Re: dibber or die !!
That's what race registration is for - everyone collects their dibbers (or registers their own) and this indicates that the person is going to run the race. I think it's very odd to have to hand a tag in to say you've started - if you've registered on the morning of the race and collected your number, it's usual to start the race! On the rare occasion someone doesn't start after registering, the onus is on them to report to registration/download and say as such, as is the case if you decide to drop out enroute and DNF - bans have been handed out to people for not doing this I believe.
Originally Posted by Mark G
You have also taken perhaps the most extreme example here, but ok. Assuming your 2/3 hr estimate is correct (which isn't necessarily true - it is possible to drive to Wasdale head and walk from there, although admittedly still a long drive), it won't make any difference whether the marshal is taking numbers on a piece of paper or using a dibber box - the marshal would still have the 2/3 hour walk back to race HQ and the first runners would still be back (as is the case in the majority of long fell races I suspect - the front runners will be in well before the back markers get to the later CPs). In your example, the marshal on Kirk Fell has no way of knowing under any system whether a particular runner has got to say, Red Pike, gone through the CP, but then say along High Stile, decided to drop out and so heads back into the valley and back to HQ.
The tags system is an extreme Luddite version of the SI system in my opinion as well - it doesn't allow monitoring of numbers on the hill (is a marshal going to sit and count all those tags on the hillside - of course not!) and so is therefore merely a system of determining whether a runner went to a certain CP - and a slow one at that - the SI system takes seconds to upload. Even in a race with smaller numbers, it would take hours to manually register each individual labelled tag against a list of runners. The system is also not completely reliable - what happens if someone drops one out the bag?
I grant you, the SI system is not completely foolproof (no system is), but the boxes are extremely reliable - orienteering events have shown this - the boxes are often out in all weathers for 24hrs+ and you have the possibility if it's required for "live tracking" via radio controls if required, or, as I've said before, I am sure the system could be developed whereby a marshal plugs his smartphone into the box and it immediately downloads an accurate count of the number of runners that have passed and even a list with times. Again, not foolproof, but quicker and easier than the alternatives in my opinion.
To me the argument against using technology in fell racing/running is a Luddite view - you all seem to have this "sepia-tinted" view of the sport, yet how many of you wear the latest fell shoes (even walshes have changed over the years to new materials, although I admit the design is virtually the same), how many of you have the latest lightweight gore-tex jacket, running tights, shirts etc.....
Richard Foster, Abbey Runners Leeds