12th World Rogaining Championships 2014

 
 

Thank you to the number of participants and volunteers that have provided responses to the 12WRC2014 Questionnaire distributed by Jan Tojnar. This page shares some of those critiques and provides insights behind some of the organizational decisions.


Thank you for your time and responses - and for supporting Rogaining.


Feedback

General Comments

“We enjoyed the tough racing in beautiful SD, thanks for the organising effort!”.


“I thoroughly enjoyed the time in the Black Hills of South Dakota despite all the exhausting fallen timber.  Plus the countryside apart from the Rogaine.  It is also always fun to catch up with Rogainers whom we have met from all over the world.  Congratulations on all the great organisation – great team of volunteers who were all so helpful throughout the weekend.”

“Again, nice event with enough toughness to slow everyone down (including us - should have flown in earlier to get used to the altitude, climbed better on Sunday than Saturday!”


“It was a really fun Rogaine although hard work. We enjoyed it and our time in the area”.


“Thanks very much for all the work by you and your team to organise the WRC.  The area was very scenic and the map was good and easy to read (at night with old eyesight).  The course appeared to provide a suitable challenge in both planning and carrying out the plan, for all age classes”.

Like Comments

“I liked the event centre arrangements, the terrain, and the weather”.


“Well organised map distribution and general organisation.

Clear instructions and information. Water available at hash. Team lists. General fun vibe and happiness throughout the lead up and event.

Reasonable control placement. Did not encourage runners over navigation and teamwork. Good fieldwork with enough roof for puzzle solving”.


“Excellent organisation (see below for comment on results and map), Very friendly and helpful volunteers. Well appointment event venue - Plenty of space and tables, ample toilets and car parking.

Excellent map distribution and well organised electronic device bagging, particularly given its last minute introduction (?)

Well set out course.(A key requirement of any event but that doesn't always occur) No obvious route choices. (Interesting looking at videos posted after the event to see competitors scattering quickly.)

Control flags well placed for visibility. The reflective tubes made night nav so much more pleasurable”.


“Tough terrain. Beautiful area. Lots of options for routes”.


“The model course was excellent in preparation for the event.

All the staff and participants were very friendly and excellent company.

I loved the course and scenery.

It was very easy to get around.

The access to the stoves at the event area was much appreciated”.


“Terrain varied and challenging.  More field notes might have revealed in advance that deadfall was more prevalent in the southern half of the map.  Big and very competent staff.  Never saw or heard of any queuing problems with map issue, food service, etc.”.


Map Comments

“It was shocking. It is soooo easy to plot tracks on the map these days. They make such a big difference to navigation and travel speed that fairness demands they should be on. I’m not talking about going to orienteering standards here, just checking the ones that are on the topo map, adding those that are visible on the aerial imagery, and then any others discovered during the setting process”.


“Good map. Good quality and accurate. Enough major tracks, etc. Contours reliable (or felt so). Good paper”.


“The map was totally fine.  I know that a lot of people have bitched about it, but it was no problem at all for us.  The basemap is 95% of what people should be caring about, anyway; and it was fine”.


There were no consensus about the mapped roads. Some significant roads were not mapped at all and some hardly visible roads were mapped as significant”.


I thought the map was poor.  Lots of trails and roads on the course that weren't on the map”.


Trail network should been mapped.  Hiring someone for a weekend or two to ride every possible track with an ATV & GPS would have been a major game changer.  Our team elected to start in the south and wound up with an unexpectedly slow per/km pace.  Controls were accurately located, we lost maybe 20 minutes total to nav errors but it took us hella long time between some controls.  No way to depict the really slow woods, but when you get to a control & find there was an unmapped road nearby - that's just a huge element of unfairness & luck”.


“I gather that there has been some criticism of the inconsistency of the mapping of tracks. However I have also heard that some tracks were deliberately removed to prevent the event becoming just a track running exercise. If the latter is true I can understand the situation and support the action. Here in New Zealand we are used to inaccuracies in the maps and learn to cope. Likewise at WRC14. After a while we worked out where we might expect to find tracks and to guess at their probable direction (There's got to be some pluses for being a team of engineers ! ) Whilst I recognise this introduces some element of chance so does the normal lack of mapping of vegetation density which would be a huge and expensive task to undertake over such a wide area. In general any misplacement of controls I believe generally far outweighs difficulties created by mapping. (Noting some of the commentary on AttackPoint I would not support increased entry fees to support any greater level of mapping. The survey that appears on AttackPoint is very US centric - the rest of the world is not as wealthy!)”


“I liked that not all tracks were mapped as I prefer to "go bush"

I did not catch on that the red dots were patrolled roads, this was different to what I'm used to (a grey highlight). This ended up costing us as a mistake during the event. Our fault entirely (it didn't help that I had cut the legend off the map), but an example of different conventions used - would be nice to make these more consistent”.


Scoring Comments

“Seemed to work, although an obvious major bummer the dates or block locations or something was inconsistent with the software (hence result issues)”.


“Organizers were not familiar and were not prepared to operate with SI system. In case of complete data failure personally I would make maximum effort to recover the data in shortest terms but it was not the case in 12th WRC. It took unacceptable long time to collect the reader stations from the forest and to announce the results”. 


“It was very confusing for many teams that there were checkpoints at water stations and information about punching them were not given before the race. Personnel monitoring water stations were not informed and many of them did not know themselves if SI station has to be punched or not. The same is relevant to HH check-in and check-out”.


“Usually there is a rule that a checkpoint must be visited and punched within a definite time frame by a whole team. It was not established and announced in pre-race info of 12th WRC”.  


“Pleased to see multiple SI boxes at the close in controls to the Hash House. Obviously the results failure at the end was a disappointment for competitors - but I can only guess the level of disappointment experienced by the organisers who had put in such a huge effort to that point”.


“Checkpoints and/or reflectors at night need to be visible from all directions. Too often it would be behind a large tree and not visible until the competitor was less than 3 m from the control. If it is hung from a tree, then put it further out on a branch which means it is not obscured by the tree when approaching from selected directions. A wise orienteer once said to me, “Make the 'difficulty' getting to the control, not at the control".”


Food Service, Showers, Toilets, and Water on the Course Comments

“Showers were not clearly indicated and were too far away and too few for the crowd of people”.


“We only came into the Hash House at the Finish and had lodgings relatively nearby so can only comment on the post race food which I found to be excellent. Good choices (I particularly like moist foods at that point) for main and sweet courses. Ditto the drinks”.

 

“I'm normally fairly tolerant of tastes in water but for some reason found the water on the course to be not quite as palatable as it might have been”.  


“Better accommodations than I expected.  Our team was very pleased with everything”.

 

“Good food; grateful for the showers; everything was clean and close (but not too close)”.


“Food service was best I've seen at 7 WRCs”.


Pre-Event, Transportation, and Post Event Comments

“This was all adequate, and I didn't experience any problems with this.  All in all, I thought that it was a very well-run event, and I hope that the organizers' don't take some competitors' criticisms for more than they're worth”.


“There were no pre-event info displayed at event center. Neither previously published info displayed at a notice board, nor bulletin/booklet in the team bag, no team list displayed anywhere with member names.

There was no indication on site that this was World Championships event going on - no national flags, no posters greeting the participants and no closure ceremony”.


“The information you provided was very helpful in our preparation.  The blog was quite useful in doing this, as was the website”.


“This information was very good. It made competitors feel welcome, and likely to come back. Well done”!


“Pre-event was great. Volunteers very helpful and encouraging.  The post-race results fiasco was unfortunate, but did not really detract from my enjoyment of the event, even though we were on the podium. Mostly, I felt bad for Rick”.


Organizer Insights

General Comments

First, thank you for your comments. Feedback is critical to organizing a solid event.


The pre-race bulletins were intended to set expectations. Both the Course Setter Notes and the WRC Competitor Bulletin provided insights into the mapping detail to be provided, as shared below. 


There are more roads and trails than identified. Roads and tracks on the map include the Black Hills National Forest motorized roads and trails. Tracks may continue beyond what is mapped and may or may not be maintained. The Forest is actively managed so contractors may temporarily improve some tracks not currently mapped. Road beds and rail trail embankments may be quite elevated, especially on spurs. The bisecting, paved road and the bike rail trail have overpasses and underpasses which are not marked.


World’s map is a Rogaining map - not an orienteering map. The map was intended to be fast and consistent. The legend and map were optimized to be distinguishable 24x7. Vegetation and tracks were classified and minimized to promote readability. 


The roads and tracks presented are the ones on which motorized travel by the general public is allowed. Actually, those were coupled with a few extras as catch features in the northwest and in the south. Yes, there are numerous other tracks in varying condition to be found. It was not our intent or desire to present each and every two-track, skid road, or animal trail that crossed the national forest. We wanted the topography to guide your travels.


We tried to provide a truly functional Event Center - for the participants, volunteers, and race management alike. We wanted a coordinated footprint, space for event functions and participant use, orderly parking, and an aesthetic finish.


No accommodations were specified, planned, or desired for participant recreational vehicles. The footprint did not support RVs environmentally and safety could also be an issue with minimal entry and egress points. The footprint for 12WRC2014 was environmentally pleasing.


Some items are nice to have, but do not provide the bang for the buck. Showers are a balance of dollars and sense. Portable onsite units priced at $1500 per day plus $3 per mile from and to origin - and that pricing does not include power, potable water, gray water collection or disposal, or labor. Our arrangement with Carsten Cottages one mile to the south was the most cost-beneficial solution we could offer and their support was greatly appreciated.


Regarding Event Center communications, volunteers manned the Info Booth near Registration and we had a makeshift bulletin board in the smaller event tent. It was a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood set on end with a few postings stapled. Thank you for the comments on other elements to include and different ways to present data for these postings.


There seemed to be some confusion on punches at the water stations and Event Center. IRF Rule B21 directs team members to punch in and punch out of administration areas. The intent was for you to check-in and check-out of the Event Center. The water stations had controls with zero score value. These controls were provided so the participant could better track their true travel lines and rates.


IRF Rule B9 states travel within unaided verbal contact of your fellow team members. 12WRC2014 deferred to further identify a time limit under Rule B17.(b). My general philosophy is less rules are better, as we expect people to practice due respect and adhere to the IRF Rules.


With 12WRC2014, we had to find ways to account for new practices like bagging electronics. Map Distribution in 11 minutes and 30 seconds – exceeding all expectations! Kudos to an excellent team of volunteers!


Recovery Comments

Bud Laird, Chairman of the OUSA Rogaining Committee, is preparing a report to the IRF about the data corruption issue. My input to that report included pages outlining the configuration, testing, recovery process, and subsequent analysis.


SPORTident SI-Config was used to program controls. The configuration required checkboxes marked for Extended protocol and Card6 with 192 punches. Also, we did NOT want Auto send checked to be compatible with RogainManager (ROM) operation. These configurations are documented and valid. Firmware releases were sufficient for the range of SI-Cards.


Rick Emerson and Tarmo Klaar set up the ROM master data. The master data was updated for registration changes. We later learned there were numerous day-of-event undocumented changes.


We tested the configuration with the same hardware used for 12WRC2014 - laying out the course on the floor and punching each and every control with an SI-Card 10 in a logical sequence as if competing.

Multiple passes and runs were conducted, though stress testing was not practiced. We were not able to volume test the scoring system as our shipment of 325 rental SI-Cards from Germany was delayed.


The WRC recovery required going back to the last recourse – the controls. Data is written to at least five places: the SI-Card, the BSM7 USB download station, the tablet client, the ROM server, and the control. BSM7 USB stations record data that is received from the SI-Cards. The BSM7 data was corrupt across all units so the subsequent copies on the tablet and up to the server were also not valid.


Scoring was recovered and validated in less than two weeks!

•BHOC retrieved all controls starting Wednesday through Monday (Aug 20-25),

•Rick spent days downloading controls, tablets, and BSM7 USB while documenting the process,

•Rick shared the data with Valerie Meyer, Tarmo Klaar, and Guntars Mankus starting on Friday and finalized by Tuesday (the 26th),

•The WRC Recovery Team worked to compile and reconcile master data basically overnight – and

•The IRF approved the results late Wednesday (the 27th).


From a data flow approach, it appears the scoring system failed at the download station interface. The USB download stations had corrupted data, the Window tablets reflected the same, and the ROM competition data was corrupt. 


The cause of corruption is likely an application or environmental issue. The network worked – corrupt data downloaded, the garbage data was sent upstream on the tablet and on to the ROM server. 


The SIReadout.exe application was used to download the SI-Card data. There are attackpoint.org blog entries by Valerie Meyer and Edward Despard dated 28 August and 29 August respectively. Those writings indicate there may have been a programmatic issue with reading SI-Cards and populating the SQL database.


Recovery was successful, but did take time. Future operating plans need to include processes and procedures to account for this situation, if it were to happen again. While the timeline and actions may not change in the future, at least expectations would be set appropriately.


12WRC2014 was a first in many ways. The first time three WRC events have run in consecutive years. The first time for bagging electronics as a practice. Organizers administered new rules in short order. Map Distribution in 11 minutes and 30 seconds – exceeding all expectations! Recovering scores from the controls – definitely a first for Rick.


To our competitors, companions, and volunteers, thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoyed your stay and welcome you back to South Dakota.

 

WRC Reviews