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  1. #1
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    Long wait for Stage 1?

    I'm the promoter/director for an enduro race and I'm getting things set up for this year's race in August and we expect 175 racers. One of the main complaints I've heard in the past two years is about the wait time for Stage 1 starts. Every enduro I've done (and even those friends have told me about) has had a long wait for Stage 1 so in my mind it's just part of the format.

    That said, I want to cut down the wait as much as possible. The obvious answer is send the fast categories/riders out first, but I'm reluctant as this just means they sit even longer after the race which is another complaint I hear each year (waiting for all the chips to come in so we can do podiums.)

    So what is your experience as a racer or promoter? Any silver bullet for this or should I just keep telling folks 'it's part of the format?'

  2. #2
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    I don't race, but the obvious answer to a simpleton like me would be a shotgun start. But that only works if all/some the stages are available from a central location.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorCal_In_AZ View Post
    I don't race, but the obvious answer to a simpleton like me would be a shotgun start. But that only works if all/some the stages are available from a central location.
    They aren't - for safety and logistics reasons the stages must be run in order (it's a long loop, doing them out of order is basically not possible anyway.)

    No offense intended, but I've been racing enduros for five or six years and running my own for two now... I'm not asking for obvious answers from simpletons (again, no offense just using your words) - I'm asking for first-hand experience from racers or promoters.

  4. #4
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    I've marshalled a Stage 1 several times. It's the nature of the beast (and chatty riders don't help).

    But, I have to keep the line moving. I give a recommended wait time to each rider to keep it going. Some want to wait longer because they know the earlier rider is slower, and that's ok.

    I guess my answer would be to really school your Stage 1 marshal to keep it moving.

  5. #5
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    Long wait for Stage 1?

    Itís unavoidable when you have that number of racers competing in a time time-trial format. Using strict start intervals will get the pack going. How long is the start transfer? A long one may spread the field and reduce the crowd waiting to start.

    You can space racers out in the morning by using call-up times. That reduces the number of people milling around and makes management a little easier. The flip side is that itís another aspect to plan and manage.

    IME, most racers would rather get through their race and spend time waiting with a drink in the shade. The best way to do this is with live result reporting they can check on and compare and a scheduled podium time. Thermal receipts are great for this, since they can mill around and compare among themselves. If you start by category, then the field theyíre competing against is usually coming in around the same time.

    My experience is as a director of the Montana Enduro Series (2014-) and staff at the North American Enduro Cup (2016-). The MES vibe is casual and fun because thatís what our audience wants. The NAEC is an EWS qualifier and is very pro. Thatís a partnership with Cascadia
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    Last edited by evasive; 02-26-2020 at 08:03 AM. Reason: Added final paragraph.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah View Post
    I've marshalled a Stage 1 several times. It's the nature of the beast (and chatty riders don't help).

    But, I have to keep the line moving. I give a recommended wait time to each rider to keep it going. Some want to wait longer because they know the earlier rider is slower, and that's ok.

    I guess my answer would be to really school your Stage 1 marshal to keep it moving.
    Excellent point here. I gave a general run-down to Stage 1 marshall but probably didn't fully express the necessity of keeping things moving on schedule, I'll be sure to do that this year!

    Thanks for the insight!

    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Itís unavoidable when you have that number of racers competing in a time time-trial format. Using strict start intervals will get the pack going. How long is the start transfer? A long one may spread the field and reduce the crowd waiting to start.

    You can space racers out in the morning by using call-up times. That reduces the number of people milling around and makes management a little easier. The flip side is that itís another aspect to plan and manage.

    IME, most racers would rather get through their race and spend time waiting with a drink in the shade. The best way to do this is with live result reporting they can check on and compare and a scheduled podium time. Thermal receipts are great for this, since they can mill around and compare among themselves. If you start by category, then the field theyíre competing against is usually coming in around the same time.

    My experience is as a director of the Montana Enduro Series (2014-) and staff at the North American Enduro Cup (2016-). The MES vibe is casual and fun because thatís what our audience wants. The NAEC is an EWS qualifier and is very pro. Thatís a partnership with Cascadia
    .
    Excellent, excellent info - thanks!

    Start transfer is a couple miles of gravel but because it's an open road we try to keep the pack together. We do have a TV with live updates so people don't seem to mind waiting a little bit but I worry that anything I do to get the fast folks out front just means they are waiting a seriously long time after the race. We've got beer, food and vendors showing off product so I guess that's not the end of the world.

    Sounds like this is just the reality of enduro. That was my impression, but each year I get every Tom, Dick and Harry suggesting ways to cut down on the wait time (that they clearly haven't fully thought through) so I figured I'd do my due diligence and see what other folks are doing.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    I'm the promoter/director for an enduro race and I'm getting things set up for this year's race in August and we expect 175 racers. One of the main complaints I've heard in the past two years is about the wait time for Stage 1 starts. Every enduro I've done (and even those friends have told me about) has had a long wait for Stage 1 so in my mind it's just part of the format.

    That said, I want to cut down the wait as much as possible. The obvious answer is send the fast categories/riders out first, but I'm reluctant as this just means they sit even longer after the race which is another complaint I hear each year (waiting for all the chips to come in so we can do podiums.)

    So what is your experience as a racer or promoter? Any silver bullet for this or should I just keep telling folks 'it's part of the format?'
    A few I've attended do the opposite, with the beginner/sport riders going first and pro last. Specific start times for each age/gender/skill category to keep riders spread out. The pros go last as they'll need the least amount of time and the tracks are more beat up and challenging which many like

  8. #8
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    I think youíve got it covered. Plenty for them to do while they wait. They should be used to it if theyíve raced any other enduros.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpearce1475 View Post
    I know BME does the opposite, with the beginner/sport riders going first and pro last. Specific start times for each age/gender/skill category to keep riders spread out. The pros go last as they'll need the least amount of time and the tracks are more beat up and challenging which many like
    Interesting... Doesn't that set up the 'pros' for A LOT of passing throughout the day?

    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    I think youíve got it covered. Plenty for them to do while they wait. They should be used to it if theyíve raced any other enduros.
    That's very true and probably tells me all I need to know - guys who race enduros aren't the ones complaining. Thanks for reassuring me, I think that's all I was really looking for - a bit more confidence in my voice when I say 'that's just enduro.'

  10. #10
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    I've also seen it where you have some of the classes race the stages in a different order if the trail layout allows for it (assuming you have enough Marshal coverage and electronic timing).

    Otherwise, it's staggered starts.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Sounds like this is just the reality of enduro. That was my impression, but each year I get every Tom, Dick and Harry suggesting ways to cut down on the wait time (that they clearly haven't fully thought through) so I figured I'd do my due diligence and see what other folks are doing.
    I used to promote races too. Participants are notoriously picky.

    Sounds like your doing great with live update TV, vendors and beer. I wouldn't sweat it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hogfly View Post
    I've also seen it where you have some of the classes race the stages in a different order if the trail layout allows for it (assuming you have enough Marshal coverage and electronic timing).

    Otherwise, it's staggered starts.
    This can work well by category, especially if (e.g.) U18 and Sport are racing abbreviated courses relative to the more competitive categories. Iím more likely just to leave a stage or 2 out for the slower categories though, if the course lends itself to it. That helps reduce the lag, too.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hogfly View Post
    I've also seen it where you have some of the classes race the stages in a different order if the trail layout allows for it (assuming you have enough Marshal coverage and electronic timing).

    Otherwise, it's staggered starts.
    We did this the first year (in a small way anyway) and it confused the sweepers and they ended up pulling course/timing down before all the racers were through... I know that's our fault and not a direct result of stages being out of order, but it just seems like added liability with clearing the course that I don't want to worry about. (The course doesn't lend itself to that either - Stage 1 is a few miles from all the other stages.)

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah View Post
    I used to promote races too. Participants are notoriously picky.

    Sounds like your doing great with live update TV, vendors and beer. I wouldn't sweat it.
    Thanks for the kinds words, the vast majority of people are super supportive and have had nothing but positive comments - the minority just tends to be vocal!

    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    This can work well by category, especially if (e.g.) U18 and Sport are racing abbreviated courses relative to the more competitive categories. Iím more likely just to leave a stage or 2 out for the slower categories though, if the course lends itself to it. That helps reduce the lag, too.
    We do have most of the racers doing four stages with only the most competitive (open and master's) doing the full course, but the back up is only an issue at stage 1 - which everyone does first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    We did this the first year (in a small way anyway) and it confused the sweepers and they ended up pulling course/timing down before all the racers were through... I know that's our fault and not a direct result of stages being out of order, but it just seems like added liability with clearing the course that I don't want to worry about. (The course doesn't lend itself to that either - Stage 1 is a few miles from all the other stages.)
    No, that makes total sense. I've seen some races where it would work awesome and others where it wouldn't. Really depends on your course layout.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    We did this the first year (in a small way anyway) and it confused the sweepers and they ended up pulling course/timing down before all the racers were through... I know that's our fault and not a direct result of stages being out of order, but it just seems like added liability with clearing the course that I don't want to worry about. (The course doesn't lend itself to that either - Stage 1 is a few miles from all the other stages.)
    Staggered starts help. Another thing I've seen help is shuttling one group, to stage two in your case (this only works if you have the infrastructure to handle it I understand) and shotgun starting it that way. It adds overhead but it's really the best (only?) way to really fix an issue that crops up at quite a few races.

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  17. #17
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    My local enduro had the same problem the first year I raced it. The second year I raced it they extended the transfer from the start to stage 1 from 2 miles to 6 tough miles. This greatly reduced stage 1 start times as it staggered out the field.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WVU RUSH View Post
    My local enduro had the same problem the first year I raced it. The second year I raced it they extended the transfer from the start to stage 1 from 2 miles to 6 tough miles. This greatly reduced stage 1 start times as it staggered out the field.
    If you are starting with a transfer which is great to break up the crowd, let the pros go first. Doing in reverse is what creates bottlenecks as the faster classes will move through the transfer and race in general quicker. Also, within reason, letting racers drop within class as they reach the start line is helpful to in lieu of very specific start times. Nothing worse than finishing the first stage, starting the transfer to the second and sitting around waiting. Keep people moving and you'd be surprised how fast some pros / experts will finish clearing the course for others.

  19. #19
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    For the California Enduro Series, we had this issue when we started in 2013 - in those early years the long wait at Stage 1 was the main complaint. Then we started giving a start time at Stage 1 for each category (not each racer)... Something like

    Pro Men - 9am
    Pro Women - 9:20am
    Expert Men - 9:40am
    Expert Women - 10:00am
    Sport Men - 10:10am
    Sport Women - 10:30am

    We also provided an estimated time to transfer to Stage 1 start. It is up to the racer to get to the start of stage 1 for their group time.

    It still takes time to get everyone on course -- but the folks in the later categories can wait at the venue or at their car, rather than waiting in a long line at Stage 1 start.

    This has worked very well for us.

    Another thing we started doing to deal with larger and larger numbers of racers -- we split the racers into multiple groups and have them race the stages in different orders.

    Pro Men, Pro Women, Ex Men, and Ex Women -- Stage 1, 2, 3, 4

    Sp Men, Sp Women, Beg Men, Beg Women -- Stage 3, 4, 1, 2

    If you plan the transfers and start times correctly -- we can get the Sp and Beg categories through started on Stage 3 before the first Pro Man gets there... You need to some long transfers so folks are pedaling for a while which gives you time to get the racers going.
    We have run 600 racers on course breaking them up into groups of roughly 300.

  20. #20
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    I've done a handful of enduro races and Stage 1 wait time always sucked until the last one I did in NC, the Cranksgiving Enduro

    The main difference between all the others and the NC race was that the NC race did not have a pep/rule talk after check in.

    All other races, there would be a long pep/rules talk before commencing the race. Once the talk was done, all riders headed out shotgun style which clogged the transfer to stage 1, thus leading to a long line at the start of Stage 1.

    At the NC race, there was a start time, 9am, but you could check in anytime before (day before even) or after 9am. You just had to complete Stage1 by a cutoff time. My group checked in at 7:45am, dressed and went straight to Stage 1. When we got there, there were about 5 guys standing around waiting for the official start.

    Finished all the stages and was back to returning our chips before they even had the chip return tent set up.

    Basically the key to this event was no mass start. Maybe it might work for other events, maybe not. But I did like this format.

  21. #21
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    Long wait for Stage 1?

    Hmm. Weíve been trying to figure out a way to reduce the log jam at the first stage of our Enduro (Fears Tears and Beers in Ely, NV).

    The mass start creates a more fun, part-of-a-happening, festival atmosphere (we run everyone through two local casinos off the start), and itís easier to tell the volunteers when to be to their check point if everyone starts together, but I can see how letting people start when they want might help. OTOH, everyone might just choose to leave early so as to ďget there firstĒ.

    The other things weíve thought about doing this year, are staggered start times(pros at 8:30, Experts at 8:45, Amateurs at 9:00) and sending the different classes to different parts of the course for their first starting checkpoint.

    Staggering the start times at the start of stage one, or at least making the racers line up according to class may help too.

    We already have a pretty long, steep first transfer, and only the top classes go to stage one, (beginner and fun classes peel off earlier for their first stage), yet with our recent surge in numbers, the wait at stage one was 45 min to an hour for some.

    Thanks for the ideas. Weíll consider them.


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  22. #22
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    Last weekends race they had three groups an hour apart go out, on 5 stages and you did 2 laps. I didn't wait more than 5 minutes at any stage. There were 200 riders.

  23. #23
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    After the safety and rules talk; all classes left together to stage 1 start. The much more difficult transfer from start to stage 1 naturally filtered the pros to the front. There were 2 long tough climbs that really separated everyone out.
    FWIW the 1st year I waited ~2 hours to start. 2nd year it was around 30 minutes.
    Having said that the idea of different classes having staggered starts would work as well; with a little more to manage. And personally I would prefer staggered starts as this would help keep the pros out front so they dont risk catching any beginners.
    If possible I would do both.

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