October 12, 2008

The Score at the Metrogaine

[2009 Metrogain]

Meet Happenings
Despite the ominous bit of snow and wet we received late on Friday, leading to a rather cold and overcast Saturday, meet day on Sunday really turned out a bit of fall perfection. Temperatures were ideal for biking and running all over town. Many large branches were down in Ann Morrison park around the meet start, perhaps even providing a few more obstacles to navigate out of the gate as the meet began.

Given various recent running scenarios this fall, most participants ended up in the bike class in one form or another - but that didn't stop the runners from doing their best to compete with them! There were also some participants that simply went out to enjoy the day in a shorter time to get a flavor of the event and weather without committing themselves to a grueling endurance challenge. It's worth noting that the controls were in four groups - the closest being worth 10 points, then moving up to 20, 30, and 40 points for the most distant or difficult controls. To keep things interesting, there were many 30 pointers directly on the hills south of Ann Morrison, for those who might strategically snag more points with relatively modest distances.

Several anecdotes are worth relating. I was quite impressed that more than one person actually wrangled a direct route in some form between the distant 45 and 46 in the northeast corner of the map, successfully connecting the control on Ft. Boise road to that on a hill in the north end on the other side of a fence. Doug LaMott snuck through a few fences on foot, while Jeff Decker and Donna Goodwin remembered a mountain bike trail that led them close to both controls. Very clever route choice on their part. The excellence bell (control 19) on BSU (north of the union) was one of the more subtle controls. Jay Morgan had a bit of extra luck finding it - as he was approaching, someone actually rang the bell!

As we learn more directing this kind of meet each year, I'm afraid it wouldn't be complete without a few "learning experiences" to show for it. The big error by myself was marking control 29 on the map (Rhodes park under the connector), but in the fog of a cold last weekend I actually forgot to include the question! This was responded to in multiple ways - some were planning ahead a control, and noted the question was missing, and skipped it, saving some time. Others got there only to realize there was nothing to answer. Michael Bading gets a notable highlight: when I told him the question (how many basketball hoops were there), he actually remembered there were four. Given various arguments, I decided to not assign points to this one way or another and chalked it up as a situation to avoid next year.

Aside from that, several participants did have wrong answers, even when they were there, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the question wording could be read multiple ways, or in the oxygen deprived speed of the moment a single bit of information was missed. I suspected I might be risking some confusion on control 25, asking how many stems make up a door handle on the Banner Bank building...and at the Ft. Boise control (45), some read it as "how many stripes?", rather than "how many stripe signs?" Control 40, the southwest locale of the beer distributor, apparently had an extra awning I didn't notice when setting up the question! (Luckily the other answers were less than the real number.) And the closest control, #11, had an extra door on a different side not everyone noticed - and the question did not specify a side (intentionally). Mistakes cost a negative 10 points, which was really intended to discourage guessing without being there. I hope nobody took too much offense in any such confusions - I think we will improve in time with these questions, especially if we vet them in advance with another observer besides the director.

In a side note about this guessing penalty, which Karin suggested...my wife Dondi came briefly in the long interim while everyone was out, so I could get some more reading material and a bathroom break...and she took the opportunity just to try literally guessing every answer in about 5 minutes, since the 10 point penalty didn't sting so much on those controls worth more than 10! She actually ended up with a score of 560, with 10 right answers and 24 incorrect. Some actually predicted this was viable before starting, and she proved it is a fairly workable strategy. Next year I think we will manage this differently - especially since it made the scoring more complex at the end. I think Karin's original intention was no points at all - and the negative 10 points too.

Two bikers did visit all the controls - Jay Morgan and Michael Bading - and came up with similar distances in the ballpark of 26 miles. All others made choices to drop some in the available 3 hour time limit.

It was great to see returning visitors Joann Leone and Joe Novak after their first club visit at NOD last month. They hiked to many of the controls in the immediate vicinity in a couple of hours, although they missed #17 at the red control in the library - its circle was not as clear as the others on the map.

There were no takers for the longish but straightforward beginners course.

Overall, everyone had a great time in the crisp weather, exploring the city in a new scale.

We used the new registration forms for this meet; a box is provided for competitive or recreational. Given that we didn't exactly have a large turnout, I tended to lean into the "competitive" category for the bikes, if nothing else because there is a bit more information. Feel free to email me with tweaks to this if you like.

PV = Points Visited (800 points possible)
X = Incorrect Answer Penalty (10 points each)
T = Time Penalty (5 points per full minute)
Foot Class, competitive: 
Name                        PV  X  T  Final Time 
Doug LaMott                 650 0  10 640   3:02:17 
Bill Leahy                  630 20 5  605   3:01:48 

Foot Class, recreational (in order of finishing): 
Name                        PV 
Ken Beckner                 180 (only had 1 hour, visited #29) 
Joann Leone & Joe Novak     240 

Bike Class, competitive 
Name                        PV  X  T  Final Time 
Jay Morgan                  800 0  0  800   2:41:00 
Michael Bading              800 30 0  770   2:46:26 
Jeff Decker & Donna Goodwin 610 10 0  600   2:53:00 
Karin Didesse               440 0  0  440   2:00:00 
Andy & Elijah Hill          420 0  0  420   2:56:16 
Next Meet
Stay tuned for a few changes in next month's meet, although the date is solid. Our scheduled meet director had to cancel, so Jeff Decker and Doug LaMott are taking up the reins. We may change the venue depending on initiative or the weather, given that the foothills in November are very much hit or miss.

Thanks much go to my codirector Karin, who helped with setup and brought more than enough food. She also arranged a special sponsorship from The Cookie Queen, who supplied our meet with a large stash of Backcountry Bars for fuel. They were very well received by all participants! Thanks also to our regular sponsor, Shu's Running Company, who provided the goody bags for the winners. My apologies for forgetting to bring the club hats that Doug LaMott provided courtesy of TML - they are $5 for club members, $10 for nonmembers, all money going to support the club. They are nice hats with some visible reflectors, and will be there at the next meet.

I appreciate everyone who stayed to help take down - especially Jay Morgan, who picked up the beginner course controls.

See you next month!

Jeff Black