Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Not so FAST....

I'm planning the remainder of my summer trial season - at this point we're looking out into July and August. If Teller and I are going to qualify for Lexington, VA in 2011 we've got to get out there and get those QQs and points. As I'm deciding which trials to enter (or where to travel) I'm looking really hard at trials that offer FAST and trying to decide if I want to enter a one ring 330 trial that offers FAST.

The majority of the trials that offer FAST (Fifteen and Send Time) have a good reason for doing so and those reasons fall into a few categories:

  • Space - parking, crating, exhibitor viewing. By offering a third class with the same 330 runs they reduce the total number of exhibitors and dogs - thus reducing pressure on the facility.

  • Previous trials haven't filled - this is true with the one ring 330 run trials as well as the 660 run two ring trials. Offering FAST cuts down the number of exhibitors needed to fill the trial. Trials that were close to filling can fill all of their spots while drawing from the same exhibitor pool - increasing revenue with a minimal increase in trophy/worker costs.

  • To support the folks who are working towards the Triple Q awards and the Platinum FAST titles. 

  • There's also a certain subset of the population who like to have that fast run to practice (train) in the ring before they run classes that matter (precisely the reason that I've entered FAST in the past).

  • The bottom-line for me though is that while FAST means a later start for me on Saturday AM (when I'm traveling to a trial) it also means a later end to the day on Sunday evening when I want to get home and prepare for the work-week ahead. At a recent one ring trial (semi-locally) there were roughly 50 dogs entered in FAST (in all levels) and it took well over four hours to run those three classes. Excellent Standard didn't walk until nearly 1pm, Excellent JWW finished up around 5:30pm and Novice JWW didn't finish until nearly 8pm. That's a 12 hour day for the event committee, a 12 hour day for a judge on their feet and a really long day for exhibitors who may have gotten up at the crack of dawn to drive to the trial only to get there and wait around most of the day. And on the second day of the trial this means that we won't finish our second run until at least 4pm with a 3-4 hour drive home. I'd probably feel differently about trials with FAST if they were less than an hour from home (what I call "sleep in our own bed" trials).

    The other part of the equation is that I don't understand why AKC FAST takes so long to run so few dogs - other venues (USDAA, CPE, NADAC, etc) offer many more classes at all three levels and as a result have more course changes and more walk-throughs. If other venues can offer 400 runs in five different classes and five levels each day (that's a lot of course-builds!!!) certainly we can figure out a way that 330 runs in 9 classes take less than 12 hours to run. In comparison, if those same 50 dogs were added to the excellent JWW class they'd be completed in about 90 minutes and on an excellent STD course completed in about 2 hours.

    There are a couple of upcoming trials that are going to solve the parking and spectator problem by running the Excellent classes back to back and then flip-flopping the Open and Novice classes in the afternoon. Excellent standard will be followed by Excellent JWW, then Open JWW, Novice JWW, Open Standard and then lastly Novice Standard (or Ex JWW, Ex STD, Open STD, Nov STD, Open JWW, Novice JWW). The theory is that the excellent big dogs folks can work the excellent small dog classes (and vice versa) and the open folks can work the novice classes and the novice exhibitors work the open classes. I think there's some great promise in that running order and I'm very much looking forward to seeing it in action. Hopefully it'll make for a shorter day while solving parking and spectating concerns.

    Meanwhile I'm at the same place with my entries...

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