Adventure Racing Coromandel endeavour to provide the safest environment possible for the competitors of all the races it organises, including K2 (K1 and 1/4K). This includes working closely with the Police and traffic management experts to ensure optimum safety conditions for each race. For K2 it is not practical to obtain a full road closure. Accordingly consideration must also be given to members of the general public who wish to use the road on race day. A simple and very effective step that assists both competitors and the general public, is to ensure that there is as little traffic as possible on the road.
One way to achieve that aim is the prohibition of all K2 (K1 and 1/4K) supporter vehicles on the road during the race, and stopping K1 competitors and supporters travelling to their start and finish lines in the same direction as the riders.
It is stated clearly in the Event Regulations (on the website and on the printed entry form) that:
“support vehicles are not allowed to follow their cyclists around the course. Support vehicles and spectators on the road are a huge danger to cyclists in an event like the K2. We will be monitoring this closely this year and will disqualify cyclists where support vehicles are identified”.
To further enforce the seriousness of the rule, Declarations were signed by riders acknowledging they would not be supported by a vehicle on the course.
Additional Safety Notes and Rules were in each race pack collected by competitors before the race. These repeated the rule that:
“support/spectator vehicles are not allowed on the course. Any competitor that is seen being supported by a vehicle will be disqualified”.
On the 5th February TV3 screened the first interview with Brett Burton, the K2 competitor injured in the serious accident during the 2008 running of K2. While Brett is still suffering from the consequences of that accident, we are gladdened to see that he is progressing well and is riding again. We also understand that the Police have commenced a formal review of their initial decision not to prosecute the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident.
It was during the screening of that TV3 interview that the organisers of K2 first became aware of the assertion that the vehicle involved in the crash, described as a white Nissan, may have been driven by a supporter of a K2 Rider.
The organisers of K2 have determined that if further information is received that enables them to identify the driver of the vehicle and the rider being supported, that rider will be immediately disqualified.
In 2009 there will be additional marshals on the course, they will make note of the registration number of any vehicle that appears to them to be flouting the rule. If the corresponding rider can be identified, he or she will be disqualified.
As stated above, we consider the safety of riders as paramount. It goes without saying that riders also have to assume personal responsibility and remain safe, especially as there cannot be a complete road closure for this race. It seems timely to remind all riders that the race materials and the additional Safety Notes and Rules state:
“that the roads are not closed to traffic or other road users. Make sure you keep to your side of the road at all times, under no circumstances cross lanes onto the right hand side”.
This is repeated at race briefing. Unfortunately this is not always adhered to. The official race photographer for K2, K1 and the 1/4K has sent us a photo from the 2008 race showing one of the bigger packs well over the centre line on a blind corner. This is clearly in breach of the race rules, the road code and just plain dangerous. Riding of this nature also jeopardises the ability of Adventure Racing Coromandel to obtain Police approval and support for the continued running of the race.
In 2009 consideration will be given to disqualifying riders who clearly breach this rule.
Andy Keith and Rita.