Act with reason. (Closed for comments)
Comments about this discussion:
Races should be run with reason and sense.
The problem of having few categories run at the same time or same racing day, or potentially at two consecutive days.
The competitors are split into few separate categories, no real champion is emerged, competition quality is decreased in both categories.
The problem was present in XC and CX races at Unicon19.
Present rules does not distinguish categories based on unicycle setup (wheel size, crank arm length, brakes, or gearing), but also does not prohibit host to create different categories.
The host is free to create categories but should act with sense and reason. Races, especially for titles of Continental or World Champion are run to emerge best riders. Requiring the riders to choose between categories even if they can perform well in each is senseless. It is like having competitions of high jump on platform and high jump over the bar at the same time, or even less similar but still valid: running flatland and trial at the same time. It's of course nonsense.
Races are run to emerge fastest riders (which is usually combination of skill and gear).
Unicon19 XC race is run in two categories standard and unlimited. Categories were announced after the registration started. Competitors first register to the race, than are required to choose between two categories. Official IUF rulebook does not define satandard or unlimited categories. Host created them and named freely as it is free to do so. Two separate (endurance) races were run at the same day not facing top competitors to race against each other. Both categories were awarded as being of the same importance.
It was allowed by present regulations but without executed without sense.
Unicon 19 CX race is run in two categories: standard and unlimited. Simmilar to XC race, competitors had to choose between first or second category.
Present rules state:
"Separating categories depends on the course. If the course is not favoring any type of unicycle, no separate categories should be made."
CX courses usually contain man made obstacles, those can be positioned to not favor any type of unicycle. To face best riders against each other it was enough to create few more obstacles.
I suggest to keep present regulations but add regulation stating that races are run with reason to emerge fastest riders and should be executed in way that allows to face best riders against each other.
In general, I'm also against separating top riders into different categories. For XC, the rulebook says: "The course should be chosen such that geared riders do not have an undue advantage." Unfortunately, it was impossible to get such a course at the venue of Unicon 19. The course really favored geared riders. In such a case, I think it makes sense to split categories to ensure a fair competition. For reference, we had a huge discussion about separating XC categories 2 years ago: https://iuf-rulebook-2016.committees.unicycling-software.com/discussions/70
Moving forward, how do we solve this in the future? Hopefully better courses where we don't have to separate. However, I know that it's hard to find a suitable Unicon host, and having proper muni tracks might not be the top priority for the IUF. So what about having dedicated muni world championships independent from Unicon, which should be much easier to organize at suitable locations? Just an idea!
For CX, you only cited the first part of the paragraph on unicycle categories. The second half specifically mentions Limited/Unlimited for courses that favor big/geared wheels. At Unicons, I think only the one in Spain did not favor big/geared wheels. Judging from rider feedback, this course was one of the least liked. The question is: what is a good CX course? Should it be a pure obstacle course that doesn't favor geared riders, should it be closer to a bicycle CX cource (which is way more natural), or something in between?
Acting with reason cannot be legislated, or made into rules. We have to try to predict future situations, and then decide on the correct way to deal with them sensibly.
Also, we cannot guarantee non-track race courses that won't be advantageous to large wheels over small, or geared vs. ungeared. Especially with multi-discipline events like Unicon or EUC, where hosts must provide numerous facilities within a reasonable geographic area. Muni courses are especially hard to locate; even when good trails exist, it may not be possible to use them for a sports competition, or in some circumstances unwise to share them with famous trails that attract users from around the world (Spain). It's an imperfect situation, so we must be careful not to place too many restrictions on hosts.
Because the Unicon 19 XC course clearly favored geared hubs, it made sense to have a separation. But could this separation have been handled differently? Riders wishing to compete against the Geared riders should have been allowed to enter a fully "Unlimited" category, and others, who did not feel competitive against geared riders, could have entered an "Ungeared Unlimited" category. Would that have worked?
Noter the "Ungeared Unlimited" label states the one restriction, while including the word Unlimited; meaning no limitations other than not having gearing.
Time is also a factor when running these races, where sometimes there isn't enough time to run all the separate events or heats you would like to have. Could they be run concurrently? Rider data could be separated from the timing chip data. The course would be more crowded, but that might turn out to be necessary rather than cancelling a race due to weather (or crazy heat).
I'm also wondering if there needs to be some involvement from the IUF to decide if the courses favor geared riders or not. How much in advance does this need to be announced? I could see a situation where riders would want to plan and train accordingly on a certain unicycle based on the type of course.
In reply to John's comment, couldn't the categories just be called Ungeared and Unlimited? Muni is by definition in the rulebook, unlimited. I do think that the races could potentially be run simultaneously. We already have wave starts in heats so top riders of each category could be put together in heats.
When it comes to Muni courses, especially, they often seem to get finalized at the last minute, or at least very late in preparation for a competition. This sometimes prevents courses from being carefully vetted. I believe current rules state that the course details should be published "as early as possible" (or something similar), but this often does not happen. Meanwhile, riders who have to fly to the event don't know which unicycle(s) to bring, and guessing wrong sucks!
If organizers are able to procure trails for the races, sharing the details of those trails should be enough for riders to take an educated guess at which wheels to bring. Key data points would be:
- Starting elevation
- Finish line elevation
- Total climbing and descending on the course (same number if a loop, but different otherwise)
- Technical difficulty, with some description of what percentage of the distance is flowy, bumpy, difficult, dangerous, super-steep, etc.
Yes to Patricia on categories: "Ungeared" is clear enough, as long as it points to a longer definition, that saves people from having to ask questions or, worse, show up with wrong assumptions. And Unlimited should always be the same thing; any unicycle that meets the definition of unicycle. :-)
This is also not really something that would end up in the rulebook. Thanks for all the comments though! Closed.