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Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 19 May 2014, 1:16 PM  
At present we are using an 8 courses program to get by on. Firstly with the numbers we had entered and with upwards of nearly 50 on some grades the whole event dragged on to long and with the practice of running the std grades, after the champs have all run, that extended the day even further until it became to late to have a prize giving as most of the competitors had headed to back to school. Medals and certificates had to be dropped off to schools the next day.

Some people may shudder at the fact that I recommend we have 10/12 courses depending on entry numbers, 7 or 8 Champs courses and 4 or 5 std grade courses The std courses can all be based roughly on the same controls with the older grades covering more terrain and sharing some of the champ controls if required with the more junior courses running inside them.

This means you don't have wait to start all the standard grades later but kick everyone at the same time, finish a lot earlier and the prize giving can be held at a reasonable time.

We could have easily had close to 400 entries if a number of schools, who were unable to attend, had attended we would have had a very, very long day. Those numbers could well occur next year.

With the present system there are real anomalies with winning times. e.g The Intermediate Boys Champs has an expected winning time of around 35-40 min which we achieved the other day however asking Senior Boys standard to try and cover the same terrain in the same time isn't happening and will never happen. They were taking nearly 70 mins stretching out to nearly to 2 hours.

Basically the std's need to have the same winning time as champs, but need to be running much shorter courses, through all the grades.

More to come later. It's time for some lunch

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 19 May 2014, 2:26 PM  
Last week our champ grades had far too many students who, although entered by their schools in that grade, should never have been there as they lacked the necessary skills for the courses they were on.

To add to that the weather was pretty foul at times and the underfoot conditions were very wet after persistent rain overnight. There was only one course (Senior Girls Champs) where I had no grave concerns about anyone's ability to deal with course and conditions. It was a small but select group. I couldn't say that for the other grades.

I would be very much in favour of seeing the champ grades being slightly smaller containing students with the necessary skill base to be competitive, up to 20 would be ideal. Last week our champ courses were made up of at least 70% of the students entered, when in reality it should have been more like 40%, based on their true capabilities. We need to make the event an experience they remember for the right reasons not the wrong ones.

What I would like to do, sooner rather than later, is to get a group of people together, who are involved with schools orienteering in Auckland and discuss any changes we would like to see implemented and run these as a trial at next year's event. If it's successful we then carry it over to the NISS and NZSS events.

Other regions may not suffer the same issues as us, because of lower numbers, but Auckland's problems will only get worse with increasing attendance, unless we go something about it.

Show Profile  Dwayne Posted: 19 May 2014, 8:21 PM  
Thanks Mike - some good discussion points there. My two cents follows...

Simplistically, the number of courses required is a function of the number of competitors, the start interval and the amount of time you have available to get everyone through - more kids = more courses. But I agree that allowing for the required winning times means that there may be shorter version of each course required.

It is up to the planner and controller of each event to decide whether the winning times for each grade are achievable. However, this is difficult when you don't recognise any of the names in the entry list because they are new. I notice that only the best of the runners were under 10 min/km and most of the standard runners were upwards of 15-20 min/km. I have been of the opinion that you wouldn't need separate courses for Y78 Standard and Y78 Championship, because they are both white courses (as easy as possible) - however the requirement that they finish with a reasonable time-frame may mean that the standard course is quite a bit shorter.

The crucial point you have raised here though, is that students were running in the wrong grade. I don't think you should limit numbers in the champ grades. However, maybe minimum requirements could be enforced to make sure that completely new orienteers don't end up running red courses. The starting point for this would be in the event program that is sent to schools, which should list criteria that is understandable to teachers. Things like... "Because the championship courses are set at the maximum difficulty allowed, students must have run on farm (or forest) terrain successfully at least once before."

The biggest issue is how to communicate to schools which grades are appropriate for their students. As a semi-serious suggestion to get us started; Maybe a student has to have demonstrated their ability by finishing a club event before they can run a championship grade - more members anyone?

Show Profile  thomasr Posted: 19 May 2014, 9:05 PM  
Nailed it Dwayne! Club member to run champs grade. Standard is for anyone.

Was really interesting at AKL SS talking to some people totally new to the sport (never been to forest/farm). They were a little overwhelmed by jargon and the whole process before the event.

I remember a few years ago there was some murmuring of creating a really simple set of signs that could help guide novices through (like a 1,2,3 to get going at o). Somthing like this would be helpful. Would need some good design to look modern and easy to follow though.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 19 May 2014, 9:37 PM  
With the Yr7/8's we had the champs course as more yellow/white but the standard course was much shorter and purely white as my big concern was that none of these kids have ever been to an event of this nature. Some of them had been to the zones recently but they are all held at Western Springs, Cornwall Park etc. The terrain here was totally alien to them. Many of the schools felt just because they had been to the zones they were primed ready for this but some of them came horribly unstuck on the champs course when they should have been on std.

One of the biggest issues is there inability to understand the map because in the zone events they all run around after each other control seeking rather than map reading so there is some educating to be done.

Minimum requirements will restrict the numbers in champs grade and that's what is needed. How we set these requirements needs to be worked out. I've put a working document together and sent it through to Linda for her approval, so hopefully with some discussion all these concerns can be worked though by people who are involved in the school scene.

Some of the schools are a problem because their sports coordinators have no idea about the requirements for the event and they do the entries. In some way we have to be more proactive working with them but that's easier said than done.

Where there schools with parents or teachers who are involved in the sport you don't have the same problems.

There are lots of points to discuss to get this right.

Show Profile  JohnR Posted: 20 May 2014, 8:36 PM  
Ive found some time to look at the results and the win times look ok. The course length was on the top side contidering the climb.
It seems the problems are at the bottom of the field.
We could introduce a strong recommendation that students who are outside the top 20 enter standard the following year.
If this was introduced next year it might solve the problem.
I dont think we can use club events as a method of grading

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 20 May 2014, 9:17 PM  
I've always contemplated but never followed through on running a free clinic for schools sport co-ordinators here in Nelson. Coaching the gatekeepers so to speak.

I think that this is a temporary problem for though in Auckland. Target capturing the kids at year 7&8. As kids come through they will be familiar with the sport.

Perhaps think bigger for these kids. Like your Sprint series run area qualifiers with standard and champs grades. Break the problem into smaller events and then run a regionals for the champs grade only.

This thread needs to be a workshop at the much anticipated yet to materialize orienteering conference.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 20 May 2014, 10:59 PM  
Mike that would never work here; the sport's coordinators are overworked and not interested in doing anything but enter the students. Schools are involved in to many sports and it's really up to us the make the call on who should be in the champ and std grades.

Robbie I was more than happy with the course winning times. The ground and weather conditions added at least 5 mins to the times I reckon. The only grade that was a bit long was Senior Girls but we were loathed to fiddle around with the course and spoiling it. Those in the grade were more than capable of handling it except for one person who was a DNF. I tried to get her moved to the std course but the school wouldn't hear of it.

There in lies a problem. Some of the more competitive schools like King's, Westlake Boys and Auckland Grammar are loathed to see their students competing in the std grade. It's all about the kudos so it's usually Champs or nothing.

Certainly yr 7/8 should be the market we target. They learn at the bottom and work their way through the grades. It's much harder for older kids when they come in later.

Nearly 600 at our Yr 7/8 Inter Zone finals today at Cornwall Park and probably 1500 or more went through the zones and many turned away,so Orienteering is certainly alive and well up here.

Show Profile  SteveO Posted: 21 May 2014, 8:44 AM  
Mike, a possible solution if school pride is at stake - title inflation. Rename the standard grade "Championship" and allow open entry and rename champs grade "Elite" and make it invitation only. This way the schools would enter everybody in the Championship and you (or the organising club or a committee of venerable worthies) would ensure a good hard race for the top kids.

Or, alternatively and dealing with the numbers problem, simply add the invitation only "Elite" grade to the existing Championship and Standard grades.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 21 May 2014, 10:26 AM  
Some very interesting points for sure. An ultimate goal must be to try to get people to feed through to membership.

But let me just ask a few relatively open questions:
- Who do we want to target for this event? Do we want mass participation, ie cater for the masses or do we want to make sure we are looking after the top 3-6 in each grade?
- The North Island has shown strong growth, in particular in Auckland and Hawkes Bay, also to a lesser extent Wellington. Outside of this the numbers are not good or growing. South Island School Champs held at the same time had figures of around 50 people. Would making courses more difficult or adding more bureaucracy to the process really help?
- How can you increase the visibility of recommendations for grades?

Making the Sprint a compulsory event for the NZ School Champs has helped significantly in making things clearer.

Making Year 7&8 a compulsory grade for the NZ School Champs has helped significantly in making an opportunity for competition and also helping clubs get more payback for running the event with very little additional work.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 21 May 2014, 2:44 PM  
Simon just some comments from me on your questions.

I think we need to deal with the masses, and that we can do, as long as we end up with the right kids in the right levels, by splitting out champs and std grades on to their own courses with the relevant winning times and course lengths. It's not a biggy and makes the numbers easier to deal with and doesn't drag the day out. As Steve said the organising club or a group of venerable worthies can ensure the right people are in the right grade once entries are closed off.

I believe his has to happen in Auckland but I can't speak for the rest of the country as their situation could be totally different to ours. So no need to push extra work onto smaller regions if it's not required.

I agree the advent of the sprint has made the NISS and NZSS events more enticing to those who wouldn't normally enter and was a good move. However for some kids that's all they know so when they move onto maps that aren't sprint maps things can turn to custard quite quickly. In sprints they tend to have boundaries, farm and forest ones don't and some kids can't distinguish the boundaries there are through lack of experience.

We need to create some middle ground events between sprint and farm/forest to assist them, something like park type events.

I agree whole heartedly about yr 7/8 being compulsory and if it can be included in regions, then by all means.

With Champ grade levels I would like to see, if it was on farmland

SB and SG champs on red courses no fences where possible.
IB and IG champs on red courses with fences.
JB and JG champs on orange courses with fences.
Yr 7/8 champs yellow courses with fences.

If it's in forest and there are no fences then sense has to prevail re the above.

All these then pull pretty well into line with club level difficulty.

Std's run orange (Seniors), yellow (Inter) down to white (Juniors/Yr 7/8's) with their winning times based still on the champ grades but obviously with shorter courses.

Steve some interesting ideas on an elite type idea. They are the sort ideas I would like to see discussed if we can get a group of people with a vested interest in school's orienteering in Auckland together. I've already sent Linda Smith a document with a number of issues I would like to see looked at. I'm sure others could add a few more.

I reckon 10-12 select people would be ideal. If you get to many then consensus is sometimes harder to achieve. Any takers?

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 21 May 2014, 7:30 PM  
With less than a third of the population of the North Island and a lot further distances to travel then the South Island Schools will always be under-attended. We had as many at the Nelson Tasman Schools Champs as were at the South Island Schools Champs.

But when the events at one end of the island then no one wants to drive 10-12 hours minimum or catch a flight that's twice the price of flying to Auckland. Even giving the champs a permanent home in Canterbury is problematic. My only thought would be to hold it in North Canterbury one year (ie. North of Amberley), Christchurch the next, then South Canterbury the following.

The South Island Schools needs to be moved to coincide with an event like the South Island Champs in order to drive up attendance. Either that or it must be a stand alone competition not piggy backed onto a club event weekend, which I'm sure we've been guilty of.

Whatever is decided in Auckland needs to become a template for the rest of the country. Healthy schools competition supports a healthy diverse sustainable club scene.

Show Profile  tommyhayes Posted: 21 May 2014, 9:15 PM  
With regard to the problem of the lower end of the field taking a while in the AKSS Individual Champs, and to ensure less experienced people are entered in the correct grade, I think a formal qualification event is needed.

There would be nothing worse than being told you can't run the Champ course when the qualification process which has denied you is not at all transparent i.e. decided by event organisers. The qualification process must be formal and unambiguous.

I think that each region (i.e. sprint series regions) should hold Zone Champs in local parks (e.g. One Tree Hill) from which only the top percentage from each region qualify for the Champ grade at the Greater Auckland Champs. Of course everyone else must still be encouraged to compete at the Standard grade.

This also allows people to familiarise themselves with terrain that is much more similar to farmland/forest events and would quite possibly attract more entries given that the events would be located more conveniently for schools.

This would both assure that (most) people are placed in the correct grade at the AKSS Champs and will also allow less experienced orienteers to improve their skills and learn how to navigate somewhere other than at a school.

Nevertheless thanks Mike B for the great event last week, the courses and terrain were very enjoyable, and it was superbly run as always.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 22 May 2014, 11:07 AM  
How wonderful to be having these growing pains! Hope people round here are reading..

Show Profile  nick Posted: 28 May 2014, 4:35 AM  
Agreed, Michael

I was thinking along the same lines as Tommy - some form of qualification for Champs grade. Absolutely agree that it should be an objective criteria, not a back room decision. Its a matter of perception. Which is why I'm wary of an 'invite only' approach.

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