A Peculiarly Political Perambulation

Article by Helen Abbott

Earlier this summer (2016), a small team was hard at work behind the scenes testing PACER, the LDWA’s new on-the-day event management system. One day there was an unexpected moment of amusement. We were trying to think up names to give a few entrants in a test event. Someone wittily (and not in an entirely complimentary way) suggested four politicians very much in the news in the run-up to the “Brexit” vote. I responded in kind, saying we therefore needed to set out four new test scenarios. These were:

  1. Entrant who disappears during a difficult part of the event for 3 weeks' chillaxing in Cornwall after which he comes back and says he will retire, but only in 3 months.
  1. Entrant who is serially discovered behind the bushes with a succession of female entrants, which is against the event rules; he initially refuses to retire because the retirement vehicle is a Bendy Bus but then accepts the offer of a free bicycle.
  1. Entrant who finds the walking a bit hard and hires a private plane but then crashes it and spends the rest of the evening in the pub. He too retires but then unretires, then a bit later retires again.
  1. Entrant discovered at the kit check without a tie and refusing to sing the National Anthem properly, but he says this is not in the event rules and refuses to retire. Later on the marshals claim he does not know the way either. He still refuses. A large group of his supporters turn up and insist he does know the way. At this point most of the marshals walk out. Then another entrant tells him very publicly: “For Heaven’s sake man, go!” He still refuses, saying the other entrant had taken the same route as he had. He ends up the only one of this group staying on the event.


Two months later:

  • Entrant 1 abruptly does retire, at CP10, humming a tune on the way in (not a requirement of the event rules).
  • Entrant 2 is re-instated and starts behaving himself, at least as far as the marshals know.
  • Entrant 3 goes on an event in Europe (not governed by the LDWA) and is very rude to the marshals. Who are very rude back.
  • Yet another entrant tries to get Entrant 4 into trouble, calls him a “lunatic”, and the organisers rule that over a hundred thousand of his supporters should be sent away. But even more supporters turn up than before. He remains on the event.

Update 2

Entrant 5 turns up and starts the event determinedly with a spring in her step but is closely followed by bitter rivals trying to finish ahead! The first quickly fall by the mayside: a rather crabby individual who gives up early and another foxed by the route description.

Another rival who can go very fast is discovered trying to stab her in the back with his walking pole and is shamed into retiring.

Then a newcomer shows up, amid claims her inexperience could lead some entrants astray, and slinks off after a furious public row over which of them had had babies (not mentioned in the event rules or even the risk assessment).

Meanwhile, a veteran supporter is caught on an event video describing Entrant 5 as "a b***** difficult woman". For good measure, quite unaware that the entire LDWA could be watching, he goes on to dissect each of her rivals too.

As a grand finale, Entrant 5 finishes in triumph as dawn is breaking, tired and hungry, intoning "Brexit means Brekkie-Sit".