Becoming a Marshal

Marshals are required to closely watch each competitor drive through “their” part of the section and to score and record the penalty points (onto each drivers scorecard) and to “police” the event to ensure that everyone involved has a safe days trialling. Without marshals there would be no events and so, as a club, we are always indebted to these unsung heroes. And we can always use more – there is no such thing as too many marshals at an event!

Ideally a typical off road trial event needs a minimum of around 8 marshals who are supervised by the Clerk of the Course. It is possible to manage an event with less than this, especially if there are a low number of competitors, but in the main more is better than less, and too few marshals will mean no trial can be held!

Marshals are club members or associates who have either given up one of their trialling days or are someone who enjoys being involved in the event but without actually competing.

Becoming a marshal is also a great way in which to learn the ins and outs of trialling (from the sidelines so to speak) while still enjoying a full days off road competition.

The duties of a marshal are to score and record penalty points collected by each competitor and ensure the safety of all concerned. All of our off road events follow a similar pattern with competitors being required to drive along a pre-set course of twelve sections during the day, each section consisting of twelve gates which must be driven through. Each gate is marked by two canes placed at least a Land Rover width apart (normally) each gate carrying a number, from 12 down to 1. The competitors have to drive each section without hitting a gate or stopping. Hit a gate and you are out, fail to reach a gate and you’re out, stop and your out, argue with a marshal and your out. You are then awarded the appropriate number of penalties relative to your stop.

The marshals are ‘always right’

Marshals are not just there to give out scores, they also have a very important safety role and have to look out for anything that is or could be dangerous. For instance, the Start Marshal will hold each competitor at the start line, check to see that the vehicle is all in one piece (no obvious signs of bodywork hanging off) check that the doors are shut tight and that each occupant is wearing a seat belt. Then, when given the word by marshals further down the section that all ahead is clear, the Start Marshal instructs the competitor to “start when ready”. Being a Start Marshal is a great way for a new member to get to know everyone, there is always a few minutes to chat to the competitors, have a joke and wish them luck.

Being a Gate Marshal has the added excitement of watching the competitors struggle round the difficult parts of the sections.

Depending on how many marshals turn up for an event you may be watching two or three gates, spotting for those errors and calling ‘foul’ and then marking the points scored on each competitors card accordingly. Marshals also have to look out for the safety of spectators who may sometimes get a little too close to the action. There’s a lot of common sense involved but also a certain amount of training which the club will provide.

Any new member wishing to start off by becoming a marshal on a regular or adhoc basis is always welcome to come along to an event and make him or herself known to the Clerk of the Course who will provide some on site training and will, initially, pair you up with an experienced marshal for your “On the Job Training”. So if you have an interest in competitive off road trails, complete the on-line application to ‘Join Our Club’ and then check out the list of ‘Club Activities’ and come along to the next event. You will need suitable clothing (normally protecting you from the cold and wet, but occasionally the Factor 30 will be needed), rations for the day – oh and a pen to mark those scorecards!