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Discussion: Turnout

in: Pink Socks; Pink Socks > 2016-06-13

Jun 13, 2016 8:31 PM # 
How does this compare to turnout at other Cle Elum area venues? To be totally honest, that seems like pretty reasonable turnout to me, but maybe I have a skewed sense of perspective.

Also, it may be a timing issue instead of a venue issue; my high school's graduation was last weekend, for example.

I'd be interested to see turnout for this event, dates, and general turnout for summer events. Is orienteering in Seattle just having a bad year in general?
Jun 13, 2016 8:34 PM # 
Also, for what it's worth, this is probably my favorite map in COC's collection, and I hope you keep setting technical courses there. :)
Jun 13, 2016 8:57 PM # 
Pink Socks:
How does this compare to turnout at other Cle Elum area venues?

It's considerably less.

Last month, we had 96 at Teanaway on May 14th. But, it was part of a two-day, and we only had 59 on the Sunday at Lick Creek on May 15th. If you go back to last May 2015, we had 96 at Lick Creek for just a Saturday event, and 93 in May 2014 at Lick Creek on a Saturday.

So, there are several factors at play here:
May vs June
Saturday vs Sunday
Terrain difficulty

May is probably better than June, and high school graduations did play a part. For example, the Christophersons were at Tyra's graduation, and that's 4 starts right there.

Saturdays are probably better than Sundays, though I don't have hard evidence to back that up. The last three Saturdays at Teanaway/Lick Creek were all in the 90's. The last three Sundays were 62 (SLS 2016), 59 (Lick Creek 2015), and 79 (SLS 2014, a nice turnout).

Though most people plan in advance, the weather on May 14th this year was cloudy, but dry. But then it rained all Saturday night and into the second race on Sunday. The weather yesterday was one of the finest days I've ever spent out at SLS.

General turnout for summer events

Summers here are generally have pretty low attendance, given the overall population in the metro area, and given how well-attended the Winter Series is. Two reasons: one, there's just more competition of activities in the summer. People who come orienteering also enjoy other outdoor pursuits, so in the summer, there's better weather for kayaking, backpacking, camping, road trips, etc. We have the die-hards at all of the events, but the more casual orienteers don't come as often.

And that plays into the other reason: our winter series has been popular for a long, long, time. The casual orienteer has picked up on the "big" orienteering season is in the winter, so they make a point to come more in the winter because that's when it's popular, and unless you're really into snowsports, there isn't as much competition for fun things to do outside in Seattle November - February.
Jun 13, 2016 11:41 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Is orienteering in Seattle just having a bad year in general?

Not really. We'll likely have our biggest year ever in terms of annual starts (last year is the current high). That said, last year we had SART which is pretty start-heavy (6 starts per person, so even with injury DNS's, we had 455 starts last year).

This year we'll have SART again, and we also hosted the Navy JROTC national champs, which was 933 starts.

Comparing apples-to-apples-ish 2015 to 2016:

Winter Series:
1247 in 2016 (four events so far)
1260 in 2015 (first four events of 2015)

Ultimate Series:
63 starts in 2016
74 starts in 2015

Sprint+Relay Combo:
121 starts in 2016
97 starts in 2015

Tougher Terrain Combo:
217 starts in 2016 (Salmon La Sac, Lick Creek, Teanaway)
208 starts in 2015 (Moses Lake, Lick Creek, Lincoln Tree Farm)

Add all of those up, and we're within 0.5% ahead of where we were last year. And that's before you add the 933 starts of the NJROTC.
Jun 13, 2016 11:56 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Also, for what it's worth, this is probably my favorite map in COC's collection, and I hope you keep setting technical courses there. :)

It's my favorite place to set, that's for sure. Which may explain why I've set there 3 times now. I think I enjoy it for two main reasons: it's not easy to design here, so it's a fun challenge. It's more than just legs and control sites. I also have to figure out how to minimize climb, and how to access the best bits of the map without without being way too steep, without going through the greenest bits, and without being too similar to previous courses (because of these challenges, the course flows are pretty much the same each time).

The other reason that I like it is that the vetting and setting expeditions feel like intense orienteering experiences, and less like schlepping stuff out there and placing it. It's so technical out there that I need to be be on my game to make sure everything gets in the right spots!

I hope you keep setting technical courses there. :)

Hopefully I get to race next time. Of the four times we've used the map since PNWOF, I've only been able to run once, so I think I'm itching to run again. I hope courses continue to be technical, though!

We've had several two-event weekends this year. NJROTC Champs was a Saturday-Sunday. Teanaway & Lick Creek was a Saturday-Sunday. Sprint/Relay was two in a day. SART will be Saturday-Sunday, and we'll have Woodland Park & Corn Maze on Saturday-Sunday in October.

I think it would be nice to have a two-day at Salmon La Sac next summer. About 10 of us camped overnight in the sno-park this year, and I think it would be a fun social activity to have two days of orienteering with camping in between.

Also, because we'd be there for two days, we could also use SLS for a Middle Distance, since that is by far the best use of that terrain. It's hard to justify four hours of driving for one Middle, which is why it has been recently used for a Long and Ultra Long.

Also, since the Beginner and Intermediate attendances are so low, it might make sense to re-think what we offer here. Perhaps formal training opportunities for them?
Jun 14, 2016 2:57 AM # 
- The club is not using the youth program enough. Out of 400 WIOL, how many did come out to Cle Elum this year?
- The club is also not getting any growth out of Eastern WA, which is where Orienteering would be a natural sport.
Jun 14, 2016 3:06 AM # 
Btw - for the last two meets I have sent a mail to Cle Elum HS to let them know about Orienteering, but it is not working - although I know they received it - and responded. BUT: likely no turnout.
Jun 14, 2016 3:36 AM # 
Pink Socks:
The club is not using the youth program enough.

I know this is a common point people make: we can't get kids to events outside of the winter season. I think this is slightly unreasonable.

For simplicity's sake, there are about 200 WIOL students, about 100 affiliated with JROTC, about 100 not. For the JROTC kids, most of them are orienteering because it's a JROTC requirement, so there's no incentive for them to orienteer outside of the youth league.

Of the other 100, a lot of them are well-rounded, high-achieving young people, so they are active in a lot of other stuff, too. I've noticed this over the past 10 years of chatting with juniors and parents. I was also like this when I was younger. I played baseball in the summers, basketball in the winters, tennis in the spring. I played the cello in school and during the youth symphony season, so not really in the summer. Orienteers tend to be smart people, and smart people tend to be involved in a lot of things.

And then we do have some youth that orienteer year-round. We have the 0.5% that are on the US junior teams. Yesterday, we had Jordan, Curtis, Erika, and David orienteering from the remote start. And I see Neils' name in the Short Advanced results, and I saw Jessica at the start/finish, so she was there with some group or whatever. There are some dedicated kids there, and we would have had more if it weren't high school graduation season (that's what kept Tyra & Siri away).

During the Winter Series, we have about 150 public starts per event, where were the other 100 of them?
Jun 14, 2016 3:47 AM # 
Being involved in many sports means they are spending lots of $$$. Are there people who don't have access to that?
Jun 14, 2016 4:12 AM # 
also, 1/3rd of public seems like much better than 0/100 JROTC and 10/100 rest WIOL.
Jun 14, 2016 1:28 PM # 
Hmm, think outside the box? Great tough area, would people be more comfortable in teams of two or a mass start?
Jun 14, 2016 9:48 PM # 
Pink Socks:
We considered a mass start, but ultimately nixed it because of the logistics. It's 4km from the sno-park to the remote start (3km of van shuttle on a rough road, 1km of hiking), and the shuttle could only take 5 people at a time, so it's not really possible to get everyone up there easily for one start.

We did have several people who usually go solo participate in pairs.

In 2014, I thought outside the box and I had shortcuts built into the courses, which were written into the description sheets. Course #5 could shortcut to Course #3 by going from Control 9 to Control 22. Course #5 could shortcut to Course #4 by going from Control 14 to 21. And Course #4 could shortcut to Course #3.

This gave people options of bumping down mid-course, but without the stigma of finishing with a DNF. This worked really well, in part because we had a remote start and remote finish, so none of the courses had the 800m road run. I was able to cherry pick the best terrain, the most scenic control sites, and some really clever shortcuts.

This year, we didn't have the remote finish. I still offered the shortcut from Course #5 to Course #4, but the decision point was too early, but that's just where it made the most sense logistically. Course #3 was from the sno-park this year, and not on the mountain.

I could also look into doing an easier course from the remote start. Given the terrain, the easiest thing to do to make a course easier is in the control placement (side of approach, and use the largish features).
Jun 15, 2016 3:44 AM # 
Shortcuts: What a great idea!!

Any possibility you could post the 2014 Course #5 map, with control descriptions?
Jun 15, 2016 6:40 PM # 
Part of the issue with WIOL turnout at SLS in particular may be transportation. There's no way to bike or bus to SLS, and it's probably harder to convince your parents to drive you if they have to drive two hours each way and there's no Starbucks nearby for them to wait at while you're orienteering. (Slight exaggeration for rhetorical purposes.)
Jun 15, 2016 7:35 PM # 
Hey now, 'slight'? That's not slight. It's a mere hour and twenty minutes drive.
Jun 16, 2016 5:42 AM # 
Pink Socks:
It's a mere hour and twenty minutes drive.

Not in a Honda Fit, Mister M3!
Jun 16, 2016 5:45 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Guy, here is the PDF of Course #5, from the 2014 event (it might look better if you download it, depending on how it looks in the browser).

Note to any future link clickers: I'll probably remove this map at some point from my Google Drive.
Jun 16, 2016 8:59 AM # 
There's no way to bike ...

Actually, Eric Jones biked over and back, taking the John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail, riding over on Saturday and home on Sunday evening/Monday.

However, this might be something beyond what most folks would do ... :)
Jun 16, 2016 7:57 PM # 
Nikolay: it's two hours from where I used to live. The exaggeration was about Starbucks. :)

Mike: that's amazing, and also seems out of reach for most children still in school.
Jun 16, 2016 8:54 PM # 
Pink Socks:
1/3rd of public seems like much better than 0/100 JROTC and 10/100 rest WIOL.

In terms of percentages, yes. But if you look at the remainders of each, that's approximately:
~100 public starts (mostly adults)
~100 JROTC starts
~90 non-JROTC junior starts

I think if you're going to focus on one group to get to Salmon La Sac and other wilderness venues, it's the public starts. They don't have school commitments, they are more likely to have cars, etc.


If the club were purely motivated by starts and profits, then I think the most obvious thing would be to expand the Winter Series & School League from 8 to 12 events, from October through March.

October 1: Series #0 (Woodland Park pre-season event, no season scores, training opportunities, annual meeting afterward)
October 2: Series #1 (Have Vampire-O at same venue that evening)
November 1: Series #2
November 2: Series #3
December 1: Series #4
December 2: Series #5
January 1: Series #6
January 2: Series #7
February 1: Series #8
February 2: Series #9
March 1: WIOL & Public Champs
March 2: WIOL & Public Relay

This format would essentially "steal" two events from the Ultimate Series. We'd move the Relay from the Ultimate Series and into a Series with more teams and more participation. We could make the WIOL trophies a combination score of the season standings, the one individual race, and the relay race.

The Ultimate Series would also give up the Night-O, which we'd put as one of the regular season races. "School League at Night!" would be an exciting twist to the series.

Since the Ultimate Series would lose the Relay, that means that the Sprint is left solo. I'd axe the Sprint from the Ultimate Series for two reasons: we now have SART, and we could also make the Wednesday Evening Series a Sprint Series. Have two sprints at each Wednesday Evening, and it's a 10-sprint Series. This is pretty much what we do already for Wednesday, except that the standard format is that the advanced folks run the two sprints back-to-back as one race.

Choose Your Adventure would lose the Woodland Park event, but that's not a big loss for the series. It might make sense to give a venue like Fort Ebey in July to the Ultimate Series, since they are losing events on the front end.

So the annual schedule would look something like:

Winter Series & School League
--- 12 events (October through March)
------ Includes 9 regular season, 1 pre-season training, 1 night, 1 champs race, 1 relay race

Wednesday Evening Sprint Series
--- 5 events (May through September)
------ Includes 10 sprints total

Ultimate Series
--- 4-6 events (April through July)
------ Focus on the tough stuff (SLS, Teanaway, LTF, Moses Lake, Fort Ebey, Lord Hill, Fishtrap)

Choose Your Adventure Series
--- 4-5 score-o like events (July through October)
------ Things like: Summerfest, Paddle-O, Corn Maze, post-SART event, Vampire-O

Stand Alone Events
--- SART, September
--- Bog Slog, December

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