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Discussion: Hamilton

in: Hammer; Hammer > 2015-11-17

Nov 17, 2015 10:27 PM # 
Hamilton is legit. I don't think enough people (especially Torontonians), know how appealing it is.

To be honest I haven't explored it enough to give a really informed opinion, but from what I've seen, it seems to have many of the same things which I enjoy about my neighbourhood in a fraction of the cost.

Last week I worked my buddy's bread route from Dundas through all of lower Hamilton to Stoney Creek, finishing in Grimsby. Saw quite a few neighbourhoods that were new to me, and made a point one day to drive from Stoney Creek along Queenston and King Street back to the 403, instead of taking the Skyway.

The east end is cheerfully grimy along that route. Big old homes, mature trees, some wicked corner lot multi-use apartments, and all kinds of mom and pop shops and takeout places... (along Barton past Ivor Wynne and the steel plants is a different story though...yikes!!)

Toronto's Brooklyn? Why not?
Nov 19, 2015 1:45 PM # 
Next year's Raid the Hammer will be a great way to explore more of Hamilton. I'm hoping for an "east meets west" (redhill valley meets dundas valley) theme to celebrate 50 years of orienteering in Hamilton.

"Hamilton is legit"
Legit? Nice. But before Marky Mark became Klepperton I bet he would have made a great slam poet. Maybe he would still to this day. Dunno. But would Marky Mark have approved this?
Nov 19, 2015 5:05 PM # 
I was going to write an email to DGL movers/shakers saying that some promotion of RTH is needed to return the event to sellout levels. Getting some City of Hamilton involvement would be a great way of doing this.

Races are way more fun to organize when you get a big turnout.
Nov 19, 2015 7:41 PM # 
Solid vid.

The steel plants are such an eye sore...(amongst other things), but there's something eerily romantic about how they loom over the east end neighbourhoods...meant everything to the community.
Dec 6, 2015 7:48 PM # 
Nev, I didn't want to respond to your post until we hosted our last race so I had our final participation numbers for the year. Despite the BIG drop in RTH participation this year our overall participation in DGL races is the highest ever. Over 3000 participants for the first time ever (when not hosting a major champs race) or certainly at least in the last 30-35 years. That is an average of 300 per race as DGL only organized 10 races. Of course a lot of those numbers are in our three 'juniors only' races (Schools race, Mud Run, Toilet Run) that combined for ~1800 participants (~ 600/race) with 1150 in the schools race alone.

The raids averaged just under 200/race down from our peak in 2011 which was just under 250/race. Our four Choose your Adventure run races averaged over 160/race or 2x than when they were known as Enduros and when they were half the cost of the current format. The current 2-hour format and the coloured difficulty ratings are very popular among participants. RTH is the only adult race that is point-to-point now.

For RTH it was lowest participation since 2001. Promotion was exactly the same as last few years with the exception that we paid more in helping finance the Adventure Racing Ontario (ARO) promo video. Though I'll admit we didn't do a good job telling people that RTH was the final race of that series. Given the amount of area required and the amount of work to host a raid compared to our other races it was tempting to cut back to just two raids for 2016 but the ARO series will already be down a few races in 2016 so we will keep all our raids going. Setting the capacity of the raids at a lower number like 225-250 participants might actually be better going forward (fewer Congo lines, easier on volunteers). RTH was also the earliest it has ever been (it has never been on the OFSAA XC weekend) and with Wilderness Traverse in October and more ultra trail races being held later in the year there there is a lot more competition for us than 15 years ago when RTH was the only long running race at that time of year.

Our race hosting in 2016 will be interesting as we switch to three seasons of weeknight X League races. Between the ARX races and new weeknight races for adults/coaches I think we have over 50 races planned. Thats getting into the GVOC weeknight hosting numbers. Is it a coincidence that Meghan is the key to that idea? :-)

We couldn't host the races that we do without Patrick and Meghan. As someone commented the other day they have the hosting totally dialed in. In a way our race hosting is a hybrid between the traditional orienteering club approach and the adventure racing paid race director model. Having employees take on some (or in some cases all) aspects of race hosting makes things a lot more sustainable - especially when ARK revenue continues to climb to make that possible.
Dec 7, 2015 5:50 AM # 
Thanks Mike, will review and offer comments in the morning. Still find it a bit perplexing other clubs don't emulate.
Not to be forgotten, the difference between say 225 and 300 participants for RTH is almost a DGL rounding error in their overall budget. But massive money for most clubs.
Dec 7, 2015 1:18 PM # 
I don't find it perplexing. DGL is able to hire good staff to do some of the club's work because of a huge amount of volunteer time expended collectively by a large number of club members over the years. Even in my peak year when I volunteered around 200 hrs for DGL, there were always a number of people who devoted more time to the club than I did (much more!) And the club's volunteers include former top elites, orienteering coaches and folks ranging from a sports physician to a TV star.

It isn't surprising that other clubs don't try to emulate. They would need a core of highly experienced people who are motivated to take on an unpaid job with long hours, some of whom are motivated to manage a business rather than just help with some course setting. DGL is in a unique position and is doing great things with it.

Given that DGL has been thinking about downsizing or removing one of its Raids, there probably isn't room in the market for another club to do the same type of event anyway.

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