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MTB event organizing - do you get your worth?


buzzboxsa
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We are receiving many comments about the quality of MTB race/events organizing many which are not too complimentary - which leads us to explore what your (our riders out there) is on the topic.

 

Currently we have an abundance of event organizers (e.g. Bout Time; Racetec; Performance Sport; Finish Time to name a few) who all have their own special events or repeat events. Strangely, comments are received covering a wide area of all these events and thus it seems as if we have room for improvement. Some of the comments are:

  • Event costs are out of line
  • Benefits of the cost is not visible (e.g. limited goody bags; no medals etc)
  • Event communication and information poor
  • Timing poor and not live
  • Inexperienced personnel at events (marshals etc.)

Now, if everybody was perfectly happy, the above comments will never be hear and cycling will be an even happier place. However, if these comments are relevant are event organizers evaluating their own performance? And if so, how? Or is a simple question of economics and business - "get more spend less"...?

 

So, what are the Mountain Bikers and other cyclists saying? Do we need to shape up in this area?

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There is not an easy answer to this, as the field of people participating is so wide, and if you make a niche event you will have so much negative PR from those that feel excluded.  

 

Ie do a high quality event with a steep entry fee, but packed with goodies / waterpoints / comfortable finish area, etc and you will have those that complain that they did not "need" the free shirt and would have just prefered a "basic" option.

 

Do an event that is basic with no frills and lower price and riders complain that their is not properly stocked waterpoints, dissappointing medal, etc.

 

People need to realise that organisers have a LOT of extra costs and effort that need to go into getting something off the ground (and doubt other than those that have gone that path before know about the stress and thankless job it is), and to make it worth it they need to also balance costs vs income.

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Unless you directly involved in these events I’m afraid a post on the hub is not going to get anything changed.

 

These posts pop up almost annually on the hub, everybody throws their panties out the crib and has a moan but majority continue to enter these events regardless.

 

Personally I do a handful of events these days compared to what I did a few years ago.

 

Organisers are at the point where they can take the p!ss out of events and know that they will still get numbers.

 

I saw an event advertised on Facebook charging R700 for a 40km or 50 km track??

 

Some races use bike parks and just add a few KM’s extra single track and charge R300-R400 more than a day entry to the park costs.

Edited by Markellis
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In my opinion: Races are stupid and a waste of money. Unless the race is in an area of the country you want to go and explore on your bike then there's absolutely no value. I mean as Markellis says: Why would you pay R300 - R400 more than a day entry at a local bike park just for a medal and or water bottle? 

 

Just grab a bunch of friends and go and explore the park on your ace without having the added stress of 2000 other riders forming bottlenecks and standing around to get over a bump in the road.

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For me an event just needs a couple basic things to be successful:

 

- Enough waterpoints: I don't care about gourmet boerie rolls and 50 types of energy bars, all I want is enough water points stocked with water, bananas, and maybe a sugary drink of sorts.

- No medals, goody bags, or t-shirts: that just adds to the cost of the entry.

- Good route markings: I don't want to guess where I am going. A gpx file is also fine if route markings are not great.

- Well thought out trails: We all want to ride more single track, but that is a disaster if there is nowhere to pass. Think about how the route is laid out - ie: don't start with a bottleneck feature 500 meters into the race, let the field spread out a bit first. 

- Clean facilities: Bonus if I can shower there, then I will travel a bit further.

- Coffee and food stands after the event: again 1 option is fine, just have something.

- Timing: As long as I can see where I finished at some point within 24 hours of finishing I am happy. Live timing is a nice value add though.

- Price: I am willing to pay more if I am riding trails I cannot usually access. I don't want to pay R500 to ride district roads or trails I can ride every other weekend for R50.

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For me an event just needs a couple basic things to be successful:

 

- Enough waterpoints: I don't care about gourmet boerie rolls and 50 types of energy bars, all I want is enough water points stocked with water, bananas, and maybe a sugary drink of sorts.

- No medals, goody bags, or t-shirts: that just adds to the cost of the entry.

- Good route markings: I don't want to guess where I am going. A gpx file is also fine if route markings are not great.

- Well thought out trails: We all want to ride more single track, but that is a disaster if there is nowhere to pass. Think about how the route is laid out - ie: don't start with a bottleneck feature 500 meters into the race, let the field spread out a bit first. 

- Clean facilities: Bonus if I can shower there, then I will travel a bit further.

- Coffee and food stands after the event: again 1 option is fine, just have something.

- Timing: As long as I can see where I finished at some point within 24 hours of finishing I am happy. Live timing is a nice value add though.

- Price: I am willing to pay more if I am riding trails I cannot usually access. I don't want to pay R500 to ride district roads or trails I can ride every other weekend for R50.

 

Also started with a list of things that make me enjoy the race a bit more, think you touched on most of them others include:

- Easy entrance / exit / parking for vehicles

- Proper medical support teams along the route (ie reduce time to get help if need be)

- Waterpoints with maybe some basics tools (ie foot pump, lube, etc)

- Route, something different than normal, which could even be changing the direction, ie going up where you normally go down, etc.

- Some energy around the event in it's buildup, be that here on the hub or in chat groups, getting to find out who else is also going, how they approaching the ride, etc. - sometimes feel to few of the organisers actually build some excitement online

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Will follow this. Our club, PPCC has cancelled our 2 events for the year due to costs and regulations.

It is not a cheap thing to host correctly and if something goes wrong!

Let's see what the hub and organizers say.

 

That is what my opinion is, not all rider realise that some of these events (especially charity events), are very much supported by volunteers that go out and support the rides.  I know I have not volunteered before at these races (my volunteering has been limited to Parkruns and stuff), so I am always thankful for each marshall on the route.

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What is an event worth to you,as a participant? It depends on the number of entries, but let’s assume 500 participants.

 

Reasons my club (and the rotarians) organize an event is to raise money for the charities in our area, development of amateur cycling, and to host a safe event for the participants. So a portion of entry fee is used for this. The more efficient we are at keep the expenses low, the more can be donated - or entry fees can be kept as low as possible. A safe event includes being sanctioned and following legal requirements.

 

 

Some expenses needed for the event:

Timing, provided with results up the same day;

Number boards (compulsory for all participants). This is integrated with the timing;

Seeding, a mass start is not feasible for 500 riders;

Toilet hire at the start-finish area, and not inside the host venue;

Fencing for the start and finish chute (compulsory);

Fencing for parking (venue dependent);

Shade/shelter from the elements - sun, rain/lightning. This includes engineers certificate and safety equipment in hand;

Prizes for category winners (assume a sponsor is not available);

Race Official from CSA (one needed for our event);

Calendar fee to list event on sanction list;

Rider levies for sanctioned event;

Advertising costs - unless it’s sold out year on year, advertising is necessary;

Bank fees on each transaction (can easily be excluded from entry fee and the participant pays this before the final basket is issued;

Race office, for queries, seeding, payment collections;

Tech support for last minute problems;

Water tables (water, coke products) - this is not sponsored, but purchased through their distributors);

Route signage;

Traffic advisory signs (for road crossing);

Traffic officials, for any/all intersections required to cross in the event (1 intersection in our case);

Bike Marshals - one as a lead out bike, and others as qualified medics;

VOC (Venue Operations Centre);

Radio Comms, used between key personnel on site and on the route;

Medical, ILS, ALS, ambulance and a representative at the VOC;

Safety Officer - compulsory, and has to be a qualified person. If there isn’t one in-house, then it is outsourced;

Public Liability Insurance - CSA expect the organizer to have this in place before a sanctioning certificate is issued. They don’t provide this as some people think.

 

I may have missed some lines, but this covers a lot of the expenses incurred. Suppliers in SA like to increase anywhere from 7-15%, which is well above inflation.

 

 

Optional extras:

Medals;

Goody bags (I dislike them, but others like them);

 

 

 

Food and drinks are on sale, but not part of the entry fee. This is a separate fund raiser for the Rotary Anns (wives of the Rotarians).

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Frosty, you have covered most of it.

Our last event, the Polokwane Lentetrap, we actually made a loss.

You need enough Marshall on all dangerous areas and places where a person can go the wrong way.

Marshals need to be fed and it adds up.

Medics need to get paid etc.

 

If you are not sanctioned by CSA or don't have all their guidelines in place you as the organizer can be held liable for any damages and can even be sued in personal capacity.

This was the major reason we cancelled our events.

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Frosty yes you are about spot on.

 

If you can run an event, completely off any public roads it makes it much easier.But thinking there is money to be made in once off events -its not that easy.

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I got a unique opportunity to watch the Stanford Classic event from the side line ...

 

When you hear three people laboured in the sun for two months to get the trails ready ....

 

When you hear they managed to get 30 farmers to open their farms for the event ...

 

Excellent, and truly safe, parking at the start ....

 

Family friendly facilties ...

 

Restaurant where the supporters can relax while the ride is happening ...

 

 

Even the option to meet your riders at waterpoint...

 

Brilliant MC and a lekka vibe ....

 

 

Simply insane amounts of work that goes into arranging these events !!!!

 

Big thanks to each and every event team. Truly appreciate your efforts.

 

 

And yes, we have all had to deal with a smelly porta, or other issues on race day .... I try that these minor things dont spoil my day.

 

 

That said .... PLEASE provide safe parking

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 (e.g. Bout Time; Racetec; Performance Sport; Finish Time to name a few) I think riders confuse time keeping companies with organisers or am I missing something?

 

Usually an organiser like WildTrailSA, Trail Hunter Events, EcoBound, Cape Epic, Cape Argus for that matter, Petrichor Adventures, Magoeba Trek employs a time keeping company like BoutTime, RaceTec or FinishTime etc. 

 

I think a lot of riders(& runners) get it wrong and see the time keeping companies branding at the finish and are under the impression that the route, medal options, markings, loo's and organising of the event has been done by the time keeping company whereas it's actually the organiser who is responsible for all the aforesaid(even the results)....Let me explain: If the route is poorly marked by the organiser and the riders ride different distances the time keeping company is in the hands of the organiser. Rider A rode 50km which is correct but rider B has gone off track and only rode 43km and finishes before rider A.So although rider A won rider B was first over the line and the results are wrong. The time keeping company is only at the start/finish line and don't have any responsibility of who is riding what as its not their job, they trust the organiser to have marked the route & splits properly, its the job of the organiser and marshals to ensure that everyone stays on the correct route and the time keepers job is to record the time stamp when the rider started and finished. 

 

Why I'm saying this is I have seen at many events how riders shout at the time keepers about not having enough loo's, bad organising, no medals, getting lost on route, poor route markings, lack of medics etc etc etc when in fact they have nothing to do with the aforesaid issues but unfortunately when riders are tired, fed-up & angry the first person the see when crossing the finish line is the time keepers....Even family member or friends accidentally switching race boards and can't understand why their results are wrong, or a back marker who rode shorter due to an injury and don't tell the time keepers and comes first in the race distance they originally entered for.....so they shout at the time keeping company.

 

So I think we should clearly distinguish between time keeping companies & event organisers, it not the same company and their roles & responsibilities are very different.

 

 

We are receiving many comments about the quality of MTB race/events organizing many which are not too complimentary - which leads us to explore what your (our riders out there) is on the topic.

 

Currently we have an abundance of event organizers (e.g. Bout Time; Racetec; Performance Sport; Finish Time to name a few) who all have their own special events or repeat events. Strangely, comments are received covering a wide area of all these events and thus it seems as if we have room for improvement. Some of the comments are:

  • Event costs are out of line
  • Benefits of the cost is not visible (e.g. limited goody bags; no medals etc)
  • Event communication and information poor
  • Timing poor and not live
  • Inexperienced personnel at events (marshals etc.)

Now, if everybody was perfectly happy, the above comments will never be hear and cycling will be an even happier place. However, if these comments are relevant are event organizers evaluating their own performance? And if so, how? Or is a simple question of economics and business - "get more spend less"...?

 

So, what are the Mountain Bikers and other cyclists saying? Do we need to shape up in this area?

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Janneman that is a VERY valid point !  :thumbup:

 

"Organisers" and "time keepers" certainly are two totally different entities.

 

 

To drive the concept home .... at the Stanford Classic the "organisers" took a novel approach - NO time keepers.

 

Race time was done by using your Strava account, if you wanted to log your time.

 

 

At the end was easy enough to spot number 1, 2 and 3, so no need to spend thousands just to record the podium.  And this was not a seeding event, so absolutely no "need" to up the entry prices just to record my 89th position ...  :whistling:

 

 

 

NO complaints from the riders at the event.  Just a brilliant fun vibe

 

 

Let's see if more FUN event organisers goes this route.  :thumbup:

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