The (im)Perfect Storm
By Wednesday before the race Moab's recent rains had set a 105-year rainfall record. The weather forecast was improving and the course was in great shape... then things changed. The weather pattern that had delivered two record setting "perfect storms" reemerged and created a third perfect storm that landed squarely on top of The 24 Hours of Moab.

The race course had some of the scariest conditions ever encountered at this epic event. Racers on-course during the deluge experienced waist-deep flash-floods, chain-binding, brake-pad wearing mud that forced many into walking mode, gaping erosion ditches that seemed to appear out of nowhere and most dangerously of all, bone-chilling cold that brought many to near hypothermia.

With the prospect of dozens of hypothermia cases and other potential injuries that would have overwhelmed the EMS response teams and put racers in mortal danger, the race director closed the course at 8:00 pm, Saturday. A decision was made to re-start the race in the morning and at 9:00 am, Sunday morning the race was re-started using split times based off of the teams' finish times posted from the last laps from Saturday evening.

Some teams asked if the canceling of a lap (allowable under the rules in normal racing situations) would be allowed for this course closure situation. The race director allowed lap canceling, as per the rules. Canceling a riders lap would allow a team to forego a very slow, cold, night-lap that would create a late starting split time at re-start and instead give them the opportunity to start early in the re-start and race that lap in much faster conditions in the morning. However, not all teams were aware of this strategic choice and some teams, in fact many of the teams in the lead who had just gone out on their lap, were not able to take advantage of this strategy and significant inequities where created.

A lengthy intellectual discussion ensued between racers and the race director regarding the impact of these inequities and possible solutions to the problem. It was determined that the fairest way would be to cancel all teams' last laps, taking the race back to a point where no one had cancelled a lap for strategic reasons and thus putting all the teams on more equal footing going into the restart.

Later, after close scrutiny, race officials determined that due to the timing of heavy rains and when different teams went out for their laps many of the second-to-last laps reflected widely different lap times as well . These widely different lap times created the same sort of inequities. In fact, it was determined that when any 24-hour race is closed because of foul course conditions it is impossible to re-start the race based on finish times because inevitably, some teams will be out on course during the worst conditions and have long lap-times and some teams will not. Using split times to re-start the race gives a huge advantage to teams who finished right before the course closure. These teams are then first in line to restart and are able to record lap times in much faster conditions while other teams are waiting for the later split times (created by their late finishes) to start racing again. Depending on the discrepancies of lap-times created by foul riding conditions, this situation can make it possible for teams to make up 30-minutes or more on their competitors, creating a wholly unfair outcome.

This outcome was reported in many of the classes in the race and led to unfair results, almost across the board. For those who would like to see this effect represented graphically, we have posted an example, using the Men's Expert division. Look at the case for Team LittleDebbieNaturalSasquatchFleas, who had 1st place with a four minute lead on the sixth lap and then went out on a 7th lap during the slowest course conditions. They end up being over-taken during the fast morning laps and lose six places, ending up in 7th.

We have also looked at this scenario without cancelling the last Saturday lap and while the result changes somewhat, it still creates a huge disadvantage to the LittleDebbieNaturalSasquatchFleas, the 8:00 pm leader and this is the case for many other classes as well.

Men's Expert Class:
Results as of 8 pm course closure - Elapsed (clock) Time

Results after Re-Start with 1-cancelled lap per team - Elapsed (Clock) Times
The Official Results:
In the interest of fairness and based on what we now know about the relative fairness of all scenarios there can only be one official result and that is the results of the race as of the course closure at 8:00 pm, Saturday evening. >>>Official Results (Pending Review)

Of course, in all the chaos, it is possible that even in these 8:00 pm results there may be some human errors. The Official Results will not be absolutely official until teams have had a chance to review them and inform us of any discrepancies that may exist. Results will be final as of Friday, October 27th. If you know of a discrepancy, please e-mail our timing technician as soon as possible: >>>Timing Tech


The Un-official Results:
In the re-starting of the race, most teams rejoined the competition with a vengeance. In fact the record lap-time (1:04:51 by Men's Master, Bruce Muhlfeld) was set Sunday morning.

We certainly want to honor the laps put-in after the races re-start and we will post a second data-base of unofficial results that will show all of the laps completed, including the laps that were previously cancelled. It will take us some time to re-work this data-base to re-input all the lap times for those cancelled laps. These results should be available next week and we will announce when they are posted, via e-mail.

The Plan that Failed and the Plan for the Future:
In the aftermath of all the chaos and confusion, Granny Gear was widely criticized for not having a plan in-place. Granny Gear did have a plan but it was not thought through. Granny Gear had implemented a re-start at the last race, The 24 Hours of Landahl, but there the course was closed hours prior to the advance of a major squall. In that case, the teams remaining on the course actually benefited because the course was still in good condition. The re-start at Landahl did not create the same sorts of issues that were created at Moab, where the course closure happened after conditions deteriorated. We did not forsee the consequences of closing the course during foul riding conditions. Our attempts to reconstitute the race in a fair manner were ill-fated and caused a great deal of chaos, confusion and dissapointment. This is NOT what we are commited to creating. We are dedicated to professionalism and fairness in all that we do.
Out of this experience, Granny Gear has now developed a plan that will be precise, fair and will maximize the riding time for all teams. It will also add an extra measure of excitement to the race.
Here it is:

Two Races in One:
In future Granny Gear races, in the case where a course must be closed due to extenuating circumstances and there is a possibility of a re-start, there will actually be two races run with two separate mass starts and the final results will be based on the combined scores of both races.

Imagine that! Two exciting starts, two finishes, everyone on equal footing and a final result that counts all the laps ridden. We believe this to be the fairest, most elegant and most exciting way to conduct re-starts in 24-hour racing.

Granny Gear will be making enhancements to the RealTime™ Scoring System in the off-season to create this capability and this protocol will be written into our rules.

 

Kudos!
It certainly was a "Year to Remember." The stories that will come out of this year's race will be told for many years to come. What we will remember about this race was the intelligence, patience, maturity, and the professionalism of the participants. Thank you. We certainly hope to see everyone next year for the 13th Annual 24 Hours of Moab, the Series Finale to the 2nd Annual 24 Hour National Point Series.

Be well, play fair, ride hard!


-Laird Knight
Race Director
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