Sunday, 26 October 2008

True Grit...?

Yesterday evening, watching the news, you could have been forgiven for imagining a disaster unfolding in the Lake District, as BBC reporters breathlessly announced the poor weather conditions that forced the cancellation of the Original Mountain Marathon.

Yet, reading between the lines, the barely-suppressed panic and almost ghoulish anticipation of mass casualties didn't give the full picture:
The competitors were said to be in good spirits after being fed and sheltered and many backed the decision to start the event - some even regretted it was called off.

Organisers today faced the task of accounting for everyone who set off in the event.
Which won't be as difficult as the reports last night might have led you to believe:
Many of the entrants who camped out overnight were experienced fell runners and seasoned mountaineers who carried suitable equipment to cope with adverse weather.
Indeed, it was a condition of entry in the event:
All entrants, ranging from elite and beginner mountain runners to orienteers, fell walkers and mountaineers, had to bring suitable kit.
So why the panic? Well, it seems the BBC were taking most of their information from Honister Slate Mine manager Mark Weir:
Mr Weir said the race should have been called off.

"Now we've got several hundred, into the thousand, stranded, cold, tired, some hypothermic," he said.

"We've overwhelmed the emergency services - the poor mountain rescue are out trying to find people on the side of the mountain, in the dark. It's just a bizarre day."
Now, I've no desire to run up a mountain in the pouring rain. In fact, I've no desire to watch other people do it!

But why the panic over experienced fell walkers and mountaineers?

9 comments:

Longrider said...

Because it makes a good story. Never let facts get in the way of a good story. First rule of journalism.

"Experienced and well-equipped fell walkers get wet" doesn't quite cut the mustard.

JuliaM said...

Oh, so true.

But even so, the hysteria seems a little, I don't know, 'off' to me. Aren't there more important things going on in the world..?

Plus the 'it's overwhelming the emergency service, OMG!' just rings a little false.

If they are capable of being overwhelmed by this
(which I find to be hyperbole), what are they going to do the next time Mr & Mrs Average go trotting up a mountain dressed in sandals and t-shirts in the middle of December?

Will said...

Because it is fashionable not to accept that people can and ought to be responsible for their own actions. Those particating enjoy taking risks - they are not Mr and Mrs Stupid in t-shirts and sandals, either - and ought to be viewed as having given knowing and voluntary consent to the risks and any adverse consequence.

JuliaM said...

"Those particating enjoy taking risks - they are not Mr and Mrs Stupid in t-shirts and sandals, either..."

No, they aren't. That was my point.

So, why are the MSM treating this as a catastophe? And giving so much space to Mark 'OMG! The sky is falling!' Weir?

Anonymous said...

The competitors are experienced and well equipped, if they were not, they would not get past the safety briefing and kit check. Each stage of the event is in contact by radio with the control. The major difference is that unlike most other fell races where there is one fixed route, on this event there are several that may be selected by the perticipants themselves in addition to the fixed control points they must reach. In these conditions it takes longer to reach these fixed points and account for the competitors. Having been involved in similar events, I know how grim it can be for the organisers and the checkpoint staff. The BBC comments about cost are risible, most of the checkpoints were manned by experienced members of RAYNET the National Emergencey Communications Network who are all highly experienced mountaineers themselves. The Police and Moutain Rescue knew of this event MONTHS ago and have almost certainly been kept informed about it and their input welcomed.
Of course this does not fit the "narrative", people cannot be allowed to think for themselves. They should only be involved with healthy, state sponsored and organised events.
Michael G7AZW
(Too bone idle to get round to getting an I/d)

JuliaM said...

"Of course this does not fit the "narrative", people cannot be allowed to think for themselves. They should only be involved with healthy, state sponsored and organised events."

That would certainly seem to be the message the MSM is pushing, Michael...

Will said...

Hi, Julia

You asked why the story had been promoted by the MSM, giving Mr Weir's view such prominence.

For the MSM, a combination of it making a good story and not accepting that people can be responsible for their actions.

If we accept that the MSM have put Mr Weir’s views across fairly, I can only speculate about his position.

It may simply be that his altruism has been needed, or taken for granted. He had to help 300 people who descended upon his property. They were unable to leave the area. He did not turn them away.

Was there frustration that his altruism, or his organisation’s resources, had to be used to help persons attracted to the area by another organisation, and he simply gave vent? Perhaps he wants payment for use of his facilities. Who from? His unexpected guests? The organisation that arranged the event? The taxpayer? Perhaps he simply wants to promote his business.

Looking at his web site today, perhaps he is concerned that the story the MSM was anxious to promote might discourage future customers for his business, which he claims is England’s highest tourist attraction.

See:
http://www.honister-slate-mine.co.uk.

Spot of backpedalling?

Will

Umbongo said...

This story shows the same panic-inducing behaviour as the Met Office. No forecast of heavy (or even not so heavy but relatively prolonged) rain is complete without an official Met Office "Weather Warning" and so on up the scare ratchet.

Cold weather in October/November? Unprecedented, of course, and the Met Office responds with this bollocks. It's public servants seeking to justify their existence (at our expense) and should be ignored where possible.

JuliaM said...

"Spot of backpedalling?"

Hmm, looks very like it...

I wouldn't blame the guy for seeking recompense for the costs he'd incurred, but the hysterical nature of his comments must have, in the cold grey light of dawn, been an 'ooops!' moment. ;)