As I walked to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this morning it was a very different experience to the last time. I knew where I was going. I knew what to expect. I had my comfy “I can walk for miles” walking boots on. I was a veteran.
I had already been warned through our WhatsApp group that I would’t be able to get in through last year’s staff entrance and was soon through the new route and found myself in the registration area waiting for the safety briefing.
It was great to walk in and see so many people I knew from last year. It was like meeting up with old friends who I hadn’t seen for ages.
This year I had come prepared. I had my super comfy boots on and I had a book . There can be times where there is a lot of waiting around, especially on the first couple of days, but I didn’t need to read any pages. I was too busy talking to the others & getting used to the changes to the track.
Once everyone had completed their safety inductions and received their kit we headed off to the start/finish point, where Ron (the head of the Safety On Track team) gave us our team briefing. This year it all made complete sense and I hardly took any notes at all. The roles of our team & the track marshals at the various points around the track were pretty much the same as last year, with a couple of differences because of the change in the track.
Next came the visit to Fred’s place to receive our red overalls. Fred usually guesses the correct size for you first time. For me he’s got it wrong every time. If you just look at my height he’d probably have nailed it, but he either couldn’t see exactly how ’round’ I am or was being polite. Either way, I ended up changing my overalls for a larger size and rolling up the legs and arms.
This is also where we practiced manoeuvring the golf carts with a trailer attached. One of Fred’s guys had set up some cones that we had to drive round so he could decide whether we were safe enough to be let loose around the rescue lane. As he was demonstrating what he wanted us to do he took out one of the massive green bins with the corner of the trailer, I’m guessing to show us what NOT to do. Having driven a golf buggy last year I negotiated the course successfully and found out at the end of the day that I was one of the designated drivers for Team Charlie. I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or not. Last year there was one particularly tight corner but this year there are a few places so tight that you automatically breath in when negotiating them. We, however, are the Safety On Track team and our mission is to get any broken down cars back to the paddock as safely and quickly as we can so that the students can fix their cars & have them back out on track a.s.a.p.
The young people who compete in the Shell Eco-marathon have put their hearts & souls into building their cars and want to have the maximum amount of practice time as well as competition time.
I made sure I took a walk around the paddock at lunch time to see many of the teams preparing their vehicles. The cars and the young people who have built them are impressive. I can;t wait to see these incredible creations out on the track.
Good luck everyone!