Presidential Ponderings: January Edition

By Sue Dekany

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." – Arnold Bennet

How about foreshadowed by drawbacks and discomforts? I'm still in a state of shock regarding the tremendous Vasquez Rocks turnout.

Everyone loves the terrain and challenging orienteering. However, this event has been a logistical challenge for too many years.
Gratitude for shepherding the event through to a reasonable end goes to the Meet Director, Don Sieveke, and all his very capable volunteers.
Many people have heeded LAOC's plea for online registration so that we know how many people to expect on which course. Thank you! Despite the largest, by far, preregistration for the Vasquez Rocks event we eventually ran out of some course's maps, registration forms, and eSticks. Additional registration forms and paper punch cards were supplied by happenstance from the second set of event materials that luckily (but very surprisingly) were in a clubmember's vehicle.

What would a simple-to-organize and fun-to-attend event look like? No lines, no repetitive gathering or inputting of necessary data, and a relaxed, friendly environment for everyone regardless of the size of the turnout.

Do you realize that parts of the registration data for each entry are useful or required in 6 different ways at different times? The first two needs are before the event and are not served by onsite registration. The course setter needs to know how many maps to print for each offered course. Usually printing is done the day before the event. Overestimating results in additional costs that eventually get passed on to you. Underestimating results in turning someone away from the course they were interested in. The Meet Director needs to know how many people are coming and who, so that the basic volunteer tasks can be filled to support the event. The MD works to secure help for their event weeks in advance, but events often remain understaffed as the event nears. At the event each hand-written registration form (henceforth referred to as HRF) needs a volunteer to input some of your data into the SportIdent software for our timing system to work and to maintain our list of runners-still-out. I noticed that my preregistered data allowed my total time at ePunch to be less than 5 seconds, whereas the onsite registrations take around 2 minutes. In the rare cases when we do have overtime or missing runners, we return to the pile of HRFs to find their safety information.

After the event the HRFs go with Rich Hoesly, who double- checks the results. He then sends the HRFs to our Membership chair, Darrin Greenstein, who types your data into our membership database, so that we can send one complimentary newsletter, with an offer to join the club to new participants. Often, HRFs have illegible markings instead of neat handwriting. Don't forget the occasional wind that tries to disarray papers at the event. Registering onsite may be easy for you, but it takes much more volunteer time and effort to support.

In contrast, once you input your data into our on-line registration form, we can easily send that data electronically to the ePunch team, to membership, to the meet director, and to the course setter. Your safety information is handily available in a printout the MD brings to the event. Additionally, there's about 25 times less paper being used as the printouts have about 25 listings per page.

How could we tame the lines? When you preregister and prepay through our website you will be able to simply pick up your (or group's) bib (and rental eStick if needed) and go to Start, where your map(s) will be reserved for you. Clare Durand and Scott Schmitz have volunteered to provide this service to people who preregister and prepay. They will assign a rental estick as needed and all your data will be loaded into the ePunch computer before the event. You will not need to check in with ePunch before going to Start. You will not have to worry about us running out of maps. Your map(s) will be waiting for you at Start for whenever you get there within the Start window. The caveat is that you may NOT change course nor group composition. We are certain that this is a service with immense benefits to you and to LAOC. At this time it costs you nothing extra. Please use online registration and payment in January for the Mineral Wells event, and all other events going forward!

If you only preregister, you will have graciously given the course setter and meet director better information about map counts (thank you!), but you will be in the same boat as anyone using onsite registration. You will be at the mercy of any lines that form, whatever eSticks are left, and may need to draw your own course onto a blank map, if there are no preprinted maps left. Note that we've decided to bring a supply of blank maps and one set of Masters for each course so that you can draw your course onto a map if needed. We are trying to contain costs, and at least blank maps can be used the next year, unlike unused preprinted maps.

The future of LAOC may lie in at least some of our events being by preregistration/prepayment only. The BOD generally recognizes the organizational advantages of this, but some members worry that participation would drop substantially if it were required at all events.

A note about eSticks: LAOC provides rental eSticks to enable new participants to try out the sport without needing to buy a specific bit of equipment. We have a decent supply of rental eSticks and have not often gotten near the end of the supply at our meets. At Vasquez Rocks this year 51 participants had to use punch cards after our rental supply was used up. Any person or group that has attended multiple orienteering events and enjoyed it are encouraged by LAOC to purchase their own eSticks. A standard eStick costs about $38 and will last 15 to 20 years with good treatment. An eStick costs less and lasts longer than the shoes you wear to orienteering events. If you give up the sport in the future, you could offer your eStick for resale through LAOC to our participants. You can find a list of orienteering supply vendors at

We have several wonderful events coming up, all volunteer provided! LAOC doesn't exist without the generous sharing of many people's skills, and helping hands. Please volunteer to do something. Even bringing the water to an event would be helpful, just coordinate with the Meet Director. We have events in need of the main organizer, the Meet Director, starting April through the rest of the year. If you would like some training, just ask!

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Required Waiver

Minors attending without a parent must bring this required waiver filled out by their parent for each event or they will NOT be allowed to participate. Adults and parents with children may sign the waiver at the event.

About LAOC

LAOC is a volunteer-run club promoting map navigation and enjoyment of the outdoors. Learn more here!

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