"Malignity therefore may dart her shafts, but no earthly power can deprive me of the consolation of knowing that I have not … been guilty of willful error, however numerous they may have been from other causes." George Washington
By cataloging our mistakes we hope to avoid duplicating them. We also hope that other event organizers will learn from our errors and that participants will understand the kind of mistakes that happen despite organizers' best efforts.
2016 Canmore (Canadian Champs)
We mostly did quite well at the Canadian Champs, but there are still lessons to be learned. Although there were extenuating circumstances (having to re-plan the Long distance race in just two days), we did make some howlers and some smaller mistakes...
- Finish crew had responsibility for the last control and finish punch, while course planning crew had responsibility for placing the stand. But nobody had responsibility for placing the flags ;-( So we didn't put flags on the final control and finish until the 10am start time. Pre-runners were confused and frustrated beyond belief. It didn't help that we moved the finish location too and there were no streamers when the pre-runners arrived. Cost one W65+ a first place result (though she was still top placed Canadian and got a medal).
- Last minute changes weren't well communicated to participants. Forgot to tell people about water on the course - it was mostly on a power line, marked with a cup symbol (but we didn't tell anyone). Also didn't tell people about maps scales (1:15,000 for M35 rather than 1:10,000 previously. Nor the course statistics (length & climb).
- Since the previous day's race was a Middle in the same area using the same controls we decided to not give back the Middle maps until after the Long. However we still posted the maps to the website that evening.
- Media - the local papers each sent a reporter & photographer. But they came at the start of the event when most people we in the forest and the elite hadn't even started yet. And they left before much had happened. So they didn't see top athletes in action, and the reports and photos in the paper propagated the sense of "orienteering is hiking with map & compass". Bummer.
- Kids didn't totally enjoy the mass starts. This is because there is too much "just running". To make mass starts more fun for kids we have to create route choice options to give them a reason to study the map. As it turned out, also having a really hard control where the leaders make a mistake and everyone follows is a good (if slightly scary) way to have kids (and their parents) appreciate the value of good map reading and navigation ;-)
- Three competitive races in a single day is a bit too much for most people.
- Scenery violation - we had the Farsta arena right under a power line. We should have moved it even just 50m into one of the wonderful clearings.
- Some people felt the grey-on-black look of the website was too difficult to read. More contrast would certainly help.
- More issues with course/category assignments. We changed them - quite late again this year. And in the process lost track of the categories people had signed up for. Despite over 35 years in the computer industry AZ did not have a backup! Should have at least printed a copy of the Zone4 registration data every now and then ;-( Dumb.
2011 Canmore (Alberta Champs)
- Not really sure what went wrong, but despite having a signed contract the Banff Centre withdrew permission for our highlight Sprint event at the last minute. We must have done something wrong - but I'm not sure what.
- Awards ceremonies were painfully long. We didn't think enough about how to do them quickly. This especially impacted the enjoyment of the evening talk about the World Champs - since the evening dragged on way too long.
- Didn't emphasize enough to competitors that each person has a "maximum time" to complete the course - "course closing" is not the maximum time, it is far too late ;-(
- Assumed that Rafter Six would have plenty of washrooms. Wrong!
- First use of myO for providing event information. Was a bit of trouble for some people that use older browsers (especially old IE).
- Final event information was released too late - only a couple of days before the event.
- We changed the course/category assignments quite late (at least after many people had registered). We need to provide clear information about this well in advance so people can register on the correct course.
2010 Whistler (Western Canadian Champs & WRE)
- Used a wheel-barrow to transport equipment along mountain-bike trails to the start/finish locations. Great idea! But we didn't have a spare tire or a pump, so when we got a flat tire we were stuck!
- The toilet delivery was made to the wrong location, so no biffies at the advertised spot. Somebody did eventually find them, to the relief of many!
- On the other hand, we finally solved our relay timing problem by a) using unforked relay with three legs, and b) having the relay software developer actually running the software for us!
2009 Ski Orienteering (Canmore Nordic Center)
Not an official Barebones event, but the mistakes we made were so awful it was almost funny...
- There were four different model event courses with various length & difficulty. AZ put all these maps in a pile and gave them to the start chief with no explanation. The start chief thought all maps were the same and gave out all the beginner maps to the elite skiers - who were astonished at how boring the courses were. The error was not discovered until the 8-year-olds started off on their 8km courses ;-)
- The batteries have somehow run out on the two most critical of our new SI units - the Start & Finish. So we were not able to give times in the model event as we didn't realize this problem until the first finishers started arriving to a silent SI unit. [Note: this, we now know, was due to SportIdent's infamous "Stadium Control" bug, which is since fixed]
- To fix the above problem we quickly programmed to spare units as Start & Finish controls. But the time on all the other units had been set *before* daylight savings took effect, and the time on the new start/finish were *after* daylight savings took effect. We had to manually adjust the start and finish times for all competitors. The lesson that we are slowly learning is to set the SI Time Master control before every event, and then use it to set the time on all SI units (or simply set the time on every SI unit using the computer before every major event).
2008 Rocky Mountain YMCA (Canmore)
- We received a brand new shipment of SI units immediately before the race - all programmed to a European time zone. In his excitement AZ inadvertently programmed *only* 90% of the other, older SI units to the same European time zone. Almost all of the splits don't work. Richard spends hours painstakingly adjusting every punch time so that almost everyone's splits times are correct in the results.
- Again the relay was a problem: the format is perhaps too complex and requires too much explanation and causes too much confusion; another route choice was hidden by poor map layout; and we still don't have the relay software working. Look for a simpler format next year!
- Everyone knows that all text on a map must be oriented to North (ie: to the top of the page). But we forgot that when we did our fancy map layouts that had the map name written up the side of the maps - and this caused some problems for competitors when they had folded their maps so that now east looked like north. We had been very proud of our fancy layouts, but now we're a bit horrified that we overlooked that basic rule. We won't do the sideways writing again.
2007 Rocky Mountain YMCA (Canmore)
- Removed all course 1 & 2 controls after kids were done but forgetting that some of them were still used on courses 4 & 5.
- Control 118 in the wrong spot by 30m in the Barrier Lake event. Better vetting was planned, but illness and other issues forced us to use a weaker plan.
- Finish of the chase at Canmore Nordic centre crossed a busy bike / roller-ski track. Riskier than we'd like - but high visibility for the sport :-)
- Poor layout of relay maps hid one viable route choice to the infamous "spur" control.
- No split times for the relay - we still haven't figured out how the relay timing software works.
- Still no reliable solution to the printer problems.
2006 Smoky Lake (National Team Selection races)
- Damn printers! Had endless problems getting the maps printed due to poorly serviced printers and by inconsistent colors on my Epson laser. Could have saved tons of time with a reliable solution to the printing problem.
- Seriously over-estimated speed of women's elite and so course winning times tended to be too long
- Sprint course was too long - need to keep winning times under 15 minutes.
2005 Red Deer (World Masters Champs pre-event)
- Pretty good event - not much went wrong
2004 Whitehorse (Canadian Champs pre-event)
- Laser jet fuser was not properly calibrated, so ink rubbed off the maps a bit (which meant we had to stay up late stuffing map bags when we wanted to be sleeping)
- One control circle could have been "broken" to better show the contour shape
- We should have had two punches at the last control (especially in the Chase and O Cross)
- Got the scale wrong on the Classic map (so courses were 50% longer than promised)
- Finish circle for the night event was in the wrong place because the competitors parked their cars the the correct location before it had been set up.
- Set a course that went dangerously close to seriously “under mapped” sections of the terrain.
2002 Circle Square Ranch
- No times for the relay - we couldn't figure out the software (we had to
ask people what order they finished)
2001 Cranbrook, BC
- Didn't put a flag on the finish control until we noticed early finishers running right past it.
- We claimed a 150m run to the finish but it was in fact closer to 1km
- We didn't have enough donuts for everyone at Control 6 on the Enduro
2000 Cypress Hills
First use of ePunching….
- Forgot to put flags on some stands
- Forgot to put controls on some stands
- Had the "download" station programmed as "clear" (and wiped out three people's results before fixing it)
First Enduro event…
- some iffy control sites
- one indisputably wrongly-placed control
- pretty crap topo map
- Organizers got hypothermic in sudden thunderstorm
1999 Skookumchuk, BC
- We swapped the location of two controls.
- The banquet lady was a little grumpy.
1998 Circle Square Ranch
- We could have left the controls out until EVERYONE had finished (right Sheena?)
- We should have asked ALL the landowners for permission to use their land.
- Can’t remember that long ago
- Can’t remember that long ago