Anywhere from five to ten Amateur Radio (HAM radio) enthusiasts have been participating in the safety communications group for the Bruce Peninsula Multisport Race (BPMR) each year.
The Bruce Peninsula features rugged terrain and difficult conditions, not only for the racers but for radio operators. The long linear distance plus the course location on the top and bottom of the Niagara escarpment means there are many dead spots for radios and cell phones. Organizers are incredibly happy with the ongoing contribution from the Georgian Bay Amateur Radio Operator Club and the club is happy with the training and operating time that it provides.
“Amateur Radio is a hobby for tens of thousands worldwide,” says Greg Hollinger, member of the Georgian Bay club. “It is a significant addition to the safety of the participants of the BPMR. Members with mobile access to VHF communication radio, provide a second layer of connectivity beyond and totally separate from traditional mobile cell phone and internet Wi-Fi.”
Some of the operations over the past years have included helping OPP manage traffic on a hill section of roadway when bikers were approaching, working the central control for safety and logistics issues, reporting on race progress, and staying in contact with safety boats during the kayaking part of the race.
“In a wide area emergency like extreme weather events,” continues Hollinger, “when cell phones cease to function normally, amateur radio provides complete access [from virtually anywhere on the 100km course] to and from our safety and administration officials in Bluewater Park.”
The Niagara Escarpment can be a formidable opponent to not just the racers, but the organizers as well when it comes to radio communications. Thanks to the Georgian Bay Amateur Radio Operator Club, race communications, including critical safety information, are efficient and effective.