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Discussion Forum - Events - Housman Humbug

Author: Dr. John Batham
Posted: Thu 21st Jul 2011, 20:52
Joined: 2007
Local Group: East Yorkshire
You are right Ian, no need for a witch hunt, these 100's run and what will be will be. I think every organising group does a great job and I am in awe of the time and effort spent by our folks, let it rest..

Author: Ian Sykes
Posted: Fri 15th Jul 2011, 23:08
Joined: 1986
Local Group: East Yorkshire
Re Empowering people on the spot.

Being on the baggage van and having a bit of a free hand, on my trips from HQ to breakfast I pop into any checkpoints that are nearby. If I've heard that any checkpoint is running low on food a quick call to HQ means I off to find a 24 hour shop or garage and I cleared them out of bread and / or milk a few times.

I think we have to be careful that we don't turn this thread into a witch hunt and I don't think this forum is the place for dissecting the Houseman 100 or any walk.
Author: David Powell
Posted: Fri 15th Jul 2011, 22:31
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Heart of England
I was involved at 2 checkpoints- Knighton where a small team of 3 of us were in charge
of the potato oven although it was Essex's checkpoint and we were very mindful of this. We
(Heart of England ) also led a team of 13 cooking, serving and generally helping at the finish
on the Sunday night. In all my dealings with my contacts at Marches I found them to be
very efficient and on the ball- However I would like to make a couple of observations which may
be helpful.

Firstly empowering people on the spot- We ran out of cheese at 2145 there was a supermarket next to
us open until 2200 HRS- I offered to go over and buy a kilo or two- but was told thats not how things
are done. Eventually at half past mid-night cheese arrived from HQ which had probably cost as much again
in petrol to get it there.

Secondly at Ludlow in who we should serve food to- now I can understand that after the problems
at the early checkpoints care was needeed that we didn't run short of those delicious pies (yes I did try one
but only in the interests of quality control !!) However I felt a bit uneasy refusing food to marshals and raynet
radio operators. These people had given up their weekend unpaid to help make the event successful and
were to my mind at least as deserving as the entrants. Apologies to the organisers but we did reverse this
decision after midnight and when it looked like there were enough pies.

Appreciate that supporters and those waiting for partners to finish (our sister organisation the "Long
Distance Widows Association") have not paid for food and drink and to that end the breakfast bus was
a good idea - but what about a supporters ticket- cost somewhere between £10- 15 that covers you for
food and drink at all the checkpoints- just a thought .
Author: Al Rodger
Posted: Fri 15th Jul 2011, 21:03
Joined: 1999
Local Group: Dorset
I had some serious adverse comments about the Housman. They were sent off to the national 100 organiser & advised by my local group officers, copied them to the LDWA chairman. (Hearing this may perhaps cause dismay within the Housman organising team although there is no reason why it should. They did a very good job and should be congratulated.)
What I would never do is 'flame' my complaints across an internet forum. When a walk's organisation goes a bit pear-shaped, it is not the marshals doing it on purpose. Marshals & especially the organisers have a big enough task on their hands and should not have the added worry of being chewed out by disgruntled walkers.

Perhaps we need a formal channel for feedback from LDWA challenge walks so lessons can be better learned and walks organised with even greater understanding of the pitfalls to be avoided.
Author: David W Street
Posted: Fri 15th Jul 2011, 18:53
Joined: 1980
Local Group: Bristol & West
CP 2 problems
Yes we had a number of problems at cp 2. Roger Swift has alluded to the main one, short supplies. Why limit the rations at early check points? Any over catering will not be wasted as any surplus can be moved on to later check points. We realised there was not enough food so put up a notice asking people to only take one sandwich. However, that did not prevent problem 2 - human greed. Not much you can do when the guy dressed as a human Marmite advert not only takes 2 sandwiches plus nibbles but before leaving takes two plastic bags out of his rucksack and helps himself to more sandwiches & nibbles. Before I could tackle him he moved out grabbing another handful of sandwiches on the way.
The huge volume of walkers arriving in a short space of time was probably caused by the fact that there was not a lot of refreshment at the previous cp so we were the first main food stop. Sorry to dissappoint you but not entirely our fault.
I do agree with Roger's comment that it was humbling to have the majority of the walkers being so patient and understanding in difficult circumstances. But then that is the LDWA for you.
Author: Eileen Greenwood
Posted: Sat 9th Jul 2011, 23:17
Joined: 2002
Local Group: Yorkshire Coast
Roger- I felt sorry for you all and would have got stuck in helping in making sandwiches (mind you would have made me a bit late finishing), and indeed offered to make my own, but it would have interrupted your smooth system of butter them,fill them and slice them!

In reflection, another checkpoint before yours and checkpoint1 would have easd the rush. That is my only constructive (I hope) criticism.

John Sparshott must have ears of iron after all these years of 100s! I also blasted him after the Yoredale 100 for the final tramp over the rutted track of Draughton Moor. Asking why we had to go over that horrible path. But they couldn't take us along the canal- too many folks may have fallen in!

I enjoy the 100s, I love the build up, the training,the start of the event,the atmosphere before and during. I enjoy the reccy at Easter when I can do it at a relaxed pace and see the night time views, the locations that I wouldn't have visited if not for the 100(and will probably not visit again). I love the discussion for a year afterwards- and usually many years afterwards!

I love the mixing and meeting of people you haven't seen since the last 100. I love seeing first timers full of hope and nervous- and delight in their delight at finishing! I love the odd characters the LDWA members can be. I laugh at the sight of those members that can quietly be sick every half an hour at the side of the 100 route then carry on regardless! Hard commited people. And commiserate with those that for them this years 100 was not for them and have to pull out.

I love it! And I hope the LDWA does not get to big,it feels like a family to me the size it is now. Enough waffle for now!!
Author: Roger Swift
Posted: Sat 9th Jul 2011, 8:52
Joined: 1995
Local Group: Wiltshire
Checkpoint 2 Housman 100
The staggered start caused the bulk of walkers and runners to arrive at Titley between 2:30 and 5:00 pm. Between these times we had 450 folk arriving at an average interval of 20 seconds, Despite the hall having a plumbed hot water boiler for tea making those doing tea still had to work at great rate
By 05:30 we were waiting for just 2 runners starting at 14:00
As to the food we were issued 50 loaves each with 20 slices which was barely one round of sandwich
per entrant
I was touched at the tolerance of entrants who understood just what is involved in feeding such an onrush of thirsty and hungry folk.
Author: Elton Ellis
Posted: Fri 8th Jul 2011, 12:08
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Surrey
I wouldn’t miss one of your posts for anything, Ian.

Seriously, I think the forum would be a lot poorer if it were not for posters like John B, Ian K and Ian S who are prepared to stick their heads above the parapet from time to time.
Author: Ian Sykes
Posted: Thu 7th Jul 2011, 19:14
Joined: 1986
Local Group: East Yorkshire
John, and there was me thinking I'm the only one on here who suffers from foot in mouth syndrome.

It's very easy to find fault in anything in life, the trick is thinking on your feet and solving it yourself if you can.

Re food.

On hundreds I've popped into shops including fish and chips shops to top up my food. I also found it imperative to visit at least one public house to top up my liquid levels.

Re distance between checkpoints.

Everybody who took part on the walk know how far it was between checkpoints, so no surprises there. On two of the hundreds I did checkpoint 3 was at around 42 miles. I didn't hear any grumbling, we all just got on with it.

Re the amount of climb.

Hands up I don't know the route so I cannot comment on it, but what I will say is. again everybody got the route in advance so there was no surprises again, unless like me. The first time I used to read the route was when I was walking it on the event.

Re execrable organisation.

Well John I had to Google execrable to find out what it ment.

Now I know you get out and about a lot more then me John, but does the bog standard LDWA members really use that word? At the best I think it was maybe unwise of you to use that word. The the worst, well...............................

Re hundred walkers complaining about the hundreds.

We all do it, but that does not stop people turning up year after year to do it. When I finished the 1996 Yorkshire Hundred (in 1995) I bent John Sparshatt's ear something rotten. But it still remains the best hundred I ever did. Again on the 2003 White Rose Hundred (in 2002) it seemed never ending and we was well over our ETA at the finish. We was met by John Sparshatt at the end telling us that the route was quite a few miles longer then the stated 100 miles. No real grumbles, just relief that we was not slowing down in our old age.

Not everything went right in our small part we did on this years hundred, but we got over it and I know none of the walkers where effected by it. I never been on a hundred that as gone 100% as planned, but again it's about thinking on your feet and getting on with it, whether your a walker of a helper.

Re shooting the messenger.

Well John, I've known DHL to refuse to spend a letter for me.

Did the people who was grumbling about the hundred realize that you was going to post about it?

The only time that I've meet you was when I swept with you and we spent 8 hours talking about different things and sometimes it did get a bit heated when we disagreed about some LDWA things. But I would have been very upset if you had posted on here about it, as no doubt you would have been if I had done the same.

So to end with.

The LDWA is run by volunteers for the enjoyment of it's members and if any of them members think that they can do better, then stand up and be counted. I have found that the one's who do the most grumbling are the one's that would never dream of helping out on walks. If they did then maybe they would be grumbling less.


taking my foot out of my mouth again. ;-0
Author: Ian Koszalinski
Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2011, 22:28
Joined: 2004
Local Group: High Peak
well I knew about the distance between the CPS and I knew about the ascent, where it went wrong for me was at the beggining, Not a lot of money so booked a place without breakfast, wasn't too worried as there was a breakfast van at the start, my evening meal the night before was shocking and inedible thanks to the chippy at church stretton, went to the breakfast van to fill up, queued for an hour was going to order the full monty but felt guilty as everyone was waiting ages so had a bacon butty, next mistake was splitting my rations between my breakfast bag and my rucksack, first cp had a couple of sausage rolls , now I knew i would be near the back but when i got to the next cps no food was available unless you liked tuna, at evenjobb again very little food, wasn't untill knighton that i had a good portion of food, however my rations had been consumed by this point, the energy i put in my body at knighton was too little too late the trek from newcastle to mainstone soon sucked out any energy remaining in my legs i entered mainstone as they were packing away, my 2hrs in front of the cut off time was now down to 20mins the steepness of that section being the culprit, a quick change of socks whilst eating what i could and then the 7 miles to food, a decent breakfast I was fine on the flat but any hill became an obstacle especially the hill through the town before the descent to lydham entered the cp 1min after the cut off, i just needed some food, i had no blisters i wasn't dehydrated, i just had no energy, looking at the split times and seeing how everyone speeded up after a good breakfast i do feel i could have carried on if i was allowed as i have been told the ascents weren't as steep as the first half, i would have got the rest of my rations to help see me through, so yes i'm disappointed i would rather had finished with broken feet, than a lack of energy i enjoyed the walk and the people i walked with, my only complaint would be the breakfast bus, and the lack of food at the checkpoints, bearing in mind that being further apart, people would take more
Author: Rebecca Lawrence
Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2011, 20:30
Joined: 2003
Local Group: Marches
Can't have been that tough if my partner managed it in sandals................if a 100 was easy then we wouldn't do it. I am in complete gratitude of those who give up their time to stage an event like this and worse still, probably having to endure endless committee meetings...... and as Janet says, there is the opportunity for feedback at the end if anyone is unhappy and brave enough to voice it.....and there was beer at the end....what more could you wish for? It was brill like all 100's, end of.....
Author: Dr. John Batham
Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2011, 16:14
Joined: 2007
Local Group: East Yorkshire
OK shoot the messenger. Clearly I didn't participate, I was relating other walkers' comments from subsequent social walks. The comment on the organisation was unwise though, since numerous members put in many hours of voluntary work on all of LDWA's Challenge walks. Odd that those who do have grievances don't post on the Forum.
Author: John King
Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2011, 12:27
Joined: 2002
What I find odd is that as somebody that did and enjoyed with nothing to complain about The Housman 100 the folk I have run into that also did the Housman 100 have had nothing but positive comments to make about the event.

Yet the post`s on this thread are also mostly positive apart from those made by two people that did not take part relaying there interpretation of comments made by some that did, I think it would be of more value if those that took part and felt that something was worthy criticism were to air there views themselves on here or certainly to those that would be in a position to discuss the wheres and whys of the event structure

The time to complain will come when the LDWA can no longer stage a 100 because of volunteers failing to come forward and commit hours of there time to do a task that will put them in the firing line of those that don`t realise that it is impossible to please all the people all the time.

Once again thanks to all involved in the Housman 100 an excellent job well done IMO.
Author: David Kearns
Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2011, 10:20
Joined: 1998
In defence of John Batham : I didn't do the Housman 100 either, but I've spoken to several people who did (and were not among the 28% who had to retire) and there were indeed a lot of grumbles - mostly, but not entirely, about the amount of ascent.

Unfortunately John has broken the cardinalLDWA rule : never criticise, never complain. But at what stage is one justified in moaning? When the 100 is 120 miles long, with 30,000 feet of climbing, no food at all and a useless route description ? It's all very well grousing amongst ourselves but unless genuine complaints are aired, in good faith, nothing ever gets done about them. The trouble is that anyone who does go public, instead of just muttering into his beer,is likely to receive a torrent of ad hominem abuse.
Author: Janet R Pitt-Lewis
Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2011, 8:22
Joined: 1993
Local Group: Marches
Along with all the thanks, praise and compliments following the Housman 100 I received 2 letters from people – who unlike John Batham actually walked the event – thanking the committee for all its hard work but pointing out an aspect of the organisation that in their opinion was not up to the general high standard. They were intended to be helpful and constructive and I have treated them as such.

The other 521 walkers – who again, unlike John Batham, actually participated in the event, have every opportunity of doing the same, but none has chosen to do so.

I do not consider it to be helpful or constructive for some one who neither walked the event nor, according to the lists of marshals, did any thing to help on the event, to go on a public website and use such terms as “execrable organisation”

The Housman committee spent over three years of their own time (and at some personal expense) working extremely hard to put on an event solely for the satisfaction of giving fellow LDWA members the chance to take part in a Hundred. It saddens me deeply that 6 weeks after the dust has settled and the committee members are just beginning to pick up the threads of their “normal” lives that they face such intemperate and ill informed criticism from someone who did not choose to participate
Author: Elton Ellis
Posted: Wed 29th Jun 2011, 14:22
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Surrey
Well, John, I don’t know what has happened to Northern stoicness here. Speaking as a soft Southerner, I have no complaints.

Checkpoint spacing was not a problem. Yes we had to queue for food, but with so many participants, that’s unavoidable. I experienced no rationing, and I was with the plodders. Yes, there was a lot of ascent, but you got on with it. That IMHO is what a Challenge event is all about. I didn’t find it a problem. Execrable organization? I have to say that I marvel every year at how smoothly these events go. I was welcomed, recorded, fed, watered, and encouraged at every checkpoint. My adjective would have been ‘amazing’.

I think we need to remind ourselves that these events are organised and run by volunteers who throw hundreds of hours at them. Grateful is what I feel.
Author: Tony Willey
Posted: Wed 29th Jun 2011, 7:05
Joined: 1989
Local Group: Lakeland
I agree with the other comments in this thread. We had the route description beforehand so we knew that there would be more than the normal distance between checkpoints and a lot of climbing. Both these presumably followed from the organisers choosing to use the three LDPs as a basis for the route. My only criticism would be that the final climb seemed unnecessary (and I believe was avoided by at least one walker).

CP2 did appear to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers when I arrived in the middle of the field and one or two people leaving the CP complained of having been "rationed". I did not have that problem and in any case could have used some of my emergency food. Thereafter the food arrangements seemed well up to normal standards and received lots of praise from new Hundreders I spoke to.

Did someone really use the word "execrable" to describe the organisation? I have yet to take part in a Hundred which ran 100% smoothly in all respects and it would be amazing if such a complex project put on by volunteer organisers and helpers did not have it's share of hiccups. My own experience was that these were minimal and did not seriously affect my safety or enjoyment of the event. Perhaps your informant(s) could justify the use of this offensive word.
Author: Timothy Evans
Posted: Tue 28th Jun 2011, 15:04
Joined: 2010
Local Group: Marches
Author: Rebecca Lawrence
Posted: Tue 28th Jun 2011, 8:42
Joined: 2003
Local Group: Marches
I actually preferred longer distances between checkpoints and I think this contributed to me getting a personal best as far as the time was concerned - even if you only spend 10 minutes in each checkpoint,over the course of the 100, if there are 15 checkpoints thats 150 minutes sat in checkpoints adding 2.5 hours to your time, so for me, less checkpoints certainly meant an earlier finish........ It was also very motivating to reach a checkpoint and look at the huge chunk taken off the mileage.

I have no complaints whatsoever - each 100 is its own beast, and is what it is.
Author: John King
Posted: Tue 28th Jun 2011, 8:17
Joined: 2002
No no surprises on the Houseman 100 for me.

It was exactly what I expected of it i.e. I entered a Challenge walk and I was challenged.

I was also very well looked after at all the checkpoints ( I didn`t think they were to far apart and found them all welcoming) I have to say I enjoyed all aspects of the Housman

Best 45 quid I have spent this year.

TBH I can`t understand folk that enter a challenge event and then whinge because it was has hard.

All in all excellent event and great value for money.
Author: Louise Whittaker
Posted: Mon 27th Jun 2011, 23:19
Joined: 1994
Local Group: Staffordshire
Yes I agree. The 'Surprise' 100 it was not. Route description/checkpoints - all known in advance. Regarding the food I sat quietly at a table at c/point 2, contentedly nibbling food I had brought with me, and eavesdropping on the 'mayhem'. This was my first 100, so I had no expectations regarding 'food'. My perception was:
1. The really 'upset' folks around me had no substantial food of their own. [Not very responsible?]
2. Folks were perhaps taking too much food at the c/points, food for later, as well as consuming at the c/point [maybe the checkpointers can confirm or otherwise].
3. Behaviours of a minority of participants was interesting!!

Maybe folks have begun to expect too much, and need to take back some responsibility for their own well-being in the hills on a challenging event.

Author: Paul Miller
Posted: Mon 27th Jun 2011, 21:39
Joined: 1986
Hmm. Yes the distances did seem fairly long between checkpoints and because of that I tended to need a longer rest when I reached them. But I knew that back in December so can't really complain.

Food was OK and I always had sufficient. One exception was CP2 where it seemed to be pandemonium when I arrived. At a the point when I had trotted nearly 20 miles I was ready to re-fuel, but I could hardly get into the checkpoint never mind get anything to eat.

There was perhaps slighly more ascent that a 'standard' 100, but again I already knew this so was not a surprise. However, I prefer hillier routes. The route also showed the best of the area which a low level route would not have done.

Cannot agree at all with point 4.

Overall it was a challenging 100 which was reflected in my slower than expected finishing time, but nontheless it was thoroughly enjoyable - in spite of the final climb.
Author: Dr. John Batham
Posted: Mon 27th Jun 2011, 19:51
Joined: 2007
Local Group: East Yorkshire
I've now walked with scores of people on socials after they participated in the Housman 100 and I am yet to find anyone who has not complained about: 1) too far between checkpoints 2) too little food, miserly rations into late Saturday evening, queuing for meagre handouts 3) too much ascent 4) execrable organisation. I don't see this reflected on the forum. Maybe we have 500 plus masochists who love complaining and stay in the closet.

I have no axe to grind, I'm just trying to get a handle on this event which absorbs so much effort in our organisation

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