul (W6VLM), accompanying one of the race directors, made a stop
with the yellow Rider truck to make sure that I was ready for the
wave of runners. Sure enough runner 427 was sighted and made the turn
around my cone. "Good job, you're on the home stretch", I yelled.
He smiled, turned and was off on the home stretch. So began my
encouraging remarks to all the other runners. Many were definitely
tired, their facial and body features showed the strain. The majority
were in great spirits, and were quick to make comments about this
station - the turning point. This was a turning point for them, the
Between 9 and 11 AM the TZ airwaves saw a lot of action. Several
emergencies were handled efficiently, messages were passed back and
forth from net to the race directors, and everyone had an idea of how
the race was progressing. Try and do all this with a cell phone! :)
It was great to have three net controllers. DQK passed the net
control to Harry (K6PDQ) who then passed it to 'Lou" (N6ZKJ).
After 11 AM, the number of runners dropped off considerably. The
race was winding down and soon we were tracking the last runner,
number 502. I sat back in the shade to read a book and listen to my
HT with an earphone. I was waiting for George (K6HOZ) to clue me in
when this last runner was going by his station (W5). Time went by.
Suddenly, I looked up from my book and there she was making that
final turn. Time for me to secure my site. I took down my cones and
drove back to the SBARC van to turn them back in.
What a day! This was my second race to be a HAM operator volunteer.
It was a great experience and educational. I look forward to the
next one, the MS event, one that I participated in last year.
My hat goes off to Jug for organizing the HAM operators on this
event. I know the Triathlon race directors could not have been as
effective without our help. I watched the coverage on the KEYT 6:00
news, but there was no mention of the volunteer HAM operators.
Perhaps someone should contact Debbie Davidson (one of the
participants) to give her a behind the scenes education.
Finally, thanks to all the HAM operators who gave up a Saturday
morning to volunteer for this event, spend time getting a sun tan and
talking on 2 meters. What else is there to do in Paradise???
We'll be back for the 21st Triathlon event.