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New National Relay Format

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 18 December 2017, 4:46 PM  
Very surprised that the organisers of the 2018 Nationals have been able to change the rules without any wider consultation that I'm aware of. I support change. Just wasn't aware the format could be changed without wider consultation.

From the NZO Champs website

New Relay Format (Trial)
The 2018 Relay Championships will trial a new relay format, with four relay races replacing the existing two races. The idea is to make the relay a more suitable challenge to a wider range of competitors.

The Mixed Short relay will remain similar to the current format.

The Mixed Long relay will be replaced with a Long (Open), a Medium (Masters) and a Short (Veterans) relay, all set at red level to provide quality technical orienteering for A-level runners, but with leg lengths set appropriate to the different age grades.

More information about the Relay grades and course lengths will be posted here as they become available.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 19 December 2017, 2:58 PM  
Talk to Fraser. He's the most active technical person we've got:-))

Show Profile  fraser Posted: 19 December 2017, 9:14 PM  
Given that they are planning to make all legs of the mixed long relay red difficulty you're not going to hear any complaints from me. This is great news!

Show Profile  rgreatrex Posted: 20 December 2017, 8:22 AM  
My understanding from the planner & controller is that AOC put a written proposal to the Technical Committee for this to be a Trial. I suppose that after the trial there will be an opportunity to review how it went and whether permanent changes should be made.

I'm also looking forward to it, I hope it will see some better balance between teams/clubs.

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 21 December 2017, 6:17 AM  
The problem is that there should have been wider consultation. This addresses elites and veterans only. The juniors are now consigned to running the Short Mixed Relay.

I talked to one very experienced and respected orienteer at Nationals who has had decades of experience in working with junior orienteers who agrees.

It is one club's solution to a perceived problem. We are becoming a sport run by oldies for oldies.

In my opinion, we should offer age grade relays for juniors based on their Association the same as Australia. Mixed Under 12s (Yellow), Junior Girls & Boys Under 15s (Orange), Senior Girls & Boys Under 20s (Red).

I support change in the relay format and especially to introduce red courses. I'm really looking forward to it. I just see this as an opportunity sorely missed.

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 24 January 2018, 4:53 PM  
Well in my opinion both Auckland Orienteering Club and Orienteering New Zealand have seriously dropped the ball with the 'new' relay format. This sets back junior development by years. The lack of a mixed junior grade for MW18 and under running the same course as the veterans just doesn't make sense. To quote from the website:

While the younger red level runners (MW16-"18) are not specifically catered for by this format, they still have the option of running in the open grade which offers the same opportunity as last year's format."

It doesn't offer the same opportunity because now an Open Team can be elites only and doesn't have to a junior like in the past.

Come on Auckland Orienteering Club and Orienteering New Zealand show some initiative and implement a Mixed Juinior relay grade for this year's Nationals!

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 4 February 2018, 7:18 PM  
So the organisers have now listed their bastardised version of the Mixed Short at the National Relays. It's no longer a family relay. Apparently any hosting club can now ignore the ONZ rules without wider consultation with the orienteering community.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 4 February 2018, 10:33 PM  
Michael are you saying that the existing rules require, or encourage, family teams in the Mixed Short? Perhaps I've misunderstood your point here.

But it WILL be interesting to see whether the change encourages more people to enter, and whether its easier to put teams together. There are a couple of goals one might seek. Clearly "the best chance at a high placing" but also "putting everyone who wants into a team that matches their level". We had 10 people last time, I think we could only manage 2 legit teams. Using the same 10 names it looks like we could manage 3 under the new system, but one might have to be a W16, M70 and a M75 running Open. Still, necessity is the mother of invention, let's see when we get this year's names.

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 5 February 2018, 5:57 AM  
Thanks Michael. I mean it was easier to have family teams in the previous Mixed Short format. Last year Nelson could have run 3 family teams and Marlborough 2 family teams.

My main issue is that the relay format has been changed without formal consultation, resulting in the organisers chosing a format that provides age grade competition for seniors but not juniors. Junior competition is the future of our sport.

It falls significantly outside the scope of the Technical Committee's Terms of Reference to waive an ONZ Rule regarding competition format.

I agree with the Senior grades competition but we've missed an opportunity to support junior orienteering by not providing age grade competition.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 5 February 2018, 8:58 AM  
OK, Nelson and Marlborough might have a third goal, "maximise number of family teams".

So I wonder how we will judge whether the change is a success? Undoubtedly there will be better competition at the top. This may be at the expense of satisfaction at the bottom, and among those who like family teams. Are they more or less likely to enter?

I'm sure the Technical Committee has the criteria all sorted out:=))

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 5 February 2018, 2:17 PM  
Alas. I don't share your confidence... besides I don't agree that the Terms of Reference for the Technical Committee allows them to approve a change in format.

Show Profile  fraser Posted: 9 February 2018, 6:26 PM  
It's an interesting change to the format. When I did an informal survey of people who didn't attend the relay the gist was more along the lines that they didn't really enjoy them, so I suspect these changes wont affect the attendance a great deal. If I am wrong I will be pleasantly surprised.

It will be interested to see what the feedback is like.

Show Profile  camd Posted: 18 February 2018, 12:27 PM  
Interesting that one of the reasons for changing the relay was "elite orienteers are not getting exposure to the level of relay racing that they will experience overseas at WOC and JWOC". Now in my experience, the only relay I have ever competed in that was like either of my 2 JWOC relays was running first leg at Nationals. With all the elites running first leg, there is a real head to head atmosphere (the "pain train" as Matt Ogden calls it) - under the new format that will be completely gone and our only experience of this, lost. (fields halved and best runners running last)

I think these changes are totally in the wrong direction. Relays are a showcase event that is all about the club and the team. It's about cheering on your clubs no1 team even if you're in team no12. Arguing that there is no competition currently is a total farce - how will there be more competition if you reduce the field sizes?? "The legs are not suited to a range of ability of runners" - so you would not run a marathon because the elites will do half your time? For 95% of people the leg they run is shorter than their long distance! In Europe, relay courses are twice as long and you will find M60s gladly doing the same course as Olav Lundanes!

Also as a side, getting rid of a leg for M18s and making the W16s run against the M16s have to be the most ridiculous backward steps I've ever seen in orienteering in New Zealand. Maybe they should just rename the competition The Masters Relays while they're at it?

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 21 February 2018, 10:34 AM  
Interesting seeing Cam's comments from the perspective of someone who's been around long enough to see national relays going from multiple age classes (with usually about 3 official club teams per class) to mixed long & short with various tinkering over the years, and now back to broad age classes. It's a while back now but I'm pretty sure I remember one of the arguments for that first change was to maximise the head-to-head racing experience for the elite runners, i.e. EXACTLY the argument that Cam is making. While the broad age classes mean that this year's competition will be much better than the many age classes of the past, and the race between the top 10 or so teams from mostly the usual suspects clubs will still be just as exciting, I feel it's a bit of a backwards step.

Personally I think the contrasting goals of improving quality relay exposure while still looking after the needs of us lesser mortals could have been met with just 2 changes, one of which is happening in this revision, while the other seems to be the opposite of what's happening: 1, make the mixed long Red level, and 2, RELAX to some degree the restrictions on the mixed short 1st Leg (so that at least some of the people currently forced into extremely non-competitive teams in the long at least have another option)

I know I'm an outlier here, but I can't help thinking if we had more relays in the season, we could experiment with various formats before deciding whether to apply changes to the national championship. But I know how far that suggestion will get between the ideas that relays are 'so much harder to organise' (rubbish, now that course setting software can manage the forking variations for you. I'd say the major relays I've set were much easier than the major individuals!) and that the club culture required to get excited about relays isn't that strong in NZ. I don't know how to solve the latter, but it does seem a bit of a catch-22 - we don't have relays because they're not popular, but are they not popular because we don't have them?

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 21 February 2018, 10:48 AM  
I've forgotten how to edit here, but just looking at my first paragraph it looks like I'm implying that this year's relays are going back to the 'old old' format. Just want to make it clear that I recognise the new relay classes are much broader than the pre mid 90's ones so am not predicting it will be back to "usually about 3 official club teams per class", and if we have to go to age classes then it is being done sensibly - but I still would prefer racing for 40th place in a field of 60 than for 10th in one of 3 dispersed fields of 20! ;-)

Show Profile  fraser Posted: 29 March 2018, 8:47 PM  
2017 entry stats

59.7% of competitors entered the relay.

2018 entry stats

59.2% of competitors entered the relay.

So the different grade structure hasn't made any difference at all. I'm not sure where the Auckland club got their "common opinions" from to decide on the changes but as I alluded to previously I don't think they really got to the root cause of the problem.

Anyway, I commend the club for their effort to improve the relay. It would be great to solve this problem and see an increase in participation. Hope the relay still goes well and I look forward to hearing feedback on the event.

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