Ideas for improvement from the Feb 18 track meet

Hey @track-volunteers, as I mentioned to the volunteers from today’s meet in an email via Helper Helper, the meet was once again a smashing success, with tons of runners, fast times, and a lot of happy people.

That said, there’s always room for improvement. Here are a few things on my mind:

  • I’m ordering some more low-profile clipboards in multiple colors so it will be easier to keep track of different clipboards and easier to pack them.

  • Truck Rossiter suggested that we get a new lap counter since ours must be at least 40 years old and is disintegrating a bit. This proved a fascinating research project. Gill, the company that makes our Gill Lap Cards, still produces lap counters, but they’re stand-mounted and not portable. And they cost $500-$1000. It might be possible to buy the Gill Lap Cards still… in the vintage section of eBay. I found no new product equivalent to what we use now. However, what I did find is little electronic finger counters, which are about $1 each. We could easily buy a handful of these and loan them out to anyone who wants help counting their laps, and if they proved popular, get enough for our largest heats.

  • The snacks mostly disappeared, which is the goal. Did we run out of anything you were hoping to munch, such that I should get more next time? Any suggestions for other items?

  • Laurel, Dave, I’ll need to print more Track Change Cards for next month. Any suggestions for what might make working with them easier, either in terms of changing what’s on the card or having a system (at one point, we had a box they would be put into; not sure what happened to that).

  • The only complaint we fielded was about a runner passing too closely in the 5000m, which isn’t something we can do much about other than encourage people to be more aware of their surroundings when passing. Tom, we might add that to our pre-race instructions for less-experienced runners.

  • One very intense Cornell Track & Field guy said that some high-level meets are now assigning lanes for sprints in a different way than HyTek defaults to (putting the fastest runners in the middle lanes). In researching what the best approach would be, I ran across this seriously nerdy paper that shows that for the 200m and 400m (outdoors), the outside lanes are the fastest. It may be an even larger effect indoors, so I’ll look into it more and see about changing HyTek’s default lanes for what’s standard. It would only matter for the fastest runners, but still. @jeanluc, you will love this paper.

  • I have to figure out how to fix the ripped-out grommet on the FLRC Track banner somewhat better. Perhaps duct tape.

  • Next month, we’ll put a FREE sign on the temporary tattoos and Trackpalooza magnets we’re trying to give away.

Anything else that caused you to think, “Hey, I bet it would be better if we did X.”?

The only think that I noticed was there were quite a few people oblivious to their surroundings and were inadvertantly walking out in front of runners or accross the long jump and high jump areas. I had to pause several times on both the high jump and the long jump because people just meandered accross the path not even realizing anything was going on. Perhaps two sets of hurdles on each side of those areas with some inexpensive banding material or rope to tie between them would help create a visible barrier to compel people to walk around instead of through?

I also noticed on the 200M that people would walk out in front of the runners in the outermost lane where the path between the track and the wall narrows. Not sure what you do about that other than maybe have a volunteer during the 200M that just monitors that area and shoos people off the track during that event. Maybe even a reminder over the loud speaker to clear the track when the 200M is starting?

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Good suggestions, @DamianClemons. I do have lots of flagging from our chute, so it would be easy to bring that and set up some hurdles to block off the jump areas a bit.

Cornell has stanchions that they use with flagging to keep people from walking across the track from the main doors, but they’re not always out, I don’t believe, so it might be too much trouble to set up hurdles everywhere.

And yes, I can definitely try to remember to say “Clear the track!” before the 200m heats. If I forget, could people try to remind me—when announcing, it’s very hard to remember to say things that I’m not actually looking at. :slight_smile:

I walked right across the running lane for the high jump during the February meet when I was coming back from the bathroom. That big open space is very inviting. Having it roped off would be helpful!

I think the cards worked well. We had a couple questionable ones because the last name on the card didn’t match Meet Manager. We sorted it out quickly and it wasn’t a big deal. A whole family scratched and then showed up, which caused some confusion because we didn’t realize un-scratching someone does not put them back in the heat they were previously assigned to. In the end it all worked out fine. A big thank you to Tonya for realizing what happened and pausing Heather from lining up the next heat before we could squeeze them back in.
I think we need a sign on the table with the heat assignments noting that what is there at 8:00am may be subject to change as the morning progresses, and to let us know if they feel they are seeded too slow. We did have a few people ask to be moved faster, which we were able to do easily since they asked early, before that event started.

Sounds good. @tonya-engst, perhaps you can make a sign like that for the seeding table.

I don’t want to encourage too many changes that could cause delays or confusion in running the meet, but some flexibility is always worthwhile.

Finger counters would be really good for the slower runners who get lapped. But I like the visible large lap counter (cards or the gizmo they used at the CU meets) next to the clock. The counting down gives a good psychology to the runner (at least to me) and it couples with the time shown.

What would be the objection to have the cards on a stand? Other than the cost of course. But if there is a “clean”, “lightly used” Gill cards on e-bay that seems a good solution.

The current cards go into our museum along with vintage Jim Hartshore era shirts. Keep Ed Hart’s memory alive!

All that’s available are the expensive stand-mounted lap counters, which cost way more than seems reasonable, especially for the benefit over our handheld system. More problematically, they would be truly annoying to have to pack in the car to and from each meet. I’m already basically at max capacity

I think the flagging and yelling will definitely help!

Hopefully the flagging is sufficient and doesn’t have to become flogging!

I think @D_G_Rossiter is suggesting something more like this: Lap Cards. it’s not exactly expensive and it could easily be DIY’d if unavailable

Good sleuthing—that’s what I was looking for too. But those are only 4x6, which feels pretty small.

As you say, it would probably be pretty easy to print our own.

At my last job, I had spiral-bound books made at Gnomon. We could get a quote, I bet.

Doesn’t necessarily even need spiral binding which is kind of expensive. A couple of rings at the top would be enough.

The main thing is that it has to be easy to flip and not rip out in a few uses.

@D_G_Rossiter, having just done this, do you think the handle is important?

Some kind words from a runner on Sunday:

Hi Adam,
I want to thank you and the merry band of volunteers who put on a smooth-running, challenging and enjoyable track meet every time. I know these things don’t happen by themselves, taking considerable planning and hard work. Thanks again; it was fun (despite the fact that I was a big wuss, dropping out of the 5000m!)
Gary Williams

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I made a to-do to make a sign for the seeding table.