Just over a week ago, I had the opportunity to chief the first Tour de Bloc comp of the New Year at Climber's Rock. I assembled the setting crew, and 3 days before the event, we began setting the 8 finals problems and 61 qualifiers. I had laid everything out on a white board so that we could avoid clusters and lines during the comp, and so that the setters knew what needed to go where. Setting went very smoothly thanks to the amazing setting team, and we found ourselves finished with all the setting around 5pm on Friday. After a quick bite to eat, we got down to the task of forerunning. With 61 problems to run, we brought in a few dedicated forerunners to make sure we stayed on track with our ordering of the problems and that we didn't end up labelling a V3 as the hardest problem due to fatigue. Once forerunning was done, we labelled all the problems, cleaned up and were out of the gym just after 11pm.
The next day, Youth and Rec climbers kicked the comp off in the morning with their qualifying round, followed by the Experienced and Open competitors in the afternoon. Although the turnout was smaller than expected, the field for both Open men and women was strong. Several climbers from both Buffalo and Michigan also came out for the event, adding to the mix and making sure everyone stayed on their game.
When all was said and done, all but one of the qualifying problems got sent. After a short break, the result list was posted, yielding the following results:
- Dylan Barks
- Keith Mackay
- Jeremy Noring
- Dustin Kerr
- Carmen Ing
- Florent Balsez
- Mathew Moreau
- Shaun Hunter
- Kerry Briggs
- Marieta Akalski
- Holly Reid
- Clarrie Lam
- Bonnie De Bruijn
- Kacy Wilson
The setting team assembled once again and began tearing down qualifying problems so we could put the finals up. Everyone knew exactly what they had to do and worked to get it all done, and amazingly, we finished with 20 minutes to spare. Due to the numbers, we had 8 men and 6 women in finals. Because we were running them simultaneously, we brought the first two men out before the women appeared. This allowed for the top seeded man and woman to run through the problems together. As the finalists started to come out, the crowd got louder, and as the crowd got louder, the climbers tried harder, feeding off the energy.
Despite being tired and the problems being hard, the finalists, both men and women, put on a phenomenal show, proving every bit that they deserved their spots in the final. Dylan Barks from Michigan was the clear winner for the guys, flashing the first three problems with ease and falling off the last hold of the fourth problem.
For the women, Marieta Akalski pulled out the win, flashing two of the four problems and getting the bonus hold on the other two.
When it was all said and done, both climbers and spectators had a great time. Being chief is never an easy thing, there's always lots to worry about. You get all the appreciation if things go well, but on the other end of it, you get all the blowback if things don't. Either way, it's always a great feeling watching people climb things you've put up and the smiles on their faces when they send.