Marble Falls Tri-Athlon

We had two of my groups supporting the Tri-Athlon today. We had several motorcyclists from my so-called m/c “gang” (we have an email list named Psycle, derived from the fact that for me motorcycling is a psychiatric event), and ham radio operators from our local Highland Lakes Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) group (sponsored in part by the Highland Lakes Amateur Radio Club). ARES, the Amateur Radio Emergency Services® is a function of the Amateur Radio Relay League. Also joining our local hams were a number of folks from the far East:  Georgetown and Hutto, from the Sun City Amateur Radio Society!  A full list of the participants is below.

ARES units participate in events of this nature in order to practice and sharpen our skills in the event of an actual communications emergency where the normal modes — telephones, cell phones, public service and law enforcement — of communication may fail. Amateur Radio is not simply another hobby, but is an avenue to life-saving public service.  Emergency communications is a large part of our public service fulfilling the motto “When all else fails … Amateur Radio works.”

The MF Tri-A consists of a 1k swim, 23 mile bike ride out Hwy 71 inclusive of some killer hills, and a 4.4 mile run down Pecan Valley and thereabouts. The motorcyclists and mobile hams serve to buffer the bicyclists against traffic since the route takes them on some busy highways, including US 281 between Marble Falls and the TX71 interchange. The mobile hams can also pick up a rider who has broken down or is injured. One of the motorcyclists is also a ham and had communications on his bike while the other motorcyclists had cell phone access back to me as the Net Control Station where I could then dispatch a ham in a vehicle to assist. I think there were seven transports, one of which was for a crash resulting in some serious road rash.

Here’s a great shot by Jim Wreyford of the swim course.

Swim at the Tri-Athlon (click for bigger)

For me the highlight of the day was the courage and sheer “guts” shown by one female who finished way last, but finished. When she made the biking 1/2 point turnaround, the lead runner had already finished! His time must have been around 1-1/2 hours total, and the gal’s was around four hours. She was walking at the last as I followed her in but by golly she finished! Another runner (seemingly not in the competition) had hooked up with her and no doubt was a lot of encouragement. I followed them in to be sure the runner was ok, and could see her buddy talking, gesturing a lot, obviously very animated. I think the distraction and encouragement probably helped. Like Marc Bittner say: 90% of it is half mental!

The hams and motorcyclists participating were:

Thanks to all of  these guys for giving up their Sunday. Some came from a long way off, and had a very early start to boot.

Participants
I’m working on detailed stats, but my guess is that a total (not including to/from the event) of 45 human hours was involved using radio equipment worth a total of  $1500-3000 (plus vehicles) and motorcycles worth a total of at least $75,000.  PLUS, Jim Wreyford, K5JSW, checked in as Air Mobile and overflew the swim but did not spot anyone who needed to be rescued! I have no idea how to value his airplane   🙂
Here’s another perspective of support for the Tri-Athlon, and actually demos something that amateur EmComm operations can include. Jim’s GPS track in the air. You can see where he covered the course.

Jim's track