Most people would run a mile at the very thought of organising the New Zealand team for a World Equestrian Games, but logistics extraordinaire Warrick Allan is quite the opposite.
It’s no mean feat either! Allan is responsible for the travel, accommodation, accreditations, uniform and more for the athletes, horses and support staff. New Zealand is likely to be represented by combinations in eventing, dressage, showjumping and endurance at the 2018 FEI WEG – each of the disciplines run over different periods so there is a lot of moving around by both people and horses.
Allan started his planning in early 2017, and as the year has progressed has been implementing more and more. With January 1 now behind him, he is about to really start hitting those straps.
Tryon will be his fourth WEG, having already been at Aachen in 2006, Kentucky in 2010, and Normandy in 2014. “Aachen is favourite with Kentucky a close second. Aachen was very well run and rather hassle free,” says Allan.
The most challenging part of the games is always the accommodation. “It is in hot demand and we try to secure the best available and have enough to cover everyone, but it can be tricky.”
Once on the ground at WEG, Allan knows he will rarely get a moment to himself. “When you arrive at a WEG you know your life is about to be turned upside down for the next few weeks, so you go into auto pilot,” he says. “Having a well-planned out daily calendar does help but you also never know what else may crop up, and that can certainly throw things into organised – or not – chaos!”
Curve balls generally come daily, and even the best laid plans can go by the wayside.
“The key is to have a plan B to move to and the networks to help lessen the impact of things that may be slightly array.”
His days are long, generally starting at 7am and if he is lucky, heading to bed by 11pm, however, he is on call 24/7. And while it is a huge challenge, he loves it. While he makes it look easy, those who know him are only too aware of the talent he brings to the table.
“I enjoy playing my part in the overall campaign and it does help being a generally organised person,” says Allan. “Looking after logistics is something that has a natural fit with my skill set.”
There have been plenty of highlights already, but just a few that stand out. “Being upgraded to first class on the way to Aachen in 2006 was fantastic,” he says. “Another was the bronze medals for the team and (individual) Andrew (Nicholson) at Kentucky. It was a very proud moment.”
That sums up for him, just what it is all about.
“Despite the challenge it is, the best part is putting together a successful campaign that enables the whole team to concentrate on the jobs they need to, to ensure they can produce their best performance. Being able to do this for our athletes is quite rewarding, and even better when we win medals.”
A recce is a huge part of the planning and can help immensely.
“It is massive. I have been to WEGs where I have not completed a recce previously and it is difficult once you are on the ground with the champs underway as you have to spend more time getting familiar with where everything is.
“A recce is vital to the success of a campaign really.” Last year he had the chance to head to Tryon to have a good look around.
“I came away quite excited by what I saw,” he said. “We got to meet all the key people, who we have now formed good relationships with. We had a great tour of the entire facility so have a good handle on where everything will take place and how it will work.”
He’s picking the 2018 WEG will be one of the best.
Allan has worked at ESNZ for 14 years, stepping into high performance and logistics in 2006 for the Aachen WEG campaign. He comes from a horsey background, having ridden for 15 years, dabbling in jumping but predominantly on the hunt field.
“Becoming a show announcer soon put paid to competitive riding,” he says. “I used to miss it but now have got into the property market so there’s no money for horses! Living the Wellington lifestyle isn’t really that conducive to horses.”
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison