> how many people return year after year
high return rate
> how far people travel,
in the first 5 years, it was mostly a local-regional event, with the Norhteast Ohio orienteers being the only "foreigners". It was frequented by mostly hikers or social friends and family groups that saw it as a "hike with some fun and purpose". The distribution between 3-hr and 6-hr people was about the same. In the past 4 years, with the 3 or 4 car loads of Michiganers and others, it seems there are more "foreigners". The distribution between 3-hr and 6-hr people count is now much more slanted towards the 6-hr event.. Less hiker types and more adventure racer types.
> how often people do 3hr one year and jump to 6 hr the next
rarely. It seems that native patterns don't change
> regular O meets have rather light attendance
very true, specially in remote areas far from the city. Suburban locations are well attended, OTOH. My theory goes that people have busy lives, and spending 25%-40% of your day on an O-meet is ok, while spending 50%-70% of your day on an O-meet is not ok.
> AR has basically floundered in the area
was local, but then attendance went from 100 to 11. Why? we are still perplexed, but talking to many of the old-timers, i was getting responses that people found alternatives, got booked into other events early on, or were simply DIY (do it yourself). For example, some folks that were constant adventure racers are now into triathlons. Others would say "I can do a bike ride in the woods anytime" (DIY). It happened to us too, btw, when we replicated the Raccoongaine event in Mingo Creek county park and called the event Mingogaine and less than 20 people showed up (there was no pre-registration).
btw, food for thought: a local outdoor club
, despite their close affinity to what WPOC does, has very few of its members attending WPOC events, if any at all. That is a fact, despite strong marketing and presence in social media and email notification. Talking to some folks at the REI retail store, in charge of community involvement and events, explained to me that folks feel "clubby" and stick to only the events that their local circle or club has for them. Finding a person that can break the walls and barriers and find adherents to follow is rare.
Others have created an urban mini-rogaine
using phone texting to communicate that a checkpoint has been found, and I've heard that they are going to try that again this spring (I am volunteering).