Protest regarding Course 4 (M45 & M50)
Jury: Nev Baker (TVOC) Graham Louth (WAOC) Alan Rosen (HH)
Course 4 (and some other courses) had a control (149) which ensured that competitors took a particular route to comply with the landowner’s request.
This was approximately 30 metres W of control 150 which had an identical description of path crossing. Competitors on Course 4 (on any sensible route) would all have passed 150 on the way to 149.
One competitor on M45 punched 150 instead of 149 and was therefore disqualified.
The organising team considered the fact that the two controls were so close together and decided to void the two legs. This had the effect of placing the disqualified competitor in third place and therefore moving the previously third-placed competitor to fourth.
The (now) fourth-placed competitor submitted a protest on the grounds that the third- placed competitor had not visited 149 and should be disqualified.
The overall gap between the two competitors on the course with all controls/legs included was 11 seconds.
The Jury confirmed that the two controls clearly breached Rule 22.4: Controls within 60 metres of each other must not be positioned on similar features or on features that appear similar in the terrain.
It’s worth noting Rule 6.2.3 does allow the two controls to be close under certain circumstances, but not on M45/50 at a British Champs. The 60m limit may also be breached for younger junior courses e.g. when two successive decision points come close together on a white course.
Rule 7.10.3 says, If a top competitor’s position in the race is lower in the unadjusted results than in the adjusted results list, then the race could be considered to have been seriously affected. By top competitor, the Jury interprets this as including those in potential medal positions at the British Middle Champs, which is the case here.
The Jury confirm that the Organiser therefore did need to take action to mitigate the issue which was caused by the two controls being so close to each other.
|1. Void Course 4||The Rules recommend (but don’t insist on) voiding the whole course where there has been a ‘serious problem’ at a major event||This would affect both classes on the course and potentially all courses that visited either but not both of the controls, so many competitors would have no result even though the issues affected relatively few|
|2. Void the two legs either side of 149||This recognises that control 149 was not fair according to the Rules and removes the affected part of the course||Removing part of a course does not necessarily make the race fair|
|3. Reinstate the disqualified competitor||
This recognises that control 149 was not fair and retains the whole race which most runners ran without any problem.
The Rules (11.2) give discretion to reinstate where the mispunch wasn’t the competitor’s fault*.
It is not possible to say with certainty that punching one of 149 and 150 gave very similar leg times; some competitors reported stopping at 150 to check the code and then going on to 149 which could have cost a few seconds.
*We recognise that there is always an expectation that competitors should check codes
The Jury looked at the effect of Options 2 and 3 on the results. The two competitors affected had almost identical splits from #4 to #6 (differing by 1 second) so there is no tangible evidence to show that going to 150 instead of 149 gave any significant advantage, nor that going past 150 and checking the code would have made 12 seconds difference to the split times.
Applying Option 2 and Option 3 had identical outcomes; the previously disqualified competitor moved into third place and the previously third-placed moved to fourth place.
The Jury has decided to go for Option 3 and, while we have great sympathy for the protest, do not uphold it.
We recognise that none of the options is ideal and that having the two controls so close is unfortunate for all concerned.
The Rules confirm that...An ‘appeal’ is permitted to be made against the jury’s decision with regard to a protest. All appeals must be made in writing and within fourteen days of the decision of the jury being announced or communicated to the persons making the protest.
Any appeal would be heard by the Events & Competition Committee.
Alan Rosen on behalf of the Jury
7 March 2022