Saturday 12th October 2013 saw the first Thanet Primary Schools Cross Country event take place here at Quex Park. Despite the bad weather the day before the event, on the day it was dry and sunny which dried the ground out enough and made for good running conditions for the 919 entries from 26 schools across Thanet.
As the first event went well, it was decided that Quex Park would now become the home of the Thanet Primary School Cross Country, which happens twice a year.
The next Race was then scheduled for Saturday 25th January 2014, however this did not happen due to the copious amount of rain fall that we had at the beginning of the year. So collectively, the event organisers and the management at Quex, decided to postpone it, with the view that the rain would stay away for a while and the meadow would have time to recover. The new event date was to be Saturday 1st March- as that was the only Saturday that was free in the schools event calendar.
Unfortunately, the rain continued to fall and at the final site visit on Friday 28th February the event was cancelled as the ground conditions were deemed unsafe for the children to run. We had to think logically about this- the ground was in a pretty bad state as it was, but we had to bear in mind that the final count of entries for this was over 800. Once they had all started running over the same track- the ground was only going to get worse!
The other deciding factor was of course the car park. As nice as it is to have a total of 37 acres at the front of the park to use for events and parking, it is unfortunate when we have bad weather, because parking on a wet field is not ideal!
Ok, so then we get to the summer of 2014 and start making plans for the next race- scheduled for Saturday 11th October 2014. Thankfully, we have had a very dry few months, so all is looking good. We have discussed the traffic management plan and signage, completed all safety paperwork & Risk Assessments, collected promotional material from the Powell-Cotton Museum, Laser Rush & a free entry ticket for all children taking part in the races to attend Jungle Jims. We have also agreed that we can start to build the bonfire for the Fireworks event in November- as it will be in the middle of the meadow so will not affect the race- but may raise some interest and encourage people to attend the event.
It is now 1 week until the event and we are completely on track…… and then the rain sets in! However, as the ground was so dry after a sunny few weeks, coupled with the high winds that we were getting at the same time, we did not see this as too much of a problem and didn’t panic!
The day before the event, it seemed to be fairly dry and the event organiser came to collect the keys, and seemed in fairly good spirits with everything being ready for them to arrive at 7am the following morning.
There are no surprises here- but at approx. 12.15am on Saturday 11th October, the heavens open and the rain came down almost continually throughout the early hours of the morning. However, when I arrived on site at 8.30am, the staff and volunteers from Thanet Athletics had done a great job at setting out the track and getting ready for the event to continue. Although it was till raining, and they knew that it was probably going to continue doing so, the ground was still firm, so there wasn’t a safety issue. Also, we had agreed to keep the grass long on the car parking field, and that was also still firm- so that was it… the event was going ahead!
It continued to rain through all 8 races that took place, but the sun did decide to make an appearance and the rain stopped just in time for the team to clear away. Out of the 834 entries for the event, over 600 turned up on the day to compete, which is a huge amount is considering the conditions.
The car parking field did not look too healthy by the end of the event, and certain high traffic areas across the field are going to need a little TLC before the Bonfire & Fireworks event. But at least we only had to call the 4x4 out once to help a vehicle that had got stuck in the mud!
So there you have it, a year in the life of a cross country event organiser!
After all of the ups, downs, changes & most of all rain, I would like to say that we are very proud to be hosting and sponsoring the largest event of this kind across the South East. It is fantastic that so many children across Thanet are given the opportunity to take part.
The event is organised by Thanet Athletics Club in partnership with the Marlowe Academy, and is supported by Quex Park, Thanet Road Runners, Thanet PASSPORT to Sport, Margate Ambulance Service and TDC Sport Matters. James Bridge, event organiser from The Marlowe Academy, said “The event has been a huge success and I have had some wonderful feedback from parents regarding the venue. We are very grateful to Quex Park for the huge amount of support they have provided, both leading up to the event and on the day itself. Thanet AC delivered the event on the day and without them this event wouldn't go ahead. We are also grateful to all the other organisations and volunteers who help to make these events possible.”