Greg Whitmore deserves to be pleased. Race Director at the Undeberg Invitational in Ritzville, his meet may have been one of the smoothest and best organized I’ve been at in years. Every track athlete and coach has a horror story—sometime an entire pantheon of stories—about meets that ran two, three, four hours long with interminable pauses between events. Undeberg proves that a race can be both well-organized and athlete-friendly.
The timing was actually done by computer run by Dennis Sakmann,with volunteers providing backup. The system worked nicely with no apparent glitches even with several very close finishes (at least from a spectator viewpoint.) The starting crew (Bill Cox and Al McBroom were the starters with Jordan Bilodeaux the Marshall) offered clear directions to the fields of runners, mostly in the distance events where lane assignments were not rigid after the first turn or lap, to try and finish from Lane 4 or out so that camera would have the best image to work determine the finishing order. I thought this might give a slight advantage to a late finisher but, after running the numbers (high school geometry for folks interested, Pythagorean’s Theorem, using the top of the straighaway to the finish), decided the difference in distance was negligible.
The crew got runners into the blocks or to the line in good order. I only saw a single false start and, even then, the gentleman who explained it to the athlete was very sympathetic and considerate of the athlete.
Over on the field side, the volunteers kept the systems moving. Two announcers kept the flights on schedule and sounded warnings when jumper or throwers had failed to check in. A bit of observation at the long jump pit and I saw how the announcers knew what was happening in each event.
The young man running the pit would inform the announcers via radio to make the “second call for Flight 4, men’s long jump.” A minute later the same would be repeated over the speakers. It kept the two announcers busy but the whole day ran smoothly as each event sent in the status reports.
The young man gave the jumpers feedback on their takeoffs, especially if they faulted. Not required of the folks at the pit but I’m sure that athletes appreciated the extra input. (The souvenir program listed Dale Anderson, Dustin Kommes, and Rob Reottger as the team there, but they were busy, and I didn’t ask names to attach to the picture.)
Another point that I thought interesting, The Undeberg Invitational meet sold sponsorships to community businesses and had giveaways by some of those. A nice idea that shows a lot about the community and the support that the Broncos (the host team) enjoys, as well as help to defray the costs to the teams and the school. The $2 entry for spectators was less than I’ve paid at other, smaller, meets this year and the $2 for the program very reasonable.
Looking forward to coming back next year.
(Next up, the race report. Patience, people, I'm typing as fast as I can. And, if you see a typo, holler and I'll fix it. And you can follow me on my author page at Facebook)