Not enough time to put it together, or not enough participation?
We were happy with the participation level. For an orienteering meet, it made an acceptable profit for the club. There were a few reasons.
After 4 years in the same location, there was a feeling that we should find somewhere new. Navigation races are not usually held in the same place every year. This proved to be really difficult.
Up-to-date orienteering maps only exist for a small number of places in Ontario where mountain biking is permitted. And just because biking is permitted, it doesn’t mean that bike racing is permitted or supported. More often than not, people just didn’t get back to me.
We need more than just trails; we need trails with junctions where people can make navigation decisions. It would be boring to ride a 2 km piece of 1-way single track in a nav race. We also need some interesting novice riding because we attract a number of families. This narrows it down further.
We have been holding Star Tracks in mid-October during deer hunting season so since we were possibly moving to a place where that would be a factor, we also wanted to change the date to September, when I already spend many hours on Wilderness Traverse.
We are a small, no-frills event and need to be cost conscious. One option was Mansfield but we would have needed to raise entry fees at the same time we were asking everyone to drive farther. Also, they are not open for public mountain biking so they don’t clear their trails as well in summer, e.g. if a tree falls. That said, I hosted a bike nav race there in 2009 and it’s probably our best bet. The map needs work though and we didn’t have any volunteer with the time and skills to do that work quickly.
After months of dead ends, I concluded that our best bet was to stick with Albion Hills. By that time, Mick and I should have been further along in our work on the event and it was already looking like a busy few months due to Mom’s move.
The other issue is that the Stars are based in K-W and very few of them ride a mountain bike. It’s a big deal to ask volunteers to drive 3 hours return to help with an event that isn’t their thing. That’s the main reason Star Tracks may not return; there may be a better use of their club’s volunteer energy that is closer to their core interests.
A number of my favorite events repeat parks, although I see the appeal in rotating somewhere in the after 3 ish year range for both host and competitors. Somewhat depends on the size of the area too, if you can change the flavor and stay put, that's a nice feature but not always available.
In the end, that's what I decided. The course went in different directions from year to year and I think it had a different feel each year. I could probably think of another way to mix it up. One of the caveats is that I am careful about designing the MTBO course to try to prevent head-on collisions on blind hills and such, and I try to keep novices away from the regular racers. That limits things a bit. I hear that at the international level of MTBO, bike crashes are not uncommon, what with people riding through junctions in different directions while looking down at their maps!
The other factor is that Albion Hills is a few kms from our place so it's easy to dash out to check a trail junction or control location. If we used any other location, I could only make a few visits at most. I don't know about other places but Albion is complex because trails are constantly changing in small ways. Bike races are held there weekly during the spring and summer. We've had connector trails added to our map, removed the next year (because people piled logs along a trail to block it off and encourage regrowth), then added again the following year when the connector was re-opened. That's a big part of the battle. Also, the foot-O map is old and many trails aren't drawn super accurately so in many cases, we are just checking that the junctions are correct since those are the main decision points. After all that, setting the course is the fun and easy part!