Thursday, 30 October 2008

Original Mountian Marathon

I'm going to stray a little from the subject of beer for this post, but it is related to the subject in a diverse way. It is an example, in this case extreme, of how a business that is providing a public service can have costs lumbered onto it by people who are not significant customers. A problem that is significant in The Lake District.

I have been following the difficulties of the Original Mountain Marathon that was held last weekend. There has been significant criticism of the event on the grounds of the safety of the competitors and the costs to the emergency services. The manager of the Honister Slate mines, who was inconvenienced by the shear number of casualties who sheltered at his mine, has spoken out about the event.

I have been a keen outdoor enthusiast in the past. I've been a rock climber and hill walker, been to the Alps and got stuck in a crevasse in a glacier and done all manner of activities where I put my life at risk. I like our mountain rescue system the way it is and the fact that generally individuals are not held too much in account for their actions. If we changed the system we would have a terrible litigation problem where blame was placed, inappropriately, on people for organising dangerous activities.

The organisers of the OMM must take stock of the event and decide for themselves if their actions were appropriate. I do believe though, that the competitors were taking part with eyes wide open. They knew the dangers of the mountains, it is an event for hardened athletes. How the costs of the public services are met might be an issue to be discussed between organisers and the emergency services, but as the organisers are, I believe, volunteers, their should be a "there for the grace of god go I" attitude.

The impact of these events on the businesses that do not benefit from such events can be great. There is hardly a day goes by at my location without some poor fell walker who has come off the mountain the wrong side, car driver who has had a double blowout on the pass or lost tourist asking for help and using staff time without spending money - or the traveler who just wishes to use the toilet without buying a drink.

I am not surprised that Mike Weir, who is the manager of The Honister Slate Mines, is a little upset about the event.

In David Pickthalls report in a local paper, there is comment by the organisers of the event saying that it brings in revenue to the lake district. That, I'm afraid, is not significant. The Three Peaks challenge, the OMM and orienteering events such as these put pressure on the infrastructure and businesses of the Lake District that far outweigh any revenue.

The main point is that it puts costs on the Lake District businesses without due return in revenue. A pub is one such type of Lake District business. This in turn puts up the price of the Lake District pint.


Velky Al said...

I have never understood this thing about popping into a pub for a pee without sitting down and having a pint.

Now I appreciate people lead busy lives and get caught short on occassion, but just because it is a pub doesn't give someone carte blanche to nip in for a quick whizz.

Afterall a pub is as much a business as a bank, and I yet to meet anyone who has popped into his local Lloyds to use the loo.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Just for update. It seems the OMM have donated some money to the rescue teams - this, I believe would have happened anyway.

see BBC News

ssshhhh, we also have one room booked out this weekend, it would seem as a spin why am I complaining?