Ironmasters Challenge

I am still considerably short on volunteers for the Ironmasters Challenge walk/run event which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 26 at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park. This will be the 12th year that we have supported this event.

Would you like some excitement? How about setting up a station and operating out in the field?  This event takes place around the Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It consists of two hikes, a 30 miler and a 9 miler (both detailed in the attached map). Both hikes take place on the same day. Between the two hikes there will probably be in excess of 500 hikers.


Our responsibility is to man the Starting/ending location, the two (2) check points, and a water station. Each hiker wears a BIB number, as the hiker passes through the check point, we log him in and report the status of the hikers back to the Net Control Station on a periodic basis. The purpose of this is to keep track of any hikers that may have become lost or missing (which happens virtually every year).

These are both difficult hikes that take the participants into remote areas several miles from any access roads. While the trails are well marked, we have instances where the hikers have turned at the wrong place and have gotten lost. We also have folks who underestimate the level of effort needed to complete a hike like this. They get themselves into trouble and need to be located and transported back to the finish line. This is NOT a stroll through the woods!

We like to have at least 4 communicators/loggers at each check point. Communications for this event will be run on the South Mountain Radio Amateurs (SMRA) 145.43 repeater located in Mount Holly Springs. This year we would like each of the two check points to have a 30 watt class rig with an external antenna. However, since we have access to a great repeater covering the hike routes, a simple HT with a rubber ducky antenna will suffice for most communications. There is little or no cell phone service available in this area and we provide virtually all of the communications for this event.

At least one of the communicators at the check points should have an HT. In some circumstances, you may be asked to hike a mile or two from your check point to ascertain the status of a hiker.  In past years, we have also provided “Sweep Hikers” to follow behind the last hiker so we know where the tail end of the hike is. A lot of hikers who are going to have problems usually end being “discovered” by our sweeps.

This event is generally pretty interesting.

  1. We need at least 9 people at the two check points. 5 at CP1 and 4 at CP2 (see map).
  2. We need 3 people to assist the Net Control station located at the hike starting location at the Furnace Stack pavilion.
  3. We need 2 communicators to man the Water Stop (WS) located at the boat rental facility next to Laurel Lake
  4. We need 2 or 3 communicators to man the event ending point at the Ironmasters Mansion.
  5. We need 3 sweep hikers to ensure that we haven’t left anyone out on the hike route. Must be able to hike 10 miles.

Amateur radio provides a very major service to this event. If you enjoy the great outdoors and would like to volunteer, please drop me an e-mail or a call. I can guarantee that you will enjoy yourself and be quite busy at this event.  Operating in the field is a blast! It’s what Ham radio is all about.

PS … If you have already volunteered, I probably already have you listed … this e-mail is soliciting additional volunteers.

Rick, WA3USG


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