Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Event calendar clash in perspective

There is barely a day in the year where there is not an event on. If you're just a road runner then things are simple. But if you participate regularly in events from more than one discipline like trail running and adventure racing, then there will be clashes.

My photographer friend Bruce Viaene has created a new adventure race in the former Transkei, which is scheduled for late February next year. It's a 150km event for pairs and fours.

I added it to the adventure racing calendar (which is not overloaded with events) and shared on the AR Facebook page.

Photo by Bruce Viaene of scenery from his race location
Within minutes a racer posts, "would love to do it... clashes with addo :-(" (Addo refers to an ultra trail run event - 100 mile, 76km and 44km routes).

I cannot begin to describe how comments like this grate. It was certainly posted casually and not with malice (clearly interested in participating in both events), but it grates nonetheless because it was made without thought for a myriad of factors involved in selecting a date and presenting an event as an organiser.

(This is not the first time I've seen a comment like this - on other events too over the past few years; this time I'm writing about it.)

In fact, if you were planning to run the 100 miler at Addo, any event scheduled a few weeks before or few weeks after would 'clash'.

Would a 60km in Mpumalanga on the same day as a 60km in the Eastern Cape equally be considered a clash?

The clashor vs the clashee also depends on your perspective. Does the adventure race clash with Addo only because the date for Addo was published earlier? If your primary sport is AR then Addo clashes with Bruce's event and not the other way around...

It all comes down to what you really want to do with your weekend: a 150km multidiscipline adventure race or a 100-mile run? Entries for both events are not even open so the choice is really wide open.

If Bruce had to consider every single other event across adventure racing disciplines - run, bike, paddle - and sufficient space between them, he'd never find an 'open' date.

Organisers have to select a date for their event based on optimal conditions, venue availability and their own availability to present the event.

'Clash' is such a negative word... as if Bruce purposefully scheduled his event to coincide with Addo. Considering that less that a handful of Addo participants would even vaguely be interested in entering Bruce's event, I hardly see a clash from Addo's perspective. But, as adventure racers are multisporters, there would be a few who are/were looking at doing Addo. Then again, adventure racers are probably interested in entering most events - depending on time and money.

Even if Bruce's event was a week or two before or later, chances are small that even a fraction of people would or could do both anyway.

Looking at my Forest Run next year, there are a bunch of events in Feb/March/April. My date is determined by:

  • My availability
  • Venue availability
  • Fire season restrictions
  • Consideration of likelihood of rain / best weather (not too hot or cold)
I'm always considerate of events with similar dates in the same participant 'catchment'; I certainly can't consider every sporting discipline and every event in other Provinces either. I'd never find a date.

Participants have options and on any given day they can choose what to enter according to the sporting discipline, distance of the course, location of the event and cost of entry.

It's a nice position to be in as a participant; it can be scary for an organiser because your participant base is split not just for a given day but also across events in the weeks and months before and after your event.


Unknown said...

Lisa... I am trying to convince a friend that a trip to the Ruwenzoris three weeks after Comrades does not constitute a clash. I feel you!

adventurelisa said...

Dylan, as you know, when it comes to Comrades runners six months before Comrades constitutes a clash and three months after is a clash too. hahahaha

Conrad van den Berg said...

Thankfully we can't attend every event on the planet. We'll be burt out and pennyless. Complainants should be encouraged to join an organising committee of some kind.