Meet the travelling TT marshals on hand to provide rapid emergency response at the Isle of Man TT

This year’s Isle of Man TT races are being supported by volunteer travelling marshals – a highly experienced collection of ex-Mountain Course competitors who specialise in incident management, sometimes on the live 37.73-mile road racing course.

The service has been a part of the TT since 1935 and is currently lead by chief travelling marshal Tony Duncan. He leads an eight-strong collective, who sit at different sectors of the TT course, ready to fire their Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblades into life and deal with any eventuality.

One of the most experienced riders is Jim Hunter, who has been a travelling marshal for an incredible 32 years (and counting). “I don’t think you can predict whether or not you can handle that situation until you’re presented with it,” he told MCN. “I thought I’d give it a go and see how I got on and it’s been a real journey that I wouldn’t want to have missed for anything.”

MCN interviews the two members of the marshal team

The 60-year-old retired school teacher lives in Glen Vine on the island and is the longest serving travelling marshal in history. Prior to this, he competed at two TTs and two Manx Grand Prix – and has used everything from Honda VFR750s to Castrol-liveried RC45s in his marshalling duties.

“It’s just the thrill of being involved in something you love so much,” he continued. “It’s a huge part of my life this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I thoroughly enjoy the work. It’s almost unimaginable now that I wouldn’t have done this.”

The team are first responders for almost any incident around the course, taking control of the situation, and instructing the regular marshals on the ground. What’s more, when the roads are closed before each session they ride their section, checking barriers and marshals are in place, as well as reporting to Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson on road conditions.

Travelling marshal in rapid response mode

“We are medically trained to a degree for certain things that the normal marshals aren’t, but the main job is scene management,” fellow travelling marshal Jonathan Woodward, 41, from Douglas added. “We would get there, after a call, I would say in a maximum of three or four minutes, and a helicopter would arrive after maybe five or six minutes.

“In that gap between us arriving and the helicopter arriving there’s things that we can do with helmet removal, and airway management that can and does make a difference,” the former Manx Grand Prix rider continued.

The riders will sometimes have to attend during a live circuit, too.

Former TT competitors themselves, the volunteer marshals know the course like the back of their hands

“Sometimes it’s different, like if there’s an incident in the second lap of the Superbike race and they call you to an incident and the top 20 are on their way and you’re off on cold tyres, and they’re hunting you down,” Woodward continued.

“That tests your mental strength,” Hunter added, “because you’re trying to think about where the helicopter is going to land, how it’s going to be flagged, and what are the likely consequences of the accident, at the same time as you’re riding along trying to get there. There’s a lot to think about, and you’ve got control buzzing in your ear. You’ve got to keep your focus.”

Alongside the TT, the team also work across the Manx GP, and take on a role of assisting newcomers.