A “Giant” weekend in Liverpool

Wed 10 Oct 2018

Several LOC members travelled to Liverpool last weekend for a double O weekend and were also treated to the final display of the Giants, as Judy reports. 

Deeside OC and SELOC staged a double O weekend on 6-7th October called the “Liverpool Big Weekend” – but a much bigger attraction was the “last ever” visit of the Giant Puppets. It was estimated that 1.5 million people would visit Liverpool and Birkenhead to see them. More of that later...

Our weekend got off to a start with a UKOL race at Formby. Sun, sea and sand; what more could you want? Formby is a great area of sand dunes, some wooded, some with vegetation that can make it difficult to visualise the contours. Some people may have noticed that Steve (Burge) looked a little different from usual. In fact, he looked uncannily like Mike Atherton due to Mike having missed the entry cut off of 500 competitors and Steve having a brand new knee ......

I really enjoyed my well planned course but it was a walk rather than a run due to a cold. Even then, I still managed to make some classic mistakes; confusing unmapped and mapped paths and picking up the wrong control descriptions. Will I ever learn? I hope the local red squirrel population is still doing well as I didn’t see any this time.

On Sunday we drove into Liverpool with some trepidation expecting the roads to be grid locked. All was fine as the Sprint Races were at Liverpool University, up on the hill above the Pierhead area and away from the puppets.

Everyone had two sprint courses, North and South, with the combined time to count. The map covered the largely car free area of the University campus and the Catholic Cathedral. The southern area was the most interesting but on this course a gate that was supposed to be open was locked and marshalls directed competitors to a hole in a nearby (also locked) gate. The Northern course was rather spoiled by a gate being left open! Early competitors took the shorter route through the gate and so two legs had to be voided but it was still very enjoyable.

Then it was off to see the “Giants” which, for me, proved to be a highlight of the weekend. By walking down towards the docks a little early, we were in the front row of the crowd and had an excellent view of Xolo, the dog puppet (about 15 foot high), the “little” girl (about 30 foot high) and the really giant Uncle (50 foot high). They are suspended from cranes on lorries and operated by teams of about 25 puppeteers. The co-ordination of the movements is just incredible; Xolo moves his ears, tongue and tail as well as walking in a lifelike way. For the giant Uncle to walk, a relay of puppeteers, two at a time, had to launch themselves off the lorry hanging on to a rope and looking like mad bellringers. Just amazing and with a great band , confetti and huge crowds there was great carnival atmosphere.

Results from Formby available on the DEE website here

Results from the Liverpool Urban will be available on the SELOC website here

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