The sun shone, the temperatures were on the cool side – just right for a marathon. Section A at Pine Tree uses several pieces of property. Using private property often severely limits the options, and also often means that that part of the course can’t be ‘walked.’ Training level and first time competitors were given a special course walk over this section. Even so, a few managed to get a little lost. Course walks are not social occasions, the point of a course walk is to make notes of where the track makes a turn, where the kilometer markers are, other landmarks to help make your way to the end of the section on time.
As an organizer and official, the one plan you never want to have to put into effect is the “emergency plan.” When you hear the announcer give the heads up for a loose horse, you immediately think someone turned over in an obstacle. Of course with my gimpy leg, I wasn’t in a place to see what was happening, but could listen to the radio at our scoring table. At first it was a little confusing, as it often is. Loose horses typically run back toward the stables, and this one did. The incident occured at the rest halt when the horse shook and his bridle came off. EMTs were on the scene within minutes and within minutes not only was an ambulance on its way, but a helicopter also. The driver sustained a serious leg fracture when the horse ran through a dense brush/tree row and the driver was ejected. The entire competition was put on hold until the helicopter landed and left. It seemed like a long time, but was actually less than an hour. And the report a couple of hours later was that the driver was in surgery at a hospital in Raleigh.
In true Pine Tree fashion, a buffet table provided sustenance for competitors and volunteers while awards were handed out. It is amazing how quickly competitors pack up and clear out, and the clean up begins. What takes weeks to set up, disappears in hours.