Friday, November 21, 2014

USATF Grand prix meeting

I went to the LDR slate selection meeting last week.  I was disappointed that nothing was posted about the meeting (other than – “Slate selection meeting to be announced”).  I had to track down the where and when of the meeting which by LDR rules is open to the membership.  Since the lack of communication from USATF NE to the membership was a bone of contention last year, I’d hoped for better this year.  Appearance is everything and this (right or wrong) gives the appearance of USATF doing whatever it pleases.  If you were on the short-list you got an email invitation to the meeting if not the only way you would know about the meeting is if you contacted the USATF NE president and LDR reps.  I did so and got to see the inner workings of the LDR committee.
The short of it was that the meeting itself was productive with the committee finally adopting a somewhat “open” voting for the Grand Prix races.  This is a huge improvement over the secretly created slates which often lumped a race you might want in with others you didn’t.  Now with very little restriction we (the members of USATF) will be able to vote on what races we think are the best to be designated USATF NE championships.
It will be quite interesting to see how this works.  It was refreshing to see LDR willing to move forward on this.  My hope now is that communication and transparency are improved on over the next year.
I’ll be posting the link to the voting as soon as it becomes available.
If you are more interested in the “long” of it, here are my notes from the meeting.
In attendance:
Lisa Doucett – LDR & CSU
Jen Mortimer – MIL
Jan Homquist – LAC
Rick Stetson –
Gordon MacFarland – CSU
Dave Dunham – CMS
Jason Ayr – WMDP
Nico Naranyo – WMDP
Skip Cleaver – GCS
Amanda Wight – Sisu
Dave Kazanjian – WRT
Anna Jean – NSS
Mike Pelletier – NSS
Steph – Sisu
Caityln Germain – Sisu
Chris Spinney – WRT
Tom Derderian – President & GBTC
Jim Garcia – LDR & GLRR
John Barbour – LDR & GLRR
Lisa chaired the meeting.  Opened stating the purpose was to go through the calendar and the races by date and take into consideration other races, series, traditional dates.  Jen Mortimer (Athletes Rep) had a handout based on feedback she had received on slates.  Her idea was to do away with the slates to better have the series conform to the wants of the people.  She set up groups of races by distance and offered restrictions based on how close a selected race was to any other races (example: if you picked a marathon you could not pick another race within 20 days before or after that marathon).
Lisa noted that the goals was to produce a series that had geographic distribution along with varying distances and taking into account the calendar of other events.
Gordon noted that the group was selected and as such delegated by the clubs to create slates.  Noted that last year there were a number of slates and felt we should have four this year.  He also suggested that the ½ marathon be a category unto itself as ½ marathons have experience exponential growth in recent years.
Lisa suggested possible modifications to the GP.  Then moved on to selecting races, she stated that having “open” voting leads to a popularity contest.  I stated that there is nothing wrong with that!  Jim and Caitlyn argued the merits of slates versus open voting.  Including who’s best interest are we looking out for…the athletes or the races.  Lisa noted a hesitancy of athletes to select new races as opposed to ones they are familiar with.
Skip Cleaver went on to suggest having three slates this year.  Caitlyn and others again asked why we weren’t considering Jen’s idea.  Dave K noted that there would be the possibility of conflicts if the voting were done via Jen’s suggestion.  Others noted this could be dealt with by the committee after.  Garcia noted the history of going to a committee over opeing it up to the masses and that voting for each race may create an inherent series.  Dave again stressed that conflicts could be created using open voting.  Spinney noted that there were enough club reps present that a “straw poll” could be done using Jen’s format and we could see how that turned out.
While working on the votes, I noted that the mile was removed and was told that it had been decided at another meeting that bids under 5k would not be considered for the Grand Prix.
Tom D discussed some new ideas he had for other LDR activities and possible changes to the GP.
Those present used Jen’s suggested form and voted as follows:
Marathon – VT (9), MCM (2)         ½ marathon – NB (8), NE (2), Middlebury (1)         5k – Hollis (7), ARM (3)
10k – LG (8), Canton (2), Newton (1)        5m – Doyle (6), Rib (5)  
Other: GMAA (6), Amherst (6), Bedford (3), Nahant (3), Seasons (1)
Side note: discussion about liaisons at the races.  The question was raised regarding USATF ensuring quality control at GP races.  Garcia noted that there is a check list for the liaison and there should be liaisons at each GP race (this was not the case for a number of races in 2014).  Jason noted USATF should be vetting the race and needs a better plan for what USATF will do, using the fiasco at the marathon as an example.  Tom noted that we can’t work this out at the GP slate meeting and suggested that this be discussed further at a later date.
Dave K noted that he worked out a slate based solely on the dates and came up with one similar to what the poll came up with.  He also noted that a spring marathon opens up the fall for teams to focus on cross-country.
A proposal was made that USATF could put on its own 5k.  I noted that Hollis was one of the most popular (based on the number of USATF members who ran) races when it was in the GP 2 years ago.  There was much discussion about adding a USATF managed 5k.
Spinney noted that our poll came up with a reasonable slate and stressed that we should just allow the membership to vote using Jen’s suggested sheet.

Pelletier noted that our poll may be misleading and not necessarily the interest of the membership as we all have our own prejudices (and a number of people in the room had been specifically harmed by races that have bid).
Spinney again noted that Jen’s suggestion could be used and slates would not be needed.  Possibly adding a disclaimer that should races be selected that are in conflict the committee would meet to resolve those conflicts.
Gordon talked about how we always have certain races (such as New Bedford) and perhaps we should have limits.  The pro’s and con’s of having limits was discussed with no decision.
Lisa also discussed the idea of having a “1/2’s of New England” a three-race series of the ½ marathons that had bid.
Amanda and Jen discussed using Jen’s proposal for voting.
Jan Holmquist went over four possible slates she had created, based on geography, calendar, etc.
More general discussion on using Jen’s proposal.  Suggestions on how to modify the sheet to allow it to function in Survey Monkey.  Caitlyn suggested the rules be clearly stated, exactly what will happen and when.  Also, what will be done if a conflict arises. 
Spinney asked what would be done in the event of a tie (unlikely) and I asked whether a majority was need for a race to win (no, a plurality would be enough).
Decision was made to go with Jen’s suggestion.  Lisa will send out information along with the link.  This will be located on the GP page at USATF.  The link will also be out on various social media sites.
Meeting closed.


Joe S. said...

You are the best Dave, thanks for the update and your right the usatfne sucks at communication.

John Barbour said...

I will take some responsibility for this as the new men's LDR chair. My arrival in that position ("plunk") came as the process was in full swing, as was I with other responsibilities, and thus I am sort of easing into the role as able rather than having hit the proverbial ground running. I'm sure that this is frustrating to some, but as the coach says, "it is what it is". Communication is important and such observations as this are good learning tools. Dave's review is, needless to say, terrific.

Joe S. said...

It's just amazing to me the lack of emails going out to members. We should get emails once a week with updates. Thanks John for volunteering, I'll see you at LeHigh hopefully.