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Arizona Club Takes Advantage of Low Bands to Support 100-Mile Endurance Run


The Coconino Amateur Radio Club (CARC) provided safety and coordination communications for the 100-mile Stagecoach Line Run over the September 21 – 22 weekend. This endurance run from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon takes place every September. The 31-hour event pushes runners to the limit. The Stagecoach Line Run also tests Amateur Radio’s capabilities and requires planning and commitment. Because of the geographical coverage required, the club’s Amateur Radio support even took advantage of 160 meters, not a band typically associated with public service communication.

“Because we are in a solar minimum, a combination of bands and communication methods were required in order to track and maintain contact with the numerous stations,” said Dan Shearer, N7YIQ, the club’s Public Information Officer. “What worked well at 3 o’clock in the afternoon was not going to work at 2 in the morning.” The club’s communication infrastructure required a combination of HF and VHF/UHF equipment that included setting up portable repeaters and stations powered by generators and other power sources.

“When you add in the cold weather of the high desert in September and the possibility of rain and snow, this becomes a test of what Amateur Radio may be called upon to do to support a disaster somewhere in the nation,” Shearer said.

CARC members invested more than 300 hours of their time in planning and supporting the race, helped by a few additional volunteers from Glendale and Prescott. Nineteen club members staffed eight sites, where volunteers set up camps and kept vigil through the night to track and make sure runners were accounted for throughout the race.

In addition to tracking runners into and out of each aid station, net control entered these times into an online spreadsheet as they progressed through the race, allowing runners to be located easily in case they did not make it to the next checkpoint.

During the event, CARC members helped locate two missing runners and helped save the life of another who developed severe asthma. Medical care and treatment during these types of extreme events poses a significant challenge, as EMS responses are delayed. “Much of the area between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon is US Forest Service land, and travel through these areas by vehicles is slow,” Shearer explained. Severe emergencies can only be handled by aircraft, if conditions permit.”

During the race, 75 meters worked well during the day, but 160 meters was put into play after dark. Cross-band repeaters were placed at remote sites to allow access to existing repeaters. Although VHF and UHF were used, these links at times became unusable, and alternate forms and bands were required to maintain contact.

The Coconino Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL-affiliated club with about 50 members. It has a large ARES component that trains regularly and conducts SKYWARN and ARES® nets weekly.



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