I suspect this has been covered on here before, but I'm not finding it easily through the search function.
For folks racing in the US, how much does the USARA qualifier tag come into play in deciding whether you sign up for an event? Would you think twice about doing a 24-hour race that wasn't a qualifier? Would the promise of good prizes/shwag shape your decision in any way?
I can only address your 3rd question. I've never seen prizes or swag attract people to races unless the prize is really amazing, e.g. back when Logs Rocks & Steel offered the male and female winners free entry to Coast to Coast in New Zealand, along with some money for travel expenses.
Although... if you can come up with some way to offer cool bragging rights, that can attract racers without the RD needing to spend much, if anything. For example, I've seen people plan their season around the CNYO Trifecta Cup (for their three rogaines) or our race, Wilderness Traverse, where the big prize is a carved wooden Bob The Beaver trophy that "lives" with members of the winning team for a year and often appears on Facebook enjoying fun activities. Maybe you could be the U.S. race organization that awards the Eddie the Eagle trophy? :)
Thanks, Bash. We were specifically wondering whether prizes/shwag would serve as a counterbalance to attract people to a non-USARA qualifier (poor writing on my part!)... though I do like the idea of Eddie the Eagle :)
I suspect for a handful of teams if they have to chose between 2 equal races, they would go with the USARA qualifier. But my experience is that people want a well run, well organized event, not necessarily a regional qualifier.
You can sanction through USARA and they can get standing points without being a regional qualifier also. Maybe it depends a little bit how many other qualifiers are in your area as well. I think I qualified 3 times this year without that really being the goal, but if there aren't a lot of qualifiers around, it might be an opportunity for someone who wants to go to Nationals. I've never heard of any teams here in the Midwest who wanted to go to Nationals, but couldn't get qualified.
As JVD says, a high quality event with an interesting format is the best counterbalance!
I started planning / organizing my 2016 race calendar in November and can say that I looked solely at RD's, past racers reports, location and date. Cost, swag and qualification standards never once entered the picture.
We choose based on location, date, cost, and how cool the race sounds.
We completely agree with kgeisen.
It's all about the location AND Race Director!
Creative race directors who put on real, point to point (100% mandatory CPs, in order, no rogaine formats) events with challenging navigation and "high risk/high reward" route choices and strategy decisions. These true ARs are the ones we can look back at years later and discuss the JOURNEY, compare route choices, mistakes, and it actually makes sense. Rogaine format AR events (they are not races) are mostly forgettable, and a shame in my *opinion*.
I know some people newer to AR would disagree, and like the rogaine/skipping CPs (maybe the hard ones) format. I guess there is something for everyone out there!
Not a chance I'd do the Wilderness Traverse if Bob the Beaver weren't on offer! I traveled all the way from France to vie for those bragging rights this year!
...and I'm with RASPUTIN. Creativity, fun, organization, and route choice. This is the stuff of quality ARs in my humble opinion - qualifier or not.
Given that you crossed the Atlantic for Bob, I'm glad you won him!
Location and schedule for me. I'm not going to win much/any swag, so that won't tip it. That said, I'm considering squeezing in an extra race early in 2016 as a hopefully usara qualifier so I don't end up in the boat of making the cut a few weeks before champs and then scrambling to get something together for it.
Location, race format/terrain, and cost usually sway me one way or the other.
Wilderness Traverse paid a fee to join the Checkpoint Tracker Series in 2011. Out of 40 teams that entered, not one claimed their points for the CPT Series. Granted, we're off the beaten track for a lot of teams but being part of an AR series didn't inspire anyone to travel to our race.
I'm with everyone else on location and RD being the biggest factor followed immediately by what will actually work with my schedule.
For me personally schwag would only come in to play if it were SO amazing that it was effective at drawing other teams, thereby raising the level of competition. So I guess a better way of saying it is that quality of competition is another draw (for me) and if amazing prizes accomplished that, then it would indirectly attract me to a race.
Unfortunately, I'm not so sure there are many races that can offer prizes of a level that would significantly affect attendance?
I agree, Garrison - at least not at the 24-30 hour level.
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