Sorry to miss this (well, sort of, given the weather). But kudos to you for trying a new format that could have a wider appeal and entice some trail runners to do some navigation. Unfortunately, though, it's usually the same old o-crowd that shows up.
Sounds like it wasn't a great weekend for you...
Indeed, mostly the same old o-crowd. I like the old o-crowd, but the hope was to attract some newbies. We did have two folks from the running section of CSU (but adventurous types, ultra runners), and two from the skiing section of CSU, so good crossover in that regard. That's 25% non-orienteers!
Given how easy it was to set up, and Rocky Woods' willingness to have us there, I would definitely like to try this format again next year. Kristin suggested having three events, maybe one a month, that we could spend much more time advertising. Ultra signup, NETT, the Rocky Woods website, the Hale Reservation running group. Yeah, it all comes back to advertising and my unwillingness to do it...
Advertising is one of the keys. But I've found it very frustrating to try and get local trail runners seriously interested in orienteering. Over a dozen good trail runners have come out for weekday evening training/instruction over the last three years, and they always say they loved it. But then when I added a fun long orange course at an ET meet (about 6k, physically but not navigationally challenging), only two showed up to do it. Of course, we have a much smaller pool to draw from in Western Mass than you guys have.
That's why I think we're doing it wrong - we can't use an orienteering meet and advertise that we have a trail run too. Rather, we need to put on a trail race, and maybe have an orienteering course offered as a side event.
At least, that's my current thinking. It'll probably change next week.
If you get access for free, don't be afraid to reuse the course. It takes a few events to get from 16 to 60.
Unfortunately access at Rocky Woods is a $175 pavilion rental. Hard to cover those costs with a 10-person event. But I do think it's good to have a shelter, makes a better feeling for the competitors.