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How do pole vaulters transport their poles?

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  • How do pole vaulters transport their poles?

    This might seem like a silly question, but how do they ship them around, get them to and from airports, through security and customs, and so on? And how many poles do they usually travel with? I assume that they need several poles in case of breakages, etc. I imagine that a star like Isinbayeva doesn't have to deal with such details, but how about regular vaulters?

    The discus would seem a lot easier!

  • #2
    Generally you fly with them as checked baggage (gotta make sure your plane is big enough) and transport them via car. Southwest Airlines has been WONDERFUL in the US. Internationally is tougher but doable.

    The alternative is to ship them but usually takes a week in both directions.

    Some US elite vaulters have been known to have an entire set of poles they leave in Europe.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DragonDrop View Post
      This might seem like a silly question, but how do they ship them around, get them to and from airports, through security and customs, and so on? And how many poles do they usually travel with? I assume that they need several poles in case of breakages, etc. I imagine that a star like Isinbayeva doesn't have to deal with such details, but how about regular vaulters?
      The discus would seem a lot easier!
      The simple answer to the thread title is: "not very successfully". There's plenty of broken/disappeared/mis-routed poles by the airlines.
      Every PVer has to deal with it and yes, it's a huge hassle.
      Becca can give specific info on how to arrange transport and some airlines are better than others. But the bottom line is that you're at the mercy of some rookie baggage-handler, who, despite the labels on the poles, treats them like their just metal rods to be thrown around.
      One in every 8 poles I buy comes crushed. :-9

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      • #4
        There's the famous story of Bubka's poles being cut in half in Brazil so they'd fit on the plane. No idea if it's true or not.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by polevaultpower View Post
          Generally you fly with them as checked baggage (gotta make sure your plane is big enough) and transport them via car. Southwest Airlines has been WONDERFUL in the US. Internationally is tougher but doable.
          German pole vaulters always use Lufthansa, they seem to be able to handle the poles best. Lufthansa even has pole vaulting equipement as a separate point on their list of extra charges for sports equipement.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cooter Brown View Post
            There's the famous story of Bubka's poles being cut in half in Brazil so they'd fit on the plane. No idea if it's true or not.
            I first heard poles-cut-in-half stories in the mid-60s. And heard them countless times thereafter. And in the true sense of the classic urban myth, I never actually met anybody who had had theirs cut in half, it was always, "did you hear about so-and-so?" at least once removed.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Atticus View Post
              The simple answer to the thread title is: "not very successfully". There's plenty of broken/disappeared/mis-routed poles by the airlines.
              Every PVer has to deal with it and yes, it's a huge hassle.
              Becca can give specific info on how to arrange transport and some airlines are better than others. But the bottom line is that you're at the mercy of some rookie baggage-handler, who, despite the labels on the poles, treats them like their just metal rods to be thrown around.
              One in every 8 poles I buy comes crushed. :-9
              Yeah, I've travelled a few times and twice I've had my poles lost by the airlines. I think the baggage people in the back just think, "What are these sticks doing here?" and put them to the side.

              It's actually easier to just buy just try and buy them when you get where you're going lol.
              Last edited by Brimmage; 01-28-2020, 11:17 AM.

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              • #8
                Of course the airline is involved in only part of the trip. Did you ever try to get a taxi cab to take you from the airport into the city (or wherever you're going) with a pole or two? Been there, done that. Fun only in distant retrospect.

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                • #9
                  My daughter's PV adventures permanently sprung the hood of my car, as we carried poles all over the Southeast wrapped in towels wedged between the hood and rear seat window.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Atticus View Post
                    One in every 8 poles I buy comes crushed. :-9
                    When I was in high school, I remember our coach driving down to the factory to pick up new poles and other T&F equipment.

                    I only flew with poles once. I think they forgot to charge extra for the oversized item.

                    securing poles to cars/vans/trucks is easy enough if you know what you're doing, though you see some interesting configurations. It has got to be my favorite sight on the road when I seen a car carrying poles.

                    Charter busses often can sometimes accommodate poles underneath, but when the baggage compartments are divided, you need to take them into the coach through a window. Teammates get annoyed when there are two or more pole bags are clogging up the aisle, or taking up precious legroom underneath their seats.

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                    • #11
                      The Wisconsin track and field team just went to the Big Ten meet at Spire, which is in Ohio. The last few years they have worked together with Iowa to charter a plane that starts in Iowa, stops in Madison to pick up Wisconsin and fly to the meet. One of the advantages is that the poles are taken in to consideration when they are arranging the aircraft and they are handled appropriately.

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                      • #12
                        I can remember when vaulters were allowed to load poles on airplanes by "threading" them though the open cabin door and, with the help of teammates, lay them the aisles for transport. Athletes were also allowed to carry shots, discs and javelins into the cabin with them. Long before TSA and X-ray inspection.

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                        • #13
                          And hundreds of us here in our collegiate and HS days opened the rear door of the bus and loaded them.. ditto for the javelins. And for car trips, bound them onto the roof in various ways.

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                          • #14
                            Since the introduction of flexible poles, pole vaulting has become too much about the engineering and expense of the equipment. I say go back to inflexible poles, and standardize on parameters such as weight, thickness, center of gravity etc. so all poles of each given length are the same. Then nobody would need to transport a pole, they'd simply borrow a pole of their preferred length from those stored at the stadium.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 18.99s View Post
                              Since the introduction of flexible poles, pole vaulting has become too much about the engineering and expense of the equipment. I say go back to inflexible poles, and standardize on parameters such as weight, thickness, center of gravity etc. so all poles of each given length are the same. Then nobody would need to transport a pole, they'd simply borrow a pole of their preferred length from those stored at the stadium.
                              Nonsense! As Steve (though I think he may be against the flexible pole as well) points out above, for short trips, transporting poles is easy. only the very best in the country/world need to fly with poles, so the transport isn't really an issue for most track programs or individuals. Do you think all bowlers should use house balls as well?

                              Pole vault is a fairly inexpensive event. Poles, while fragile if mishandled, are actually durable goods that will last a couple of decades if well taken care of. I've made the point before that the investment required to run a hurdles race likely far exceeds that to put on a PV competition.

                              If you want cheap, you pretty much have to ditch track completely and go to an XC race.

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