2014 Grand Prix survey results and slate voting info
The 2014 Grand Prix survey results and the formation of slates:
The 2014 USATF NE Grand Prix survey conducted prior to the formulation of the slates was intended to guide the LDR Committee by providing information about the preferences of the membership. There were 301 responses and nearly every respondent had participated in some way in one or more Grand Prix races or series. To see the survey results, please click this link: Survey results for posting Nov 30 2013. The columns have been condensed to show the number of first choices in the ranking slates and the average numeric ranking (the lower the number, the more preferred the choice). The comments are being grouped for easier reading and will be available soon (Sorry, we went with the cheapest Survey Monkey package and the comment field data report is 17 pages long.)
First, the Committee drafted one slate of all the races which had garnered the most amount of first choices in the survey together, but quickly saw that the Hollis 5k and the Ribfest 5 miler are just days apart. The Committee then compiled two slates to accommodate the most first choices with our required distances but workable considering the dates. We also wanted to include some new races and new locations. In regard to distances, survey takers wanted the half marathon by a wide margin, followed by 12-15 km, 10 mile and mile races.
Next, we put together a slate for sustained racing over the year and what would work best without conflicts with National USATF events that are drivable for New England competitors and arrived at two slates to best accomplish this schedule. Throughout the process we considered the High Street Mile which was ranked high in the survey. The idea of a mile event appealed to many Committee members and survey takers, but there were also concerns expressed by members and in the survey comment section about timing and the USATF scoring requirements. We thought of a “Showcase” status where we would encourage USATF NE members to participate in the High Street Mile in 2014 and give Committee members, and runners new to the event, an opportunity to learn more about how the various categories of competitors could receive a gun finish time and how we could anticipate combining points for team scoring.
We understood that one reason some of the races were not ranked highly by runners was because of unfamiliarity. When contacting the races about our decision, the Committee offered to promote the nominated races for the slates during the year so they can convert more USATF members into fans of their event. Race Directors responding to this offer have been enthusiastic about its potential. Also, at the suggestion of one Race Director whose race was not chosen, we will be sending out online surveys after each Grand Prix race as well as the nominated races so there can be immediate feedback to both the LDR Committee and the Race Director.
The LDR Committee strives to put together slates that are equally strong. We know we cannot please everyone. The amount of people who would complain about not enough new races being added is the same as those who would complain about a favorite race with known amenities not being included and a new race taking its place. Races near and dear to some people are avoided by others.
The process of Grand Prix series selection, past and present:
The past method of Grand Prix series selection was an in-person voting system. Until a few years ago, the only voters were the people who could attend a weeknight meeting generally held a few miles outside of Boston. Over many years of attending this meeting in the past, I would say the Grand Prix could be decided by as few as 25 people to a high of about 75. The online voting in place for the past three years for the Grand Prix has experienced over 400 voters who have represented a greater geographic area within the Association. In the past, bidding races were randomly chosen by distance category to present their event to the assembled group. The Race Director would present their race and then there was an immediate vote on each distance or race category. That meant the selection of the first race could immediately nullify any other race that shared close proximity to its date and before ensuing Race Directors had a chance to present the details of their events. Some races failing to win a place in the Grand Prix in their distance group could get moved to another category and lose again. This process was extremely unfair to Race Directors as well as attendees who were not able to hear about event details of races that were not presented. We have tried to improve this system with a dedicated presentation meeting and a comparison spreadsheet posted to the USATF NE website. This way whether or not a race is chosen to be on the slate, the Race Director has had a chance to present their event and the membership is informed of the details. It allows for additional exposure of the event regardless of being included in the series or not.
The desire for straight up voting for the most popular races to be the Grand Prix also has its difficulties, as evidenced by the 2014 example of two of the most popular bidding races scheduled just days apart. Over the years, bidding races have had shared or close race dates happen fairly often. Most popular voting could also have a Grand Prix with six races before the end of May and then a gap until a fall marathon. If intervention is needed to sort this out, then we may as well do it with some deliberation and intention and that is how the idea of slates and voting online came about: to give choice to members but also try to fashion the most reasonable schedule of the best races for competitors and teams from across our region.
If you want to know more about the Grand Prix process feel free to contact any USATF NE Officer, LDR Committee person or Athlete’s Representative. All contact info is at www.usatfne.org under Administration. Each year, we have invited clubs who have had scoring teams to send a representative to LDR meetings and be involved with the slate selection process. Please let us know if you want to join the LDR Committee in 2014.
On behalf of the LDR Committee,
USATF NE Master’s LDR Chair