Register | username: pw: 
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: double length sprint race

in: Pink Socks; Pink Socks > 2016-02-20

Feb 21, 2016 12:52 PM # 
the 'longer' urban races are quite popular in the UK. I'm hoping that this is the additional race format they add to the urban/sprint WOC. at the moment it is either that or a knock out format though they are referring to the longer urban race as a middle. personally i think there is an opportunity here to have a short, long and relay format for urban and forest with the urban races being half the winning time of the forest.
urban short 15min, urban long 45
forest short 30, forest long 90

here in North America I think we would be better off with splitting our major race weekends into forest and urban as well (and potentially champs as well). A fun and easier to market weekend format (for either urban or forest) could be:
Sat AM - Short Time Trial
Sat PM - Relay
Sun- Long Pursuit
Feb 22, 2016 12:10 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Here in North America I think we would be better off with splitting our major race weekends into forest and urban as well (and potentially champs as well).

I think it would be a hard sell to most North American clubs to embrace hosting an urban weekend. That's not to say that it's a bad idea, but I can see it fizzling out.

I still think the greatest barriers to a Long Urban race are vehicular traffic, the expense of closing streets, and legal/liability issues (jaywalking, etc).

For example, I'd like to dream about Seattle hosting something like this. Short races, of course. But it's hard to envision how we'd host a Long one safely, fairly, and not-expensively. We do Street Scrambles here, of course, but the prizes are ribbons which means that people usually wait for crosswalks, etc, but not always.
Feb 22, 2016 12:22 AM # 
the sport is fizzling out anyway..... :-)
Feb 22, 2016 7:12 AM # 
Pink Socks:
no it's not! we're a bigger shoe market than OCR! ;-)
Feb 22, 2016 7:31 AM # 
yeah I saw that and thought wow just wow. Earlier this week I had a meeting with the OO President and the organizers of the biggest adventure races in Ontario (who both volunteer for orienteering Ontario too) about how to stop the drop in participation in Ontario nav sports due to the rise of OCr. one of the guys makes his living now hosting OCRs too and the numbers are incredible and how they did it is so un-O.

How did OCR get so big? Some will say it's because they developed a product and and lifestyle attractive to a certain demographic. Marketing, marketing, marketing. Others may say it's because they spent years fine tuning and arguing over their latest ISOM (Intl Super Obstacle of Mud). Once they did that it was the magic bullet and the numbers started to rise. ;-)

Pfew! O has a great future once we finalize the thickness and colours on our maps. it will all fall into place. It has too because marketing and product quality are over rated.
Feb 22, 2016 9:51 AM # 
So, is "OCR" the catch-all category for non-nav races like Ugly Mudders, and the like?
Feb 22, 2016 5:09 PM # 
Low barrier of entry. Total beginners that have not run 5 K in their lives feel and look as awesome as the track star finishing 3 times faster than them. Beer. Music. Feeling part of a community ( first most midgets go with friends and coworkers, second once you finish you get to wear a cool head band or something). Adrenalin rush of Jucola relay start for everyone.

Why wouldn't OCR thrive.

And from personal experience the Tough Mudder I did in whistler years ago was the closest thing I have run to a real orienteering course or an off trail orienteering training run. I kid you not. I finished the 10 miler, I wanted to go again with a later group.
Feb 22, 2016 7:48 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Is "OCR" the catch-all category?

Yeah, pretty much. The big ones are Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. Battlefrog is new, but has some serious investors, because they have a slick website and they sponsored the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl this year, which is one of the big ones.

And now there are women-only ones, zombie ones, ninja ones, urban ones, etc.

I think both Nikolay and Hammer are right. OCR's have the image of being really hard-core, but are achievable by a lot of everyday people (just a lot slower). And then they sell this experience really well by adding a festival atmosphere with beer, music, and camaraderie. If you look at Millennial trends, you'll see that they value "experiences" significantly more than other generations, so if you can give them an achievable great experience, they'll gladly pay money for it and then tell all of their friends about it.

I also think that there's no coincidence that OCR's are booming when CrossFit is booming, since OCR's are great tests for CrossFit fitness. Even the shoe companies know this: Reebok went all-in on the CrossFit boom and that's their primary marketing focus of shoes and apparel. And because Reebok is the title sponsor of the Spartan Race, they make their own all-terrain shoes that look eerily similar to the Inov-8 line.

And speaking of Inov-8, they too have realized both the OCR and CrossFit booms. Their F-Lite series of shoes gained some traction in the CrossFit communities, and they now call those shoes "performance training" shoes. In 2006, the F-Lite 250 was an "Elite lightweight racing shoe ideal for use on hard pack mountainous terrain." Now, the F-Lite 250 is for "Functional fitness workouts, CrossFit, weightlifting, running." What a difference 10 years make.

Inov-8 also touts their "all terrain" and "extreme" shoes, and they have OCR athletes, stories, and blogs linked on their front page.


Despite being similar in regards to shoes on the ground, OCR and Orienteering are really opposites everywhere else, which can explain why one is really popular and one is not. OCR looks and sounds incredibly difficult; in reality, it's not *that* difficult, but the feeling of accomplishment (which comes with a medal, a beer, and a party) is worth sharing. Orienteering, on the other hand, doesn't sound as difficult physically; but in reality, it is *way* more difficult. How many of the 21-35 demographic at a Tough Mudder can finish a Blue/Red course at a National Meet? Not very many. Instead of the feeling of accomplishment, it's a failure (and no medal, no beer, and no party), which is not worth sharing.

Oh, what's that you say? Newbie orienteers should be starting on a Beginner Course, not something hard core? Ok, tell me how many 21-35 year-olds are interested in coming out for a 1.5 km course. It's not that much of an accomplishment if you get beat by a 10-year old; and again, no medal, no beer, and no party.

Are there people who like orienteering as-is? Obviously, yes. But the community is aging in most US markets.

Are there more people out there who would like orienteering as-is? Also, yes, but we're just not marketing well. We need to market to at least replacement levels, but I think there's a little more potential than that.

But anyone out there who thinks orienteering is on par with OCR is ignorant to what's happening out there with people's feet and wallets. Orienteering has stayed the same for several generations, and let's face it, is full of baby boomers who started orienteering 30-40 years ago. OCR is the new thing, and Millennials love it, and we're never going to touch that unless we change drastically.
Feb 24, 2016 3:07 PM # 
Could a version of O be marketed as an organic OCR?
Feb 24, 2016 5:09 PM # 
Feb 24, 2016 6:37 PM # 
Yes, if its a mass start streamered blue difficulty course. But then it will be OC not O
Feb 24, 2016 7:27 PM # 
Pink Socks:
That's pretty clever, Nev!

I've seen O described as "the original" obstacle course before, and I've hinted at this by using the tagline "just you and a map vs. mother nature" for our annual Bog Slog event.

But going with original and organic has some potential "all natural ingredients, no man-made obstacles, no marked routes..."

A streamered blue course sounds intriguing, too. I'm likely setting at Salmon La Sac again in June. It's our gnarliest venue and if marketed well, a streamered blue course sounds like it could be fun for people. (But that's also a lot of streamers).
Feb 24, 2016 7:54 PM # 
I'm going to try to introduce O to my trail running group via a marked 10km course. Optional map and short cuts encouraged.
Original Raid the Hammer format.
Feb 24, 2016 11:02 PM # 
Yeah the original Raid the Hammer format with Obstacles at the CPs is my thought. Build it around the military land navigation theme. CIOR time.
Feb 25, 2016 1:35 AM # 
Back in Bulgaria it was common for the M/W-10 (white) courses to be stremered, but designed in such a way that you can take shortcuts for most of the controls and get ahead if you can read your map.
This could be done for the blue streamered courses, and have a mass start for it. People reading the map can shortcut and the pure runners can see what's happening and maybe get incentiveised to check and learn to read the map a bit.... Or they can get frustrated and not come back :)
Feb 25, 2016 3:14 AM # 
yes as nev mentioned this was the original format for the Raid the Hammer. hmmm, maybe it should be brought back
Feb 25, 2016 3:33 AM # 
As a once a year challenge and intro to the sport, not a bad idea.
Feb 25, 2016 4:19 AM # 
Heres what I'm thinking for an attractive format:
5-10K course, on a map with checkpoints, and a marked route on the map. Marked route on the map is streamered in the terrain, mostly on trails, just jumping into the woods to where the checkpoints are, maybe along "orange" level features. The marked route would definitely not be the shortest route, so that if you want to take short cuts through the woods it would be a clear advantage. Mass start, so you can just follow the pack ahead of you, or try and cut around and get ahead of the pack.
Lets come up with some really good branding and marketing, a good design for the events, a good name and website, and then try and host a few around the US as a cohesive brand. I could do one or two in Boston in the fall, with a good tie in to our spring sprint series in simple parks. Get them running on the trails and a bit in the woods, then get them onto a simple park map where they can go fast. Leave out all the baggage of complicated orienteering technicalities by giving them a marked route and other people around them to follow.
Everyone gets a finishers t-shirt, branded for the nation wide series. And make an effort to have a good post race atmosphere, food, etc after they finish (mass start makes this possible).

Its not the format here that is really going to make this successful, but a marketing strategy around it to sell to a set of the trail running/OCR market that wants a bit more, but isn't the insane geek that can get into traditional orienteering.

I like some of the selling points here:
"The original obstacle course" in reference to running in the woods
Just you against the terrain
Outsmart your faster competitors

Its important to think about what those selling points are, and how they appeal to the market we want. We would want to talk up the "toughness" of the event, but also keep it so that the average fit person can easily finish and feel like they accomplished something. There should be some element of strategy, and maybe work in the element of groups making decisions to take different routes to work together to get ahead of everyone. The wild nature of going off trail has its attraction, but has to be balanced with emphasizing the option of the marked route.

Things that need to be avoided from a traditional local meet:
7 courses. So many options, how do I choose, how do I compare
grumpy old men.
lonely finishes. Mass start is fun!
walls of text about mapping standards and control clues.
catering to non athletes. This has its place, but successful races need to be athletic competitions, and put their focus on the ones who train and spend money.
$5 entries. don't target your existing cheap club members, try and steal from the local $25 5k
Feb 25, 2016 8:03 AM # 
careful Ed you may be kicked out of the sport with that language! ;-)

what you are describing is pretty much what we did starting back in 96 or 97. I think the tag line was something like the trail race where short cuts aren't only allowed they are encouraged

we then hired a professional race organization team and they did all the extras and we just looked after the course design. two races in Toronto and one in Hamilton. did it like that for two years with Toronto OC but then they dropped out. we then dropped the race mgmt team and did it on our own and in 2000 we added a 25km team version (first real Raid the Hammer) where the start and end had the marked route but then there was simple nav only. within two years the long became the popular distance and we dropped the short marked route race and our adventure running series was born.

what we have probably not done a good job at since then is offering a good race format for the 5km crowd.
Feb 25, 2016 1:27 PM # 
I like this thread.
Feb 27, 2016 12:25 AM # 
Pink Socks:
I've written a lot about this topic before, both here in this log and elsewhere, but I'm too lazy to go back and find the best stuff I've written.

Anyway, one of the ideas I had was for O-USA to have some sort of Adventure Running Series that was pretty much along the lines of what we're talking about here: mass start events that have more atmosphere and less technical navigation.

In a given year, O-USA would have the following "traditional" orienteering events:
-- Individual Champs (sprint, middle, long)
-- Team Champs (one day individual, one day relay, with team awards for IS, IC, and Club)
-- Whatever other National Meets they feel like

And then a national "adventure running" series that could start with the existing popular goat races, and expand from there. It'd be hard for traditional orienteers to organize a dumbed-down event from scratch, so using existing goat races, and then using O-USA connections for sponsors and marketing and whatever would be a good place to start. Pump up the atmosphere and make it more accessible to the regular joe (eg: marked routes, not too long).
Feb 27, 2016 4:12 AM # 
Free shoe laces for the winner?
Feb 27, 2016 10:56 PM # 
I will be there to play the role of "grumpy old men". Wouldn't want anyone to miss out on that..and free local craft beer to the winners would be good, I have a lot of shoe laces already.

Please login to add a message.