Debrief on the January track meet

First off, a nice note from one of our runners, Liz Hartman:

I just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you so much for another GREAT track meet. Everybody is so helpful and friendly and it really makes the events welcoming and fun to attend. I know a lot of work goes into planning, not to mention all of the time you spend at each event.

Matt and I plan to return for next month’s meet! I might be able to make it to one of the Tuesday evening workouts before then so maybe see you sooner!

Best,

Liz

ps. It was such a nice touch to use the whistle for the slowest heats of the 60m. Matt really appreciated that!

Overall, I think the meet went really well—everyone did a great job. Here are some notes on how we did from my perspective. Let me know what you noticed as well.

  • Our only real problem was one of the middle heats of the mile where the runners couldn’t figure out how to finish between the cones, but were coming in fast enough that we had trouble divining their intent and recording their bibs. My instinct is to say that we should continue to emphasize how to finish, but that after the first heat or two when they start finishing in clumps, make sure we’re also lining them up against the fence in finisher order so Adam can get the bib numbers recorded. We can recover from either a timing error or a recording confusion, but it’s hard to recover from both.

  • It was great to see Jullien Flynn out and about after her foot surgery, and I really appreciated Dave Kania’s willingness to fill in, first before we thought Jullien would be able to attend, and then in case she got tired and had to leave. He got a little experience when she went to the washroom, and will be a useful backup should she not be able to make a meet in the future.

  • Ved Gund did a great job as head timer, and I hope he’ll be able to serve in that role again in the future.

  • Jullien and I discovered that the Time Machine stores lane-timed event results until the event is cleared (which wouldn’t happen for those events during the meet). That meant that when there was some confusion about moving heats around in the 200m, we were able to put them back in the right order, and bring results back in again.

  • A few Meet Manager tips for the record:

    • Make sure to open serial port 3 for the track button interface to the Time Machine. If necessary, unplug and replug the serial adapter so Windows sees it again.

    • If you get one of those Windows Abort, Retry, Ignore errors, just click Abort and then quit Meet Manager and reopen it.

    • Once we got in a situation where a window was open but we couldn’t click elsewhere. Windows was working otherwise, and Dave taught us the magic Alt-F4 keyboard shortcut, which closed the window even though it wasn’t responding to a mouse click in the close box.

  • I’m pondering better attachments for the banner so we don’t have to tie and untie it each time. I have some straps for attaching things to bike racks that might work really well.

  • We used a whistle to start some of the littlest kids, and I got a lot of nice comments from parents for that. We should keep doing that. @tonya also said she’s going to bring earplugs next time since the gun was still loud for her ears. I wonder if we should consider buying a bulk container of such things for anyone who finds the gun too loud?

Anything else?

Thanks for organizing the meet, Adam!

I agree there was difficulty in the middle heats of the mile in recording the finishers. Having Carl record the finish and call out numbers made it much easier, but we didn’t have the problem again of not knowing who was finishing nor as many clusters.

I believe we tried to line them up against the fence last year and it was helpful. We tried to have Dave direct them to line up as they finished, but without a physical barrier or thing to go to, they just drifted away.

Would it be possible to bring some rope/flags to create a chute at the end that we can move into place when people start finishing? Having a barrier they can’t step over or walk away from might help us keep people in order and serve as a more visual signal for something to go towards.

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Congrats on a great meet, everyone! I thought it went really well.

From a clerk of course standpoint, the only hard part was lining up the heats of the 60m. This is always a little challenging because there are always last minute changes and Jullien is at the other end of the straightaway. We always have some (1) younger kids who are inappropriately seeded with older ones and (2) high schoolers who are on the slower side but don’t want to run with little kids. Is it possible to fix these problems ahead of time? Instead of strictly seeding by estimated time, could we move people around a bit? Maybe put everyone 10-and-under in the first few heats, and then maybe add a heat somewhere in the middle for folks who are in high school and up but who aren’t running very fast. Just some thoughts.

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We have a full chute, but I’m a little hesitant to bring it because it’s a lot to carry and set up for just a couple of heats. What about snagging some hurdles to create a corral? That might have the same effect for just the work of moving them around.

This is tough. Part of the problem is that Jullien and I have limited data to work with when seeding. We don’t always have ages, for instance, if the coach didn’t enter them, and particularly with GIAC and a number of the really little kids, we often end up with ridiculously useless seed times. Most of the GIAC kids were given a 50 second seed time for the 60m, for instance, but all ran between 8.75 and 16 seconds, with the slowest time of the day being 23-month-old Jude Heffron’s 36.

The real solution would be to have the computer running Meet Manager right there, such that when you’re setting people up in heats and they complain about the seeding, they could be moved in real-time right in the system. This isn’t unthinkable, but would require some bouncing back and forth between the end of the track and the finish line, since the computer also has to be connected to the Time Machine to receive results. I guess we could create the heats at the finish line area and then walk them down to the starting line. Things to ponder…

There’s actually a Pro Network option that would allow multiple computers to be accessing the same database, but it costs $495 and I frankly don’t trust the HyTek people to be competent enough to make it actually work on modern versions of Windows with a Wi-Fi network.

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A reply from Tom Rishel in email that I wanted to record here for posterity:

I thought the meet went very smoothly, especially when we compare it to previous years’ “first meets.”

Two points:

I take most of the blame for the messy finish line on the middle heat of the mile. I forgot to tell the runners before the start that there would be cones in the middle of the finish line at the end of that heat. By the time the end came, nobody was listening to me, shouting “…finish between the cones!”

Point 2:

Ammunition for starter pistols comes (I’ve been told) in three types: sorta-loud, middle-loud, and too-loud. We pretty obviously have “too-loud [at least, for this gun].” Let’s use it up, then try the middle-loud one. Meanwhile, I’ll still use the whistle for the early heats.

It’s a good reminder that we need to be super consistent about our race instructions. I’ll look into the ammo noise issue. If we can buy quieter ammo, that would be good.

Just to close the loop on this, I talked with Rick Streeter at Leone Timing, and he said the Network option was a nightmare. So we won’t be doing that. :slight_smile: