It will be with mixed feelings that I travel to this year’s European Tree Climbing Championship in Thoiry, France.
The first ETCC I competed in was in 1999 in Valencia, in 2009 I joined the committee to help shape and run the event. Over all these years ETCC has become a fixed date in my annual agenda. But more than that, it has been a true privilege to see this event evolve and thrive, become a dynamic, vibrant expression of climbers’ culture within the greater arboriculture. Personally I have grown, faced with the challenges that running such an event brings with it, have made close friends for life and was able to experience many unique moments.
There were also difficult moments, frustrations and disappointments. At this point in time it almost feels as though the competitions are becoming a victim of their own success: people have very high expectations when coming to such an event. This in turn puts a high burden on the volunteers running it – de facto professional standards are being applied to a volunteer-run event. This creates a massive workload and brings a lot of stress with it.
I am sure, going forwards, that there are solutions to these problems, requiring new people with new visions to take charge of ETCC. Therefore this will be my last event as part of the organisation, leaving me very much with mixed feelings for the coming days, as is often the case when you do something for the last time.
But for now, I am looking forwards to meeting all the members of my arb family in Thoiry and am sure that we are going to experience a cracking event together.
Onwards to Thoiry!