Ever thought about course measuring?

Uk Course measure logo

Do you run a lot?  Enjoy the occasional organised road race?  Have you ever considered giving something back to the sport you love?  So that you can be sure the event you have run is an accurate distance, the Race Director arranged for it to be measured by a trained Course Measurer beforehand.

Due to retirements, the Association of UK Course Measurers has  vacancies for course measurers in the UK.  Could you do it?  All you need is a bicycle, a notebook and a calculator.  The initial training is done online at a time to suit you, then you go out with a qualified measurer to practice what you have learned.  Actual measurements of events are done at a mutually agreeable time arranged with Race Directors, and it doesn't cost you anything except your time as all expenses are covered.

Think you've got what it takes?  Take a look at How do I become a course measurer?  And try the introductory lesson. 

Here is what led a new race organiser, Doug Hyde, to become a course measurer:

As an employee of event organisers Birmingham City Council, I had been competing in and organising (at a low level) running events since the early eighties. My professional role is in Transportation and Highways and, with this experience, I was asked two or three years ago by colleagues in the Events team for views and ideas for ahalf marathon event. This led to a number of options being developed, which were then discussed with various experienced race promoters. When a final preference was arrived at for the race, I was asked to accompany the official course measurer, former London Marathon winner Hugh Jones, to carry out the measure. The details of this process were unknown to me beforehand, as they probably are to nearly all race competitors!

The system used is to measure the course using a “Jones counter” (named after an American measurer, not Hugh) on a bicycle wheel. This sounds very basic, and it is, but it has the advantage of simplicity and, used properly, great accuracy. The device measures approximately one “count” per 10 cm.

Kym Wheeler, Measurement Secretary for the Midlands, writes in her book Running Loosely,

My foot went down into cold, muddy flood water.  My sock and cycling shoe were quickly soaked as the water flowed round my ankle.  I wiped the spots of rain off my glasses and leaned forward to read the digits on the Jones counter, positioned on my cycle hub, just above the flood.

This was not one of the easiest courses I had been asked to measure.  The start was in knee high grass. 

“It will be cut before the race”, assured the organiser, but for now it meant I started with wet feet and lower legs as I had to push my cycle until I reached the pot-hole filled track.  Water from the previous few days of torrential ran meant each pot-hole was a mini lake.

“They'll be filled in before the race,” assured the organiser, as I tried to ride a straight line over and through them all.  The stream overflowing the route “will have gone down before the race”, some 4 weeks hence.  The light rain turned to a more heavy rain as I continued to measure this 10km course.

Mike Sandford, Measurement Secretary for the South, writes,

Measuring on bright, dry days in scenic surroundings is wonderful. I have measured a 10k in the grounds of  “Downtown Abbey” (Highclere Castle), a marathon along the shores of Loch Ness, and, when I was younger, the 34 mile Dartmoor Discovery which has hills that I could no longer  hope to cycle up, without the help of the small electric motor I now have on my new bike.

And after doing the measurement:

When the measure is finished, the Race Director can go home.  The measurer will re-calibrate the bike as a double check of the figures, then sit down to do the paperwork. The paperwork can be a long job, taking several hours, as cryptic writing and drawings are transcribed onto official forms.  The scribbled notes have to make sense so that another measurer, who is not familiar with the course, could replicate it to confirm the distance, should a world or national record be set or broken at a future date.  A map also has to be provided, clearly detailing the start and finish and any complicated areas of the course. 

Think you could do it? Contact information on this link.