HAMNET Report 16 April 2017

HAMNET Western Cape participated yesterday in the management of the Two Oceans Marathon, said to be the most beautiful marathon in the world. In fairly decent weather, 17000 runners set off on the 21km  half-marathon event, and another 11000 ran the 56km Ultra race.

HAMNET’S role was to support the medical management of runners who were injured or retired along the way. To that end, we activated 6 minibus sweep vans, with a radio operator in each, patrolling the route and responding to calls to pick up runners who had opted out for one or other reason. We also had 3 Rover vehicles patrolling and being available to respond rapidly to any kind of emergency situation, relating to accidents, weather, or community situations along the way. There was also a courtesy vehicle manned to fetch any runners seen at a hospital and discharged, and return them to the finish; and a back marker, driven by a HAMNET member following behind the last runner. There were three timed cut-off points, one on the half-marathon, and two on the ultra, one at the 25Km mark, and another at the 42,2km marathon mark, removing from the field runners who had no chance of reaching the finish by 13h40, the final cut-off. These three cut-off points were manned by HAMNET members, all advertising their presence with our brand-new HAMNET feather banners, and helping to supervise, and report on, the cut-offs as laid out in the race regulations. Two of us manned the HAMNET radio room at the main Venue Operations Centre at Tygerberg Hospital’s Provincial Emergency Management Centre, and conveyed messages of a medical nature to the ambulance despatch team, as well as SAPS and Traffic Police, and Race organisers.

All mobile vehicles were tracked using a commercial tracking system, and the entire race route was visible, and all the vehicles tracked, on a huge TV wall in the disaster centre. Satellite weather pictures, and live TV coverage of important spots and front runners were all visible, and the senior medical personnel reacted to situations as they arose, and directed the response to situations.

Luckily the weather played ball, and the runners ran in a mild south-easterly wind, with maximum temperature of 25 degrees, and clear skies. There were no serious accidents or injuries on the route, though several runners were seen at hospitals, and kept overnight, or discharged after minor treatment. As so often happens in situations like this, the ones that are so organised that they cater for all eventualities, are the ones in which nothing calamitous happens. Thank goodness for that. Thank you to all the volunteers who made the race a success. I hope you slept well last night after the early start.

I promised you last week I’d tell you about early plans for the Comrades Marathon. Keith Lowes ZS5WFD, KZN Regional Director, says his team attended their first planning meeting at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday 5th April.  The race is an up run starting outside the Durban (Ethekwini) City Hall at 05H30 on Sunday 4th June 2017.  The route remains the same as in 2015 except for the last 6Km before the finish into the stadium.  The race distance is just under 88Km.  A total of 46 water tables have been provided, of which at least 40 will require manning by radio operators.

The race will proceed along Old Main Road in Pinetown again, as the contractors of the “Go Durban” rapid transit system have assured race organisers that all road works will be completed in time. The finish will be at the Scottsville Race Course, as the previous venue at Alexander park was very congested, and the infrastructure did not comply with safety requirements.

Once again it will be a team effort between Hamnet, and REACT (the Citizen Band Radio organisation), and hopefully the Land Cruiser Club will assist us again this year. The main frequencies to be used will be 145.625MHz (the Highway Club repeater) and 145.750MHz (the Midlands Club repeater).

We look forward to hearing more of this combined exercise by KwaZulu Natal HAMNET and other helpers. Thanks for the news so far, Keith.

From what I can gather, our former HAMNET National Director, Francois Botha, has relinquished his ZS6 call-sign, by taking up residence in the Judicial Capital of the country, Bloemfontein. This is, of course, a very sensible choice, because Bloemfontein is a very nice place. I should know because I was born there! Francois and Estelle had recognised the value of scaling down, and moving to a gated retirement community in Bloemfontein was their ideal. And so we are going to have to get used to his Division 4 call sign, which is ZS4X. We hope you have formally moved in, Francois, and that you and Estelle will rapidly settle in and feel at home in your new environment. I’m sure HAMNET South Africa joins me in wishing you both well.

You digital communications enthusiasts will be happy to hear that Cape Town has finally entered the VHF and UHF digital era, with the installation of the first formal DMR/D-STAR repeater system on Bottelary mountain in the mid-southern Peninsula. Repeating D-STAR on both VHF and UHF, and DMR on UHF, capable of handling Yaesu’s System Fusion, and connected to the internet in the usual way, its presence will soon be found on the repeater lists for enthusiasts. There are not many digitally-equipped amateurs in Cape Town yet, but let’s hope the technology “goes viral”, to borrow a phrase, and users quickly join the ranks. Thank you to the Repeater Working Group’s senior technical boffins for installing this one quietly in the last 2 weeks.

May I take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy Easter, and a relaxing long weekend? And please drive carefully!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.