This year more than 1,700 runners left the starting line of one of the most impressive ultra trails in Spain. The Hiru Haundiak has a 101 kilometre course that tops the three highest mountains in the Basque Country (Gorbea, Anboto and Aizkorri).
Running this race is a feat, but so is timing it. A team of 17 people were responsible for timing it for 24 hours in the 14 timing points that had the race, 7 of them equipped only with our portable timing system TSPortable. The race could also be followed live through the App Live.
We spoke to Jose Pinar (Sport Run), responsible for the timing of the Hiru Haundiak.
Was it your first time timing the Hiru Haundiak?
Yes, it was the first time we timed it, although we had timed other similar races, such as the Ultra Trail Bosques del Sur in Cazorla (Spain).
What is the greatest difficulty in timing this type of race?
The major challenge is the coverage to be able to send the readings in real time. In the mountains the coverages are not usually very good. In this case we had to use multi-SIM cards to not have problems with this issue and even so at some timing point was difficult to find coverage.
For the Hiru Haundiak this was not a limitation. The timing points that posed the greatest problem were those that were timed with TSPortable because, as they were difficult to access, they didn’t have much coverage. What we did was to look for a place in each point where there was a minimum coverage to be able to send the readings.
What timing service did the organization requested?
We were asked for 14 timing points, of which 10 had to be manual points with TSPortable and four with TS2 systems. We talked to the organization to identify the timing points with more difficult accessibility and in them we placed the TSPortable systems and in the places of easy accessibility, so that the organization could spare a volunteer, we placed TS2 devices.
Finally we timed 7 timing points with boxes and 7 points with TSPortable. Apart from that, we also used the App and made the Live.
How many people collaborated to time the Hiru Haundiak?
In total we were 17 persons: 14 persons distributed one in each intermediate timing point; 2 persons of logistics in charge of the mounting and dismounting of all those points; and a timer that was 24 hours facing the computer in the finish line. That last one was me.
Those who were at intermediate points were all volunteers and any doubts they might have were solved by telephone with me.
How was the experience of timing with so many TSPortable?
The truth is that it was good, it surprised me. I was very scared because I had never tried it and the truth is that the experience was very good. I would recommend it for ultra trails, mountain races with difficult accessibility, control points where access is very limited… It is very fast and the readings are very good.
How does timing a race like this with TSPortable improve your experience?
In other trails we used boxes. With TSPortable timing is much easier. You do not need any type of vehicle to move to a location, you do not need to carry weight, it is much more manageable.
What impression did the app Live make on the Hiru Haundiak organization?
They thought the app was wonderful. Without the need for the participants to install the GPS, we had a time prediction of what time they were going to go through each of the timing points. People loved that, because the prediction was very real, we could have a margin of error of only about two or three minutes for each of the participants.
What are the next big races on your calendar?
Next November 4th we have the 20K Alicante Santa Pola. There are about 3,000 participants in a new event, an innovative one. It takes place all along the coast from Alicante to Santa Pola with a route with which you never miss the sea.
In January we will time the mythical Santa Pola Half Marathon, where every year there have been about 5,000 participants. It is the most important race in Alicante.