Debrief main race ECMC 2022 Bremen.

Hey there.
Happy to hear a lot of people enjoyed the quali and main race at ECMC Bremen.
It has been 11 years ago since i made a race for messengers: that was CMWC 2011 Warsaw.
That meant i had to get up to steam again and also i wanted to experiment with some ideas i did not try before.
This type race i made for multiple events now, but every time a little different. Some times scoring was easy, sometimes harder.


Basics of this race and some calculations based on experience.

13 checkpoints.
78 possible rides.
26 manifest with 3 rides
3 redistribution manifests.

Approx calculation per ride was 3 minutes.

In the quali the rides ended up 3.5 minutes per ride.
So i did not see a bad influence coming.
The quali had 6 rides per manifest so less circeling back to dispatch.

In the main race finals the packages seemed to add another minute per ride.

The course was a long stretch with satellite destinations. So a lot of detours had to be taken. This also added time to a ride.

And the one way into dispatch also added another minute per manifest.

During the finals the average time between pick up and drop went down to 5 to 6 minutes. That means the race would have been 6.5 hours long. Maybe even longer.

The redistribution manifests took 20 minutes on average and where too messy.

This all meant we had to cut the race short.
At 17.00 we started the last hour of the race, without any one reaching a total of 23 manifest before going into the final 6 manifest sequence.

Because the time spend on each manifest was levelled out over time, we decided to have every one keep going in the first sequence of manifest.

Towards the end, making any decisions wat getting harder and some inconsistency came into play.

The manifests where checked and discussed by a whole crew of volunteers.

I have a whole bunch of ideas to make this system work better in the future. And also make it more interesting again.


  • Please give me any input. I know already what i need to change, but i like to learn more on experiences and rules we have missed. Miscommunications, and also how the race was.
    I know it was pretty easy. I did this on purpose to test some things and start easy.
    I am looking for a few people who want to works on the main race in Brooklyn this year. So we can build a crazy race with more challenges. Basically anything is possible in this format.
    Different sizes manifest. Shorter and more redistro. Combining calls.
    Waiting time, super rushes etc.
    Mostly want to use a better scoring and matching up. system preferably in an app.
    Hope the get in touch with some of the people who made racing scoring and building software to add or rebuild into another choice of race building for the future.
    I know my system works, did it 6 times before. But i like critical input and a chance to evolve for the future generations to use and rebuild racing formats.
  • Hi Fish!
    First and foremost I really want to thank you and give big ups for your effort!
    I am going to talk about my experience during the qualifying and main race and after that I got some questions which you can answer maybe.

    Since I consider myself reasonably quick both in my head and with my feet I didn't think too much of it, I didn't push too hard, had some convos with stop staff etc all with the thought in my head about how easily I qualified at last years ECMC in Basel. When the Quali results came in I was quite stunned, I did qualify but not as easily as I thought I might have, also I felt the times were pretty close together so I knew I had to push hard for the finals.

    Main race:
    Since I already knew it would be hard I pushed as hard as I could from the very beginning, I started with manifest 11 so quite a lot of hard pedaling and little thinking from the very beginning. Reaching manifest 20 (one of the big ones) I already was quite exhausted and I may not have been as fresh in my head as when I would have had this manifest at the very beginning. In the end I managed to get to manifest 4 or 5 (so I completed 17 or 18 manifests) with 2 minutes until the end. Since some other very fast dude (who started with the same manifest) was head to head with my for almost the whole race I felt pretty good about finishing decent (which I still don't know since the results aren't posted yet).

    My inputs:
    I think there was too much feet and too less brain, while that might be intentional I still think it was too easy too complete the small manifests, almost always there only was one obvious route to take and from there on it was just pedalling as hard as you could. The big manifests were quite nice and mixed things up and I wished all manifests would've been like that since route choices would've changed a lot more. I also loved actually hauling things from A to B.
    The star shape of the course (lots of satellite stops) didn't make routing difficult which also played into the strong legs only theme.
    Sorting out manifests especially the big ones I imagine was a nightmare, while the little manifests should've been pretty easy to sort out the big ones I can only imagine to be a nightmare. Stamping space was too little, the colored background made it even harder and the coating of these manifests made it so that stamps smeared really easily. More space and/or maybe hole punching instead of stamps or something like that would be better?

    How many racers reached the last 6 manifests? Like I said I was 5 manifests (4 little ones and one big one) away from reaching the final 6, which is approx. 1h of extra riding and I know there are stronger riders out there but I can't imagine anyone actually being that much faster, maybe I am just slower than I think though.
    How was the mainrace scored? If it is per stop then peeps who were able to get both big manifests early (starting with 10 or 20) had a clear advantage. If it is per manifest it is the other way round of course.
    In my mind when nobody gets at least to the first final manifest scoring cannot be fair since even the small manifests were longer and shorter distance wise or am I completely off?

    Too much legs too little head for my liking. Make a plan for x manifests in y hours than cut the amount of manifests in half to not get too much into trouble with time.
    If possible make a routing more difficult (less satellite stops).

    Now I know that is a lot of text and quite some criticism but please don't feel offended, over text it always reads way more harsh than in person. I really enjoyed the ECMC and the race and I greatly appreciate your effort and hard work.

    Cheers Sven
  • last year in basel we ended up in a kitchen and discussed for hours about the turnout of the mainrace.. i have to say i forgot about that and when someone step up to me in bremen and asked why we hadn't a PLAN B if somethings goes wrong unexpectedly it came up in my mind again!

    a plan B, like a small and short Final, you put in racers if somethings runs out of control. good shot! if this is thought through it could also be the end if the race comes to an end as it should, but it should have its own parameters and factors in it to be fair.

    as i was only in the dispatch during quali and mainrace i was initialy a bit sad it could have turned out a bit unfair but later i think it doesnt matter at all! there should be some factors in such a race wich are unpredictable, like in a normal working day!
    delay, unexpected waiting times who cost u the pick up of a way better payed job, no elevator service and 1o stories of stairs etc..

    so if some had been lucky i congratulate them for beeing super strong and lucky that day!

    some additions to sven_mrschrecklich:

    If possible make a routing more difficult (less satellite stops).
    --racecourse design is based on the location, if organizers have a location it would be great to show it to the local alleycat organizers to think of its potential!

    Make a plan for x manifests in y hours than cut the amount of manifests in half to not get too much into trouble with time.
    -- calling out certain manifests was impossible at the time dispo realized it will take to much time to race all, cause all racers started from all manifest numbers
  • I agree that there always will be some luckier and unluckier stops with waiting time etc.
    To accomodate for this I would suggest to have challenging routing decisions which will gain/cost you more time depending if you make the right choice at the right time (what our job basically is all about).
    I think at a race where the goal is to determine the fastest courier (both head and legwise) at least the jobs should be the same for all racers (like it was planned in the first place).
    Having some plan B is a good call, for this race the only thing I can think about would've been restarting the race with only the final 6 manifests after there was the realization that it will be too long.

    To clarify my first posting and FFFeliks answer regarding my "Make plan x in y hours and cut in half":
    This definitely wasn't possible during the race, just a suggestion for future race designs. There is no need for a 4h final in my opinion. If this race would've been cut in half manifest wise it would've lasted almost the same time but winners would be clear and fair since everyone would've raced the same race.

    Looking forward what Fish got to say about this and hopefully some clarification about my questions.
  • Thanks for opening up this debreif. Nice to get some thourghts behind these races ✨

    I’m curious for some clearification on the penalties given in the qualifications - quite a lot some some heavy time penalties, but it wasnt clearified for what?

    Also a huge thank for throwing this event and race!
  • Thanks for organizing! Really nice to be able to discuss a main race that didn’t go as planned. A lot to learn = food for all organizers! Yay!

    I’m really curious about how the manifests were counted, now that you didn’t expect to count anything. Did you count number of manifests or the lenght of the tags and how with the distribution manifests? Must somehow have been better to start with #9 than with #19 I assume.

    Is it maybe possible for you to upload the manifests? Always fun to realize where you made the mistakes afterwards.

    A big up was definitely the fysical item thing. So much fun to have so much weird stuff go around. Apparantly it’s so confusing to move stuff from the correct A to the correct B 😂
  • everyone could have grabbed their manifests at the prizeceremony.. they were sorted by numbers and in a postbox beside the stage.

    if penalties were given it was written on them.

    to count all points for the manifests took a commitee aprox. 5-6h!
    i stick to my point of view that within the top ten riders, that random portion of luck given, was the best thing .. to achive an even more realistic work enviroment!

    big manifests (10&20) been worth 3 times the amount of small manifests due to the lenght and planning.

    in qualification the penalties were given most of the time as i remember for really destroyed manifests! if this things comes back with holes, eaten and beaten up… your portfolio is just not as good as the majority managed to handle it.

    we were not giving penalties for unreadable racenumbers and names but you cannot believe how hard it was and how many pairs of eyes it cost to simply read your names and numbers! unbelievable.. i was crying out load and put it in the bin.. that another volunteer tries to read and grasp it!
    it was only one manifest completly stamped by all checkpoints but without name and number wich couldn‘t be filed.

    what i wondered was why the majority of riders littered the start/finish stretch with their pizzaboxes? some really handed in that box at the finish!

    regarding the system of the mainrace concepts i rode and saw during 13years, none of them matches my daily work.. wich is open call. i realized messengers with dispatch knowledge are way better in the playful adaptation a mainrace is.

    i dream about a open call mainrace. at naccc‘s have been one wich was a mixture of open call and manifests as i understood some participants.

    to organize so many walkie talkies is a matter of cost but nowadays „everybody“ has a smartphone and what would you say to have someone reading out jobs the entire time?

    dispatch reads em out all the time, racers should not even call on them to pick em but figure out wich is good for them and do it. get receits on your workmanifest and every once a while some jobs dissapear from the radio and new ones comming back.
    combined with an app where you can pick a job and it gets listed in your joblist would be a great deal.

    anyways, letz find out what to consider and what to avoid for future times and think of people who could help out in modernizing the beaurocratic part of it wich was only to handle this year with lotz of volunteerpower.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify!
    - Did the race really need 25 manifests? Instead of many manifests with few jobs on each, why not just a few manifests with lots of jobs? Not sure what was going on with the wall of manifests at the Start/Finish and all the rearranging that was done to them afterwards, but it seemed insanely over-complicated. There has to be an easier way to achieve the same race.
    - Have contingency plans for everything. Think of EVERYTHING that could possible go wrong and discuss ways to solve those problems if/when they happen. What happens if it rains? What happens if checkpoints run out of packages? What to do if the race is taking too long? What happens if...?
    - I understand why all the finalists didn't get the same manifests at the beginning - to split people up and avoid overwhelming the checkpoints from the start - but this can be better solved with using just a handful of "starter" manifests. Split the 4-5 starter manifests up evenly among the finalists, when they finish one, they get the next, but once those first 4-5 manifests are complete, everyone starts getting the same manifests in the same order. Making everyone go through all the manifests in a different order created a situation where everybody raced a different race. Not everybody got the "big" manifests with all the jobs, which was a big disadvantage as those manifests were worth more points and in a way easier to complete because you could do more creative/strategic routing and spend less time coming back to HQ empty.
    - The finals should NEVER be points based. It should simply be the first person to complete all of the assigned tasks. That person crosses the finish line, hands up in the air, dramatic celebration, and NO MATH to calculate results once the race is over.
    - Calculating the results has to be automated, and must not rely on manual math. Results must be fair and accurate and be presented ASAP after the race ends. Whatever the race system is, it has to be able to produce results IMMEDIATELY. It must not take 6 hours to score a race that took 5 hours to run!!!
    - It is also incredibly important to be able to produce complete and reliable results for the entire race (and all the side events), hours not weeks after the event. Only one person is going to win, but all 100 finalists want to know how did they did. Not getting a result is very disappointing.
  • peepz without one big manifest didn‘t come close to to the top 50.

    i am also pro immediate result.. first in finish wins, big celebration with friends and spectators but there is a another thinking out there, that it is cool for all racers to chitchat about how they feel and how there race went until the prizeceremony.
  • To answer directly the question regarding penalties during qualifiers - I believe we applied a 5 min penalty (in other words 5 mins was added to your qualifying time) for any job that was F'd up or incorrect.

    To be honest we did not do the best job communicating that out to folks during or afterward. Apologies as the list of info to convey was quite long, in hindsight this definitely should have been communicated to you all as well.

    We had agreed that the same penalty would be applied for any course violations but I am not certain of we had any of those trickle down to qualifying results.
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