Has anyone here heard about or participated in these
Anything similar elsewhere? (Here's another in Portland
It's basically free, a one-hour urban score-o. They unveil a map, and then everyone takes off, having one hour to visit as many checkpoints as possible, returning with raffle tickets to redeem for prizes.
(I've been familiar with the urban scavenger hunts like City Chase, City Solve, Urban Dare, Great Urban Adventure, and Scavenger Dash... but none of those are truly map-based events, and none of those specifically target athletes.)
But here's something that is
map-based, and is
targeted towards runners. And it appears to be a huge hit. It's a free event, lots of prizes, free beer.
They are basically creating successful orienteering events without any involvement from the orienteering community. Heck, they may not even know that orienteering is even a sport.
Let's examine a plausible next step for these folks. They branch out from the city, and they start doing trail running events. Trail running swag! Trail maps of popular trail running parks!
Wow, they've just re-invented orienteering!
Yeah, yeah, the quality isn't the same is what we do. But consider what could happen if we partner up. They have the marketing, the ability to get prizes and sponsors, and the ability to get a larger, and much younger, demographic. And we have the expertise about course and map design that would increase the technical quality of their events.
(Another plausible step would be urban bike-o. Lots of money is spent on bikes, too).
Great find, Patrick! Sounds fun, easy to set up, and a good gateway to lure people into true orienteering.
From reading the rules on both sites, it's not clear to me how the raffle tix are given out at each checkpoint in a way that prevents people from grabbing, say, 50 at a time. I wonder if there's a person at each checkpoint handing them out, one per runner...?
I'm only asking because I'm thinking about trying to do this with my local running group (which meets every Wednesday evening at our local running store and I think they already give away small bits of schwag every week -- perfect logistics!). Besides the raffle ticket question, the other big hurdle for me will be finding time for yet another "cool sounding project". ;-)
I haven't participated in one yet, but I will on Thursday and report back. (I just heard about these yesterday, but It's convenient for me because I live on the map that they use!)
Here are some pics from the event last month in Seattle:
It's not clear to me how the raffle tix are given out at each checkpoint in a way that prevents people from grabbing, say, 50 at a time. I wonder if there's a person at each checkpoint handing them out, one per runner...
From what I gather, here's how it works:
They have a giant master map that they unveil at 6:00pm. The map shows 10-11 checkpoints on it, and below the map the list the locations of the checkpoints and the closest intersection to each.
There's also a Facebook-only checkpoint, which they announce on their Facebook page the afternoon of the event. That checkpoint isn't listed on the master map, natch.
Once they show the map, you're on the clock. They don't give you a map, which is why you see just about everyone taking a photo of the map with their smartphone, and others taking notes on paper. (I'm planning on bringing an 11x17" USGS map, to simulate a Street Scramble).
Each of the checkpoints is staffed; either at a business like Starbucks or a restaurant, or in the case of the Facebook checkpoint, a tent in the park staffed by American Cancer Society. Checkpoints are worth 1-4 raffle tickets. I think if you become a "VIP Member" and wear their t-shirt, you get extra raffle tickets or something.
They start drawing raffle tickets right at 7:00pm, so if you're late, you can't win any of the $3500 worth of prizes they draw while you're still out on the course. The after-event also includes a free beer and a bunch of vendors (Puma
Fuelbelt, Pacific Health Labratories, Wright Socks, Zensah, Garmin).
Would anyone know how insurance/permission would work for such events? Can we organise street-o officially anywhere?
Can we organise street-o officially anywhere?
My response would be yes, if it's publicly accessible.
My friends and I started a series of free, map-based, hyper-local, scavenger hunts in Seattle last fall. Each hunt has about 20 trivia checkpoints and covers about a half square mile (which usually equates to 4 miles to clear the course).
The events are free and PYOM (print-your-own-map). We post the map & questions online about a day ahead of the event, so people who come are responsible for bringing their own map. We keep it really simple. No cost, no registration, no official results, no prizes, no complaints.
Usually 15-25 of us meet in a public place (school, park, playground), and no money changes hands. All checkpoints are accessible via public places (roads, alleys, parks). It's basically like going to the park and playing in a pick-up game of ultimate. Afterward, we'll meet up at a local pub or something and hang out.
What's great about it is how simple it is. We just need one volunteer host per event. They scout out the area and put the checkpoints on a map (either Google map, satellite view, or something from our local online GIS widget). They don't have to worry about printing maps, bringing stuff, taking registrations, or anything. We just had our 10th event last week, and 8 of our volunteer hosts had never set/designed courses before.
To follow-up my earlier comment:
I think if you become a "VIP Member" and wear their t-shirt, you get extra raffle tickets or something.
$25 buys you an official t-shirt and pint glass. If you wear the shirt to the event, you get an extra free beer and double the raffle tickets at checkpoints.
I understand the marketing behind this, but I think it's kinda lame. I'd rather wear my OK or COC jersey, or wear my Street Scramble team outfit.
Thanks for the details! I had spaced out the possibility of answering a question at each checkpoint in lieu of having physical raffle tickets or punches; RMOC does that at our annual CU-Boulder meet.
Having to staff each checkpoint with a volunteer would be a pain. So, maybe runners could get a ticket for each correct trivia question answer when they get back to the Start / Finish. And, I love the idea of "must be present to win" to enforce the time limit!
it seems answering the trivia questions at finish would create a significant bottleneck
In Pittsburgh, local urban folks made by 20-something crowd, active in creative crafts, have organized scavenger hunts in thick old urban neighborhoods with the support of local businesses, with trivia questions such as why is Ed's nickname "Bouncy" (Ed would be the tailor at 217 Liberty Ave). Local restaurants donated indoor space and buffet food. It was really free. About 60 people showed up. Map was a printout of satellite-view of Google maps with text and symbols added to it and printed on 11x18 paper. The event was called "urban scavenger hunt".
what we've been doing in Seattle. And here's
our Facebook page.
All of our old maps are on the website.
I think these are great formats. A slight tangent - it seems to me that both these urban types of races as well as conventional orienteering races could be conducted by using cell phones or digital cameras to take pictures of the controls. Since the pictures are time-stamped, splits would be obtainable and cheating controllable. Competitors could be required to take a close-up photo of the control number guaranteeing they came within a few feet of the control. To me this seems more manageable than hauling thousands of dollars worth of gear into the woods every weekend.
Urban types of races as well as conventional orienteering races could be conducted by using cell phones or digital cameras to take pictures of the controls.
There's a whole bunch of ways to verify checkpoints.
: City Chase
, Thursday Adventure Runs
Cameras Req'd (to take photos of yourselves at checkpoints)
: Urban Dare
, City Solve
, Great Urban Race
, Scavenger Dash
: Street Scramble
, 'Hood Hunt
, this is the standard format for most orienteering-based urban-o events
QR Codes and Microsoft Tags
: I know that the Street Scrambles in the Bay Area are experimenting with QR Code
checkpoints, and in Seattle with Microsoft Tag
checkpoints. Participants need a capable smart phone, natch.
: Bay Area Street Scrambles allow you to text in your trivia answers. Also, the SCVNGR
-based promotional races (usually for giant prizes like cars or diamond rings), use text-messaging and trivia questions.
QR and text messaging are more or less the same thing. You can have both at a Street Scramble® race
. You need a trivia question and to use a few more key presses if you don't have a smartphone, but the back end is the same.
If your jurisdiction doesn't care about small inconspicuous stickers placed discreetly (and, preferably, removed quickly afterwards), QR is just like using SPORTident, but better, and is the perfect fit for urban navigation challenges. Nothing to get stolen, with all the results done automatically.
And you can put your route in QR afterwards.
I dig the text messaging for scoring. As both a frequent participant at Street Scrambles, and the guy who triple-checks each and every scoresheet, I think it's a big efficiency gain. You could do awards 10 minutes after everyone is done, not 45 minutes later when a lot of people have left.
My worry about QR codes is that you might lose some of that quirkiness that make the checkpoints special. Would you slap a sticker on a mural? Or on someone's 5-foot tall viking helmet in their yard?
We do a lot of question and answer for urban rogaines. The style of the questions can give a nice flavour. You can ask a questions about things you can't touch. Participants scoring themselves is pretty fast. Only the top few need checking and then only for addition. Nothing to bring in afterwards. Course remains so can be done later. Got a letter from a lady who missed our big one (100 controls) but has been pottering away a few at a time for a year:-))
Drawback: writing in the rain.
So far we (would like to) slap the QRs on the Starbucks windows (there's nothing special about Starbucks 97329 vs. Starbucks 98856). With explicit permission of said Starbucks, and with something in return for sending throngs of curious/thirsty attendees their way. When the business model starts to work, we'll let you know.
When the business model starts to work, we'll let you know.
At the Adventure Run in Seattle last month, I think 3 or 4 of the 11 checkpoints were at participating Starbucks locations. And apparently their business model is working, since they keep continuing to have their monthly events with sponsors, prizes, and such.
I'm going to their event tomorrow, and I'll see what I can report back.
My worry is that you might lose some of that quirkiness that make the checkpoints special.
I'm realizing that this is just like following your favorite band.
"Everybody should listen to these guys! They are awesome! Seriously, why aren't these guys popular? This is the best music ever!"
[band then gets a big record deal, becomes famous, tons of fans]
"Aww, come on! Why'd they have to sell out like that?"
I guess my point is, in order to make orienteering (either urban or terrain) to become really popular, we probably need to make some compromises.
I can't believe how quiet AP was today. Over 24 hours without any forum posts!
Anyway, I'm off to see about this "Adventure Run".
Wow. I'll report more in the morning.
Way different style of event than we're used to. Way different demographic.
Do we want any of the demographic? If yes, we better figure out how to put on this style of event. (If the demographic is a bunch of hobos lining up for free beer and T shirts, perhaps we'll pass.)
It's morning and inquiring minds want to hear more!
Patience! (I'm writing it as you inquire)
If I were to sum it up into a quick sentence: It's an ingenious marketing gimmick.
As orienteers, why should we care?
1) It's kinda like orienteering. They show you checkpoints on a map, and you have an hour to find as many as you can.
2) There's some major sponsorship muscle here. Basically, you earn raffle tickets for interacting with sponsors. Each checkpoint was at a sponsor's place of business, that included from pubs, restaurants, chiropractors, salons, and boutiques. Visit a checkpoint, receive raffle tickets. There were vendor booths before the race, the big ones being, Garmin, Puma, and Ragnar Relay. You could try out products during the run. Puma shoes? Raffle ticket. Fuel belt? Raffle ticket. Compression socks? Raffle ticket. And if you buy the $25 t-shirt, you get double the raffle tickets. All of these raffle tickets are used to win $3500 worth of stuff, which was mostly from the same group of sponsors. Gift certificates to the businesses, socks, shoes, water bottles, event entries, and GPS watches.
3) A significant majority in attendence is the 21-34 age demographic. When I attend orienteering events, both urban and terrain, I'm one of the young guys. I'm the youngest guy on the Cascade OC board. But I'm now 30. We all know how "old" of a sport orienteering is. Last night, there were a ton of young people. Why? I can think of several reasons for this. One, it's free. Young people love free stuff, and if you can make free stuff fun, even better. Not only is the event free, but if you pre-register online, you get one free beer (and if you buy that $25 t-shirt, you get two beers). Young people also probably expect more free stuff, too. They grew up in an age of free music downloads, free news on the internet, etc, etc. During the raffle drawings, the organizers would occasionally throw out free stuff to the crowd. There was a lot of screaming and hand-waving for free energy bars, gels, and socks.
That said, the event probably doesn't need to be free. The Urban Dare, City Solve, Great Urban Race, Scavenger Dash appeal to the same demographic, and they have entry fees. As do the increasingly popular "look at how hard-core I am" events like Warrior Dash, Survivor Mud Run, etc.
Last night, there was also a DJ, and the host would have a lot of crowd interaction (with "WOOO" as the appropriate response). And they are trying to grow through social media like Facebook. One of the 12 checkpoints is only unveiled on Facebook, several hours before the event. The Greenlake area of Seattle also has a lot of young people living there. It's close to the University of Washington, and if you're an active 20-something who wants to live in the city, Greenlake is the neighborhood to live in. Road Runner Sports also hosts these in Tempe and San Diego, where I'm guessing there are also a lot of active young people.
4) Buzz. It really seemed like a party atmosphere to me. Young people, music, free beer, free handouts, prize drawings, plus the natural excitement of attending an event. There were maybe 100-150 people there, and I would assume that there would have been more had the weather not been drizzly and had it not been Cinco de Mayo. This is quite the contrast from the standard orienteering crowd, which I would categorize as significantly more cerebral (everyone reading this on Attackpoint is nodding their heads). So while the age demographic of those attending last night is coveted by orienteering (and everyone else, too), don't expect a majority of them to start flocking to "true" orienteering if it were presented to them, even if it were free. However, the exposure would be fantastic, I'm sure.
Ok, now some comments on the technical aspects of the event.
1) Hardly anyone uses paper maps. It seems like the only paper maps I saw were brought by the orienteers. I did get a hear a lot of comments like, "Wow, you came prepared", "Where did you get that map?", and "That's a really good idea." They give everyone a pen and a piece of paper with a grid on it. When the map is displayed with checkpoint info (business name + nearest street intersection), everyone either writes down the info on their slip of paper, or takes a photo with their smart phone. The displayed map isn't great on showing the exact location, either, especially in the two clumps of checkpoints. One orienteer mentioned that you could just drop pins in Google Maps on your smartphone, and have Google do the routing for you.
2) There's no course design. They just put checkpoints where there are sponsors, which resulted in a lot of clumping. Four checkpoints within two blocks of the start. Three checkpoints within three blocks of each other, 1.5 miles from the start, and two checkpoints across the street from each other in another location, also 1.5 miles from the start. It was basically going from clump to clump, with a lot of dead running in between. Comparing the courses from April and May, they were pretty similar, even though many of the businesses changed.
3) There's no sense of competition. Again, this is a marketing gimmick masquerading as a competitive running event. But the running part isn't all that competitive. It's all about the raffle tickets. If you're twice as slow as me, but you wear the shirt, we get the same number of raffle tickets. The organizers don't care that I visited 11 of 12 checkpoints, running 10.3km, in 1:00:01. Neither did anyone else. The "result" that I came away with was winning a $25 gift certificate, a water bottle, and four pairs of socks. And catching a few energy bars. And drinking some free Deschutes beer. And getting a helluva deal on a pizza+beer at the "apres-party". (There's also no sense of rules enforcement, either. I'm convinced that a team of four had some motorized help in getting to one cluster of checkpoints.)
So, where does this event really fit into the existing slate of things?
It is more running-focused and map-focused than the riddle/clue/challenge events (City Chase, Urban Dare, City Solve, Great Urban Race, Scavenger Dash).
It is less results-focused than urban orienteering events (Street Scrambles) and running events (5K, 10K, etc).
It keeps the social/party focus of the riddle/clue/challenge events.
It keeps the heavy promotional focus of the SCVNGR-based "competitions".
It is less technology-focused than the SCVNGR events and the QR and text message-enabled Street Scrambles.
How adaptable is this to something more orienteering-related?
As is, this isn't as big of a threat to orienteering as I originally feared ("ZOMG, they are re-inventing orienteering and taking away our future!").
However, you could make some small changes to bring some more orienteering focus. Instead of handing out slips of paper and pens to everyone, hand out small maps to everyone. Something as simple as a black/white half sheet map would do, and still be as cost-effective. Instead of accumulating raffle tickets, hand out passports that the businesses would stamp. When you finish, you'd have a passport + finish time, and then you'd redeem those stamps for raffle tickets. (If you wear the shirt, then you'd get two stamps in your checkpoint box instead of one.)
My dream scenario here would for Orienteering USA and member clubs to partner with a place like REI. We would provide staff for navigation training clinics and technical expertise for event planning, and they would provide the marketing/sponsorship muscle. REI has national reach, and they have more diversity in activities. You could mix urban, trail, and bike events. Again, that's my dream scenario for getting our sport into the mainstream. Is it "selling out" our sport? Of course, but it addresses three deficiecies we currently have: lack of sponsorship/marketing, lack of a youth demographic, and lack of buzz.
And a brief history of these specific events. The "Thursday Adventure Run" was started in Portland three years ago by Andrew Buswell (I've got contact info for him), who at the time was 23 years old and working for Fit Right NW. He was a competive runner who wanted to make runs more fun and social. Within a year of the first event, they had 900 people at these events in Portland. Last October, Road Runner Sports hired him to take the concept nationally, eventually to all of their locations. So far, it's just in Seattle, Tempe, and San Diego. He goes to Seattle to host the event on the first Thursday of the month, then to San Diego for the second, then to Tempe for the third.
One other thought I had would be to have a local orienteering club as a sponsor at the Adventure Run event. Have a tent at start/finish, give away entries to orienteering events as prizes, etc.
as big of a threat to orienteering
Threat wasn't what I was thinking. "How can we use the stores' marketing/promotion muscle?" was. Until Patrick posted this, I didn't think this kind of concept would have attracted the attention of the stores. When we go out and talk to stores and say, hey, there will be 150+ people passing by your location—care to comp some swag—90% of the time the answer is no thanks. The existence of this is a big deal. The hope is that nobody wants to be outcompeted by RRS.
to partner with REI.
Bzzzz.... wrong answer. Wrong business model, wrong demographic, wrong image, wrong store personnel attitude, wrong history of relationship. The only things that are right are the extent of the chain, and the strategic value of store locations.
REI does not try to attract customers to stores for fun activities. A number of chains do and REI isn't one of them. REI isn't the place you think about for getting together for a run and for fun stuff afterwards. It's where you go to buy a tent, and maybe some maps for the upcoming hike in Yosemite.
I have leads. If anyone wants to work with Get Lost!! on pursuing them, please get in touch. More and better leads will be very appreciated.
You're probably right on REI. I'm not really in the industry, but I liked the fact that they are national, and they sell stuff for run, trail, and bike. They do attract customers to stores for clinics, though. If there are better leads, though, I'm all for that instead.
I'm not a biker, but I think this model would be a big success to bike stores. More stuff to buy, more expensive, larger range of businesses to get to in an hour.
Yep. Clinics. The nav clinics are a vehicle for Johnson Outdoors to sell the S***** er Silva. And you have to pay $30, since the concept isn't exactly self-sustaining.
Guess what they are going to teach at the clinic? —how—to—use—your—compass! how sexy. Lessee... I am going to go to run for free for an hour with a bunch of 25-year-olds to win $$ or $$$ worth of swag, and get me some beers... or... I am going to learn how to—use my compass
I'm not writing this to disparage REI. I'm just suggesting some marketing pointers.
Ha! I thought they were free! I think I've been to REI for free stuff, which was more along the lines of what I was thinking. And I was thinking of teaching nav there independently of the fun runs, since we have an o-map near the flagship store. (But enough of my rationale. I think we've established that this is a dead-end.)
And before y'all think I'm some sort of fuddy-duddy, I'd prefer to run with 20-somethings, win prizes, and drink beer! I just wish last night's event had a bit more O'.
Patrick, that write-up was fantastic, almost as flashy as your socks! Thanks!
Road Runner Sports hired him to take the concept nationally, eventually to all of their locations
So with the one full-time staff, presumably a comparable contribution of time from local store employees—at retail salaries—and with the swag thrown in, there's a $60k–80k commitment from RRS, for what? 6000 starts/year at best? and here we are agonizing whether we can afford to continue to pay Glen with our 50k starts. The idea that you have to spend money in order to make money somehow escapes most of this organization's enlightened minds.
Road Runner Sports hired him to take the concept nationally
I know he's got a bunch of volunteers lined up, too. Each volunteer gets free shirts, socks, and credits toward free shoes, and other bonuses. I don't think any of the store employees were involved last night.
It appears to me that it's one salary, with more swag involved to give to volunteers.
The projected average attendance is 400/month. With 9 events on the schedule for the year in 3 locations, that's 10,000 starts. So maybe the business model is $6-7 per start?
I know they've sold a lot of those shirts for $25 already, so they are getting some income back. Also, I'm supposed to receive an email today for 20% off any Garmin product, only good at RRS, and probably some other RRS coupons, too. (I haven't received these yet, so I can't comment.)
I have leads. If anyone wants to work with Get Lost!! on pursuing them.
Is the plan to copy this format exactly and take it to other running stores? Or does the plan involve something different? Who gets involved? O-USA? Clubs? Others like Get Lost!! or Mergeo?
We've discovered a great idea, and what are we going to do about it? What's next?
average attendance is 400/month
I hope RRS's bean counters are smarter than assuming this kind of attendance within the first couple years.
Is the plan to copy this format exactly
To be a successful second entrant, you need to come in with a better product that you can offer more cheaply. I believe we have both.
Who gets involved? O-USA? Clubs? For-profits like Get Lost!!
GL!! is a nonprofit. We would love to get involved.
Clubs are in the business of serving their members. I wouldn't expect any of them to be interested, since the activity does not directly involve such.
"That first weekday evening in Portland, about 50 participants showed up, most of them in their 20s and 30s. After two months, 400 people came. One year into it, 900 people joined the party. Though the event still appealed mainly to young professionals, by that time the demographic had broadened to include everyone from high school students to runners in their 40s and 50s." (source
GL!! is a nonprofit.
Whoops, sorry. Fixed.
Get Lost!! will be happy to apply for grants from Orienteering USA for programs that further the objectives of both organizations. We believe that some of our undertakings are a good match for the organization's stated goals. We understand that there are a number of paths for achieving these goals, and we hope to provide the best return on investment.
One year into it, 900 people joined the party.
They won't get that kind of growth in the markets that RRS picked. I'm not saying the concept is flawed, just that the bean counters could perhaps use a bit less exuberance. I feel that being midsize is more of a good thing than a bad thing for a similar endeavor for a number of reasons; similar initiatives had to put a hard cap on the size of each event, opting instead to increase the frequency, and it's worked wonders. I guess all I'm trying to say, don't overhype the concept. It's valid, but I wouldn't ask anyone for $4.5k in swag on an ongoing basis. The relationship would go south quickly.
Clubs are in the business of serving their members. I wouldn't expect any of them to be interested, since the activity does not directly involve such.
I would hope that some clubs would see the opportunity to recruit new members, and this seems like a viable means to do so, right? Obviously, you won't get 100% of the beer-drinking 20-somethings into traditional orienteering, but you'll probably get some...
I don't think the issue here is lack of interest from the clubs (or maybe it is, since this thread is basically Vlad and I going back and forth). I think if you would tell a club, "Hey, there's a format of event that is quasi-orienteering and will bring you 150+ participants in the 21-34 age group", then I think most clubs would say, "Ok, sign me up!" At least, clubs that are looking to the future and are aware of how how old the current orienteering community is.
I think the issue here is the big barrier of organizing such events. From a technical standpoint (maps, courses, results, etc), we could do it (and a lot better, too). But what we don't have is experience with dangling carrots (sponsors, prizes, free beer, etc.)
I'm interested in getting the orienteering community in Seattle involved, but I don't have the bandwidth to do so right now.
On a somewhat related topic. There was that "Treasure Hunt" organized by Gear Junkie last year that had a gazillion dollars worth of gear to win. It was basically a three-hour score-o... does anyone know how well that event went?
1. Neither Cascade, BAOC, MerGeo, nor Get Lost!! will be able to get sponsors as easily as a store. When a store is dealing with a sponsor, there is a preexisting relationship in place, the parties all know and understand what they are doing/what the objectives and metrics are.
2. Beer is a no-no if Orienteering USA's insurance is hoped to be used.
3. Junkie's gazillion was about $2.5k is what I recall, plus the SylvanSport GO, which at $9k MSRP aren't selling that well is what I hear. I may be wrong. It was a well sponsored event, but I wouldn't believe any promoter who would put the VIK/participant ratio at >>$50. There are creative ways to price what the inventory is worth. To someone who just walks into the store and is in urgent need of say shoes, that pair may well be worth $130, but I have a pretty good history of getting exactly what I want on eBay with a limit set at $50. And to a store with excess inventory it may not even be worth that.
4. What this means is that clubs who hope to get onto this bandwagon better get in touch with local stores, or other places that hold training runs/races as a way to attract people to their businesses. You just can't do this by yourself. (Almost) nobody knows who you are, and you have no track record of increasing other people's business.
Beer is a no-no if Orienteering USA's insurance is hoped to be used.
Oh, whoops. I'd better rethink my plans for my social event for Interscholastics....
Yep, I happen to be the first and last USOF Beer-O Champion. After said race was staged, it so occurred to the esteemed Directors that undue impact may be caused to said insurance should any partaker be involved in an automobile or another type of accident following such partaking. The edict was there may not be alcohol served at an event covered by the insurance, neither before, during, or after the event. I think this technically applies to A meet dinners as well.
Thanks to the foresight, we have enjoyed happy low insurance rates for the past 14 or so years (no sarcasm). Was it worth it? maybe yes.
Seriously, Vlad, imagine the hazard that would have resulted if you had tried to drive a car following that event!
It seems to me that Rex hosted a handful of urban score-o events out of a local Fleet Feet (running shoe) store, when his company Terraloco was young. The store was very supportive, but went out of business shortly thereafter.
I'm positive that there have been A-meet dinners held in facilities with on-premise bar service. The US (Classic) Champs in WI come to mind, as well as two ROC dinners at a Chinese restaurant.
Sales of alcoholic beverages are commonplace at Canadian O-related banquets. Then again, maybe they traded allowing alcohol for that whole uncrossable = prohbited-from-crossing thing. ;-)
Sometime in the early 2000s I think, I attended a multi-day Canadian event in which a cash bar was set up in the arena every day. After finishing your run, you could immediately either celebrate your victory or drown your sorrows if you wished.
I remember some Canadians joking that "Canadian entertainment after a big event consists of alcohol--American entertainment after a big event consists of course reviews". In BAOCland at least, we have finally gotten rid of evening course reviews at our A-meets, which means we have made some progress on the entertainment front...
Patrick, it may have been mostly you and Vlad posting, but I have been following this thread with a lot of interest. I moved away from the club in MN and the closest events are now usually 3-4 hours away. An event like these as well as some informal training may be a way to get a small group of people interested in the idea of more formal mapping and possible events in the future.
I also own a business that does urban events similar to those described for corporate clients. Up to this point I have purposely remained low tech for a number of reasons. This conversation is helping me reassess that approach.
Thanks for keeping it rolling.
I too am following this with interest. I find it very interesting (from a North American perspective anyway) that there has been huge growth in the last 10 years (mainly in the 21-35 demographic) in these types of races:
adventure races (usually has navigation)
city chase (some nav)
warrior dash (some off trail running)
city events/scavenger hunts as in this thread (some navigation)
....yet orienteering numbers have remained flat. There are lessons to be learned here. The efforts (time and $$) we take to make perfect maps and perfect courses (and not to mention the time we spend criticizing those that don't) are likely limiting our involvement with other 'fun' map-based racing activities.
I'm interested, too, Patrick! I'm particularly interested in copying your 'Hood Hunt format -- when I can find some spare time to pull it together...
Brooke, the 'Hood Hunt concept is actually super easy to put together. It's getting the word out that's tricky (isn't it always?).
Before I started this thread, I was tipped off about this event from a 20-something, relative newbie orienteer. She and a small group of her friends come to our orienteering events, and they've made videos about it, and are generally passionate about getting the word out. Anyway, she sent out the Adventure Run email to her friends, and myself and Eric Bone were included on it.
During the discussion, the "mud runs" were brought up, and I think Eric made some good points about why mud runs are popular, and why that popularity may not transition to orienteering.
Regarding mud runs: They look tough but are actually pretty easy, so
people feel like heroes when they do one. Orienteering looks easy but is
actually tough, so people feel humiliated when they fail at it. So,
maybe orienteering attracts people who like to feel humiliated... hmm.
Also, mud runs appeal to people's desire to get dirty and let it all
hang out--a welcome departure from workaday life. Orienteering well
takes great discipline and is sort of like work; and if you do it right,
you don't get very dirty.
This isn't to say that there isn't a place for orienteering for Mud Run Joe or Adventure Run Jane. It's just that our advanced courses are too advanced (I'm so stupid), and that our beginner courses are too boring (oooh, compasses. how sexy).
In BAOCland at least, we have finally gotten rid of evening course reviews at our A-meets, which means we have made some progress on the entertainment front...
Yeah, but what have we replaced them with? Most of the time, it seems like we don't have any entertainment.
It's just that our advanced courses are too advanced (I'm so stupid), and that our beginner courses are too boring (oooh, compasses. how sexy)
I like to organize Score-O events for beginners. They are soooo much easier to get 'right.' When I organize traditional orienteering courses for beginners, some people inevitably find it too easy, while others will get hung up on a single checkpoint and get super frustrated. But for Score-O, the time and energy commitment from competitors is totally under control. Nobody ever 'fails' to complete the course, since tough checkpoints can be skipped without shame. In my experience, Score-O is much more likely to create a repeat customer.
More important, when creating a culture for young adults: the Score-O has huge social engineering advantages.
The mass start event and tight finish window gives more control over race atmosphere, and plenty of social interaction. People see other people on their course, maybe even do some head-to-head racing! Food, drinks, and award ceremonies work so much better! You create the shared social experience that people are looking for in their activities.
Found resonance in the note by Hammer. A few years ago, noticed that all the young folks were going to these "adventure" format events, but never to the "old people" orienteering events. With some involvement with the local organizers of the adventure races, volunteering, making maps to share with them, joint or synched announcements, reciprocal gifts such as free entries, etc etc, we started noticing some crossing-of-the-border with the teams in the adventure races showing up at the O events. The longer the O course, the more attractive it was for them, specially for those that traveled 2-3 hours to the venue. Basically, the O club has strengths in map making, using OCAD, vetting. The adv race clubs have strengths in attracting young folks and jazzing and sexxing up an event.
been huge growth in the last 10 years (mainly in the 21-35 demographic) in these types of races:
adventure races (usually has navigation)
city chase (some nav)
warrior dash (some off trail running)
city events/scavenger hunts as in this thread (some navigation)
....yet orienteering numbers have remained flat. There are lessons to be learned here. The efforts (time and $$) we take to make perfect maps and perfect courses (and not to mention the time we spend criticizing those that don't) are likely limiting our involvement with other 'fun' map-based racing activities.
Regarding mud runs: They look tough but are actually pretty easy, so
people feel like heroes when they do one. Orienteering looks easy but is
actually tough, so people feel humiliated when they fail at it.
I would add that it's totally possible to make Score-O events that are, in reality, beginner friendly, but still market them as extreme adventure without any apparent conflict. In fact, I've sent families with 10 year old kids out on the exact same Score-O course as world class adventure racing teams, and both came back totally satisfied. Pulling that off with a traditional orienteering course is a whole lot harder.
Orienteering looks easy but is actually tough, so people feel humiliated when they fail at it.
I completely agree with this, but the same could be said about golf, which is obviously quite popular.
Golf is wildly popular where I work, and initially I was impressed that so many people were involved in a difficult and time consuming sport. Then I actually saw how they played and realized that most participants aren't golfers. Mostly they just do it to be outside, drink beer, and socialize. Orienteering has the outside part, but I think we need to work on the latter two.
Whoa! It's an epidemic!
A friend just forwarded me this:
It's another free, one-hour score-o, hosted by a running store with tons of prizes.
The first batch of Adventure Runs I mentioned are organized by a national chain, Road Runner Sports. But this second one is just one store, Run26, in suburban Seattle.
On Thursday May 19th Run 26 along with Brooks and Powerbar will be hosting the first of five Adventure Runs! Registration starts at 5:30pm and is free! At 6pm we will put up a map of the area showing where you can find raffle tickets. Some are businesses, some are fun stops along the way. You then have 1 hr to run around and collect as many tickets as you can. At 7pm you drop all the tickets you collected into the raffle and ...we start raffling off over $2,000 in prizes while you hang out in the Team in Training beer garden, benefitting the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, and listen to music : ) Some of the prizes include a team entry into Ragnar Relay, two Seattle Rock ‘n Roll marathon entries, Brooks shoes and apparel, Powerbar products and much, much more! We will also have discounts on Brooks products as well as Wright Sock and Powerbar that night! This event is open to everyone, whether you’re a walker or a runner, you are guaranteed to have fun!
They don't have the $3500 in prizes that the RRS Adventure Run has, but $2000 is still a lot. And they have beer (it doesn't appear to be free) and music.
If Run26 can make this successful and sustainable, then it looks like we don't have to have a big national chain. Just find your local run & bike shop...
I was thinking the exact same thing. We sincerely wish these undertakings to be successful. If they are, this is a path for many into map sports.
Uh Oh. More crossover sports are on the rise. Orienteering is moving from the wilderness into the city. But some activities are moving the other way.
At our State event last weekend, we had a newcomer who was a good endurance athlete with limited nav experience. The choice we offered was short moderate or easy courses or long hard nav courses. He chose the latter and was out for over four hours, long after course closure time. What we should have offered was a long moderate course. Possibly it should have been the longest course on offer. I'm thinking of that runners race they offer at O-Ringen. Has anyone had success attracting crossover with that format?
BAOC semi-regularly attempts to offer such courses, calling them "Long Orange" for now. They get limited turnout, generally 6 or 7 runners at a event where most of our courses get ~20-25 people. They were developed to satisfy adventure racers, who come with intermediate skill levels, but freakish endurance.
The courses are only offered sporadically though, and the "special flavor" courses rarely get the same turnout as standard offerings. I'm currently working on a proposal to restructure and rebrand the standard course offerings at BAOC, and I'm suggesting we deemphasize our advanced offerings (we generally have 4 adv courses but only 1 intermediate!), and make the long intermediate course a standard offering, in an effort to legitimize and support intermediate level competition while people develop.
Orange courses are historically very difficult to design well in the Bay Area terrain. Our steep hills mean that the penalty for mistakes around here can be huge. Miss a checkpoint and find yourself 100 meters downhill? Very demoralizing. Even our regular orange courses are notorious for people being out long past what they expected. (More DNFs on orange than any other course)
BAOC also lists on the book something that is inexplicably called a "pink course." The most horribly conjured name I've encountered. No offense, Patrick, this thing doesn't have the air of irony cool that you do ;-). It's supposed to be very easy navigation and full length distance. But these courses are exceedingly rare and poorly promoted (I think I've seen just 1), and there is no way to say if it would be popular if it had marketing and support.
I have often wondered how would it go and what would it take if an additional score-o style class is offered at regular events, simply using all controls you have in forest for other regular courses. Like:
Just set a nice time limit for the setup you happen to end up. Would adventure racers and fit newcomers like it more than easy short/long regular course? Newcomers could skip tricky ones (no DQ/DNF) or ones they don't find and AR folks could use their endurance and strategy/tactics skills. And the time limit would make them come back soon enough. And orienteers could still run regular courses.
I'm meeting with the guy behind the RoadRunner Sports events when he's back in Seattle in a few weeks. We're going to talk about cross-promoting our events and brainstorming other mutually-beneficial ideas.
The funny thing is... he emailed me about this, not the other way around.
I attended another Adventure Run last night. For those keeping score at home, this was the first such event hosted by Run26, a one-location running store in a suburb of Seattle. (The one I attended two weeks ago was hosted by RoadRunner Sports, a national chain with an organizer who has been doing these for years).
You could tell that Run26 tried to copy the format of RRS. They "unveiled" a map, they had businesses handing out raffle tickets as checkpoints, the time limit was one hour, they had some sponsors on hand, plus music, and a beer garden.
You could also tell that Run26 had never hosted such an event before. The map was a laminated, hard-to-read, black-and-white Google map, measuring about 2 x 6 feet that they taped up in store window. Checkpoints were written on it with dry-erase markers. Most of the locations were spot on, but one was 180 meters off. Some of the businesses were flat-out hard to find (and the information provided wasn't good enough). For example, I wouldn't have expected one of them to have been on the 2nd floor of a building facing away from Main Street.
Their competition area is a lot smaller. I cleared the course in under 40 minutes, losing a lot of time searching around for stuff. The RRS event, I couldn't come close to clearing it in one hour. Also, the Run26 had three checkpoints where you had to do something. At one, I had to eat a gummy energy bite, at another I spun a wheel that determined how many tix I got, and at another, I had to throw sock balls into a basket.
Comparing the two events, I much preferred the RRS one. Better map, precise locations given, and no gimmicky checkpoints. The RRS event was just on the orienteering side of the fence that Vlad mentioned. The Run26 one is just on the other side of the fence. Also RRS was much better organized, as you'd expect.
Again, I was the only one to bring a paper map, and again, everyone who saw it commented on how ingenious I was. A lot of people me if Run26 provided paper maps. That's a common thread with both events: people see value in having a paper map.
The demographic was more varied at this one. Less of the 21-35 crowd, but more of the 13-20 crowd and the 35-45 crowd. Not too surprising, since the event was in the 'burbs.
Because I had to run off to a Cascade OC board meeting, I completely missed the raffle drawing and prizes, so I can't comment too much on that. They claimed to have had $4000 worth of stuff to give away. $1400 of that was a free entry to the Ragnar Relay. There were two Rock N Roll Marathon entries, two pairs of shoes, and a bunch of small gift certificates from the participating businesses. One of my friends attended the whole thing, and she said that the raffle thing took way too long.
Would I do it again? Yeah, probably. It was free, the weather was nice, and it was fun representing the orienteering community by wearing an O' jersey and bringing a paper map. The gimmicky things weren't too bad, as none of them took longer than 30 seconds.
One of my friends knows the owner of the place, so there's probably an opportunity for me to speak with him on behalf of the orienteering community. I'll probably wait until after I talk with the RRS guy.
Patrick, do you hand out COC brochures at these events? (Or make them available in a passive manner?)
Something like these DVOA cards would be good to keep in your pocket and give to anyone who seems remotely interested in "real" orienteering. They're glossy cardstock, just slightly larger than a typical business card. (I got this from someone at the 2010 Anza-Borrego meet -- can't remember who. Making one for RMOC has been on my to-do list since then...)
I dunno if I would push orienteering in anyone's face at all. I would just keep turning up with a map. And have a word with the organiser about how he describes the locations.
My thought about the DVOA card was, it seems to have a bit of hilly terrain with a lot of rock detail on it. If so, it might delight the cognoscenti, is that who the card is aimed at?
Gruver, I think it's just a random map snippet. I wouldn't read too much into it other than "this is an activity that uses maps".
I wasn't suggesting that Patrick push orienteering in anyone's face; I said "to anyone who seems interested". I thought that was one of the discussion points in this thread -- cross-marketing potential. I've been stopped too many times to count while out on a course (mainly at Denver's more urban parks) by people asking "what are you guys doing?" (Yes, I'm non-competitive enough that I always stop to answer them...) It would be nice to hand them a pocket-sized card with basic info so they could follow-up, learn more, and possibly show up to a future meet if they're truly interested.
I certainly haven't pushed orienteering in anyone's face. But showing up with a nice map and a non-pajama o-jersey is getting some attention, I guess.
I like the concept of a card, but I agree with Vlad that it has too many words, especially on the back. It's also a bit antiquated, too. Phone numbers and a mailing address! Where's Facebook & Twitter?
On the "treasure hunt" topic, this story
came up in the press just now, about a scavenger hunt for books at the New York public library where "players will be given tasks to find the many artifacts in the collection via their smartphones, and they'll prove that they found them by scanning a QR code".
Ok .. so who can write an app for Permanent O Courses using QR codes ? Seems to me that if POC's are equipped with QR codes and POC maps are available online or at the park then that could be a nice way increase the feedback/hook for POC's
This is basically a continuation of the discussion from the thread about the ESPNW article...
Hammer wrote: When I have more time I’ll write a little history of why GHO jumped on the adventure running name a long time ago
In our April board meeting for Cascade OC, we approved a new series of events that would fit the schedule in between our Ultimate Orienteering Series (March-June) and our Winter Orienteering Series (November-February).
Our new series was going to be comprised of Score-O's because they are easier in terms of volunteer staffing, and easier to get rookie course setters.
And then, literally, a few weeks later, we found out about these "Adventure Runs" in Seattle being hosted by the running companies. Which are basically score-o's.
In our May board meeting, we overwhelmingly approved to change the name of the series to the Adventure Running Series. For now, these are still rinky-dink local events, but at least we're going with the name, and we'll see where it goes in the future.
to me adventure running sounds like jumping and climbing obstacles and bogs, making silly surprise tasks like 501 darts round or blowing balloons until they pop on the way to finish. "Map racing" sounded better at first, but maybe we dont race maps. Now I think I prefer "map running", but as a native finn I have no clue how bad that sounds in native ears. and probably we dont run maps either, or do we?
A bit of history of the term 'adventure running'
I am pretty certain we can trace the origins of the term adventure running back to Orienteering Ontario (OO) in the early 1980's. OO made bumper stickers with the word orienteering in small text and Adventure Running in larger text. This was the idea of Henry Lam who was 'way before his time' with respect to marketing our sport. He believed very strongly that we needed a new name to market our product and even argued well before adventure racing existed that races should have team options and be longer. When OO lost their government funding 15 years or so ago they were given the time of a marketing consultant to help the sport move forward. The suggestion by the consultant was to market Adventure Running, Adventure XC Ski, Adventure Paddling and Adventure MTB. It included some very cool logos too but in the end the OO board canned Henry Lam and also the marketing plan - instead deciding to stick to the status quo. Interestingly all of those on the OO board at the time that voted against the new directions and also voted out our innovative exec. director have long since left the sport.
All of this happened BEFORE adventure racing was introduced to Ontario in the very late 90's.
Then in a few short years (1998-2002) adventure racing in Ontario did more for visibility and sponsorship and participation in navigation and adventure sports in Ontario than what orienteering had accomplished in the previous three decades. It was a game changer. More sponsors, TV coverage and participation was taking place on races that involved using maps and navigation. Orienteering was losing numbers yet AR was growing exponentially.
So it was at that time that GHO decided to pick up the pieces and follow on with Henry Lam's and the consultant's vision and go with the 'Adventure Running' theme. The plan was to develop a race format that incorporated the main elements of orienteering but linked it with trail running (between maps) and teamwork and with that the Salomon Dontgetlost.ca Adventure Running Series was born.
The first race attracted about 70 people and was a long but navigationally easy race. See here:
The feedback? "Yeah this is great but can you put more of the checkpoints in the forest and reduce the trail running?"
The result many years later (with participation now exceeding 1000 people for the series)? Well take a look at one of our recent Snowshoe Raid courses here:
It has all the elements of a long distance orienteering race.
The name is different. The product is different. The 'in forest' and navigational challenges and experiences are pretty similar.
I just had lunch with the guy behind the RoadRunner Sports events, and I think we're onto building something here. We talked initially about 'Hood Hunts, since that's how he knows me (through Facebook promotion), but we spent most of the hour talking about the mechanics of his events, orienteering events, other events (like CitySolve and SCVNGR) and how to get people involved.
He was pretty much open and excited to all of the ideas I had about getting the Cascade OC community plugged in with his events. Ideas such as staffing a tent in the event HQ, providing paper maps, providing orienteering race entries as prizes, and staffing an orienteering checkpoint on one of the orienteering maps that is within the scope of his event.
He sees us as a loyal group that can help build the word-of-mouth for the events. Basically, he gets free direct marketing to a smallish, dedicated group of people (us), and we get exposure to everyone who participates.
We talked a lot more, and I still have some unanswered questions, but we'll talk again next month. RoadRunner Sports is committed to making these regular events at all of their stores nationally. Currently, it's just 3 stores (Seattle, Tempe, San Diego), but they are already expanding to 12 more stores this year, most of which are in California.
But it basically comes down to this: we really can't change the nature of these events. They need to have the sponsorship stuff. But there is a niche for us to complement these events, and if we can do that well, I think we'll reap in the benefit of added exposure and publicity.
An update.... Cascade OC has approval from both our board, and from RoadRunner Sports to be at future RRS Adventure Runs in Seattle, the next one being July 7th.
Basically, we'll have a 3-pronged presence at the event:
1) We'll staff a table/tent/booth at event HQ and talk up orienteering to participants.
2) We'll offer free entries to our upcoming Choose Your Adventure Running Series (aka score-o's).
3) We'll staff an "orienteering checkpoint" in a local park, and unveil that location on a digital orienteering map to be unveiled on our Facebook page the day before the event.
I think this will be great exposure for us, since every month, we'll get personal interaction with hundreds of people (tent), we'll get people to our own orienteering events (free entries), we'll get people actually orienteering (checkpoint), and we'll get people to our online presence (Facebook).
In reciprocity, we'll be listing these events on our event calendar and promoting them through our current channels (email groups, Facebook, newsletters). Hopefully, we'll get a lot of people from our local orienteering community to the events, so show RRS that we're worth it.
Looks like a good partnership. Keep us posted on how it goes pink socks.
Ottawa has something similar in the works with the Mitsubishi City Chase in Ottawa on July 23rd. Unfortunately I won't be able to be there as I'll be in the Yukon racing at the Canadian Champs but I'm looking forward to hearing how it turns out. We'll be hosting a miny sprint at our checkpoint :)
Re: City Chase + Sprint-O
I remember that last year, GVOC held a mini sprint (1.1km) as part of the Vancouver City Chase. (We had an AP discussion
about it, too).
A couple of questions...
1) There were around 700 people that participated in the 2010 Vancouver City Chase. Did any of them come to subsequent GVOC events? In other words, did an orienteering club partnering with a big race series translate into anything fruitful besides exposure? Is GVOC hosting another mini sprint at this year's City Chase in August?
2) Did OOC seek out City Chase, or did City Chase seek out OOC because of GVOC? If there's successful partnership brewing between orienteering and the national series of City Chases, maybe that's something for Orienteering Canada or Orienteering USA to pursue on a national level?
For Cascade OC's partnership with RRS, we don't have the luxury of time during the event to host our own 6-10 minute sprint. The event is only 60 minutes long, and covers a wide area.
For July, the plan is to have just one orienteering checkpoint on a map and see how that goes. The current "Facebook only" checkpoint has been worth 3 raffle tickets, so if ours is also worth 3, then we could conceivably have 3 checkpoints on the map, each worth 1. That's my thought for the future, anyway.
That said, I just read where there may be "obstacles" at the next RRS, so I don't know where this new development will take us (Vlad, surely won't like it). If these obstacles become more time-consuming, then maybe we have a possibility to host a mini-sprint. It's an interesting conundrum; which is better? To have a few "real" orienteering checkpoints during an urban quasi-orienteering event, or to have a "real" orienteering mini-course during a series of challenges?
My biggest fear is this: we won't get many existing COC members to these events, therefore showing RRS that we're not worth the publicity. We can get 350 people to our weekend events in the middle of the winter, but we max out at around 30-40 people on weekday events. And that's for true orienteering... we'd get less for a not-quite-orienteering event.
To respond to 1)
Out of the 700 participants in the 2010 Vancouver City Chase, about 500 actually did the orienteering "chase point" (you don't have to visit every chase point in the race). Out of these 500, there were maybe 10 to 20 who where so excited that they held on to the map to check out or website etc. To my knowledge, no one out of these 500 actually have become GVOC members. That's not to say it was all for nothing. We did expose lots of people to orienteering and they had a good time. It was extra exposure, better than nothing.
@pi we've been offered the chance to provide something as a prize / draw prize. Did you guys get the same offer / provide anything? Free entry to your sprint camp or some other big event? If so how was that received?
Orienteering has been in Calgary's City Chase many times - FWOC members have coordinated that check point. It's not bad exposure, but we have only had a handful of new members come out of it. FWOC member Bill Jarvis has been the head organizer of the Calgary City Chase a few times, so if you want any info about the City Chase - generically or specific to orienteering - he's the guy to talk to.
We're about 5 hours away now from go time, and we made our "orienteering" checkpoint map
available to the masses on Facebook this morning.
We won't be providing paper maps at the event. We figure that most people will either print & bring a map, view it from Facebook from their smartphones, or take a photo of our printed copy that we'll have at our tent. (Most people already take photos of the giant map unveiled at 6pm).
Should be good running weather, and RRS is expecting 250-300 people at the event. I'll be counting to see how many people we have through our tent, and how many people through our checkpoint (looks kinda weird to only have one checkpoint on a map, doesn't it?).
We're also giving away a free entry to our upcoming four-race series, and we'll get about 30 seconds of quickie exposure when that gets raffled off. And we'll be mentioned in an email that will get sent out to all participants who pre-registered.
I'm getting really antsy to see how this all works out!
That map looks really sharp, Patrick.
Ok, last night's Adventure Run (now with more O!) went off without any major glitches. I wouldn't call it a smashing success, either. But I think the right term would be that it was a good building block.
By the numbers
I think this would have been higher had the weather been like it was for the two days prior. Last night was a little on the cool and windy side, threatening rain. For a free event like this, people are truly fair-weather.
~42 people through the orienteering checkpoint
I don't know how this compares with other checkpoints of a similar distance away. I doubt anyone other than Eric Bone cleared the course, so people either did the central checkpoints + west (us!), or they did central checkpoints + east. We also have a sprint orienteering map really close to the event HQ, so I think we'll use that map next, and should bump up numbers through our checkpoint.
~20 people from the orienteering community attended
4 of us volunteered, 10 more orienteering regulars, 1 visiting orienteer, 1 regular from urban orienteering, and 2 people who just moved from QOC land (and thought that this was a typical COC event!).
~30-40 people came to our tent.
I was surprised by how few people this was, because it wasn't like everyone else had our map printed out already. Some people stopped by and took photos of the map we had on hand, others tried to memorize the location. A few people seemed genuinely interested, but it was a bit rushed during the pre-race bustle. Most of the better interactions I had were with people after the event had started (people who finished early, but before the raffle started).
What worked well?
I think the concept worked well for us. The event has checkpoints, and we had a checkpoint. The event also has another web-unveiled checkpoint, so we did that, too. Having the tent on-site was good, even if we didn't have as many people visit it as we'd hoped. It was fun to have a tent alongside Brooks shoes, Deschutes Beer, and PowerBar.
Our tent had our club banner, a demo control flag, some small posters I made, a few copies of that night's orienteering map, and some show-and-tell (one urban and one wilderness course map from previous events, e-punch stick & punch box, manual punch). At our tent, we used the catchphrase: "Orienteering, the original adventure running" to try to tie in the RRS Adventure Run with our events, and to try to distance ourselves from the common perception of orienteering. I thought we had the right amount of volunteers, too, and most of the Cascade OC folks who came wore our distinctive red jerseys, so that was good, too.
Allowing people to come up and take snapshots of our map also worked well, as it gave people who missed everything online to catch up. We also gave away a 4-race pass as a raffle prize, which was won by some community college students.
What could have been better?
I think the biggest improvement would be in "user interface". While the event is great in getting particpants and sponsors involved, I think it's a bit clunky for participants to completely understand how to play the game. With a lot of first-timers at the event, many of them are confused. There are two checkpoint locations revealed on Facebook: they either don't know about the RRS "secret" Facebook checkpoint, or our about the "orienteering" checkpoint, or they confuse the two. Or they wonder why our map only shows 1 checkpoint (and not the other 11). And many people completely missed that some checkpoints were worth way more than others, as it's not obvious on the map.
The user interface is also ranges a bunch. Some people use smart-phones with camera and GPS. Some people use paper and pen, and carry no maps! In contrast, I think the user interface at a Street Scramble is pretty good. Everyone is given the same paper map, the checkpoints (and their point values) are precisely identified, and the rules and FAQ are printed on the back of the map.
Once the giant map is unveiled, it's a very crowded space. I think that's one reason why we didn't get as many people to our tent as we hoped. Even though we were close to the giant map, it was so densely packed with people jotting down notes or taking photos that people couldn't come to us to take a photo of our map. With all of the tents and all of the people, I don't know how the space we're currently using will work as the event continues to grow.
The only glitch that happened was that our checkpoint listing on the giant map was attributed to The 'Hood Hunt, instead of Cascade OC, which meant that The 'Hood Hunt got some extra Facebook likes overnight...
One thing that our orienteering map was missing was a small overview map of where Woodland Park is in relation to Road Runner Sports. That was a common question... so I'll list a few more.
1. Where are we (at Road Runner Sports) in relation to the Woodland Park?
2. [Pointing at map] Are these the tennis courts? Is this Highway 99? Etc.
2. Do you have a brochure? I didn't think people would want to carry around extra stuff, and I figured that our map acted as a brochure (upcoming schedule, website and Facebook links), so I focused on making small posters and telling people about our website instead. We do have some general orienteering brochures, but I think they are kinda lame, so I didn't bring them.
3. When & where do your events take place?
4. Do I have to join the club to participate? This makes me wonder how many people out there incorrectly assume that you have to be a member to participate, and then never come to an event.
So, overall, I would say that it was a successful presence for us, and a building block. As we continue to participate, people will see us as part of the routine. Oh, there's a 'secret' Facebook checkpoint, and an 'orienteering' checkpoint, and the rest are on the BIG map. Got it. Hey, that Cascade OC tent is always here, and they always give away a free season pass!
It's also a good building block for getting orienteers to attend. As we keep doing these once a month, and they show up on our calendar, more people will start coming.
Great work, Patrick! Hope you keep that relationship going.
Good job, and as always great report!
Orienteering: The Original Adventure Race
@ Vlad & Neil. Thanks! I think a few things we did last night endeared us with a continued relationship.
a) We were self-sufficient. We had our own volunteers and we brought own own stuff. In fact, the guy from Feetures socks didn't bring a table or a tent, and our tent was big enough for him to use half of it. (Cascade OC volunteers scored free socks as a result, woot!)
b) We brought some people. By my count, about 20 people came because of the orienteering club. That doesn't sound like much, but if there were 200-250 people there, that's roughly 10% of the crowd, which isn't insignificant.
Thanks Patrick. Following with interest.
Courtesy of Road Runner Sports, here's a photo album
from the event, including one of our tent in action
, including yours truly, in one of those rare instances when I'm not wearing pink socks.
A list of things from the August event, in no particular order.
110 people came through the orienteering checkpoint in August, up from 42 in July. The event also went from around 250 people up to 350, as the weather was better this month, and word-of-mouth may be picking up.
We are becoming a routine for the regular participants... people knew about our checkpoint this time, and less people were confused about our "orienteering" checkpoint (which we unveil on the Cascade OC Facebook page) and the "secret" checkpoint (ONLY unveiled on the RRS Facebook page).
It helped that about every 10 minutes during the check-in period (aka schmooze with vendors to get free stuff), they announced our presence and pointed people to our tent and that we had info regarding our specific checkpoint.
The area surrounding the map was even more packed this month than last, so it's really awkward. We may have outgrown the space. There might be a move to unveil the checkpoints via Facebook as well (through a linked Google Map). If this happens, it'll clear out the starting area somewhat. However, I'd say that a majority of the participants do so without a smart-phone, so I think they have to keep the giant map around. Basically, everything seemed to be an improvement this month, except for how the checkpoint locations are transferred to participants.
The staff we had at our checkpoint was really motivational, cheering folks as they came in and huffed it up that little hill. They also cheered to people looking around for the flag, so they could find it easier.
I had a lot more worthwhile conversations after the event with people who were genuinely interested in finding out more about orienteering. I happened to be standing next to a group of four 20-somethings who really wanted to win the 4-race pass to our orienteering events when it was raffled off. They didn't win, but I encouraged them to come, and mentioned that our race fees are dirt cheap. I think they'll come sometime, as will several others who I talked with.
I really need to bring little fliers with website and upcoming event info. I did a good job of putting this stuff on the orienteering map we make available, but there's nothing physical to hand out at the event to people that have no idea about the whole Facebook thing, and don't take a photo of the map we have at the event.
We'll use our closer map to the start for October and November (the last two for the year), since it'll be dark and the map in a more open and "safer" location. (Woodland Park isn't unsafe, but some people don't like going into the woods, even when it's light out.)
Some regular orienteers came this month, and some of them likely won't be back, as the atmosphere is too festive for them, and orienteering-wise, it isn't very challenging.
What's the ratio of the number of people who show up to the number of people who say Attending on the Facebook event page? We would like to be very ready.
We are going to hook into the San Carlos event a bit differently from what Cascade does. Hoping for a lower apparent threshold. So, no special map; the Street Scramble checkpoint will be just "one of the checkpoints" unveiled along the rest. But, there will be a checkpoint question posted beforehand on Facebook. If you don't know the question, and find the checkpoint, you get regular raffle tickets. If you do, you get the answer, and more tickets.
What's the ratio of the number of people who show up to the number of people who say Attending on the Facebook event page?
After looking up the last two events on Facebook, the answer is about 4:1. The last two events had 86 and 103 Facebook attendees, and roughly had 250 and 400 participants. However, if you talk to your RRS liaison (Andrew? someone else?), they should be able to give you a number from those who signup using the pre-registration link
But the ratio varies wildly depending on how people find out about the event. Street Scrambles in Seattle are like a 50:1 ratio, and the Adventure Run being hosted by the other running store has more people on Facebook than actually show, about a 1:3 ratio.
The Street Scramble checkpoint will be just "one of the checkpoints" unveiled along the rest.
In Seattle, there are only 12 slots on the map for checkpoints, and this month, all of those were filled by sponsoring businesses, so it was good that we were already a "non-map" checkpoint, otherwise, we may have been bumped.
But, there will be a checkpoint question posted beforehand on Facebook.
Whose Facebook? Get Lost!! ?
Also, will Get Lost!! (or Street Scramble) have a tent at event HQ? If so, do you plan on doing anything? Will you make your checkpoint question available to those who stop by your tent?
In Seattle, there are only 12 slots on the map for checkpoints, and this month, all of those were filled by sponsoring businesses
We're not at that stage yet in San Carlos. Besides, it's San Carlos. If all CPs are at sponsoring businesses, the run will be a few long industrial blocks to the main street, 0.5 mile along it, and back. San Carlos must be one of the least inspiring locations for RRS, although maybe Shrewsbury can rival it.
Whose Facebook? Get Lost!! ?
. We will have a tent and hand out these:
Making the CP question to those who stop by the tent is a good idea. I haven't thought about it.
I would recommend making the question available at the tent, because it only increases your exposure. Not everyone who attends is Facebook-savvy, and even if they are, they may have missed the "secret" Facebook-only reveals.
So far in Seattle, our tent probably the least trafficked tent at event HQ. We're not giving out free stuff (there's a long line for free compression socks), we don't have free samples of energy food & drinks, we don't have beer, we don't have shiny shoes for you to try on.
What gets people to our tent is that we have information that people want! Yeah, some of them have already seen that information, so they don't stop by. But where did they see it? On the Cascade OC Facebook page, so we already had an exposure to them.
If all CPs are at sponsoring businesses, the run will be a few long industrial blocks to the main street, 0.5 mile along it, and back.
At the other (aka not-RRS) Adventure Run in the Seattle Area, all of the checkpoints are in a town center that's about 1.5 miles long. It's a run up and back, and that's about it.
Maybe the San Carlos run could take you down to Redwood City?
Some numbers I just received from Road Runner Sports about the Adventure Run in Seattle:
6 straight months of continued growth
420 participants (up 130 from last month)
If you plug in the numbers to the orienteering checkpoint, we're seeing some growth, too.
July: 42 of 290 participants to our checkpoint (14%)
August: 110 of 420 participants to our checkpoint (26%)
I expect our percentage to really take off when we move our checkpoint to an orienteering map closer to the start/finish area. Our current location really only works for the runners who plan to run 4+ miles during the event.
Get Lost!! negotiated a checkpoint 1.0 miles from the start of tomorrow's Adventure Fun Run. I won't agree to anything much farther than 2 miles.
By the way, tomorrow's inaugural San Carlos event will almost certainly break 100, and will hopefully do a lot better than that—we'll find out shortly!
Our two checkpoints have been about 1.15 miles straight-line from the start, which is about 1.35 miles in reality. But running to Woodland Park really only makes sense if you do it in a loop that goes up to Phinney Ridge and circumnavigates Green Lake, which is about 4.3 miles total.
Once we use Green Lake Park, we can put a checkpoint as close as 200m away!
Good luck tomorrow, and let us know how it goes! (I'm sure you will)
What kind of response do you think we could get if we had a COC booth at large road races (i.e. Seattle Rock and Roll, Sound to Narrows, St. Patrick's Dash, Beat the Bridge, Seattle Marathon, etc.)? I made this suggestion for OUSA in the strategic planning thread here on AP for getting more people to orienteering. There are many booths at road race expos that advertise for other races. If you're only pulling a few from a race of 20,000 participants then there is still pretty good potential for growth. What are your thoughts? I see running, particularly trail running and cross-country as the next closest "main-stream" sports to orienteering.
Booths = $$$
For example, to get the cheapest booth possible at the Seattle Marathon Expo, it's $1075. For the Rock and Roll, it's $2000. I'm not sure the cost for the other runs.
Would we get 100-200 starts with that kind of one-time publicity to make it worthwhile? I dunno, but there's more risk. Admittedly, I don't participate in many of these large runs, so I don't know all of the details to give you a more informed answer.
The beauty with the RRS Adventure Run is that it's free for us to have a booth, free for us to have a checkpoint, free for us to cross-promote on Facebook. There's very little risk, and the potential for a healthy reward.
The last two years GHO spent the $675 for a booth at Canada's oldest road race and we feel it was totally worth the time and money. Our marketing and PR costs will exceed $15,000 this year.
How many hours is your booth open and how many visits do you get? What do you have on display and available to give out? What's the average impression like?
I'd hate for us to pony up the money to staff a booth, and then look kinda lame.
What does most of your marketing PR money go to? I'm guessing that's about $15,000 more than what most clubs spend...
How do you find retention of runners to orienteers? We've often found that runners get frustrated easily, because they have to slow down in order to navigate. We seem to have more success with the walkers/joggers who move closer to the pace they navigate at.
AliP: That response is very common amongst my runner friends. I think the orienteering community is aware of this problem. But the institutionalized cultural inertia is strong. Which is a shame, because with a little creativity, there are plenty of ways to provide a fun beginner experience.
Urban events like Patrick describes are a nice introduction that solves this.You get the adventure of picking routes, but the navigation between checkpoints is easy enough that people can run and race on their first day. Of course you could apply this same philosophy to wilderness events, if you wanted...
The officially recommended introduction to orienteering uses the exact reverse philosophy. Route choice is almost entirely removed from the equation, map reading is emphasized. This has real impact on which demographics stick around.
If you have a smaller number of runners that turn up than orienteers who can run, then matching them up and having the runner see what a G/R/Blue course feels like could get them hooked.
There were about 60 attendees at the inaugural San Carlos Thursday Adventure Fun Run, somewhat a disappointment for Andrew the organizer but as he said, perhaps the happiest 60 attendees in the future history of the event! Patrick's ratio of Facebook "Attending" signups to actual attendees turns out to be about 1:1 in the Bay Area. The attendees included Eric Bone and Terry Farrah; Eric cleaned out the course with about a minute to spare. The Street Scramble checkpoint was 1.0 miles from the store, and visited by 15 people. Most of them knew the question from either Facebook or talking to us at the tent before the start. I gave out 68 raffle tickets—hopefully people will start to form knowledge that Street Scramble = a lot of raffle tickets.
Our promotion brought 2 people to the event who otherwise didn't know about it (not counting Eric and Terry). Eric and Terry got quite a bit of loot, among which was a dinner for four (not including beers or tip) we enjoyed at the afterparty. We raffled off five Street Scramble T shirts and two free team entries for the Berkeley and Oakland Hills Street Scramble. At the next Thursday Adventure Run we will most likely do joint promotion with BAOC (but the plan is still for Get Lost!!/Street Scramble to be the checkpoint sponsor).
Patrick's ratio of Facebook "Attending" signups to actual attendees turns out to be about 1:1 in the Bay Area.
Yeah, Facebook signups are hard to go by. It seems like "attending" really means "maybe" and "maybe" really means "a polite way of saying no."
Did Andrew say how many people signed up through their signup?
Eric cleaned out the course with about a minute to spare.
He's done that at the ones he's attended in Seattle, too, and when I told Andrew that an orienteer cleared the course, I'm not sure that he believed me!
Visited by 15 people.... I gave out 68 raffle tickets.
Wow! That's over 4 per person! Our CascadeOC checkpoint is only worth 2 raffle tickets, or 4 if you're wearing the shirt. Is yours, 2 if you don't know, 4 if you do, and double with the shirt?
We will most likely do joint promotion with BAOC
BAOC's Facebook has 233 likes, which is a good start...
Eric and Terry got quite a bit of loot.
Last month at the *other* adventure run in Seattle, my friend and I attended the event with only about 50-60 others. We cleared the course, maximizing tickets. I had to leave to go to a board meeting, so I gave him all of my tickets. He won so many of the raffles that the other attendees were booing him when they kept pulling out his tickets!
Did Andrew say how many people signed up through their signup?
It was less than 100, and about 60 showed up. I don't have the exact numbers.
Wow! That's over 4 per person!
Just about everyone either wore the shirt, or knew the question. Some knew and wore, and got 8 tickets. The checkpoint (picked by Andrew) was a very good Street Scramble-style checkpoint. It was on a tank (as in, military fighting vehicle) in a small urban park, and you had to climb the tank to find out the answer.
BAOC's Facebook has 233 likes, which is a good start...
It's humbling. Pacific Coast Trail runs has 4,391 facebook members. Evergreen Trail runs has 1747.
Patrick: you inspired me to write about the BAOC facebook page. I have broken that out into a new thread.
Two steps forward, one step back...
July: 42 runners (of 290 registered)
August: 110 runners (of 420 registered)
September: 64 runners (of about the same-ish)
This month's checkpoint was in the same region of the same park, on a much easier to find feature, though it was slightly (100m) farther west than our previous checkpoints.
Why less people? I dunno. One theory is that more people headed east this month. From an efficiency standpoint, it makes more sense to go west, which includes our checkpoint, but I think some people were baited by the checkpoint furthest east, which was worth the most (and didn't require a huge hill to climb).
My guess is that there less people through the three checkpoints nearest us, too, as evidenced by the amount of cheering after the MC asked "Who went to the Cascade OC checkpoint?" and "Who went up the big hill to Phinney?"
Next month, we'll be (hopefully) in Green Lake Park, where RRS would actually be on the map. The location is more friendly to beginners (easier to get to) and those unfamiliar with Seattle geography (Wait, where is Woodland Park from here?). I'll try to finish up the field-checking for next month.
We're continuing to get good numbers through the tent (asking questions, taking pocket-size event calendars), and from the MC announcing our presence and talking about our other "similar, but more technical" races. We've only hosted one local event since the start of our RRS Adventure Run experiment, so we haven't had many chances to see results.
What I really like is that we're a part of the event *every* month, and the consistent exposure will eventually pay off. It'll be interesting to see what it's like in November at the last RRS event of 2012. It'll be dark, and probably wet. We'll see less people overall, but a good hardy crowd that may very well be interested in our winter season!
Two steps forward, one step back...
To say that yesterday's San Carlos event was disappointing would be a huge misunderstatement. About 30 people showed up at the start, 10 or so more arrived late, blaming traffic. The raffle was subdued. There was also no abundance of checkpoint sponsors; with the exception of us and another promoter, almost all were either Starbucks or random locations staffed by event volunteers.
On the bright side, Nancy Lindeman worked wonders in the joint BAOC/Get Lost!! promo tent, managing to engage perhaps half of the 30 on-time attendees. Our checkpoint didn't fare so well, however (sadly perhaps forming the association that Street Scramble = tricky checkpoint?) As previously agreed with Andrew, we left checkpoint choice to him... and finally got the word of where it is late Wednesday. By then it was too late to vet the location, so I brought Street View to the rescue and picked a describable location. I put the checkpoint question on our FB and Andrew promptly linked to it.
Most of the attendees arrived without having seen our FB and so didn't know the checkpoint description. The park itself, picked by Andrew and communicated without many specifics, is the size of about three city blocks. I ended up placing the checkpoint exactly where the red marker is if you google the park by its name. On the event map, however, Andrew had a specific street corner, which was a corner of the park a block away diagonally from where the checkpoint was. (The checkpoint letter on the map was at yet another location within the park.) This time RRS had waist-high A-frame checkpoint markers, but even with the markers and with Nancy shouting and waiving at the participants, many of the runners just came to the street corner that was revealed with the map and left without collecting raffle tickets. Thirteen did find it. We gave the rest their tickets at the finish (a prompt save by Andrew).
In all, almost all of the 40 or so attendees visited our checkpoint, but I'm not sure what the net promotion impact of that was. We raffled off two free Street Scramble entries (one winner didn't like the prize and was promptly traded with by a far more excited attendee), four free BAOC event entries (any fall event; for you and up to three friends), and five Street Scramble T shirts.
The first San Carlos event had between 60 and 70. Get Lost!!'s promo netted RRS one team each time, a different team both times. Why is the promo model that has so far been used at the other three RRS venues and with Fit Right, that is, Facebook and word of mouth, apparently not working in San Carlos?
My guesses are:
* It's San Carlos. The median age is 42.6. (Why did RRS open up a store there in the first place? beats me. Maybe it was the only space close to a freeway they could get.)
* There's traffic on weekdays. For a lot of people, a free event isn't so free. You have to weigh the cost against sacrificing three or four hours of potentially productive time (perhaps 1.5 on getting there, one on the event, and 0.5 on the raffle). My guess is that in the Bay Area, time is in general better utilized by people of even RRS-target-demographic age. Someone who makes $55/hour may think twice about taking one or two hours vacation.
* There was no hint that the event was going on anywhere other than the main RRS Thursday Adventure Fun Run registration page. No traffic on FB, no e-mails, no nothing. Finally a FB event gets created earlier this week, and an e-mail goes out. I think this is secondary to the first two issues, however.
* Ragnar Relay is going on this weekend and many people didn't want to run before running three legs over two days. Allegedly this Relay pulls in 500–600 teams, a great example of growth by carbon-copying a long-existing event and applying better marketing to it.
Overheard at the event?
"I am scared of the woods."
It would be sad to see the San Carlos event go, and it will unless the October Thursday Adventure gets at least 150 people (the commitment for San Carlos was initially for the 4 fall 2011 events). They may try again in the spring in Campbell, but I don't think the results will be drastically different. It really has to happen in SF or, better yet for the demographic, Oakland/Berkeley, and RRS has no stores there. Other parts of the Bay Area may also work, but not where the stores are.
I talked a bit to the participants at the afterparty and most of them haven't been running for long; this is exactly the kind of clientele RRS would draw in with their helpful full-service model. Most of them were upbeat and enthusiastic, willing to try new things, and great potential material for our promo and for BAOC's. I'm not sure exactly what to make out of this yet, but it looks like even the best retail invention in recent memory may hit its limits.
Sadly perhaps forming the association that Street Scramble = tricky checkpoint?
To some people in Seattle, I'm sure they think the same thing with our CascadeOC checkpoint. I've chatted with people at the tent who attempted to find the checkpoint in the previous month and gave up. For September, I put it on a much easier to find location: a giant rock wall facing an open lawn area, as opposed to previous months on trail-accessible contour features (large reentrant, hilltop) in the woods.
I am scared of the woods.
I've heard the same thing, and some people don't attempt our checkpoint at all.
Hopefully when we move the checkpoint to Green Lake Park in October, it'll help with these two issues.
Nancy Lindeman worked wonders in the joint BAOC/Get Lost!! promo tent
What do you have at your tent? How much show & tell? Even though the quantities weren't where you wanted them, maybe the quality of your presence was still good and to be learned from.
We raffled off two free Street Scramble entries, four free BAOC event entries (any fall event; for you and up to three friends).
Were the 4 BAOC entries done separately? Our current raffle prize is a four-pack of free entries, one each for our next four events. And those entries are encouraged to be used by teams/groups/friends/families. Your stipulation about "up to three friends"... is that up to four individual entries, or one entry of a team up to four people? If it's the former, I like where you're thinking.
At our monthly board meeting last night, we decided to give away up to 50 free entries to non-club members for any winter season race, to be given out at our tent. Since our upcoming winter season is perfectly nestled in the off-season for RRS Adventure Runs, we figure that by giving away 100 coupons total in October and November may get some folks out to our winter season, until we see them again in March.
It's San Carlos. The median age is 42.6.
I think the RRS store in Seattle is ideally situated. There's a large university nearby (part of it is on the RRS map), as well as a large population of active 20-somethings. Plus it's a block from Green Lake, which is *the* place for young people to go for a fun run. And lots of places for fun socials afterwards. Really, the only thing holding the Seattle events back is the crummy weather we have most of the year.
Does an RRS event have to be tethered to a retail location? Could they have the same event, but host it somewhere more desirable for the demographic?
What do you have at your tent? How much show & tell?
Nancy is the show! She had two boards full of maps (prominently featuring Presidio, GG Park, Stanford, and Berkeley), and she would chat up anyone within an ear's radius.
There were four separate BAOC free entry prizes. Each prize was for someone and up to three other friends to show up at one event and to do it separately or as a team. I think the entry is only redeemable at a single event, but at any of the fall events. BAOC came up with the final word on this, not me.
Does an RRS event have to be tethered to a retail location? Could they have the same event, but host it somewhere more desirable for the demographic?
I would think they haven't thought that way yet... maybe we should suggest it to Andrew? It's technically possible but that would not do much for the end goal of driving traffic to the retail stores. But then you would get a memorable event and at least some traffic, as opposed to none. But perhaps then it's not worth the investment.
The tag needs to be closed after "promo tent" in Patrick's message up three from this.
My bad guys... usually I double check those things....
Okie dokie, people. I found another event out there, with races in OR, CA, CO, and AZ.
This one is basically a Warrior Dash pentathlon, with the following 5 events:
1) Tire Flipping (kinda lame)
2) Keg Throwing (also lame)
3) Archery (a bit random)
4) Obstacle Course (a la Warrior Dash and the other popular mud runs)
and wait for it...
5) Adventure Run
So, what are they calling an "adventure run"?
You will have to overcome 5 miles of unmarked trails, rock scrambling, river crossings, heavy brush, elevations, and some of nature’s toughest obstacles.
Gee, what does that sound like?
Since O-USA is looking to increase starts, here's that 21-34 demographic that we are severely lacking. Seems like a consulting opportunity for either the federation or the local clubs. I think we, as a community, need to be embracing this 'adventure run' phenomenon.
[Edit: After watching a video, uh, one big thing is missing... a map. So it's not really like orienteering at all. False alarm.]
>I think we, as a community, need to be embracing this 'adventure run' phenomenon.
Well we certainly are in GHO. Check out the promo video Patrick Saile put together for our Adventure Running Kids Get Muddy Race Series.
Another month, another update.
What's new this month?
1) We had a new map, which is an ISSOM-map of Green Lake Park
, which is much closer to the event HQ. Even though the checkpoint was much closer than Woodland Park, we didn't match the attendance through our August checkpoint (75 vs. 110). The checkpoints were southeast-weighted this time, and the weather was typically Seattle-like, so that accounted for some of that. We did see an increase over last month (75 vs 65), with less overall attendees, so we'll take it.
2) We had 50 free entry coupons available to any of our 8 Winter Series events, for anyone who seemed interested in orienteering. I gave away about 30 of them (20 pre-race and 10 post-race), and I pretty much offered them to folks who seemed interested, as opposed to just letting them sit out on the table and available to everyone. Of the 4 months I've been staffing the tent, this month had by far
the most interested folks through the tent.
That said, I need to do a better job of publicizing that we have these free entries. Anyone who pre-planned and either printed off our map ahead of time, or who viewed our map on the Facebook app on their phone, didn't have the need to stop by our tent and received said coupons. The RRS event director (Andrew) mentioned that I should try Facebook Deals to help with these giveaways, so maybe I'll try that.
I guess we'll see if we get any coupons in our cash box through February...
3) We got some announcing love, which is nice. During the raffle when they give away our 4-pack, the MC announced our upcoming Winter Series, and how when the RRS events end (in November), our season is just starting. He also mentioned that our events are "a bit more technical". Also, during the post-race social, some of us from the club were there, and we got another shout-out. The more impressions the better...
4) Andrew told me that they are looking to have an RRS-endorsed race/events calendar, to be distributed via email to all registered Adventure Runners. Currently, the post-event email has deals to vendors and checkpoint sponsors, but coming up, he hopes to include a race calendar, too, and that we would be included in that. I think he told me that they are up to about 1500 people on the list in Seattle right now. More impressions...
5) The Seattle raffle purse was up to $6000 worth (retail) of stuff, the most of any RRS event from any RRS city. That's gotta be a good sign.
6) RRS is expanding to 12 cities for 2012, so Andrew will be the head RRS guy in charge of the nationwide series, and he'll hire 3 people to manage 4 cities each. Seattle will be in a quad with Denver, San Carlos, and I forget the other one, and he's looking to hire someone full-time to manage those 4 cities. If you're interested let me know and I can pass that along. CascadeOC is already plugged in to Seattle, BAOC is already plugged into San Carlos, so RMOC, you're up next!
7) Andrew also wants to introduce a paid version of the Adventure Run (Adventure Run Championship?) and he definitely wants to have one in Seattle in November 2012. He wants to have CascadeOC involved, but at this point, we don't know how this will work yet.
I wouldn't hold out much optimism for San Carlos... or any other Bay Area suburb. Given how things are going here, I'd tend to think the above expansion is way too premature. It seems that for most suburban RRS store locations the outcome can be more similar to San Carlos and not to the big cities.
I am also quite surprised with the lack of buzz here. There's nothing on the store's Facebook
about Thursday Adventure since 18 September. We are doing our job with plugs for the series at the recent Street Scramble and in our e-mail blasts, and I was interrogated by a couple of teams about Thursday Adventure at the Street Scramble, but as that old saying goes where I'm from, saving of the drowning is responsibility of the drowning. Andrew himself is the major part of the series' success, and if the responsibility is handed off to other people, there's no guarantee things will go well, or even similar to when they are managed by Andrew personally.
Maybe he didn't say San Carlos, after all. Could have been San Diego.
Nope, I found the job listing
and it very definitely says San Carlos. Someone has faith.
Do you ask people their names and introduce yourselves and show interest in them as people when they ask about orienteering at the stand?
@Neil: Generally, yes. I was a pretty successful student ambassador in college, so I've done a fair amount of this sort of interaction before.
That said, a lot of it depends on the situation. Just before the race is pretty chaotic, and most people that wander over are first-timers to the event, so they are generally pretty confused about what's going on. I first explain about the event as a whole, and how we are just a group that sponsors just one checkpoint (show them our map), and then I explain our checkpoint, and how we put on our own races during the year (show them our upcoming schedule), and that's usually about all I have time for.
The better impressions are with people who arrive early, when it's less crowded, less noisy, and there's more time to introduce yourself and talk about the sport. Also, the impressions are generally positive right after the event, too, since they just participated in the event and have a free beer in hand.
We had our last Adventure Run of the year last Thursday, so that's it until March. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend this month, but I set it up so that three of our club members were able to fill in seamlessly.
Because it was going to be dusk, and because the weather is usually lousy for November (it wasn't on game day, thankfully!), I set the checkpoint just 300m from the start, but in a fun location. The result was over 200 visitors to the checkpoint, by far our highest!
The day before, on Wednesday, I was able to attend a volunteer/sponsor end-of-year social, where I had the opportunity to meet many of the volunteers, other checkpoint sponsors, and one potential national sponsor for next year. All of the volunteers knew that I was the orienteering guy, and several of them knew that we had our own event on Saturday, so we must have been making an impression.
Three more things, looking forward:
1) We've developed a good enough relationship with RRS that they offered to help us out if we ever need any goodies to give away. As evidenced by the amount of running hats, running socks, and water bottles they had to give away at their volunteer social, they tend to accumulate a lot of these things. I'll see what we can get for our upcoming club champs (February) and IS&IC (April).
2) There will be a pay-to-enter event in Seattle, likely on 11/3/2012. It'll be similar to one of those City Chase-style events, and I'm hoping that we can steer it into the direction of the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure where there's at least some navigation involved. There will likely be similar races in San Diego and Tempe, as well.
3) Road Runner Sports is expanding the Adventure Runs to 12 cities in 2012, including Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, a couple near DC, and a couple more in California. I asked if he would be interested in having involvement with the local orienteering clubs, and his response was an immediate, "yes". So, if there are people reading this from RMOC, CAOC, GAOC, or QOC, and you'd like to be involved, just let me know, and I can get you contact info.
The San Carlos October event went better than the September event, but I was too busy to attend. Will post Nancy Lindeman's report when I get to it. Apparently San Carlos is not going to be cut for 2012; if Socks knows otherwise, I'd like to know. What are the couple more in California?
The two groups of four that I know:
Seattle / San Carlos / Tempe / Westminster
Naperville / Atlanta / Falls Church / Columbia
And I can't quite remember the last one (seems like all of those California names sounds the same to me...)
San Diego / Carlsbad / Laguna Hills? / ???
Sure, please pass on contact info for RRS so QOC can follow up.
Ditto, please send me info for Denver / RMOC.
@Greg, Brooke, and Jon-- I'm working on an email that outlines what we do up here (so you don't have to read through this whole thread), and you should be receiving that within the next day or so.
The last Thursday Adventure of November in San Carlos was not any better attended than the previous ones. I counted low 70s at the raffle. Twenty-four or so made it to Get Lost!!'s checkpoint. I didn't do a checkpoint question this time since the lead time from Andrew on the checkpoint had been getting shorter and shorter; this time I received the checkpoint location on Thursday morning.
Standing at the corner of Burton Park with tickets, I couldn't help but think that this particular adventure could only appeal to some very devoted people. San Carlos at 6 pm is choked with traffic, more so than most of the locations in the South Bay, certainly more than parts of SF and Oakland/Berkeley outside of the financial districts. It takes 2 to 3 minutes to cross El Camino Real legally, and you have to do it both ways to get to most checkpoints—you risk death if you do it illegally. The parts of the city that aren't too far from the RRS store are on a grid; to get up the hill and to nicer views is out of most people's reach within an hour time limit.
The only significant change that I noted compared to the first two Thursday Adventure runs was that there were more older people, and more people stopped by the BAOC tent, and those who did were genuinely interested.
Reviving this thread again...
Since CascadeOC hosted an A-Meet this spring, we skipped out on the first and second Adventure Runs with Road Runner Sports. But, we returned in May (last week), so I thought I'd report out again.
In Seattle, the event continues to grow: 560 RSVP's in May and $6000 worth of prizes. Although, the weather was terrible that day, so only about half of the people showed up. We had a lot of traffic through the tent (and since it was raining, people had another reason to be in the tent), and the MC made regular announcements about our tent and our bonus checkpoint. Next month, we're planning to have several sandwich boards with our checkpoint map and instructions printed on it, since there are now too many people to interact with personally inside the tent.
A couple of format changes:
1) They are closing down the street in front of the store, because the event has grown so much.
2) One of the checkpoints gave bonus tickets to people who did some pushups, so we're starting to enter that gray area of "flip the fishes".
3) To ease congestion around the giant map, they are now emailing out a Google Map with checkpoint locations on it to all pre-registrants. Anyone with a smart-phone now has an event-provided, GPS-enabled course map.
Yeah, less "real" orienteering, but from the organizers point of view, this gets people on the course longer (less time copying the map), and it reduces the time that people are lost (less time visiting sponsors). Also, I suppose that this opens up the event to cheating, since runners no longer have to be at the start to actually start accumulating tickets.
For now, CascadeOC is not one of the GPS-enabled locations.
4) No more free beer. It's $1.
Last fall, I mentioned that RRS was expanding the event to 13 stores
in 2012. Have any other clubs been involved? (other than BAOC/Get Lost!! in San Carlos)
For good or ill, Greg and I thought it over and decided QOC would have a hard time sustaining a commitment to participating in the events planned at the Columbia, MD and Vienna, VA locations so we're sitting at least this year out.
In San Carlos:
(-1) Between 115 and 120 people total in April, including all sponsors and staff (sixth event overall), over $5000 in prizes => very happy attendees! Largest event in San Carlos so far, but still well behind the rest of the West. The event starts at 6:30 now, which helps with the traffic, and will probably move to 7:00 pm start in June to help even more.
(0) All twelve sponsor locations filled up this time for the first time with actual stuff-donating businesses. Before, there had to be someone giving random tickets at a random park for at least one CP. So, the business community is turning around—all that's remaining is for people to actually come!
(1) No street closure, but plenty of cops monitoring compliance with San Carlos liquor regulations. I heard from Jaymie (our zone TA director) that permitting is somewhat convoluted, and the permit has to be renegotiated for the new start time.
(2) Yep, fishes here too, I think one of the sponsoring gyms is doing push-ups.
(3) Same here. I saw many people glued to their GPS. The first runners out to our CP were so glued, they didn't notice the CP. We also now have scorecards, I signed off on everyone's, next time I'll just bring an orienteering punch—ostensibly some people were doing double takes on raffle tickets at high-value locations.
(4) I think the first beer is still free, but they segregate the drinkers and the non-drinkers, and there were about 50 people in the drinking corral and 70 in the non-drinking.
(5) No BAOC at the last two events (or terraloco), just Get Lost!!
A few data points from the land of fish and mud...
Northern California events: 11 fishies in play. Four have held events so far. One looked reasonably good (138 teams
and 148 teams
at the doubleheader). One had to postpone. One doesn't have the results yet ("coming by the end of the week", which has passed). And one doesn't publish results, although according to Rex, who was there, there were about 6 teams at the first of the two events.
Northern California events: 8 known mudders. Finishers so far: 4719, 5277
(doubleheader), and 1396
(first-time event). Chip timing. It looks like $M weekends aren't that far out of reach for the mudders. It's true that there are real trail runs out here with over 1500 people in attendance, but they tend to be more in the cities/on the waterfront, not up in the hills. It wouldn't surprise me that the mudders' combined take for this year for N. Cal. alone would be more than what the local trail running operators made in their whole history.
Hint to anyone: If your organization wants to promote, I know where all the peoples is at.
If your organization wants to promote, I know where all the peoples is at.
I haven't been to a mudder... is there a venue for external-event publicity?
We just flyer windshields. Were asked once to go back afterwards and pick up the strewn leftovers, but it's worth it.
The San Carlos Thursday Adventure Run two days ago attracted
about 130 people, 74 of whom visited the Get Lost!! checkpoint. It's fun watching people navigate by cellphone! many were reading maps on the run, looking no different from "real orienteers" reading "real maps".
At the raffle, our first free Street Scramble entry elicited a lot of excitement while nobody seemed to want the second one—it had to be re-raffled about four times until it finally found a taker. As a data point, after we gave out 10 free entries in 2011 and 2012, only one was redeemed, so there's very little downside to us to provide these. It seems that the number of raffle prizes has decreased while the value per prize has gone up, and the number of attendees is up, too, so not everyone any longer leaves with something, which bodes well for how valuable checkpoint visits are perceived to be.
At this point in the game BAOC does not seem any longer interested in promoting at Thursday Adventure (or just about anywhere that's not a scout convention, for the record). There is currently no shortage of local businesses willing to sponsor checkpoints in San Carlos, to provide raffle prizes, or to exhibit at the run, so my guess is that even if BAOC wanted to participate, the answer well may be "sorry, we're full".
At this point in the game BAOC does not seem any longer interested in promoting at Thursday Adventure
Are you sure? "BAOC" is not a sentient being. It's a group of people, most of whom probably have no idea that the San Carlos event exists. I think that some are interested (but not enough to do a 2.5 hour round trip commute). Have you discussed with Nancy lately?
So the more important question: has the scene become active enough that you think it would be a reasonable use of time, or is it still stumbling along on life support, like you suggested in previous posts?
At this point there are more people at Thursday Adventure than at the most recent BAOC events, so life support or not may be a matter of perspective. I mention Thursday Adventure in each update I send to the Street Scramble email list, on which I see many club members; I would think the majority of the deciders in the club are aware of the event. Nancy and other club members were part of the event last year, but not this year.
It's been a while since I've chimed in on this, so here goes.
It started with 4 stores in 2011. It's at 13 stores in 2013. The goal for 2013 is to have runs at 26 stores nationwide. They currently have 30 locations, so the goal is to basically host an Adventure Run at every store. That means that we'll probably see another Adventure Run in the Seattle area next year (either Bellevue or Kent, or both).
Since the Adventure Run debuted in Seattle, the store has also created other targeted group runs, like a "girls night" run, so the company is getting into the event planning business.
We're still floating in the 300-500 range, by my estimation. Mostly young people (21-30), but we're starting to see a few more families. At the after-party last night, there were about 50 people there. Our checkpoint gets 150+ visitors now, since a) we're in a park close to the start, b) I know in advance where the other checkpoints are, so I can place mine accordingly, and c) people know the drill.
The big change from last year is that they will email pre-registrants a Google Map with precisely-located pins at 6:05pm. Not only is this a much easier way to navigate, but it also allows people to start at locations other than the event headquarters. The number of people at HQ at 6:05pm seems about half that of the finish at 7:05pm. This means that people are starting somewhere more convenient, and waiting to receive the email on their smartphones. Since our checkpoint is one of two revealed ahead of time, we're starting to see "campers". Basically, people starting at our checkpoint, and then leaving once they receive the email and know where else to go.
The Google Map means that people are spending less time being confused and more time running and visiting checkpoints. It also means that there are less people hanging out at the HQ to interact with vendors (including us).
It starts on Facebook a day or two before the event. We'll post our checkpoint map on our Facebook page and crosslink on the Road Runner Sports page. At some point, RRS will reveal their "secret" Facebook checkpoint, and we'll link a copy of the map to on that post. That way people who don't "like" the CascadeOC page can see both of the special checkpoint locations together in their Facebook feeds.
We set up a tent at the event HQ. Even though we use just one small table, we bring the tent because it makes us look more official with the other vendors (Asics, PowerBar, Garmin, Ragnar Relay, etc). On our table, I've got two blown-up (11x17) copies of our checkpoint map, two sets of instructions, one promo poster I've made, and a poster showing our upcoming events. I also have a stack of little 2x2 info sheets with a short blurb, web/Facebook info, and our upcoming schedule.
I used to have examples of other maps (Street Scramble, non-urban maps), as well as a thumb compass and e-punch. But that got complicated. When people visit our tent, they want to know where our checkpoint is, so it's useful to have two copies of the map and instructions on what to do. Some people read the instructions, some people listen to my quickie explanation. I've found that the poster showing our upcoming events is a much better conversation starter than the example maps were. (That also might be because our next two events sound more fun to this crowd: corn mazes and vampires).
The instructions basically say that if you visit our checkpoint, you'll get tickets. And there are three ways to get our map: 1) visit our Facebook the day before, 2) take a photo of the map at our tent, or 3) scan the QR code at our tent (which takes you straight to the map image on Facebook). Most tent visitors try to memorize the location, then the next most opt for the camera approach over QR. Virtually nobody brings a printed map. (This here should tell you something about a shift with young people. They don't use paper maps. It's all about smartphones and smartmaps. Listen up, people.)
Since we're getting crowded at our tent right before the start, I also bring two sandwich boards, each with an 11x17 copy of the map plus the instructions. I place them about 10 feet from the tent. These were a noticeable improvement over before, when we'd get slammed sometimes trying to explain things to a large crowd. With the sandwich boards, people who know the drill will take their photos/QR from there.
And then we staff the checkpoint itself. Usually it's me and my wife, but sometimes we have a third volunteer. Or, as I discovered in August, it's possible for one person to do everything, but I'd still recommend a crew of 2-3 people. Staffing the checkpoint is a LOT of fun. Everyone is having a good time, and they are really appreciative of all of the volunteers who make their free run possible.
Originally, the checkpoint just consisted of us, along with one orienteering marker. However, starting two months ago, I also brought along the poster showing our next event. The first two months, our checkpoint was atop a small hill, so a lot of people would be coming slowly up the hill and examine our sign. This month, we got some questions about our upcoming corn maze and vampire events. There's definitely an added benefit for more marketing stuff at the checkpoint, so I'll continue to think about how to further improve this.
Where there are just two volunteers, we have both at the checkpoint. If we have three, then I usually stay back at event HQ and answer questions and stuff. People start returning to the finish after about 30 minutes, and I've had some really productive conversations with people here, when it's less hectic. It's hard to be at both places at the same time. Once the raffle starts, we have two prizes in offering. Both are a "six-pack" of race entries. Before announcing our first prize, he'll ask who all went to our checkpoint (crowd cheers), and he'll say some nice things about how awesome we are for coming every month and hosting a checkpoint. We've always had the prizes, but they are finally starting to be won by people who want to come. I've received emails, phone calls, and tent visits from previous winners asking questions about the events in their prize pack.
After the raffle, I'll go to the after-party and hang out for a bit. Nothing official, but most people recognize me (in CascadeOC kit) as the orienteering guy. And that's our presence.
If you're reading this, it seems like we're a big success. Hundreds of people, prize packs winners, cheers from the crowd, happy people... but in terms of attendance to our club's events, we're not seeing much improvement. At national orienteering day, we did have 8 people come directly because of the Adventure Runs, but before that, I haven't been aware of many. (I'm the series director for our current Choose Your Adventure Series, and the participation numbers aren't much different than previous years).
In terms of attendance, we aren't seeing it yet, but anecdotally, it seems like we're getting more interest. More people are stopping by the tent or the checkpoint or the after-party and saying, "Oh I keep meaning to come to one of your events!" Compare that with a year ago when people were still trying to figure out who we were and what we do. It's essentially free marketing for the club to participate, and it's really fun to do, so I'd like to keep going. I think we've been successful in informing people about our product, but we haven't gotten many people to start buying yet. I'm sure that there are more effective ways to get people to start buying, but I'm not an expert at event marketing (and our club has yet to including marketing in our budget).
I mentioned earlier that I think we can improve our marketing impact at the checkpoint, but there are a few other things I think we can do better. One is to offer another prize at the after-party. The attendance here is much smaller, but generally the most enthusiastic adventure runners. By offering another prize here, we'd get another mention by the MC, but also get another prize to the most active people.
Along that same line, the local RRS store is plugged into the Meetup group for runners around Green Lake (the neighborhood in Seattle where the adventure run is). The Meetup group comes to the adventure runs, they get mentioned, they have their own separate raffle prize, they have t-shirts, etc. One of my friends is in the Meetup group, and he told me last night that there are 1700 people in the group (up from 600 a year ago), and that they have group runs every day of the week. Since both the Meetup group and CascadeOC have a shared connection the Adventure Runs, I'd like to pursue an orienteering-focused run with the Meetup group. It seems like it would be a good match.
Another thing I'd like to do, at some point, is to have two checkpoints in the park, each worth one ticket, instead of one checkpoint worth two. That way, we could introduce a tiny bit of route choice on our map. Other checkpoints require participants to do something (pushups, slip 'n' slides), so I don't think it'd be a stretch to have two checkpoints to find. Ideally, they'd only be 100-200 meters apart. I pitched this idea to Andrew last year, and at the time, he was hesitant, because he didn't want people wasting time trying to find our second checkpoint instead of visiting other checkpoint sponsors. That's a fair point, but I still think we can pull this off successfully.
We seem to have stabilized in the low to mid-200s attendance in San Carlos. BAOC is usually not present. Get Lost!! has been present at all events except one. Although people seem genuinely excited
, we only got two free team entries redeemed out of the 6 × 2 that we've handed out in 2012, and zero paid customers. The other way, a small number of our regulars or near-regulars have become Thursday Adventure regulars.
What to take out of it? still not sure. On the one hand, running around town looking for checkpoints now has a much higher profile
than last year, so the activity is no longer alien to many runners—we say Street Scramble "is just like Thursday Adventure", but goes on for up to 3 hours. On the other hand, zero paying customers; there perhaps is a different use to 3+ hours of my time that would yield a better ROI.
Pinksocks, does Cascade have a regular training session on a weekday night (even just running)? Some regular social training would seem to appeal.
Does Cascade have a regular training session on a weekday night?
Not really. The club puts on 20-22 local events (3 series) a year, with the big emphasis being the Winter/School League.
Aside from a few things at existing events, there really isn't any training put on by Cascade. There are other weekday things happening that aren't club-sanctioned. 4 of the 5 events that Sammamish OC puts on each year are weeknight socials. 90% of the 'Hood Hunts are weeknight socials.
And Run Bosco and Peteris are cooking up new things, too. So maybe those will develop into something cohesive. I don't know.
An update from Andrew Buswell, the founder of Adventure Runs:
Road Runner Sports is looking for a Bay Area Adventure Run coordinator (Grassroots Rep). It's a great opportunity for a young, enthusiastic runner! you'll get to meet other runners and product reps for many leading brands, and you'll really get to know your neighborhood businesses. Sports marketing background is preferred. The advertised pay is up to $16/hour, and the job
comes with benefits.
My feeling is that coordinating the two stores' monthly Adventure Runs adds up to quite a bit less than full time, but my other feeling is that there is other stuff to do as a Grassroots Rep, since RRS's events are not limited to Adventure Runs.
After expanding their urban orienteering events to 25 locations nationwide, it looks like Road Runner Sports is contracting the amount of runs big time, down to just 8 locations in 2017.
The 9 remaining are in southern CA (4, down from 6), Phoenix (2), DC suburbs (1, down from 2), Seattle suburbs (1, down from 2), and Portland, OR (1).
They eliminated all of them in Georgia (3), northern CA (4), Denver (2), Chicago (2), and Philly (1).
This discussion thread is closed.