The curse of the race director, and my commitment to transparency

The blessing of being a race director for something like END-AR24 is that it allows you to meet and get to know so many truly remarkable guys and gals.  i shared meaningful moments with each of the teams whether they finished or not, and acted as coach, guide, cheerleader  or chief consoler.  Each team had their own experience - a triumph of teamwork; a supreme battle of will that pushed them beyond the personal limits they were looking to challenge; or tough decisions brought on by injury or illness to a team-mate.  The human drama on display was simply gorgeous.

The deep personal connection that i develop for the teams over the course of a single day is just awesome, and the biggest reason i plan to continue to put on these events, despite all work and challenges that go into them. But that connection also gives rise to one of the hardest things about being race director - the curse as i call it - final rankings.  The 30 minutes between the final finishers and the awards, particularly in my sleep deprived state, was not enough to adequately reflect on how best to determine the rankings.  It's been four days though and i've caught up on the Z's and have had some time to think, so i'm ready to post results - but first a bit on transparency....
How can I rank a field full of teams like this?!
As some of you may know i've been burned once in the past with regards to results - and its not so much the race managements decision that hurt, but the way they dealt with things.  That incident made me promise to myself that were i ever in a similar situation, i'd work hard to have more transparency - this post is an effort to follow through with that, so here goes.
In the rules it stated that all CP's on the short course were mandatory, except the photo CP's, which if missed garnered a 1 hour penalty.  As it turned out we had a number of teams that completed the short course miss 1 or more CP that wasn't a photo CP.  Technically these teams, according to the rules, would be unranked.  In every one of these cases, the missed CP's did not confer any advantage to the teams in terms of distance travelled or difficulties overcome.  They did, of course, potentially save the teams time because they probably would have had to search a bit or possibly even back-track to get the CPs.  Because of the tremendous effort put in by teams and the positive energy of the day, i spontaneously decided to levy a 2 hour penalty for each non-photo CP missed, rather than count these teams as unranked.  I did this because i felt these teams had raced hard finished the course in spirit.  On the results page, these rankings are labeled as 'spirit' to reflect this idea.  
That being said, rules are rules, and some teams were (and fairly so) wondering why a team who missed a CP, even when finishing hours before, was ranked ahead of them.  I can clearly see this point of view as well, and so created the 'technical' rankings.  These technical rankings reflect the rules as written.  All the teams finishing the short course are still ranked, but teams missing non-photo CPs are ranked behind any team that visited all the CP's, regardless of when they finished or whether they completed the long course.  
Tu-Uyen embodying the spirit of AR
Long story short, the technical rankings represent the rankings that i'd have to use if we'd have had a field large enough (we almost got there!!  next year!!) to offer a prize purse.  The spirit rankings reflect more accurately the speed with which the course was challenged - the two hour penalty per missed CP is, in most cases, longer than teams missing these CPs would have spent actually looking for or going back for them.  Bottom line is it was an awesome race and the grit and determination of all the teams blew away my expectations.  i try not to dwell on rankings and hope that for most of you the experience itself, and what you gained from it, is what lasts in your memory -- not the (somewhat) arbitrary ranking levied by some race director.
Kudos again to all the teams.  Hope to see you next year - believe it or not, the course planning is well underway!

Add new comment