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How to make 'Soulless' Events Rock!

Show Profile  Bryan Posted: 1 May 2008, 1:01 AM  
See the Auckland champs thread for comments from Jamie
that the 2007 event was soulless:

and from John that more people came to a promotional event held just before the 2008 event.

I'm wondering on how to make our premier events more popular. There are probably many reasons why their popularity is waning - competing other events and activities, reused areas, too much travel, wrong timing,
little marketing, economic downturn.

Maybe another possible reason is the high turnover of orienteers leaving and entering the sport, there is a steep learning curve for new orienteers for forest technical areas and people are choosing to go to less technical events.

Anyway, what can we do to make our championship events more popular?

Here are some suggestions:
1. Held on multiday.
2. Multi-events on same day (eg sprint-middle, middle-middle, middle-middle chasing start)
3. New areas
4. Close to urban areas.

and trying to think outside the box:
5. Free String course for little ones and young families
6. Create a King/Queen of the Mountains, King/Queen of the sprints for a multiday - with sportident it would be easy to have special mountain legs and sprint legs (eg last control) from which times/points are accumulated and winners awarded at end - this might not attract any more people but would be fun for dedicated orienteers.

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 1 May 2008, 2:42 AM  
Nice ideas...

I think if O is going to use a long weekend it has to be a destination style event, ie not close to the urban area.

I am a real sceptic about the "close to urban areas" philosophy that has been increasingly adopted. I believe this has originated from self fulfulling surveys done on new people to the sport/people attending local club events and unskilled club committees

NZ Orienteering was in its healthiest state (mid 1990's I would argue) when there were quality new maps being produced from Bluff to Dargaville with a specific focus on the centre of the North Island. These areas provided the challenge and adventure to keep highly skilled competitors in the sport and inspire newer people to improve their technique.

There is definitely a place for McDonalds orienteering, but things need to be kept in balance. One inspired high skilled orienteer can run McDonalds events 10x more efficently than a low skilled orienteer, and our sport is not just about participation, its about providing satisfaction and great experiences for established and long serving members.

and trying to think outside the box:
1. Destination Weekends, choose a centre then find some maps incl a park map of the local town, that can then be used by the local communities: Whitianga, Coromandel, Waitomo, Waiouru, Kaikoura, Westport, Wanaka.....think the investments not worth it? Think of the use PAPO has had out of Tekapo, Craigmore, or Nelson out of Rotoiti, and don't just calculate it as returns on the day, include the returns in member enthusiasm and goodwill
2. Sort of related: Map Clusters. Its real painful doing too much travel during a weekend of O. It takes away from the experience and discourages people camping together staying locally etc. Especially with the advent of sprint maps we have the opportunity to develop map clusters around established destinations like: Naseby, Waikaia, Rotoiti, Takaka Hill, Riversdale, National Park
3. Buses to events from main centres, saves us money and is friendly on the environment.
4. Multiday event where everyday counts to overall result and you just have one prizegiving at the end. Anyone else sick of ridiculous prizegivings?
5. Free camping, or cheap. Organisers should take responsibility for keeping the whole cost of the weekend as affordable as possible. I know as an event organiser that is always a big concern for me.

Show Profile  nick Posted: 1 May 2008, 4:42 AM  
mean thread! cool posts fellas

I'd like to see a clearer pathway from McO to high-end competitive O events.

Irrespective of which genre of O it is, an event should attempt to have atmosphere... we have seen in recent years that some simple steps can make this possible (event centre separate from parking, spectator friendly courses, commentary, music, etc...) I might also suggest:

1) deliberate communal space at event - shelter from sun/rain/wind esp for post event gas-bagging and social activity
2) exploit our fascinating detail of O by revisiting each event in post-race or evening presentations using (for eg: ) routegadget and a projector. likewise, videos replayed that night! Put the technology to use.
3) live video coverage *during* events could be cool
4) sudden death ultra-sprint : you race on a split course against a (randomly drawn?) opponent. you lose you're eliminated. you win and you progress to the next round. continue thru quarters/semis until you reach a head to head final. All in one day, ideally on one map.

This message was edited by nick on 1 May 2008, 3:08 PM

Show Profile  marcusd Posted: 1 May 2008, 5:36 AM  
Nick - love your idea about the sudden death ultra sprint. Inseatd of having to do 100 courses on one map have everyone who enters run one course. Take the top 8 times and then have quarter finals, semis and the finals on three different courses!

This might be a little off topic re events but I think the following has some relevance:

For me Jamie in his post has hit on a key point: maps. In Rotorua we are facing issues with access to old maps which is limiting the areas we can run events on. We have identified a couple of new areas to map and hope to get this sorted in the next few months. For us as a club if we dont have good maps then it is unlikely we will attract members or members from other clubs to run at our events.

I have heard a lot about the success Hawkes Bay have had in growing their membership numbers and I think it would be really beneficial to this discussion to have someone from the club outline how it was done. There are obviously lessons all clubs can learn from that, especially a smaller club like Rotorua that is actively looking at all ways to grow membership.

Show Profile  runningbeast Posted: 1 May 2008, 6:31 AM  
The death ultra-sprint is a great idea and I have a trophy from one we did at a junior South Island traveling training camp in back in 94 or 95. Run at Naesby we did a 3-4 control loop knockout competition just like you describe. It was fanastic!

Show Profile  nick Posted: 1 May 2008, 7:35 AM  
i was thinking mano-a-mano, rather than "# fastest times". so, you just gotta be faster than your opponent to progress... room for chance and upsets... may need some kind of qualifying process cos it needs even numbers in every round. hopefully would be a real laugh - and the sort of thing that should finish up with a bbq or party or something.

but - IMO Bryan and Jamie have made much more thoughtful suggestions. Just a sample: multi-day events and multi-event days > centred around a cluster of maps > in interesting areas > with free/cheap camping > transport to/from events by bus... throw in a multi-media review of races each evening and its starting to sound like more than just running around the forest in funny pajamas!

Show Profile  mick finn Posted: 1 May 2008, 7:58 AM  
Cool suggestions! The new ultra-sprint format works well as sudden death, plus it can be in an ampitheatre area for spectator bonus. You can add man-made mazes and barriers for extra lactic confusion. Count me in. Just don't match me up against Phil in the first round.
Keen to help if anyone's organising one too.

Show Profile  Paul I Posted: 1 May 2008, 8:16 AM  
Has anyone tried Micro O yet? That sounds like wicked fun.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 1 May 2008, 8:48 AM  
One of the best terrains would have to be in Taupo?? Could make for a choice Katoa Po?

Show Profile  Paul I Posted: 1 May 2008, 9:01 AM  
Changing tune slightly, and putting in a disclaimer: the following doesn't refer to any particular map or event.
Maps and course setting obviously has a huge influence on enjoyment of an event. Great course setting can enhance ordinary terrain, careful control placement can help avoid disaster on poorly mapped areas, and indeed poor course setting can be a complete waste of an awesome area. All this is directly related to your enjoyment of the race.
I'm sure we've all experienced all of these senarios.

So maybe we could try much harder to set interesting courses suited to the terrain of the map, and possibly, rather than giving a course setter a blank sheet they could be given a brief from the club who has thought about the best format to use.

Could we get a paper written describing all the different options people have tried out that were successful, with notes on important course setting considerations etc.

A biggy in reducing competitors enjoyment is a poorly mapped area.
Perhaps more club efforts should go into fine tuning maps and keeping them up to date. Mostly these days new maps are made with one feildworker and no fieldchecker which will almost always lead to some errors. A worthwhile expenditure if it brings a nice but dodgy mapped area up to championship standard.
This also makes course setters jobs way easier.

Show Profile  robbie Posted: 5 May 2008, 2:18 PM  
I guess I started this off with the Ak champs attendance and I really was looking for answers. Thank you for all your input and Im really happy with the way this is going. This could lead to a change in the way we look at orienteering with events and the promotion of them. Im taking it all in folk---keep it up.




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