Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Target 30 and other marathons

The photo above is the only image I have from the occasion when twelve Glasgow Young Curlers took part in the first curling marathon at Crossmyloof, March 7-8, 1970. I was one of them, and, with six aside, our target was thirty hours. That's the late Alfie Cron delivering the stone.

It was all great fun. Yes, we were tired afterwards, but with six members for each team to draw upon, each player was only on the ice for twenty hours in total, and it was even possible to catch some sleep. We did not realise we were to be the pioneers. After this initial effort, the curling marathons were taken up by the Guinness Book of Records, and the rules standardised. Future endurance marathons would be only four aside, as in a real competition, although five minutes rest would be allowed each hour.

The 'World Record' for a curling marathon climbed to beyond seventy hours, before sporting marathons in general were discouraged by those involved in the Book of Records in the early 1990s. It was all becoming just too dangerous.

Of particular note were the efforts of the Edinburgh Young Curlers who, in September 1981, curled for 72 hours and 11 minutes. This with just four aside! Their names were Robin Slack, Robert Pringle, Ewan Malcolm, Richard Pretsel, Andrew Beveridge, Ian Peace, Richard Lumsden and Martin Turner. Emma Malcolm trained with the others and stood by as reserve. (Are any of these still curling? Let me know.)

Hit Entertainment Group reintroduced the endurance curling marathons again in the new millenium, allowing five in each side, but with no reference to previous records. The clock was set back to zero, because there was now a different set of rules! Nonsense, really.

Now which is the real record, and the more difficult? Seventy hours with four aside, or seventy hours with five aside?

It's this denial of history that annoys me with current marathon efforts, such as that about to get underway at Dumfries at 10.00 tomorrow (Thursday). A physical challenge - yes. A fantastic fund raising effort - yes. An opportunity to give the sport much needed publicity locally - yes. But to call it a 'World Record'? Certainly not. That is denying what happened in the 1970s and 1980s.

I'm not going to say anything here about the dangers of marathon curling. I've expressed my concerns privately to the organisers. I just hope that all the ten curlers involved at the Ice Bowl will come through safely, and that no-one damages their sliding knee and jeopardises their future curling career. I admire the enthusiasm of all involved, and I support the fundraising efforts. I hope everyone has fun, and that there are no accidents.

The website for the Dumfries activities is here.

The Target 30 photo above comes from Carmunnock and Rutherglen CC archives. I am afraid I do not know the name of the photographer.