The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

TGO Challenge Analysis (Part 3)

I cannot believe how many hours I have spent today just to produce a small handful of graphs! Admittedly, my knowledge of Excel is not a patch on Mick’s, so I did go around the houses rather a lot to get to the right answers*.

Working from a question posed by Alan Sloman, I started out by looking at what age participants were on their first challenge. What I learnt was that the youngest first-timer was 17, the oldest were 77 and the most common age for a first timer is 45. Here is the data shown graphically:

image

I then realised that, as interesting as that was, it didn’t actually answer Alan’s question. So, after significant amounts of head-scratching and formula writing (involving a little bit of Googling), I came up with this one, showing the average age of the first timers for each year of the event:

image

Quite a few ages are missing from the early Challenges, particularly the first one. These averages are based just on those participants whose ages are known. 1980 is the only year which may be significantly skewed by the missing data as 42% of ages are missing.

I confess that I went around the houses a bit to come up with the data behind that graph, and in doing so I noticed what appeared to be an error, as my information was telling me that there was only one first timer in 1989. So convinced was I that something had gone awry that I went back to the original source data (in the form Word document files) and did a bit of searching. Sure enough, there was only one first timer on the 10th running of the event.

All of that work led me to look at the number of first timers for each year of the event:

image

All very interesting, but of limited value without also knowing the total number of participants, hence here’s the Number of First Timers plotted against the Total Participants for each year:

image

Which shows that in 1989 there was one first timer out of 218 participants. Curious, but I’m sure someone can explain why that came to be.

I would have left my day’s work at that point, and taken myself and a nice cup of tea to sit with my feet up in front of the telly for a nice relaxing evening, except that in talking to Mick this evening he asked why I hadn’t looked at the percentage of first timers each year and once the idea was in my head I felt that it would be an unforgivable omission if I didn’t produce that graph too. Here it is (bit cluttered, mind!):

image

I hope that answers your question, Alan.

Sorry I couldn’t answer your question Mike Knipe, nor meet your deadline(!) … as interesting as it would be, that information isn’t available.

 

(* I did spend the best part of two hours manually gathering data from each of the 2920 entries on the spreadsheet, before I managed to get hold of Mick to ask him what function it was that I needed to automate the process. I then redid my best-part-of-two-hours of work, plus finished the job, in about five seconds flat!)

 

Click to go to other Parts of this series of posts:

Part 1     Part 2     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6

15 comments:

  1. What can I say?

    Brilliant work, Missy! And well done Mick for providing the shortcuts!

    So the average age of first timers has risen by about 15 years over the period of the event. That was a real surprise!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Tenth Challenge in 1989 was only open to previous participants and I think the lucky first timer was Barbara Dawes.
    I was 39 that year and it seems like yesterday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're quite right as to who the first timer was on that Challenge. Good memory! (Or a copy of the stats at your fingertips?)

      Delete
  3. Am I correct in thinking that in this analysis "first timers" are first timers who completed the Challenge? (that is, they did not drop out)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That may have seemed like an innocuous question, but as soon as I read it I realised that I'd forgotten to go back and deal with the Did Not Starts! I immediately leapt out of bed and started working on it again (did someone mention that I needed to get out more?)...

      To answer your question, my analysis for First Timers is for all people who started the Challenge, so it includes Retirees. I did start out by not including Retirees, but decided that it was valid to take the data for all people who made it to the start line, rather than just those who made it to the finish line.

      However, the DNS data should have been excluded (particularly as the evolution of the event means that DNSs are very much a rarity now). So I've gone back through the data (manually, because it's not as simple as simply excluding anyone who was a DNS in their first year, because they may have then gone on to start a later event...) and modified the data to ignore DNSs. The graphs in this post have been updated accordingly - not that it made a massive difference. The biggest difference is in 1990.

      Delete
  4. I think you need to get out more Gayle.
    Time for a curry walk?
    JJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh curry! And a walk! Sounds good. Alas, I am back at work next week, which rather limits the opportunity for midday curries, walking and playing with spreadsheets :-(

      Delete
  5. Hmmm… I think you also need similar charts for all entrants, not just participants. I wish I had time to get that information to you for the last two years… !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure whether I should be glad that you don't have the time to get that information to us, or whether I should say 'well throw it at us in whatever format you have it'!

      Delete
  6. Humphrey Weightman3 January 2013 10:02

    Waargh! They came to Lunch and stayed to Krunch! Great work!

    Any chance of a pie-chart showing percentage of folk who try the Challenge once and then decide "never again . . . ". ie first-and-only timers as a percentage of total entrants? Might have to only take up to, say, 2008 so as not to skew the data too much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That one was already on the list - although it may be a while away yet. I think we'd decided that 2006 should be the cut-off, but whatever year we use, we're in agreement that there needs to be a margin for 'they'll come back again one day'.

      Delete
  7. Sheer brilliance!

    I wish I had half the ability to produce something like this! And, yes, Humphrey's question is one that has always crossed my mind.

    It will intrigue me how many first timers who did not complete 2012 come back for another Challenge - but, maybe this is pushing statistical analysis too far!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you remind me in 2018, I'll have a look at the 'which 2012 non-completors never came back' stats!

      Delete
  8. Utterly speechless. But I love it!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Blimey! Louise... "Speechless!"
    :-)

    ReplyDelete