(Published October 2002, last reviewed with no updated 2016)
Bungee running involves participants running as far as they can whilst connected to an elastic rope, which is anchored to a fixed point. This either takes place on purpose built inflatable courses or on man made courses which involve muddy/ slippery ground.
When setting up your own bungee running system (not inflatable) the following points should be considered and a risk assessment for the activity completed to aid in the safe management of this activity:
Outdoor spaces work best for this activity as you’ll need a large space, allowing the participant to move in an arc from the anchor point. Make sure the surface is clear of obstructions and suitable for the activity. When choosing your area also consider the type of anchor you are using as this may affect your choice. Mark out the running area so that everyone is aware of the area of operation for this activity.
Good, sturdy anchors will be needed, this is similar to that used for climbing activities. Never just use a single anchor, double up in case one fails during use, this also widens the loading point which will help to reduce the participant rebounding towards the anchor.
Two trees, well rooted and of at least 200mm (8") diameter should suffice. Don’t use dead trees as these will not be strong enough. Make sure the anchor is as low as possible down on the trunk, no more than 500mm (18") from ground level. Climbing tape loops should be used (1" width is acceptable) with protection to and from the bark of the tree. This will ensure that there is no wear on the anchor loop and no damage to the tree itself. The loops need to be attached to a rope using screw gate karabiners or a figure of eight knot. Separate karabiners for double anchors will prevent total failure in the event that one anchor point fails. Despite the inherent safety in using two anchorage points, anchorage fixings should be adequately padded in case of sideways recoil.
If trees aren't available then the anchorage points then have to be artificially constructed. These should be of a pioneering nature, using well driven pickets doubled up in a 3-2-1 system or well buried marquee style metal pegs to ensure the strain placed on the anchorages during operation do not tear it from the ground, keep checking to make sure they are still secure. These must be padded to ensure no injury by tripping over or falling on the protruding heads.
In almost all cases a length of rope equal to that of the bungee cord should be joined to the cord, thus ensuring that 'at rest' the participants are twice the length of the cord away from the anchorage points.
Frequent inspection of the anchorage is necessary during the operation of the run whatever method is employed.
The anchored and running end of the bungee rope need to be tied in a double figure of eight knot. This will provide the two loops necessary for karabiner attachment. It's suggested that both the free and the fixed ends of the rope need the loops to be 'parcelled', in hard wearing material, wrapped around the part of the rope which will have frictional loads from the karabiners. This must be removed periodically to check for signs of wear. The rope should be left in this configuration throughout its life as the knots will become extremely difficult to undo following the first few 'runs'.
Make sure that you have access to the right equipment for the activity, this may include certain pieces of climbing equipment, make sure it's all checked before use and is in good working order.
- Metal stakes – these can be used as the anchor points if suitable trees are not available.
- Climbing tape loops/slings – these are used to attach to the anchor point but don’t forget to use some material to protect them from friction.
- Rope – ideally climbing rope, this is used to attach the bungee cord to the anchor point, this should be of equal length to the bungee cord to prevent the user from being pulled back into the anchors.
- Screw gate karabiners – used to attach the anchor to the bungee cord. If you don’t have karabiners then you should use figure of eight knots.
- Bungee cord – 10mm diameter is the most readily available and most practical sized for this activity.
- Harness – this is most commonly a climbing harness with the leg loops removed and is worn in reverse as the loads are coming from behind the participant.
- Padding – there is a need for some padding, usually material to protect the anchors or to provide padding incase the participant recoils to the anchors.
Responsible leaders need to be stationed at the anchor point and at the point at which the participants are attached to the rope. It would also be desirable to have another ‘floating' member of staff acting as a ‘catcher'. Basic knowledge of climbing/caving equipment is needed by the persons arranging the anchors and connecting the belt to the free end of the bungee rope. This would entail understanding the need for secure anchorages, the correct use of karabiners and the importance of the fully closing screw gate or catch lock variety.