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Discussion: Finding Event Organization Advice

in: Adventure Racing; General

Apr 18, 2022 9:59 PM # 
Let's say there was a club that has been organizing orienteering races for about a decade and while looking for new venues they came across a park that screamed to them "Come hold a canoe/kayak navigation event!" and they decided to try to do that while pairing it with some land navigation and was thinking maybe 2 hours for land/ 2 hours for water navigation might be a good start.
Let's say that is given but everything else from pricing to course length and design, score/rogaine vs point to point style, even day for the competition is up for decision where does an orienteering club turn for advice in the AR world?
Apr 19, 2022 2:27 PM # 
I’m not sure you’d need a lot of advice with all your experience. One of the fun things about AR events is that they are different from one another and attract people who (mostly) welcome a variety of challenges. To some extent, you can choose your own path as long as the event is fair with reasonable maps, clear instructions and accurately placed controls.

Some thoughts:

Score O might be a good idea if you’re in an area where the wind might come up and make paddling more difficult/risky for less experienced paddlers.

You could look at a couple of AR event websites in the same area to learn about their pricing, rules and event details. You could make a tentative plan and bounce it off people here.

You’ll need a transition area staffed by volunteers who can watch boats and direct racers. If you’re in an area where spectators or members of the general public might wander in, a temporary fence could be helpful to create a secure corral. Before someone takes a boat away, volunteers could check that their race bib number matches a tag on the boat.

You’d want to find out who rents canoe/kayaks in the area because a lot of people would need to do that. You could consider offering optional rentals where an outfitter brings a trailer with a bunch of boats. That way, your participants without boats don’t have to worry about roof racks, etc. Boat rental is one of the most expensive costs for organizers who include boats in the entry fee. The availability of local rental boats can affect the size of the event.
Apr 19, 2022 3:48 PM # 
Thanks for the great question! I'd be happy to chat with you about our experience as race directors here in Maine (pricing, course design, dates for races, etc.) but I really don't know much about the Canadian market. Maybe reach out to other AR RDs in Canada for help? I know the Natural Selection AR folks in New Brunswick are really nice, and @Barb is a pretty great reference herself and seems to know everyone.
Apr 19, 2022 3:54 PM # 
I'm guessing that Gordhun is thinking about a southern U.S. event because his Canadian orienteering club has been organizing events for much longer than a decade...
Apr 19, 2022 4:06 PM # 
Also check with USARA?
Apr 19, 2022 5:25 PM # 
Yes Florida it is and there is no shortage of AR organizers in Florida.
I would love to show you all a map of this park but I'm only beginning on this and still waiting for a call back from a park official about permission.
Thanks by the way for the advice. It will all be used.
Here is the situation in bullet form.
In staging orienteering events Suncoast Orienteering partners with high school JROTC units who handle a lot of their logistics.
One instructor suggested we partner to put on an event at a certain park.
I checked the park on Google Earth, made a base map and went to visit.
Yes it will be a good venue for orienteering but also as it is a former open pit mining area there are lots of lakes and one large one with dozens of islands.
No mangroves and mostly sheltered from winds. I thought this is the canoe-O area I have been seeking in Florida.
So the concept of a Saturday orienteering for the JROTC and Sunday mini AR came to mind and that's where I am.
The park does rent canoes.
It is NOT a good area for biking, not in the park, not on the roads around it.
Two hours of Rogaine, two hours canoe/ kayak orienteering is a rough guess at what I think the park can take.
Split the field in half so the water craft can be rented twice.
The expected market? Orienteers and those who have done little or no AR but want to give it a try.
What do you think? Any further suggestions or cautionary advice? How does SI timing work out for canoe O?
Apr 19, 2022 8:23 PM # 
Sounds fun!

Adventure Enablers (in Virginia) has organized "Aqua Blaze" adventure races which are paddle/trek only. And as others have said, the whole concept of AR is to use the area you have to omitting biking is fine (maybe even a perk for people who don't have a bike YET).

The USARA National Champs used SI for all controls. It will definitely work for canoe-o.

Your idea to split the field to maximize available boats is a good one. You'll need to emphasize that once teams are done with a section (either the paddle or trek) that they cannot go get those controls later so that boats remain available for 2 sets of teams. Also I'm not sure what your layout looks like but you will either need to set the course to allow for single-discipline control punching (i.e. not have a paddle control near the trekking area) or have some rules about how to punch, or rules set up in SI to block this. Most adventure racers/orienteers are anti-cheating, but it could be tempting to drop paddle controls in favor of visiting them later on foot. could make things more strategic and have some/all controls open to either discipline and make teams choose how to approach it.
Apr 19, 2022 8:41 PM # 
Great input, Silkychrome! I second all of that. It sounds like a lot of fun. :)
Apr 19, 2022 9:03 PM # 
One other thought: your first message mentioned canoe/kayak navigation. You'll need to think about what categories you'll offer and whether you'll place any restrictions on watercraft.

If everyone must use boats provided by the park, are they all the same? If not, how will you allocate the boats to keep things fair? Maybe the first people to enter get the faster boats? Do they have enough boats for your event or should you allow people to bring their own boats and pay a lower entry fee?

Some people prefer that everyone uses the same boat model in a race but I see it as the same as when racers bring their own bikes. We accept that there will be $10,000 bikes and $800 bikes at most adventure races. You'll want to create a few categories for different boat types.

At minimum, something like:
Canoe / Tandem Kayak - Team of 2
Kayak / Surfski - Solo
SUP - Solo

Like orienteering, it's not that anyone is racing for big prizes but they like to feel that the categories seem somewhat fair. In your race, the land navigation adds an element that isn't affected by the type of boat.

Ideally, many controls can be punched from the water as people paddle by, e.g. on a cord dangling from an overhanging branch or fixed to a water-facing corner of a dock. It gets messy when 6 canoes try to send a person onshore at the same time on a shoreline where there isn't a beach or dock. Where there are are lots of good places to pull ashore, it might be fun to set up some inland controls that can't be seen from the water.
Apr 20, 2022 1:57 PM # 
Again, 2nd to Bash's input!!

Also there is a Facebook Group for AR Race Directors called "Adventure Racing Promoters". It's not super active but when I've had more technical RD questions the feedback has been useful. Of course you can get equally useful feedback here - just mentioning another resource :)

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