Discussion: NAOC - what next?
in: 2012 North American Orienteering Championships;
with the NAOC clearly establishing itself as north America's premier orienteering event, what could we hope for in 2014?
some of my ideas
- 1,000 plus attendance
- more focus on activities for the youngest groups (eg: kids fun zone in the arena with bouncy castles and orienteering games)
- even more technology, including live tracking
- more assistance from other clubs, as this event keeps getting bigger and better
- WOC final guaranteed qualification for M/W21E winners
- IOF medals for North American Regional Champions (winners of m/w21E categories)
Sponsors and publicity. It is something that should be very attractive to a variety of sponsors, and is tragically underexploited.
Regarding technology--the NAOC2012 TechTeam, the IBM of North American orienteering--will entertain consulting engagements. Give them a launching pad, and they will get you to the Moon.
You might want to consult a bit with Clem (j-man). My source (Sandy) tells me that he was the source of many of the cool ideas for this event, including the conception and planning for the relay. He should get a lot of credit for how exciting things were.
Agree, he is the man behind the NAOC2012 curtains from the beginning till the very end.
Clem was the EMF
that made the current flow.
- onsite food sales ( especially the number one request I heard - barista in the quarantine;)
Keep talking everyone. We're listening in Otttawa! And planning, scheming and taking notes.
Re the Tech Team - because I could only participate at the event on Saturday and Sunday, I got to experience the whole spectrum of NAOC by watching the live coverage during lunch at work on Friday, and it was amazing! We are so lucky to have so many talented people in orienteering who are willing to share that talent and go to great lengths so the rest of us can have so much fun.
And Clem? Creative genius!
I second the food sales request - can't think of anything else I would add. The food should include heart-shaped waffles for maximal Scandi feel.
why not have NAOC every year?
why not have NAOC every year?
Not enough DVOAs, and volunteer burnout? Just kidding; there could certainly be some kind of US/Can/(other) competition every year with point scoring similar to the BK cup.
If as AZ writes the future of NAOC includes "- WOC final guaranteed qualification for M/W21E winners" then the NAOC (for elites at least) would likely need to become an annual event (and hosted in the spring??). The race would then likely double as Canadian and US WOC/JWOC team trials.
I really did enjoy the event, and in comparison to the EOC I attended this year, it was certainly moving in that direction.
The courses were very fine, and the relay design especially notable for its shortish length of legs, which kept the competition close.
Live tracking would be my first recommendation for an enhancement, along with a big screen. It's just so cool to watch what is happenning in the woods.
In the woods cameras add to that excitement.
Those are both tall technical orders, but I will say I would be willing to help if I can.
As for food and games...not too thrilled with an inflatable fun zone, and for a US or Canadian themed food, lots of maple syrup and apple pie would work for me.
How did the finances work out?
Food vending in the arenas was certainly discussed and lobbied for. But, given the weather on Friday, and the difficulty the rain presented getting vehicles in an arena selected 1) to facilitate the best orienteering (subject to certain constraints) and then 2) for the best aesthetics (leaving out ease of access or logistics), I'm actually happy (with the benefit of hindsight) that we did not.
Sometimes you have to play down the worst that could happen, and sometimes it happens. Weather conditions Friday were certainly not the worst imaginable, but they were worse than the unfailingly rosy picture I would always paint leading up to the event.
I guess you cant 'follow' competitors thru the woods if there are still people waiting to go out on the course and they could see the video?
But if it could somehow be done, helmet cam would be exciting. A great start with the live streaming, but not enough action, i'm sure even the camera crew would agree. Though I do love watching a red leaf fall:)
By contrast, the Mt. Sac cross country event had multiple cameras following mulitiple races simultaneously - the opposite extreme, since sometimes races blended into each other and it was hard to keep them all straight. Also adding to the excitement was an announcer who could tell who was out on the course, how they were doing every minute of the way, and therefore could give a stirring blow by blow of how races were unfolding and invite spectator participation.
Live GPS tracking on a big screen with a map will require WOC style quarantine of M/W21E athletes. And since all other classes are likely to use the exact same map you probably can't start M/W21E until after all other classes have started.
Would be awesome though!
pi et. al.: That is exactly what we have been discussing - hopefully we can make it happen!
This past weekend's event will be a hard act to follow but we're setting our sights high. It's hard to say at this point what will and won't be possible so I don't want to promise much... one thing's for sure though - there will be heavy involvement of sponsors.
You have 2 years to get ready :)) Trust me, they will fly quick.
I'm looking forward to it!
Live GPS tracking!
Streaming video is great-- but when it has context, it's ten times better! (..and more difficult to pull off :)
Indeed! We ran a test of Jagge's RG/cell phone tracking last year on Hugh's server, hosting one of the Yökuppi
events. This is one of the main reasons I've been following that Wed night series so closely - playing with the software and getting a feel for how to best present it in an arena production. Really, really wanted to try it at NAOC, but we just didn't have the time to mature it. The 3G coverage was there I think. I'd love to see tracking at lots of events, and I think the best lead to follow towards that end is the RG solution. Like Vadim said, we should start on this long-lead item early and be trying it as often as possible in order to work the bugs out. Hugh was able to get his phone to work properly with RG just using the basic tracker.html. As soon as the dust settles I'd be happy to help work on this.
What about TracTrac?
More junior stuff! er.. fun youth stuff? The juniors' lounge was a great idea.
I've talked with Ed about TracTrac. They used it for the WC ski races at Tahoe in Jan. There were some logistic issues, and yes its quite expensive.
I like Jagge's solution because its cheap and easy enough that you could even use it for local meets if you wanted. For the Yökuppi races, people bring their own smartphones. For a major orienteering event a solution would have to be found to get everyone useable hardware. I haven't figured this out yet, whether it be renting a set of phones for the day, or buying a set and just using SIM cards for the day. I just don't know enough (anything really) about how smartphones and data plans work. So that's a logistic hurdle to work on.
The hardware side seems to work pretty well. As Jagge explained it to me, you set up the phone to send the GPS data to the RG server, then you seal the phone in a weatherproof, durable container of some sort and put it in a pocket or a bum bag. Wearing the phone low is a problem because your body gets in the way of the GPS reception, so the solution is to have a lightweight off-the-shelf Bluetooth GPS receiver that you clip onto a headband. That talks to the phone via bluetooth and has a good view of the sky. One could envision a solution like TracTrac where you put this whole thing in a pouch in a bra between your shoulder blades. So this is something else that would have to be worked out in order to have a uniform set to give out to competitors.
You could also imagine someone clever (like Ed D) designing a cheap, easy to build composite unit with cell phone & GPS receiver-on-a-chip all in a compact waterproof container.
It might even be possible for a federation (or pair of federations :) to buy a pre-built system and just rent it out to clubs. But money is tight, so I'm always looking for something we can do on the cheap with materials in-hand.
Your O area has to have decent phone reception too.
I actually think Ed could figure out a way around no cell phone reception, too. :)
Yes, you have to have reception. That's true of TracTrac and other commercial systems as well. I was worried the Water Gap wouldn't have any, but it seemed to be decent there. However it was spotty - some areas had good coverage and others did not.
Watching the Yökuppi races you can sometimes tell when terrain or vegetation are interrupting the quality of the tracking, or when a particular user doesn't have the external GPS running (internal one, in a pocket for example).
Companies like Verizon have 4g "hotspot" devices-- is the computer that processes the info the only item that needs a connection?
LiveStream looked like it also had some products to facilitate this.
1) It looks as if NAOC 2014 is heading toward the best local community support ever. But enough about that now.
2) Kudos to whoever came up with the NAOC 2012 logo. It really caught my eye.
3) I vote for keeping NAOC every two years and having a Championship of the Americas on the off years. (Did you know there is a South American Orienteering Championships every November or December? We should be working with those guys. But its bad enough to see the BK Cup staying in the States. How bad would we feel if Brazil took it home?)
Well, we'd feel bad about that, too! :)
The RG server can be anywhere on the planet - somewhere on the internet. The devices (nominally cell phones) each person is carrying just have to be able to send their GPS coords to that server on the internet periodically.
As someone who couldn't be there and so spent more time than most looking at the web coverage, can I suggest gently that this is a tricky area? I am genuinely impressed by the technical achievement of streaming live to the web. And it was cool for a few minutes to see people running (well, walking mostly) past the camera. But, to be honest, it got old pretty quickly. Watching distant people run past one by one is just not that exciting. And, before you say, feet is just being negative as usual, the viewership figures suggested a typical viewership was about 20 or 30 at most (a little higher early on Friday before the novelty wore off).
So, if a lot of energy over and above providing whatever pictures were being used on large screens in the arena was used on the internet streaming, unfortunately I think it was not well spent. (Were there screens in the arena?)
I applaud the NAOC team for trying, though. You never know till you try. And I was genuinely impressed by the ability to get it working at all.
In future I would recommend spending the effort on enriching the arena experience. If your choice is between a big screen for live coverage in the arena, or live streaming to the web, go with the arena screens. If live streaming is an easy add on to that, then great. But concentrate on the arena first.
Again, please take this in the spirit of constructive criticism as intended.
Adding to my previous post: live tracking streamed is cool. But again, do it with an eye to the arena experience and treat the web as gravy if it's easy to add.
I agree with feet. Much more important than a static position video feed is the sound feed of the announcer. On Friday and Saturday it was not possible to hear the announcer, making the video feed (almost) useless.
The live online results were great, but since they did not include the radio controls, the announcer feed became critical to follow along in a meaningful way. This worked really well on Sunday!
Yes, first priority should be arena experience for those who are there. If you have more technical resources and internet in the arena, focus first on live result + sound feed. If you want to go crazy, try for GPS tracking. Video feed doesn't really add anything until you add several camera positions and a producer that switches between views at the correct time. I assume no one in NA will go that crazy for the next little while... ;)
Though it was great when Eddie moved the camera on Sunday to cover the BK and FC cup awards. That was really nice to be able to see live!
Thanks so much for your efforts on this!
I couldn't agree more. We so much wanted to do major things with the video production, and yes there was a screen in the arena showing the video - the biggest we could manage. One of the 4 screens on the results tower was showing the vid. We just didn't have the extra capacity to do more with the vid production. The software was capable of doing some of those things (switching from video to showing something - like a map - from the desktop), but you really need a couple of cameras and a dedicated production team to work only that.
We knew the audio going out wasn't very good on Friday, so we concentrated effort at improving it on Sat morning. In fact, this photo
shows audio work in progress in the arena on Saturday morning :) Its a 100' audio cable being constructed from a piece of cat5 ethernet cable. The audio in the arena itself was fine all weekend.
I think the problem on Saturday was that the audio feed was from the camera in the woods all the time. Overheard some interesting discussions, but there was no race coverage... ;)
I thought we had the PA audio patched in by mid-day on Sat, rather than the forest cam audio? no?
During the relay we did manage a couple of video interviews, and the team introductions were all on the live stream vid. I think the audio was fine for those.
Yeah, exactly, Sunday was great!
No, Saturday was almost exclusively sound from the forest cam.
Interesting. We must've had a switch set wrong, because the whole purpose of that cable was to bybass the camera audio with the line out from the PA system. Maybe that was only working when we had the in-arena camera on? Our intent was to have the PA announcing over the video no matter what was on the video.
There was some video early on Saturday from the arena. Then it switched to the forest cam, including audio. Perhaps there was some very brief moment when the audio came from the arena (I have a faint recollection of that), but 99% of the time the audio came from the forest cam (up until the feed stopped due to a battery failure somewhere).
I agree volunteer time should be devoted to things that are most useful to the most people. That may or may not be live video.
It's so much work, I don't think it's reasonable to expect A Meet organizers to do it. If the NAOC 2014 tries it, awesome.
As constructive criticism only, from someone who watched the video feed, I offer the following observations. Viewership peaked at 60 people on Day 1, before the video went offline. Video was offline about 50% of the time thereafter, just about every day. Hard to attract or keep an audience with video going offline for long stretches. Camera position on Day 1 was apparently near but not at a control, and required panning back and forth to catch people on different routes to the control. Lots of panning left and right, and zooming in and out, looking for bodies, and occasionally seeing some. Hard on the camera operator. Dizzying for the viewer. Shot was of people coming up a steep hill. Easier to get them into the viewfinder, which was probably the idea behind choosing the uphill route, but watching 95% of the competitors walking was not exciting. And some were still not zoomed in much, so you couldn't tell who they were. And it was dark (because in forest, and particularly because it was raining and overcast!) Audio was of the cameraman. Mostly silent but when he was talking or chuckling he did not know he was on live audio. So audio was mostly a bust. A couple of times, we got a feed of the announcer, which was mas better, and tantalizing. If we had the announcer the whole time, would have been mas mas better. On Day 3 for the relay, the audio was terrible, static-y stuff, until the audio was hardwired. Then awesome, but camera was left pointing from side of finish chute to end of finish chute. Better angle would have been from finish chute up the chute, so you could see runners coming in, and share the excitement a little more.
The following are my recommendations to make this easier (but not easy) and maybe better. 1) First preference for camera location: have camera in arena exactly at finish line (or a few feet behind finish line) facing up the finish chute so you can see runners coming in. Many will be sprinting. The crowd at home will know (approximately) their finish time, and with live results, that will be exciting to watch. If there is a crowd at the finish chute cheering competitors on, bonus because the camera will probably see them too, and can pick up the cheering. No dedicated cameraman needed (possibly). Just point the camera. Hardwire the announcer audio. Announcer should be pretty close to finish chute, in most arenas, so hardwire easier at this spot. 2) Second preference for camera location: have camera at a control, like 5-10 feet away, in a location where route choice is constrained for about 10 feet (like between two large boulders.) It does not have to be constrained for long, just long enough so the camera does not have to move, or move much. Maybe wishful thinking, but again may not need a camera operator. Just point in the right direction. Area to be filmed should be well lit naturally, so you can see the competitors easily. Preferably not near the end of the course, and not on an uphill slog, or picking through rocks, or logs, or whatever. Better if we can see competitors running. Third preference for location: at the start. Competitors are fresh, and look their best. As with arena, perhaps less need for a dedicated cameraman. Just point.
In any location, feed the announcer on audio. Tech crew should have a way to confirm video and audio quality in real time.
All of this is a ton of work. I thought the tech crew at NAOC was awesome! They are the real experts to check with. My perspective is just that of a lazy bum sitting in a nice leather chair at home, so take my comments for what little they may be worth.
Yes, there were two power failures on Sat that affected the live stream. The first was when the generator feeding the internet downlink ran out of gas. Ed and I topped it up in the morning, but this was the smaller of the two generators being used on site and we just forgot to check it.
The second failure later in the day was the battery at the repeater site going dead. Ed and I rushed out to replace it, but that took some time. It read 4.0 volts when we got there - not quite the 12V it started with :)
There's a funny story about the generator running out of gas. In addition to the radio and ethernet switch in Ed's truck, the blower on the inflatable arch over the finish line was also plugged into that generator. The first sign of trouble was the arch suddenly deflating :) A couple of volunteers held the arch up for finishers while we got the generator re-started.
I wondered about the arch collapse. There was some wind and rain about that time, and I assumed it had just been intentionally lowered because of the wind.
That was on Friday. I'm not sure why it went down then. That day the GFI on the generator tripped a couple of times...it was sooo wet out there. Maybe that was one of the times it tripped. The generator itself was covered, but there were power cords run all around the arena.
Just one point regarding the viewership figures. I watched on Friday but not on Saturday or Sunday because I was at NAOC those days. That may also be the case with other viewers who "dropped out" after Friday.
of course, in a perfect world, there would be multiple cameras operated by paid camera operators using high quality wireless equipment going live to a van, where there's a director calling the best shots that are in turn broadcasted. don't forget an audio person, and a producer to coordinate everything. for the amount of money and people that were used to produce the end result, what got done was like a major miracle in my opinion. and i also think it was relatively non-invasive to the runners, which is an important thing for the woods cam. kudos to everyone who figured out how to get it done. it was a really enjoyable event to be a part of, both as a beginning orienteer and a low level volunteer.
I tried operating the cam at one of our testing sessions at Hickory Run back in Sept. Its surprisingly difficult to do well. The zoom on that camera had a really light touch.
I had to laugh today though when I was watching the archived video of the Sprint from the forest control. The audio was coming from your cam and I could hear you opening a granola bar wrapper and "crunch, crunch, crunch, munch, munch" :)
a girl's gotta eat. But how did you know it was a granola bar?? at one point I had a full conversation with myself too but thank god I don't think it got recorded! I assumed the audio was not being used actually.
But-- I learned a lot by watching how really good orienteers approach a control efficiently. And it was a pleasure to see that flash of recognition lighting up face after face, the joy of finding the control. It was a really special experience.
I agree, do not spend effort on live cams in the woods. A stationary cam viewing the finish and the run-in is superior. And then have the PA on the audio.
In addition, it would be neat to have a split video showing a live list with info about the latest finishers; current place, name, class and time. Another screen possibility would be to display live splits; could include a predicted next split (if applicable), finishing place and time.
Bet that bar was a chocolate chip one.
I can direct if you can produce, Ann :-) Surely there are a few more TV people somewhere in orienteering to crew. The cost of even leasing equipment is the problem.
Actually, I thought of this idea much too late, but it may have been possible to talk to the closest college with a TV program (I know East Stroudsburg has one because I was accepted there) and get them to provide switched multi-camera coverage if they have a mobile truck. We did lots of sporting events and local events on a volunteer basis when I was in school, just to get the experience. Then you just stream from the truck.
We have the video from Valerie's camera at the finish line used as backup finish timing.
We approached East Stroudsburg about the possibility of their doing some work but we didn't do a good job of following through.
let's just all go watch the hunger games again and enjoy orienteering without cameras until 2014. :)
Re: off years
North American Jukola/Tiomila-style epic relay.
Dear Bshields: that would be too much fun for North American Orienteering. We only do relays once a year and then say how righteous the one race was. Then back to B Meets.
(Harriman. Noram. Juloka-style. See you there....)
DVOA: thanks so much, will post more post NYC.
The NorAm 7-man would be one righteous race.
NorAm 7 person relay, brilliant idea. With night legs I hope?
Since I was there I didn't watch any of the online coverage, but from watching other events I will say that the #1 most interesting thing is hearing the announcer audio from the arena. Agree that cameras in the forest are generally not that exciting.
The event was superb from start to finish, and anything more would just be over-the-top showing off. That said, for aspiring showoffs, live GPS tracking during the relay would've been absolutely riveting - for both on-site and internet people. Also, I was really surprised by how useful/fun the relay packet was. I bought one out of blind solidarity, and found it was a hoot to study before and during the race - advertise those better next time! Maybe add a baseball-box-score-like page for spectators to keep track of the delightful mayhem. The relay course was clearly (and well!) designed with spectators in mind - top it off by adding a big clock or two near the obvious clusters of adoring fans.
Maybe add a baseball-box-score-like page for spectators to keep track of the delightful mayhem.
As I was hawking the relay guides I heard a few people mention that they wanted some place to write/keep track of the results. One person suggested a printed single-sheet supplement with the actual teams and a score card. I thought it was awesome to have the maps with the forkings, and a printed supplement could actually have a list of who was running each, no?
With the relay, the only way I could keep track was to look at the map boards to see how many maps were left. What would help me a lot next time is to have the map boards clearly marked - and maybe one different map board for each category (Senior Men / Senior Women / Junior Men / Junior Women) - and perhaps a maple leaf / stars & stripes over each set of maps
My two cents:
- bring string-o back for kids
- more relays, however we do that
- not that it was bad this year, but even better announcing / hyping the races, esp. building excitement around the elite runners. Dedicated announcers who prep in advance?
- I'm not so interested in all the techy / live stuff - rather make sure we have excellent maps and excellent courses.
There were four different map boards, one for each of the 4 relay divisions and this was pointed out to the runners when Clem and I did the little run through - they went from left to right in the order that the relays started. In hindsight, larger boards with room to label the boards and more room between the boards so they didn't all run together would have been good.
Sandy, the to resolve the issue of picking up the wrong map, as far as I'm concerned, is simply to emphasize in advance that it is the responsibility of the runners to pick up the right map and to remind them that they should all look in advance at the board to see where the map they need to pick up is.
In the case on the weekend when someone picked up the wrong map it was because the runner in question had little to no relay experience and didn't know to look at the board in advance. Obviously there were complications because of people running in at the same time but that's just an excuse...
Instead of focusing on LIVE video stream and LIVE gps tracking.. why not do them both post-production? It would make it LOADS easier: stash some remote-controlled GoPro's (yes! they have remotes now!) or motion-sensored hunting cams in the forest (don't need to be manned, though the res' will be lower). Use entry-level GPS watches to keep track of the top contenders (most will have their own) and upload to RouteGadget or other similar program. Roaming camera person around the arena.
A film could be cut within 48 hours that was actually comprehensive and would reveal the play by play of the race both in video and tracking.
Yeah, it wouldn't be LIVE-- but it would be more interesting to watch & easier to produce.
Post-produced stuff is cool, and would be nice to see, but if you're going to do anything, live streaming audio of the announcing is by far the coolest (to me).
Agree- if anything should be live, live announcing would be it. Are more radio controls very hard to set? (easier than gps tracking anyway?) It would provide more updates and play by plays.
Are more radio controls very hard to set?
Here's the thing, and pi and crew had known that well in advance of the 2010 NAOC and focused energy and resources accordingly. If the announcers are going to follow intermediate times from the woods, even if only for the elite competition, then there will be no chance to announce each finisher at the finish—just not enough bandwidth.
@ShadowCaster—I appreciated the chance from DVOA to chip in with the announcing, and am quite sorry I wasn't prepared, bumbling a number of things (e.g. Pospíšil ran WOCs for Slovakia, not Czech). I'll prepare better next time (y'all should come to the December OCIN thing!)
Would clubs and participants be willing to increase entry fees to Championships races to cover professional event management services like arena set-up and organization? By working together as a community is it feasible for a group to be paid to set-this up and run announcing, radio controls, etc. at all/most of the events? Can the Balter/NevMonster/TD trio be the 'voice' of Nor-Am orienteering?
I may be biased, but I think Balter/NevMonster/TD are very good, and very complementary. I have very much appreciated every event I've heard any of them provide commentary for.
@Hammer: I believe that if someone managed to pull off a 'complete package' like that, they would be heroes. Mine, at least. They could probably make a few $K/year doing it too!
From my perspective, the biggest worry was the complete tear-down and setup each day. Not from a number-of-volunteers perspective (we had plenty, and able, and willing), but that the potential for bumbling (on my part) was high! My current thought would be to get several trucks (how about this classic):
Mount the PA on their roofs, big screens on their sides, awning/travel covers, pop ups for event staff with registration on one side (with credit card slot!) download and results on the other, announcing platform ... somewhere, etc.
One truck is reg/download, maybe one monitor. Another -- optional for an event -- is added display's and announcing. And one more optional truck would be video production, etc, complete with 2 sweet cameras on the top.
Sort of a modular approach, based on the event type.
The Philly SCCA
does this to great effect, hosting events all over the place on a regular basis. They're a similarly tech-heavy sport, full of volunteers, and it really makes things nice for them when things 'just work'. Their events are still moderately inexpensive (compared to a Tri, or something), even with all the gear. Part of racing is volunteering
, which is an interesting concept, and maybe something to think about?
Of course it would probably be better to get the sweet Mercedes trucks that the Peak Assurance folks (and many military units) have. Couldn't find a shot of Peak's, but that thing could go anywhere.
You (ambitious entrepreneur) could also use trailers (instead of entire new trucks) for modular additions. Get everything wrapped in awesome sponsor graphics and you're off to the races!
...to resolve the issue of picking up the wrong map, as far as I'm concerned, is simply to emphasize in advance that it is the responsibility of the runners to pick up the right map...
What are the arguments for having the finishing runner take the map and hand it to the next-leg runner, versus tagging the next-leg runner, who then grabs his/her own map? It seems wrong to DQ the person who simply received a map and completed the course on it.
Also, on at least one occasion, I saw a race official point to a particular map for a finisher to take. If this was done for one runner, I would hope it would have been done for every runner. However, if the runners are indeed solely responsible for grabbing the correct map, then perhaps NObody should be pointing to them.
My argument for having the incoming runner take the map is that it ensures an actual hand off. You can't possibly leave before you're tagged if you need the map.
Also, it is really the responsibility of *both* the incoming runner and the outgoing runner to check the map. The outgoing runner might be nervous and full of adrenaline, but they should have oxygen flowing to their brain. If they check the map on the way through the exchange zone and see that it's not theirs, it's still an easy fix.
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Use as designed, or build out into a fort for your kids, a bizarre planter, or just saw it up and dump it for me. :)
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Also: if you're interested in building something similar, I can share plans, and recommend modifications (like making it a lot
@GuyO & Cristina:
Several of us discussed this a bit post-event evening. I think our two best ideas were:
Color Coding -- each team has a different color. Obviously if there are 23 teams it gets a bit difficult, but for up to about 10 it should really help. Color coded number bib, map, box, maybe a big sticker or wristband that the runner can stick somewhere visible as well.
An Assigned Team Map Holder -- each team, in order to compete must have on hand a person responsible to have maps in hand for each team member.
Use the Map Holder for smaller events (less likely to be able to support color coding), and do both for larger events.
oh yeah, that reminds me...
* bibs on the back of relay runners (maybe on the front too, but when the runners are reading the map then the map obscures the map so we can't see the bib). That would have helped me follow the relay better.
* @GuyO - yes, I think we should have nobody trying to help the runners find the proper map. Especially with so few teams it shouldn't be that slow to find the maps - and teaches runners to figure out in advance where their map is.
* at some relays I've seen the next runner waits at the map board, where his/her map is, but not able to pick it up. The incoming runner runs to the waiting teammate, picks up the map and hands it over the map board. This seems about as fool proof as I have ever seen.
How is it done at WOC and JWOC? That's the way we should do it, to give our athletes practice. (I don't know the answer.)
The bibs matched the piece of paper showing on the maps. At Jukola that's what we were all doing - checking our own bibs as we ran in to make sure we took the right map to hand off. I was basing our relay procedure off of that.
Making exchanges in relays is one of the most stressful things to do. The pressure is really on to do it right - the consequences of a mistake are large. At WOC the map board is often (always?) after
the tag. In the quarantine zone I find myself checking over and over and over what my team number is.
At WOC in Norway 2010 there was a long chute out to the map boards, which were at the edge of the forest. I was taking photos just under one of the bridges along the chute between the exchange and the map boards, so runners were going by with no map in their hand. I got this sequence of Niamh O'Boyle as she came under the bridge:
Check, check, and check again :) But like Hugh said, we were talking about this at dinner on Sunday night and feeling pretty bad about it. No one wants to see a DQ for a bad map exchange.
One difference is that at WOC/JWOC/Jukola, the teams all have unique numbers, so the bibs look like 11-1, 12-1, 1722-7, etc. By necessity, they often have longer runs up to the boards that give a few extra seconds to zero in on the right map, and often officials are there pointing to the correct map. (still, people sometimes grab wrong maps).
In this case the bibs and maps were numbered within division/country, which I thought was cool, but may have added confusion since it is mostly the numbers that tend to jump out at you.
At JWOC 2012 there was a tag off then a long run to a map board. The maps were arranged from lower bib number to higher bib number from entry to board to exit. Males to the left females to the right. All of this was explained prior to the start of the race. And there were people at the board to guide competitors to the correct maps.
The Relay was great - exciting and well worth staying to watch. The venue with the courses winding back and forth through the spectator area, and with the guide to figure out the courses, held the excitement to the end. A few suggestions above would have made things easier to follow:
1. The extra sheet in the guide for a score card of the teams.
2. Numbers, large on the front and the back of the runners for identification. Numbers such as USA 1-1, 1-2 etc for each team so runners and us in the crowd know whats going on.
3. Some sort of tracking board in the arena so the status of the team can be ascertained. With all the teams running at the same time (a great idea BTW) it was all the more difficult to keep track of which runner of which team on which leg just went by.
Separate thought - the woods cam was one of the screens in the arena. It was there broadcasting almost continuously with no audience. I looked at it a couple times but found it totally uninteresting. As pointed out above, that must have been frustrating to the on-line audience. When I have followed some of the European events such as WOC, the first thing of interest was the Live Results. Have never had any of the other feeds, but perhaps an audio from the arena would be of interest and then the gps track. I have watched the gps tracks after the fact. Always interesting.
@Sandy - duh. Of course - we should do it exactly like WOC/JWOC. Seems obvious now you mention it ;-)
Yes, GPS tracking, more and better cameras ... prepare to bulk up your staff and budget significantly! :)
But definitely for on-line viewers just sticking to the arena cam (and getting the audio feed right, ack!!) would have been a much more interesting experience. And MUCH MUCH easier to do, too. Lesson learned here at DVOA.
Orienteering is very interesting from a data perspective. The more live online data available the more interesting the experience for on-line viewers. Quality GPS live tracking (I'm not convinced that RouteGadget is the way to go here), available radio control details (that data is super-duper!!), etc.
Wrapping it all together in any cohesive, digestible package is difficult, and labor intensive.
Getting it all integrated and rolling from various places in the woods is quite the task.
The relay guide was a bit of a hassle to put together as I only got pictures/bio information dribbling in the few days leading up to when it needed to be at the printers. Because we didn't know who would actually be running on the teams until the day before, we couldn't supply that without a trip to the not-so-local copy shop. In hindsight, a piece of paper with places for people to fill in the information themselves would have worked and would have been easy to include, but obviously I didn't think of it. :)
The actual format of the guide was a bit up in the air as well. In the end, we decided to just print the full maps instead of a smaller version - either cropped or not to scale - and then just made the front and back covers to match the size. There's lots of other ways to do the guide and having places to write in names and track who has finished and who is still out is a good idea and could be incorporated into the design.
Just askin... how do we get a video of some part of the course (say, the finish line) with the picture of the current runner flying down the chute with his elapsed time at the bottom of the screen. And not only that, but also his placing and the time and place of the person just in front/behind him - changing in real time (do you know what I'm trying to describe? - it is pretty common to see in coverage of olympic skiing, for example)
On map exchanges. The incoming runner is mentally and physically exhausted, potentially injured, and has to think about punching, not falling down in the chute and finding his next runner. Adding selection of a map to that list is cruel. In contrast, the outgoing runner has plenty of time to locate his map and figure out exactly where he will step and how he will grab it, while quietly waiting for his teammate, and presumably not yet in a deteriorated physical or mental state.
Of course then some person (or technology) needs to monitor that the handoff / tag is clean. But the greatly reduced chance of getting the wrong map should offset that. Keep in mind that taking the wrong map can foul up not just your team but the one whose map you took as well.
Potentially, taking the wrong map could even be done intentionally with the sole purpose of slowing down a top seeded team.
I seldom use RG as not useable on my iPad!
It was nice to see the preliminary results posted on-line. However, it would be good if the file could be updated automatically every 5 minutes or so. The people running the results are often too busy to change the file and most often get tired of doing it long before the competition is over.
There is an automatic upload feature in the OE2010 software, but it would not play nicely with the internet connection for some reason on the two days that we remote. Of course, it worked just fine at home. So, then it was a scramble for some other auto FTP type software solution, in lieu of sitting there and doing a manual upload periodically. This freeware which may have introduced some other issues, like freezing up the computers at different times.
Ironically, Sunday, while we were hard wired to the internet at PEEC, the auto upload through OE2010 worked perfectly, well, except for the fact that I forgot to start it, or even think about starting it. Oops. Ed came over as soon as you posted your query and got it going after that, but by then the bulk of the sprint was over.
I take the credit for not getting the radio control information live as well. It was never my intention to spend $5k and a year of my time to only make the information available to the announcers and to show just the M/W-21 radio controls in the arena. But that is what happened, for various reasons.
Ah, well, I should have it perfected in another year.
Just askin... how do we get a video of some part of the course (say, the finish line) with the picture of the current runner flying down the chute with his elapsed time at the bottom of the screen. And not only that, but also his placing and the time and place of the person just in front/behind him - changing in real time (do you know what I'm trying to describe?
At the very least you'd need a character generator and a production switcher to key its output over the video. You could probably run a single camera's output into a computer, through a software CG, and then out to the web (or wherever) to add some simple titling like runner name, course/class, and club. However, what you see on the big networks is far more complex. Typically it involves an entire mobile production trailer just for the fleet of CGs and their support equipment (computers calculating and feeding over all that live data such as the elapsed times, etc).
I agree that from a production point of view, the arena cam is the way to go, as a first cut. Once that is perfected, consider layering in the other stuff.
But, now that the guys have done the hard work of running video from over 400 meters in the forest, having a stationary camera at the finish will be child's play.
Getting the radio control info to the announcers was priority one after all, so I'd call that a success. And it was very cool to see it on the screen in the arena for the M/F21 sprint. I think the first time we carried your O-lynx radios into the woods for a test at a local meet was last Dec wasn't it? Maybe you had them out before then.
Yes, I just looked it up, and you are correct that I got it early December. It just seems like a year. :)
Indeed, the announcers were the main objective, and then arena results, but the online should have been so easy, except when it wasn't. Just the perfectionist in me.
And, I couldn't have done it without you, Eddie!! All those trips in and out of the woods getting a handle on the hardware so I could work on the software.
Keep in mind that taking the wrong map can foul up not just your team but the one whose map you took as well.
Correct. At WOC93, we realized this the night before the relay, and scrambled to get together a duplicate set of maps in case somebody grabbed the wrong one and it needed to be replaced.
And that is something I never thought about, but Sandy did (of course!) and thus averted disaster.
For anyone interested in seeing Jagge's RG live tracking in action, today at 11 AM EDT is the start of what looks like the last live tracking event of the fall Yökuppi season. Tune in at the link at the top of the Yökuppi thread
. The map should be posted there just before the start - usually within about an hour.
Be There - yarrrrr!!!!
Looks like he's got the map posted already. Go take a look! You know you want to...
The relay was a spectacular success. Viewing it as a complete outsider, the most riveting moments for me were: first, Isabel's first passage through the spectator area; and second, the disqualifications. All were surprises. Isabel's first appearance sailing (she sold it really well) across the field alone with no one in pursuit was the moment when the crowd became very palpably excited. Although unfortunate, the disqualifications provided twists and turns that made things really interesting as the crowd scratched their heads recalculating.
With this type of event we naturally focus on the competition - the reason we are doing this. However, we need to also focus on the crowd - the other reason for doing this. It is a show. There is a remarkable series of four books by Edward Tufte dealing with visual information and the presentation of data visually. Although they are not Orienteering books, I think they will provide a rich source of ideas for us. One thought that arises is context. A map provides context for what we are doing. Suppose a front end could be contructed for Route Gadget's ability to run competitors head to head. I think a real time display of that would be riveting.
Some other thoughts: the arena, the courses and the whole setup were designed to very near perfection; the really neat stuff, well, is really neat to do, but the second focus needs to be on the 'show'; the electronic controls should be for the benefit of the announcers so they can do their job - the announcers need more information than the crowd.
Yeah, that is a good point. The announcers for NAOCs were great and added tremendously to the atmosphere, but even so there is a lot of potential, if someone were to devote a considerable effort to analyzing the race, the athletes, and the expectations beforehand and to creating tools for real time analysis during the race. Ideally, as the information comes in from the forest, the announcer would inform us of how an athlete's performance compares to their expected result for the day ("he's running 5% faster than his OUSA ranking pace right now") or how their pace in the middle of the race measures up to their pace at the start.
We can do a lot of post analysis ala winsplits or the AP splits/graph, but it should also be possible to apply those same analysis tools in real time as the race progresses. The crowd can have the raw data, but the announcer should have the analysis at their fingertips, and ideally would know enough about each of the runners to provide informed commentary on their progress.
Well said, Francis, especially as it related to the crowd watching the show. It is as if we should have been paying to get into the theater.
I will clarify that my disappointment was in not having the intermediate control information available to the outside world. I was happy with the arena display once we got the kink worked out Friday night that caused the inability to update the display screens from the download program.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to O-Lynx Phillip Herries for working with me from New Zealand to get it fixed overnight. The issue with Zero time and start box punches is a touchy one, and I didn't give it enough respect.
Thanks, and second to mikeminium's comment above re map exchanges.
"Cruel" is the right word.
A summary of the analysis that went into deriving the winning times, before a fatigue factor was applied (and a copy which was provided to the announcing crew in advance, with inadequate explanation, perhaps) is here: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B7bGb0BTV-4lVnRVd...
Similar calculations were also completed on each of the Sprint/Middle/Long to arrange that the M21 and W21 winners would arrive in the stadium at pre-determined times (just after all the other courses were mostly complete - for maximum number of spectators in the arena and maximum drama).
Making good arena production takes a lot of planning ;-)
(ps: of course, for the sprint we did the opposite - making sure the M21/W21 runners finished *before* anyone else started (to give these runners maximum time to recover for the relay)
Nevin, Greg and Clem did indeed do some homework ahead of time. Nevin was in the "Beaver Lodge" (seriously, the room the organizers were using had an actual beaver lodge in it) late Thurs night studying on one of the computers. It was also great that Vlad was there - he graciously stepped in a couple of times to relieve Greg and Nevin so they could go out and run.
I'm just so psyched that everyone is "getting it" here. I think we managed a tantalizing taste of what its like at major European events and how much fun it can be at our own. The large attendance really added to it, added to the crowd noise that is a big part of the excitement.
And yes, Izzy running through was just amazing. Not to take anything away from the rest of it - it was all exciting, but Francis is right. That really kicked the crowd into gear. Its moments like that that I really remember from WOC.
Izzy shows up off to the side of the arena. People start to point. Who is that?? There's an excited reaction from Per/Greg/Nevin over the PA. Totally unexpected! The crowd goes wild.
It was awesome.
The other moment I remember vividly is when Andrew Childs finished the Sprint in the morning and popped into the 2nd US position. The top seeded runners had mostly finished by then, so it was a big surprise. I think Gregory was on the mic at the time. I happened to be looking at the results monitor when he finished. I've never seen Erin Shirm so happy. Except for that time at West Point when he was eating a big hoagie in the parking lot.
That kind of analysis is definitely on the right track, and contributed a lot to making the announcing a success for this meet. I'm just asking "what more can be done"? And I think more could be done to provide the audience with information about how a runner is measuring up to the expectations for that runner. If you compare every runner to the expected winning time, you only get something interesting for maybe half a dozen runners who are the ones we expect to finish near that time. But for the runners further down the list, are they having a good day, a bad day, are they orienteering out of their mind, are they maybe getting a boost by proximity to another runner? I'm just saying that's the sort of info that would make it a world-class performance on the part of the announcers. Partly you need more information from the woods, partly just really top-notch preparation and real-time analysis.
Well, the announcers were very positive, not highlighting "bad days" or big mistakes. Sometimes it is better to say "fastest North American so far" and give someone the limelight than, "going to get clobbered".
It seemed like the announcers were deliberately nice, and that was a good thing.
I'm not sure why you assume that more analytical announcing equates to mean announcing...
speaking of announcers - were they racing head to head in the sprint? that too was a memorable moment when they raced each other down the finish chute. a definite must have for 2014 - the announcer showdown
I didn't have the guts to really point out many "bad days" when I was on the mic because I didn't want any national team members to ask me if I could have done any better. Vlad much more honest at times.
As Bshields points out, it takes a lot of prep work time to get all that ready, also helps if there was a small army of producers feeding the announcer info. Something for future events to think about, assign someone to get info ready.
I bailed on the swamp in the arena or else I would have high-stepped past Balter in the chute...
New queston: What will be done about permanently archiving event results, information, links to the news stories, photos, etc? Prior to this year's NAOC, I tried to find some results and photo links from recent past NAOC's and was disappointed to find that several sites no longer existed.
Yes it is cool when an event has its own custom website like "naoc2012.org" or "woc20--.country" instead of just using the host club's permanent website. But what happens in a year or two or three when the host club decides that it no longer wants to pay the money each year to keep that additional website operating? What are organizers of various events (including this one) doing to permanently archive our history?
...assign someone to get info ready
I really wanted to find someone for this job at NAOC. It was an obvious need, but we didn't have anyone to put on it. A "minder for Balter," which one should never be without. I sort-of thought I'd do it myself, but time just evaporated into other things each day. Hugh did a little of this, but he was awfully busy himself. I envisioned having digital map files on their terminals so interesting legs could be discussed. With RG tracking and a big enough screen to show it this would be awesomeness, but even without tracking, showing legs on the jumbotron is good.
Someone to watch the radio splits and then whispering to you that so-and-so was doing something interesting. Then you could just concentrate on getting the words out without having to concentrate on the incoming information. You'd just want to know the top runners' backgrounds so you could add color to the sequence. This is somewhat different than a "producer" in that it needs to be someone who can interpret the race information and decide what is interesting to talk about. So maybe a producer who is controlling the A/V switchboard in conjunction with a "race analyst" and the "voice." Three separate people.
Julie Keim can probably throw some light on this, since she's in the 'biz'. How is all of that done for a TV production of a sporting event? (with an eye towards doing it with some basic computer/PA equipment and a skeleton crew rather than a professional TV van, since its unlikely we'd be able to get that).
I picture someone staring at a grid of monitors and deciding which one to switch into the main stream, another group (camera operators, graphic artists) producing the content to cue to those monitors, and a "booth" with Al Michaels or Balter in it.
@mikeminium: Not sure how this will work but I will investigate. Perhaps the naoc2012.org
website can be subsumed into the dvoa.org
website somehow. We have all our other recent A events archived so perhaps there's a way to add this one.
Ideally OUSA would archive stuff.
I thought to archive results related to rankings a few year back, and I did a few events, but then I ran into a club which used frames and other painful things on their site, so I quit.
Eddie's vision is fairly accurate.
Your talent in the "booth" wears an earpiece so the producer can cue them with what is coming next. Ideally they can also see a monitor so they can comment more accurately on what is actually being displayed.
In this case your producer and director could be the same person. This person can view all possible sources, determines the order of elements (cameras, live tracking, graphics, whatever) and switches the main display to each. They also communicate with the talent & the equipment operators (all on headset).
So producer/director sees that Sam has punched the radio control. They tell Forest Cam 1 to pick her up on camera as she approaches. Then they tell the announcer that we are about to take Forest Cam 1 showing Sam. As soon as she appears on camera, they punch over and note that Forest Cam 1 is now live.
Then producer/director sees that she is taking an interesting route. They tell the tracking operator to put up her live track as well as those of several other top runners who already passed through. Then inform talent via headset that tracking is next, and that it is now live.
(This job can be done as two people - producer noticing what should come next and feeding that info to director, who is only bothered with getting the cameras and graphics set and then punching up the next item. It may depend on the size of the event and how much is going on at any one time. I haven't directed in eons but always preferred punching my own show - that is, making all the calls myself. But in a busy environment like this past weekend, it may be too much for a single person to keep track.)
You'd probably want someone (assistant producer) sitting with your talent and able to pull up information on each runner quickly. This would probably require a database researched and prepared ahead of time. So as soon as they hear on the headset that the next shot is Sam, they just have to enter her name or bib number and are ready with all her data.
I want to do the red carpet interviews...and who are you wearing today? ;)
Sweet! I especially like calling Balter "the talent"
maybe that explains the rumors I heard that the tv pros don't like long distance (too slow for the viewer) nor sprint (too fast for the production team)
overheard slight quibble about relay forkings from non-interested observer who pointed out that three forks but three teams meant that two teams might have advantage of running together at each fork.
well, to have 4 forks would require teams of 4 runners.
The alternative discussed was combinations of two forks and unforked
A little complicated but I think it works
In its simplest form one leg is unforked
But if you don't like that then other options are open that rely on there being two forks per leg eg
Leg 1. A fork then C fork
Leg 2: no fork then D fork
Leg 3: B fork then no fork
All teams will run a b c d forks in different order, and with one other team each time. Unless I missed something ;)
overthinking it perhaps? ;)
there were two forks on the course, so if two teams had the same on the first fork, they had different on the second.
but sure, an unforked last leg is not uncommon (or at least an unforked last loop of the last leg)
and the runners don't know which controls are forked when they are out there running, unless they actively cooperate and discuss their control code sequence. and even if they do cooperate they will never have both forks the same on the course anyway. so with a fast paced sprint relay I think it's much more likely you will confuse yourself and lose time if you try something.
maybe that explains the rumors I heard that the tv pros don't like long distance (too slow for the viewer) nor sprint (too fast for the production team)
I actually think sprint would be the perfect TV format and most interesting for people to watch. The production team would need to have an understanding of orienteering and spend time studying maps, courses, likely routes, and start lists to prepare for what will be happening when. In something like an urban sprint venue, it could be possible to place enough cameras to follow specific runners through all or most of the course. You might want to massage the start list to space out your top runners enough for short interviews after finish, or in the other direction to create exciting head to head duels or close finishes. If you don't feel the need to cover live, it could probably be edited down to a very fast paced and exciting 30 minutes or hour.
I spent a good bit of time deliberating over the relay forkings - not saying I got it right, but just that we did think about it. With three legs and four teams you either have to do with just two forkings as Adrian says and send two teams to each forking varying which combination of teams go together each time, or you have to have two teams with the same forking and two teams on their own for each forking. We decided to go with the latter. Perhaps the former is better, although hard to quantify what better means.
I tried to distribute the teams sharing the same forking as equitably as I could, so that the CAN1 and CAN2 teams shared a forking once and USA1 and USA2 shared a forking once and other than that it was one team from the USA and one from CAN. A deliberate choice was to have USA1 and CAN1 share the same forking on the last forking of the last leg.
Any thought about making the juniors and elites run the same course?
Every fork gets at least 2 people on it, it will be a easier to follow with only one mens and one womens start and then watch the crowd go crazy when a junior team is ahead of the elites.
The relay was a great addition. Some people suggested that more teams would have been more exciting but Canada was maxed out in 3 of the 4 categories depth wise as it was. Something for the BK Cup committee to consider for 2014 is to perhaps adopt the (what I assuming will be finalized by then) new WOC mixed sprint relay format. That would reduce the relays to just two categories (elite and juniors). With fewer categories I assume that would then allow for more teams per country in each relay and increase the excitement even more. Heck the juniors could even run the same course as the elites reducing the relay to just one race and therefore figure in the scoring of both the BK and FC Cups (as is already permitted if elites and juniors run the same course in individual races).
What Sunday showed many in North America is that orienteering can be fun as a spectator sport too. Thanks again DVOA.
[Edit: just saw pathetic's post. hate to say we think the same :/
I've never raced in Europe. I'm generally not into giant-crowd-friendly spectator sports. I was extremely skeptical of the "big", "European" format we were going for. To me, orienteering has always been about me and the woods, and some fun chit-chat with friends.
I was very pleasantly surprised by how exciting and fun the whole thing turned out to be. There was still plenty of good-ol' orienteering, thanks to the dedication and perfectionist nature of a core group of DVOA volunteers. But all of the additions were actually additive. If that makes any sense ... I think I'm still recovering from lack of sleep. :) I really look forward to participating in "the next big NA thing", and hope to make it to Europe someday, probably when the girls can appreciate it as well.
I saw this on Alex Jospe's log and wanted to copy it here so all the notes are in one place: "They should have given the relay participants free copies (or at least reduced price). It was fun seeing the courses so we could tell from which direction people would approach the arena."
The Relays were wicked fun, as they always are. However, count me in on including additional countries if they are approved by their federations.
I think it's important for North American elites to race the best in the world as often as they can, especially to get them ready for WOC relays.
Is there anything wrong with Emma versus Ali on the last leg?
Speaking of announcers, or "speakers" as they are known abroad, here is a shot of the set up at the Oringen this summer. I count 7 monitors of data and 4 assistants in the shot. There are probably more, if only to allow for relief as this "show" goes on for hours. And this was on a day when there was no TV as such. That came later. There was also at least one other announcer doing interviews.
Give us 2,000 participants, and we'll give good technology. 10,000 and it would be awesome.
If I didn't have a real job, I'd love to do this stuff.
But do you have the haircut?
Nev - we saw your swamp bail - it was definitely a highlight for me! though you didn't get up too fast, so we were all saying "ouch" ;-)
More countries? They are available right here in the Americas.
Each year in November or December there is held a South American Orienteering Championships. Orienteering is coming a long way in Brazil and Argentina and getting established in Columbia and elsewhere. Did I see that the Brazilian men's team beat both North American teams in the relay at WOC this year?
Perhaps between the NAOC years there should be a Championship of the Americas developed along the lines of the WOC with a strong emphasis on team scoring and relays but also supported by a high quality citizens' event to help pay the bills (and provide the spectators). Let's open the dialogue: buenos dias, bom dia
another comment about relays on the years between NAOC. I think having a depth kind of relay like 15-manna in Norway or 25-manna in Sweden would be cool. Most clubs in NA have more members in the age categories, not elite.
Yes, that is true. I think it should be possible to do something sufficiently epic which is still for everyone. What is public sentiment on the epicness of 25-manna vs. Jukola? And how-many-manna are we talking about, would you say?
In defense of the Jukola/Tiomila format, though, if it were to happen I would hope that clubs would be excited to field a team even if they fall short of filling it with elite runners. When I went to Tiomila with CSU we certainly weren't planning to win, but it was still awesome to see how we stacked up against our expectations, and we had a nemesis team whom we thought we had a chance against. So I think a NorAm 7 man or similar could be exciting for all clubs, not just the ones who are loaded with M21s.
How about 5 members each running twice? Or a teamrelay race from midnight to noon with the team running the farthest wins (members run multiple legs) Highlander weekend?
France has divisions, D1 has 10 runners, with age category requirements, D4 is 5 runners, no requirements. Clubs get promoted, demoted...
Two divisions, 7/8 person and 5 might work in the US.
Judging by the dearth of entries in the US Relay Champs, does another North American relay really make sense? I mean, for any club other than CSU? My club doesn't even have 25 manna in total, let alone 7 or even 4 who might get on a plane or make a long drive to run a relay.
I would kill the relay champs as is, or morph it...
... part of the point is for the club to call round, train people up, motivate them, make them feel important...
If you have 5/7 you'll work to get the last two. If you have 2/4, meh.
The person who most often talks about creating a great orienteering relay in North America is jman. Look what his NAOC vision turned into! Never say never.
I remember the sprint series...
I think there are a few small clubs in Sweden, too. Nevertheless, lots of other people have fun at Tiomila...
But there's a much larger percentage of small clubs in the US and Canada. Most of the appeal of the Jukola and Tiomila is the sheer size and length of those relays. If you cut it down to 4 or 5 it becomes just another relay champs.
Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to try to start a big NA relay that would be awesome, but I have my doubts about how big it might become given the current size and membership trends of our federations. I doubt a big relay would do much towards increasing those numbers either. Just like the sprint series didn't pan out as a long term motivator to get people doing more sprints in the US.
I appreciate that you think that, and I may have inadvertently expressed those sentiments somewhere, but I think that most of my public comments on this in AP tend to throw cold water on the idea.
Yes, I lobbied strenuously to have relays at NAOC, and to do them in a certain way. Some of that discussion is here
Yes, I personally love relays. I have motivated DVOA to go to Jukola and Venla, twice, and hope to again.
And, the US Relay Champs are The Most Important Event of the Year for me. I love them, and the whole idea, on several levels.
But, I frankly do not think that club relays work in this country. I mean there is great theoretical enthusiasm for them on this forum, but in practice, they just aren't popular. I may think the lack of popularity is ridiculous, that it isn't justified, etc., but it is what it is. And the evidence is pretty overwhelming.
So, not to be a wet napkin, but if we can't have a US Relay Champs that is compelling with 4 person teams, I really don't know how it makes sense to try to have larger teams. Who besides CSU1 and CSU2 will be there?
Yeah it is an interesting idea. I too didn't think it would work but given how excited people got watching the NAOC relay I think it has potential esp. If it was once every two years.
I think we need revenue sharing, a salary cap, and a luxury tax in this league, and then we may have something! :)
And maybe corporate suites!
maybe a big relay even could fill the Premier Event spot in NAOC off-years. i'm probably a one-major-travel-o-event-per-year level orienteer, and NAOC solidly claimed even numbered years with last weekend's shenanigans. the awesomeness hangover (ken's phrase) is just now clearing up.
a relay event organizer should take good notes on the ruthless and well-orchestrated NAOC PR.
also, a low(er) effort version of gps tracking: more radio controls, with simple lines drawn and updated on a live map. can't say i know the time/effort/cost/reliability/responsiveness side of radio controls, but you magical event staff seem to pull them off regularly enough.
the sprint series didn't pan out as a long term motivator to get people doing more sprints in the US
Yes and no. There are certainly many more Sprints now than in 2004, but not as many as at the peak of the Series in say 2007. The Series succeeded in promoting the Sprint as a legitimate format that people get excited to do, but not as the format they would do as the bulk of their orienteering activity. The Series stopped because the Deciders got unmotivated and put forward a statement that the Series had achieved their goal and it's time to focus on something else. (The something else never got off the ground.)
Without Sprint Series, we still have Sprints—some of them with excellent courses in remarkable settings—just not as many, and people don't show up for Sprint-centered events, unless they are in Vancouver, but are happy to attend a Sprint if there is a Middle and perhaps a Long thrown in for the weekend. So, perhaps the Deciders were right.
Before we give up on the relay champs, know that Erin has been encouraging juniors to go and sees it as another possible way to create excitement amongst juniors.
I'm not elite or even very fast, but I love sprints and I enjoyed the sprint series. I did go to more sprints because of it. I would absolutely go to a weekend full of sprints (say, 2 per day on a 3 day weekend) if it were within my normal travel range. Even more so if they were in cool/unique venues. Not anywhere near as excited about relays as a participant. Mostly because of the possibility to mess up and let down a whole team, but maybe that's just me. And they can be fun to watch (as proven last weekend) but I wouldn't go to spectate unless I was already at the event.
Agree with Julie. I tried an early one and loved it but many people were afraid to try them convinced you had to be an elite runner. I think the Sprint Series was a great idea and went a long way to changing minds.
I loved watching the relays but wouldn't do them because I don't want to drag a whole team down with me!
A paradox here is that there has always been widespread opposition to one method of scoring relays, that being that when there's a "catchup mass start" for later legs for teams whose earlier leg runners have not yet returned, to count the team's placing by when the last leg runner finishes, as opposed to the sum of the times. There seem to be quite a few people who have an attitude like that expressed by Julie and Maryann, that they don't like relays because they are afraid that they will let their team down. Instead, they choose not to run, which arguably lets their team down even more. So this method was devised to lessen the negative impact of a slow runner on an early leg, but many people strongly oppose it. The reason I call it a paradox is that, from what I can tell, it's a method that has received support from people who you would expect to be competitive runners, and opposition from those who would more likely be the slower people. It's as if they are saying, "I don't want to run on a relay team, because I might let my team down, but if I do, I want you to count my bad time, and not ignore it".
(I am not intending to imply that the two people above oppose this method -- I have no idea what their position is on it. And I could be wrong in my characterization of who supports or opposes it, but this is what I have observed. And those who oppose it tend to very very strongly oppose it, considering it to be a truly offensive idea.)
Just to clarify my 25-manna comment. I wasn't thinking we could actually have 15 or 25 person teams. I agree NA clubs are too small. I think the same basic principle could be done with say 7 or 8 person teams. Part of the format involves sending some runners out in waves so the total length would be short enough that you could have another race or two on the same weekend. For those unfamiliar, one runner comes in and tags 2 or 3 who are running different courses. The next runner to go out can't leave until all of the 2 or 3 have returned. It is pretty interesting as it becomes kind of tactical who you put on those legs because you want them to take close to the same amount of time.
Why have a competition if you are not counting the correct running time of the teams?
Over the past few years I have organized a couple of mini "parallel-relays" based on @theshadow's inspiration above - we did teams of 4people - 2 out at mass start, tagging two of their choice on return. Worked REALLY well for a small club event to get lots of energy, the relay feel and helped a lot with club cohesiveness--plus didn't take too long. It would scale up very well to 6 or 8+ person teams, but keep the overall time short but lots of excitement.
Why have a competition if you are not counting the correct running time of the teams?
Demonstrating the last sentence of my post, but contradicting my rough demographics.
The answer is, hopefully to increase participation by alleviating the concerns of certain people who would not otherwise participate, but it's not at all clear that this is effective.
While my gut reaction to the scoring method described is the same as pi's, it seems like a good way to make something more fun for more people. The faster teams will still have a total time competition, everyone else gets to run around other people and have a good time. Seems like in N.Amer we need a lot more of the 'have fun' part of relays before we can have big competitive relays.
For this year's Norwegian champs we had big screen, live gps, video feeds etc, but the most important part was in the planning:
The entire 4-day event was planned backwards for every day, i.e. we started with when we wanted to have the price giving ceremony in each class, this determined when each class needed to finish.
From this and the expected winning/podium times we calculated when the last starter in the class needed to go out, so the first starting time wasn't fixed until we knew how many competitors we had in each class.
The outcome of all this was that the arena speakers nearly all the time only needed to concentrate on one or two classes, the GPS tracking could likewise stay with one class for a while, and all the winners got their well-deserved recognition.
Note that I'm not advocating use of the relay scoring method that I mentioned, I'm just making an observation about how it relates to people who are reluctant to participate in relays. The fact is that it's very unpopular.
I agree with jj's other point that you let your relay team down more by not running at all than by running and making a mistake. Also, there is always the possibility that your team will lift you up rather than you letting them down.
A relay format we have discussed here is to try to recreate the atmosphere of the large 8 or 24 hour MTB relays where teams try to complete as many loops of a course as they can in a time limit.This has the benefit that all relay teams technically finish at the same time.
Teams of 6 with a 6 or 12 hour time limit. Team that completes the most 'loops' wins. Central arena to permit variety and camping for teams (similar to what is done in MTB relays).
For a 6 hour time limit. Organizers set 3 forked courses with an expected winning time of each course of 20 minutes (double course lengths for a 12 hour time limit).
Each team member must run each course once before moving on to course #2 and then same until course #3.
Runner 1: Course 1 (fork A)
Runner 2: Course 1 (fork A) (gets same map from runner 1)
Runner 3: Course 1 (fork B) (get new map from map board)
Runner 4: Course 1 (fork B) (uses same map from runner 3)
Runner 5: Course 1 (fork C) (get new map from map board)
Runner 6: Course 1 (fork C) (uses same map from runner 3)
Runner 1: Course 2 (fork A)
Runner 6: Course 3 (fork C)
If a runner is injured and can't run a loop or mispunches on a loop then the team does not get to count that 'loop' for their total.
That sounds like a lot of fun with arena camping and a festival atmosphere which was a great thing about the NAOC setup. In retrospect I wish we had elected to stay at PEEC rather than camping at Dingman's.
I think if you married a concept like this with Ed & Eddies tech setup/live results screens & intermediate splits you could create a great event and be able to readily see how different teams were doing relative to one another at any time.
And perhaps in lieu of a printed relay guide, you could incorporate team composition/member photos in a digital format alongside the live results listings..
@pi I didn't do a very good job of describing it. The winner is still the team that crosses the line first. The parallel bits just happen in the middle. This kind of relay rewards depth rather than just having 3 or 4 very fast people. It has the advantage of a shorter running time and it is more exciting to have more people in the woods at the same time.
A 7 person relay might look like this:
1 runner>2runners>1runner>2runners>1runner or
1 runner>3runners>1runner>1runner>1 runner
Hammer, your format is very similar to the 24h relay format they run in Germany. The difference is, that they offer a pool of courses which are short/long easy/difficult. The team decides who takes the short/long etc course (and in which order they run). Once the team completed a pool they start with the next pool.
I'm not sure but probably each team is required to have a certain number of female or over a certain age.
Check the rules from their homepage if you are interested:
@theshadow: I don't think pi was referring to what you described, he was referring to the scoring system that I was talking about.
Ok, I'm finally back from vacation, so I can throw in my two cents...
I've been traveling for orienteering events for about 7 years now, but I'll grant you that I mostly stay west of the Rockies. But in that time, there have been two events where I've felt like "Whoa, I'm actually competing in a sporting event!" as opposed to "What a collection of hobbyists!". Those two events? NAOC 2010 and NAOC 2012.
Everyone is talking about how fantastic NAOC 2012 was (and it was!), but I'd like to reflect back again to inspirational NAOC 2010 was. 2010 had great courses, a gazillion volunteers, fantastic arena designs (better than 2012, in my opinion), live announcing, radio controls, personalized bibs, competitor handbooks, and a "4th" event with the THOMASS.
And then, of course, 2012 came along and we had a sprint relay, sweet technology, and a fun athletes' village.
And there's trickle down from this. Shortly after I attended 2010 NAOC's, I was inspired to start planning for the 2012 IS&IC Champs. What did we have? Fantastic arena designs, live announcing, radio controls, personalized bibs, competitor handbooks, a sprint relay, and a fun athletes' village. Sure, we didn't have quite the budget or volunteer manpower to pull it off as well as DVOA or KOC, but hey, we tried, and I think the result was pretty good. I hope that other clubs and event directors are now inspired, too!
I pretty much knew that NAOC 2012 was going to be a huge success almost two years ago. That's when they opened up the logo design contest. This pretty much told me that a) they cared enough about design & marketing and b) they were working on this stuff two years ahead of time. (Also, the bid paperwork that DVOA submitted for the event was phenomenal! That inspired me, too).
Looking forward to NAOC 2014, I think it will be a big success, also. They already have a sweet customized feather banner (with logo) at this year's event. It looks like OttawaOC also cares about design, marketing, and starting early!
It would be faboulous to get the relay ideas posited here to actually work. My sense is that our club's structures do not have sufficient depth at this point to be able to pull these things off in a real way without looking like fringe events. So, those interested in these ideas need to focus some effort in drawing the younger and the slower along in order to develop the depth necessary. Generally, clubs need to play their role as clubs and make all their members feel important as participants. Educated and engaged, they become knowlegable spectators when the elites of their clubs go at it.
HVO had a really good idea that I miss today, and that idea dealt with many of the noted drawbacks to relays. Suppose you could design a mass finish from a mass start. Participants showed up, registered and waited a few minutes to find out who was on their team. The organizers handicapped everyone into roughly equal teams and off we went. These 'egalitarian relays' were organized with several loops and were highly social events. It was a charge for my son (13 at the time) and for myself (running orange at the time) to meet really good orienteers, who cheered for us, who would actually hold a discussion with us and who gave us tips. The event held interest for almost the entire time, and there were no long embarrasing waits at the end. My son ran on a team with PG which finished second. My team, which some of the knowlegable orienteers thought was the team to beat, finished sixth, minutes behind the winner after a couple of hours of orienteering.
...you let your relay team down more by not running at all than by running and making a mistake.
Not running IF you are actually on a relay team. If you don't sign up in the first place, you can only let yourself down...
Well, then your clubmates run on an ineligible pickup team with some smelly homeless guy who they pick up on the way from the airport.
Well, if they flew to the event I probably couldn't afford to go anyway, so they're going to need the homeless guy.
Really, I don't mind being on a team for fun relay events where the results don't especially matter. But I've never been big on competitive team activities. Every sport that appeals to me as a participant is contested mostly or entirely on an individual level.
The HVO 'egalitarian relays' is the first model that I feel I might be able to successfully 'sell' to elite, regulars, and new-comers at a local event. I'd try it at a park or campus venue - good visibility and easy orienteering. Definitely keep the relay legs short. I did like NAOC's "one shared leg through arena" design. Encouraging/allowing teams map-study time before going out could be fun and useful (and after of course).
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