The Groton Road Race is back! May 15 will be the 29th running of this event. The Groton Police Department and the Race Director have again requested our support this year.
The planned event schedule this year is the same as 2019; the two main races (5k and 10k) will start 90 minutes earlier than in the years before 2018 to allow people with other afternoon activities to participate by having these races end earlier. The communications support that we provide starts around 9am and we should be done shortly after 1pm. The courses themselves will be the same as recent years.
In addition, I now have confirmation from the Race Committee that they do not have any COVID restrictions in place at this time. That is, they are not requiring volunteers to be vaccinated or to wear masks. You are certainly welcome to wear a mask and/or maintain distancing if you wish.
The Groton Road Race continues to be a major event for Amateur Radio in North Central Massachusetts. Those of you who have joined us in previous years know that the runners sincerely appreciate our presence. Many say so as they run past. This event is so large that Police Departments and other public safety organizations from several communities come to assist the Groton PD. Part of our role is to provide the communications from the Groton Police to these out-of-town officers who come to help with this event.
Contributing to the public good is one of the reasons Amateur Radio exists. Our public service events are a key opportunity for us to show our colors, volunteer our skills and equipment, and demonstrate why it is in the public’s interest to continue to allocate precious RF spectrum to our the Amateur Radio Service. The Groton Road Race is a low-stress event and a great way to gain more experience with the public service aspect of amateur radio. Please consider joining us on the 15th.
If you are a new Ham or know of another Ham who is interested in helping at these events but unsure of what is expected or what equipment may be needed, please do not hesitate to introduce the to me.
The Race Committee and the Groton Police Department repeatedly praise and express their appreciation for our assistance in providing communications for this event for many years. I do hope you will be able to join us this year; please let me know.
After a successful 2021 marathon this past October, we’re right back into planning mode for the 126th running of the Boston Marathon at our more traditional time frame on Monday, April 18, 2022.
Volunteer registration will open for the Marathon on January 5th, 2022. Please make sure to whitelist firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you receive all BAA communications.
How to Volunteer For returning volunteers, you will receive an email from the BAA with a direct link to register via the BAA Athlete’s Village.
If you haven’t previously volunteered, or have a friend who would like to volunteer, please go directly to the Volunteer Registration page on January 5th and follow the instructions for new volunteers.
Guidance on the Sign Up Process
On Step 3 – Select “General”
On Step 4 – Select “Yes, I am an Amateur Radio Operator”
Provide your call sign and what your equipment is in the appropriate boxes.
On Step 5 – Select “Apply as an Individual”
On Step 6
Select “Amateur Radio” as the Job Type regardless of what segment you wish to volunteer for.
On the next page you will be able to select the race segment.
If you want to add additional ARO assignment preferences select “Yes” to select another job and then an assignment type. You can choose up to 3 job type requests.
On Step 7 – Confirm all selections are correct.
A few notes for volunteers:
Almost all ARO positions are single person assignments. We are not able to group people on a single assignment, but we will try to accommodate which segment you are assigned to to allow for similar start/end times.
All volunteers must be fully vaccinated this year. Details on how to provide proof of vaccination will be provided when assignments are given out. Medical exemptions may be requested and will be reviewed by the BAA individually.
Don’t delay! Volunteer registration closes on Friday, February 18. Help us get the word out by forwarding this email to your club and other amateur radio operators who wish to volunteer. Most volunteers first learn about the event through word of mouth. If you know new licensees who might like to join us, please make sure to let them know about it. Even just a quick mention at your club meeting can be a big help.
If you have any questions about the upcoming volunteer registration period, or the 2022 Marathon generally, please get in touch anytime. Volunteering at the Marathon is a big job and we appreciate the time and effort everyone puts into it. We’re happy to do what we can to make your work fun, comfortable, and effective.
Happy New Year to all in the Western Mass section. Effective with this new year, the Western Mass Traffic Net will meet at a new time. Effective Monday January 3, 2022 there will be one session daily Monday through Friday, at 6:00 PM local time. The net will continue to meet on the Mt Greylock 146.91 K1FFK repeater thanks to the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club, with Echolink access via the K1FFK repeater thanks to Dave Foley W1TTT. The main purpose of the net is the handling of NTS traffic with liaison to the First Region Net. Training will be available to anyone interested. Check with Peter KD2JKV (email@example.com) or Marcia KW1U (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details.
Also note the Heavy Hitters Traffic Net links the K1FFK repeater to the Minuteman Repeater Network at 10:00 PM daily Sunday through Friday for statewide coverage. To those with HF capability there is a statewide traffic net called Mass Rhode Island Phone net which meets on 3978 Khz +/- at 5:00 PM daily Monday through Saturday. Message handling is one of the mainstays of amateur radio and handling formal record traffic is what we are about. It is fun and rewarding to have the knowledge needed if required in an emergency. Everyone is invited to check it out. Hope to see you there.
Craig Shea from the Sutton Chain of Lights is again requesting assistance with communications to coordinate the trolleys for their annual event. We’re looking for about 10 ham radio operators to ride the trolleys and help keep them on schedule moving people around between stops.
We will meet at 08:30am on Sat 12/4/2021 in Sutton (location TBD – likely the Sutton High School). The event runs from 10:00am to 4:00pm, although the final trolley drop off may be as late as 5:00pm. Lunch is provided.
You should bring a radio capable of 70cm operation with DPL/DCS, as we’ll likely be using the Westboro and Uxbridge 70cm repeaters. Portable mobile setups work well, but you need to provide your own power, and mag mounts don’t work on fiberglass vehicles. HTs with gain antennas can work as well. Radios and accessories can be provided, if necessary.
If you are available to help out, please email me at email@example.com. Call with any questions – 508-982-0617. If you are only available for part of the day, we can cycle you in and out as necessary. Thanks!
As promised, we put all stations submitting a SET Log into a drawing and had an impartial volunteer pick 4 winners from equally sized slips of paper in a container.
Our Section Manager, Ray – KB1LRL, kindly provided the prizes …. 4 highly relevant ARRL books on amateur radio topics. Thanks Much, Ray !!
Here are the winners. I will send each of you an email asking where you’d like your prize sent.
1st prize: 2021 ARRL Handbook to KC1IBU – Leominster EOC station represented by Jerry AA2T
2nd prize: 2021 Repeater Directory to KB1JWZ – Bill Pease
3rd prize: HF Dipole Antennas for Amateur Radio to KA1HAH – Robert Weller
4th prize: Energy Choices for the Radio Amateur to W1RVY – Eric Wilhelm
Id like to again thank all of you who participated in our recent SET, and extend congratulations to our prize winners! This exercise is proving truly valuable to the development of our WMA ARES communications capabilities.
Per the BAA, a Boston Marathon race date for 2021 has been set for Monday October 11th, 2021, which is the Columbus Day holiday, and a virtual option will also be offered. This race date assumes that the Massachusetts statewide reopening plan will allow road races at a large scale such as the Boston Marathon to take place. Additional details, including field size for the in-person race, registration dates for runners and volunteers, safety measures and protocols, and participant requirements that will be in place, are still being determined and will be communicated when available.
Our team continues to be engaged with the BAA at both the Organizing Committee and Medical Committee levels regarding the 2021 Boston Marathon. We have continued to meet regularly as an Amateur Radio Communications Committee in an attempt to review some of the issues of past events to more proactively address them for this year’s 125th running of the Boston Marathon..
Over the next few weeks, in addition to our proactive review of some of the issues seen in past marathons, we will be working with the BAA to send out a survey to our volunteers to gauge how comfortable you would be, given your specific personal situations, to participate in this year’s marathon on the October 11th, 2021 date. The availability and comfort of all volunteers, including Amateur Radio Operators as part of the thousands of volunteers of our race, is very important. These surveys will help inform the Communications Committee and the BAA of what r services our team can offer them this year.
There are still many details to be finalized and will be forthcoming as stated in the BAA press announcement. We will keep you posted as updates become available and questions are answered. We will continue to release updates as appropriate in coordination with the BAA. Thank you for your continued support of the BAA and the Boston Marathon.
We hope you are all safe and healthy. We also hope you are having an enjoyable holiday season despite the impacts of COVID-19. We wanted to provide you a short update on 2021 Boston Marathon plans in light of today’s public statement from the BAA.
Our team has been engaged with the BAA at both the Organizing Committee and Medical Committee levels regarding the 2021 Boston Marathon. We have also been meeting as an Amateur Radio Communications Committee over the course of the Fall to be ready for a potential Boston Marathon event in the Fall of 2021 and attempt to review some of the issues of past marathons more proactively and address them given the delay in a potential race to the Fall of 2021.
Given the uncertainties brought about by the recent surge in COVID-19 along with how quickly a vaccine can propagate to the general populace, the BAA has pushed back their decision on a Fall race date to early 2021.
We will continue to update you as things change regarding a potential 2021 Boston Marathon race and what changes that might entail in light of the COVID-19 impacts. When the BAA is once again able to resume the Boston Marathon, we hope to see you again as part of the Amateur Radio Volunteers, presuming it is safe for you in your personal situation.
We will keep you posted as updates occur and attempt to get updates out as appropriate in coordination with the BAA. Thanks to all for their continued support of the BAA and the Boston Marathon.
On Tuesday, June 15, Alden Sumner Jones IV, KC1JWR, was hiking on the southern part of the Appalachian trail in Vermont (it’s also been reported as being on the Long Trail) with his cousins at around 12:30 PM. Alden started feeling light headed, his pulse was racing and the next thing he remembers is waking up with an EMT named Dave, from AMR out of Springfield, MA, who was hiking and saw Alden go down. Alden had suffered seizures. It was later determined that this was caused by low blood sugar. Dave attempted to call 911 on his cell phone. He could connect, but the 911 operator couldn’t understand him. At this point, Alden pulled out his HT ham radio, a BaoFeng.
He made contact through the K1FFK repeater. This repeater is located on Mt. Greylock on 146.91. The repeater is owned and maintained by the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club. The initial call went out just before the Cycle 1 of the Western Massachusetts Traffic Net. Ron Wonderlick, AG1W, took the call. Alden initially asked if the 911 call went through. Ron began an eight hour process of acting as a relay between Alden, the emergency crews and various others.
The Traffic Net was truncated and the frequency was cleared by Peter Mattice, KD2JKV, who also stood by as a backup for Ron. KC1JPU, Matthew Sacco, was also monitoring and after a short consultation with Ron & Peter, proceeded to head to the staging area where the Fire and EMS crews were going to come from.
In Matthew’s own words, this what happened when he arrived at the staging area:
As I arrived at the staging point set up by the Fire Department, I met up with Fire Chief Scott Moore (95-C1) of the Wilmington Fire Department who was Incident Command. I told him how I heard about the incident and offered my services. I then got to work attempting to make contact with Ron over the 91. We were in a bit of a shadow as far as coverage went from the 91 and my first attempt to make contact with my HT was to no avail. I then went to my truck to try my mobile radio which also failed to open up the repeater. Running out of options, I went into my radio bag and was able to construct a roll up J-Pole out of some 450 ohm ladder line, a short length of coax, and male UHF connector. In that bag I keep some basic soldering equipment and a power inverter for the truck. Once it was constructed and tested, I grabbed my fishing pole from the back seat, put a weight on the end, and cast the weight into the highest branch I could find. I tied the J-Pole to the end of the line and reeled it up about 20′ into the tree with the help of a barrel connector and about another 24′ of coax. I tried that antenna plugged into the back of my mobile radio and we were up and running! I was then in contact with Net Control!
Now the struggle was to find the hiker. Alden’s (KC1JWR) status was communicated between the EMT on site through the ham radio and impromptu net set up through Ron (AG1W) and Matthew (KC1JPU). The information passed through the net was used to determine what type of rescue equipment would be necessary. Finding the location based on landmarks was proving too difficult. One of the people on site had a cell phone with a GPS unit and they were able to get a location in Google Maps Plus Code. That was converted into latitude and longitude. At this point, it was 4:30 in the afternoon.
On site were members of the Wilmington, VT Fire Department, Wardsboro, VT Fire Department, Deerfield Valley Ambulance, and Rescue Inc., all served through the ham radio net being operated on the K1FFK repeater.
Once the rescuers were getting close to Alden’s location, it was determined that they were not going to be able to get an ATV to the location for an evacuation. So, the determination was made to contact New York State Search and Rescue for a helicopter. Again, this need was relayed through the ham net. Almost all the communication, all day, was through the ham net, or, relayed to the phone by Ron (AG1W) or Peter (KD2JKV).
Meanwhile, Alden is conscious and spending time talking to the EMT and the rescuers about ham radio and how to get their licenses.
An area is cleared by another hiker as a place for the helicopter to lower it’s basket. The GPS coordinates are relayed through the ham net to the helicopter crew. The rescuers took Alden through the woods to the clearing and the helicopter arrived at around 7PM. While the rescuers were talking the helicopter in on their radios, they were having trouble making contact through their rubber duck antennas. So, Alden, who had a better antenna for his HT, lent it to the rescuers for better communication. Alden was initially flown to Woodford Mountain for evaluation and treatment. He was then flown to the hospital in Albany NY. During the flight, Alden again talked to the pilots and the other rescuers about ham radio.
During the rescue, one fire fighter from Wilmington was injured. This forced part of the team to stay the night with him in a shelter along the trail. He was brought out safely and is doing well. Alden is suffering from a number of injuries from the seizures, but he is also recovering.
Neil Van Dyke (N1TNC), the Search & Rescue Coordinator for the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety was the one who called in Search and Rescue. When asked about the event, Mr. Van Dyke said “Ham radio was a key part of the incident and played a major role in the rescue”. Alden said it even better, “Ham radio saved my life last night and I am very thankful for how everyone helped me.”
Well done to all involved in this event. Thank you for all you did for Alden Jones and for being great ham radio operators.
We hope this email again finds you, your friends, and your family safe and in good health in this time of extraordinary challenge.
The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has announced that the 124th Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event, following Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s cancellation of the marathon as a mass participation road running event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to prepare for this race. Our volunteers have always gone above and beyond and this year has been no exception. When the race was first delayed, almost universally we got feedback that you’d be there for the race whatever the date, whatever the format.
We expect that volunteer registration for 2021 will follow a similar schedule and process as past years. You can expect to hear from us once registration opens, most probably in January, 2021. If there are any changes we become aware of that you need to know ahead of that date, we will be sure to communicate with you. As always, we welcome your correspondence and questions on volunteering to our general mailbox: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following message was sent to all amateur radio operators that have signed up to volunteer at the Boston Marathon this year:
As you should now have read in the BAA’s email to all volunteers, the decision has been made to postpone the race this year. This was directed by the City of Boston and protects everyone involved with the Marathon; runners, volunteers, medical professionals, spectators, and others.
We greatly appreciate our volunteers and the work that you do. There are a lot of logistics that go into planning the race and as we have more details in the coming months we will provide timely updates for volunteering for the new race date of September 14. We look forward to your participation on our Team then.
We wish you all the best and very much look forward to September 14th!