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LB's Me_Groovy Goes Marshalling At The Isle Of Man TT

By: Mian Cowell | Published 18 December 2011, 17:47 | Views: 4,464 | tags: isle of man, monster, tourist trophy, tt races, road racing, marshalling, officials, training, begarrow cross-roads, sidecars, ballaugh, st johns ambulance
We all know about the Isle of Man TT race yes? Possibly the biggest motorbike event in the UK every year and something of a legend sure we all (well, most fans at least) know names like John McGuiness and Joey Dunlop while the more enthusiastic might even be familiar with the TTXGP series held there too.
The Tourist Trophy, like all race meetings, isn’t just about the riders and the glamour because without volunteers like the Marshals it wouldn’t happen. To give us a taste of what being a Race Marshal is all about we have member Mian’s (Me_Groovy) account of his stint in orange overalls last year.


Mian's Account

A couple of years ago on holiday I heard of the TT Marshal’s Association (TTMA) and their need for ordinary members of the public to be Marshals at racing events on the island. I thought this seemed a grand idea so I duly signed up and was booked in for an incident management training session with St Johns Ambulance. I can highly recommend this to any biker whether you are following it with Marshal training or not. I learnt how to deal with a fellow biker who’s had an accident; how to prioritise what to deal with first, public safety, fire control and most importantly first aid including CPR. In addition some of the TT crew were there to give a session on how the race is managed and training on using the radios.

A few months later my bike Nicola and I made our way to Liverpool. Thankfully I have family on the island so accommodation was never going to be a problem but I booked very late and only just managed to get a place for me and my ninja on the ferry a couple of days before practice week (I recommend booking on the Seacat, the crossing’s only half as long!).

Once there I had a slow lap of the course which was wonderful, did some sightseeing and saw some family and friends but unfortunately on my second lap my aged bike blew a con-rod on the mountain. Lucky for me I had a way of getting it back to my digs but the poor girl wasn’t going anywhere under her own steam anytime soon. Bang went my transport!

The next day I got down to the race paddock and registered with the TTMA but without wheels I could only get myself to the closest Marshalling Point so I was stationed at Begarrow crossroads and issued with my marshalling pack. Reporting to the point that evening I found my fellow Marshals very friendly and happy to let me take a back seat while I learned the ropes. The crossroads are a very popular spectator point as you can see the riders coming from down the Cronk-y-voddy straight and it’s a blind corner with an apex before a downhill straight so very fast and very exciting!

My marshalling duties passed mostly without incident, thankfully, although I was called into action twice.

Firstly was with a sidecar which went passed with what I thought was quite a lot of smoke. These bikes are redlining 95% of the time so oil loss happens quite often, I radioed this in to the Chief Sector Marshal who had someone further up the track double-check it. This was the day after the double-fatality that occurred further at Ballaugh so everyone’s tensions were high. Bear in mind that these bikes are going past at upwards of 140mph, it helps to have a keen eye to spot potential problems!

The second was another sidecar which had ejected its passenger on the previous straight and the rider went past looking incredulously at where his mate should be! The guy had to be flagged down to stop and the poor passenger broke his neck albeit not seriously. This accident thankfully had a happy ending as the passenger was ok thanks to the Marshals on the scene who could stabilise him before the helicopter could get there and he would make a full recovery.

The rest of the practise and races passed without a problem, over time I was entrusted with the fire equipment, flags and the radio which was very trusting of them!

Overall I highly recommend signing up to marshal if you are thinking of going to see the races. The training I had before I got there isn’t compulsory (you can sign up to be a Marshal and not take the course) as there are always fully trained and experienced people beside you to tell you what to do and you’ll never be left on your own, but not doing them does limit what you’ll be asked to do. You really get to see the races close up and from vantage points not visited by anyone else.

There’s also the benefit of helping support the sport you love, the TT course has over 300 corners and they need 500+ marshals for every practise and every race, otherwise the event simply gets cancelled! You will have been part of a very exclusive club with a huge “been there done that” amount of kudos points!

Marshalling is a very exciting way to watch racing, standing on the pavement and having a superbike come ripping past at 160, so fast that your body shakes, is so exhilarating. The TT is the best road race in the world for a reason, there’s no gravel traps like a race track, often no run-off, no nice wide corners; it’s all tight, all twisty and all very very exciting. Every biker should make a pilgrimage there at some point in their lives and once you do, you’ll be planning for next year as soon as you get home.

Help out your sport the Marshals’ Association said, spectate at great vantage points they said, gain the respect of the riders they said.

They weren’t kidding.

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RobC | 18 June 2012, 13:23
Totally agree, was a marshal at this years's TT. Loved it so much I'm just back and have booked the ferries for next year!!!
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