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Discussion: Thank you to the CNYO Snowgaine crew!

in: CNYO Snowgaine (Feb 29 – Mar 1 - Copenhagen, NY, US)

Mar 3, 2020 3:56 AM # 
After a 2-year absence, we were excited to see the Snowgaine back on the schedule. It attracted 30 teams on relatively short notice so we weren't the only ones.

It was everything we've always loved about the Snowgaine - friendly people, interesting course design, lots of strategy, varied terrain, beautiful forests, good food and a *ton* of snow.

Big thanks to Bruce Kuo, Gian Dodici, and Russell Nordquist for reviving this much-loved event and doing a terrific job on everything from control placement to communications. We're hoping the tradition continues!
Mar 3, 2020 3:58 AM # 
I just noticed that Eldersmith (the SuperVet champ of this year's Snowgaine) posted this in another thread:

"The event was really great--three past participants (Bruce Kuo, Gian Dodici, and Russell Nordquist) really wanted to get the annual event going again after an absence in the last couple of years, contacted CNYO and asked if they could try putting it on this year and use our maps, equipment, and a bit of planning help. After joining the club (helps on the insurance end of things), they put together a really nice course, got controls in the right places with placements and values demanding a lot of decision making (private property boundaries and a couple of bigger streams made some interesting choices on how to group controls into a route), got a great turnout, and established a fine race atmosphere. Good food, rapid summary results to the participants, fuller details coming soon, and some flexibility on the start for the first day because of the uncertain driving conditions with the timing of the storm all helped make this a fantastic rebirth of the race. It seemed to me that the competitors must have been a pretty even split in coming from northeastern US or southeastern Ontario with perhaps a few who traveled further to get to the race.

A big thank you to Bruce, Gian and Russell for putting this all together!"
Mar 3, 2020 2:19 PM # 
Echoing all that - a huge thank you from the Rootstock Racing crew!
Mar 3, 2020 6:28 PM # 
I am glad people enjoyed it. This is the first major orienteering event I have helped organize and it was fun (Gian and Bruce the heavy lifters) We were so fortunate on the weather. Monday it rained and the course would have been so different.

I was thinking about the race and I am interested in some feedback on some ideas.

1) What if we had prohibited travel on the paved roads tat ringed the course?
I think it could have extended the course by 30-60 minutes. I also dislike paved road options on any course - the woods were to pretty to be wasted on road slogs. Would this have been fine or annoyingly artificially limiting?

2) Bikes
We decided to prohibit bikes early since it make course design so much more difficult (especially if there is no much snow). It would have been interesting to see how fat-tires bikes would have done. Thoughts on if they could have been allowed? Remember the bike has to go to the control with you....

Another though I had was a separate bike division....

Things have changed so much now that fat tire bikes are common....people used to use normal MTB bikes in the snowgaine. What are people thoughts?

Mar 3, 2020 7:42 PM # 
Agreed, great job on the weather, Russell! :)

1) I'm not a fan of rules that are both arbitrary and impossible to enforce, e.g. banning road running. We hope all teams will be honest but it's better if there just aren't many ways to cheat in a race. That way, honest teams don't perceive unfairness and feel frustrated.

It's already difficult/impossible to enforce the private land out-of-bounds rule (unless time splits expose cheating) but that rule is essential. It's also impossible to enforce the rule requiring both team members to visit each checkpoint together (as opposed to waiting at the bottom of a hill or at the road) but that's part of the sport and also a safety consideration. So rogaining already has a couple of important, unenforceable rules. I wouldn't want many more.

We didn't do much road running on the weekend. You could probably play with course design to reduce it further, e.g. if you exchanged the points values for #19 and #80, the winners would still have done the same route but the "regular" racers wouldn't have considered that road run across the north.

2) I'll be interested to hear other feedback about fat bikes. A few thoughts but I don't have a strong opinion:
- In our area, there is considerable discussion about the etiquette of riding when conditions are soft enough to make ruts in trails. I don't know if that might be an issue in some of the trail networks where the event might be held in future.
- Snowshoes are much more affordable to rent or own than fat bikes so a separate fat bike category might be a good idea. A particular course might really favour fat bikes - or the opposite.
- Also, some of those speedy snowmobiles were hard to hear as they came over the blind hills. On snowshoes, we could dive off the trail easily. Even as a confident skier, I think I would have had a few nervous moments getting out of their way. On a fat bike with a hat under a helmet, I might have had even more trouble hearing the snowmobiles.
Mar 3, 2020 8:45 PM # 
First of all, great event. On day 2 I just kept blabbing about how fortunate I was to be doing this.

Regarding ring roads, I agree with Bash that you can guide people with control placement and scoring just as easily as banning them.

Regarding fat tire bikes, I've never ridden one, but the ones I did see were barely moving faster than we were. I did see a bike-ski combo thing that flew down the trail.
Mar 3, 2020 9:28 PM # 
I agree that it was an excellent event.
Kudos to all the organizers. Great course!

Regarding the roads- I don't mind road running, but the woods were much nicer and I wouldn't complain if the major roads were marked as being off the map or out of bounds.
The snowmobiles seem to have gotten both faster and quieter in the last few years. Safety-wise, they may be more of a hazard than cars on roads.

One thing I would like to see is more feasibility to ski much of the course rather than snowshoe. This year I thought that many of the routes to a control could be skied, but the final approaches would often be dangerous or very difficult, so there would be no advantage. Also, the road running sections weren't conducive to skiing. None of the top teams skied.

If there was a high value sector where the controls were located on easier terrain but perhaps longer distances that could be travelled on ski trails, that would add skiing to the mix for teams hoping to do well. Travel mode strategy would be more interesting.
Disclaimer- we like snowshoeing but love skiing!
Mar 3, 2020 9:32 PM # 
Hi all, this was my first Snowgaine and it was amazing! Thank you so much for organizing.

On the road running, it did give people that weren't enjoying the snowshoes a chance to stretch there legs, however, we avoided them just due to the hassle of removing and replacing the shoes. The placement of 80 really promoted the use of that northern road. Making just the northern road out of bounds would have changed the route choice considerably.

On the fat bike topic being an avid fat biker I kind of lamented that they were banned. Given the conditions on the second day if you had done the course opposite to most and did south on the second day many of the CPs would likely have been rideable on the fresh snowshoe tracks. However, it is so variable that you could just have easily had an impossible mess of soft snow that would make the bike useless. Enforcing the rule that the bike must travel to the CP would be hard and would be very tempting to ignore if you were on a bike stuck in the powder after 6 hours. Given you already allow the skis that can be considerably faster if conditions allow I would think the Fat bikes should be allowed as long as rules are clearly outlined.
Mar 3, 2020 9:43 PM # 
Great event, thanks to organizers!

One environmental improvement suggestion: Make plates, cups and ustensils mandatory. We all have this for sure and it would practically eliminate trash.
Mar 3, 2020 9:51 PM # 
Thanks for the feedback. Re the roads - the people that made the point that you can design the course to make roads unattractive rather than making another rule I think are spot on. It's something we'll keep in mind next time.

Re much to consider. I would love to attach a punchcard to the bike :)

One thing to note regarding the plates, etc - I believe NYS does not allow food trucks to dispense food into peoples own containers. So that was a limiting factor.....
Mar 3, 2020 10:10 PM # 
Sorry to hear about the NYS rule about plates. I had agreed with Jackson5 until I read that.

Many big ultra races have gone BYO cup, and are going BYOBowl too.

That's really an issue for the food truck, not the Rogaine organizers though.
Mar 3, 2020 10:18 PM # 
<<"On day 2 I just kept blabbing about how fortunate I was to be doing this.">>

+1 for me! :)
Mar 5, 2020 9:32 PM # 

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