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]

Thursday, 3 January 2013

TGO Challenge Analysis (Part 4 – First Timer DNSs)

The problem with the Monster TGO Challenge Data Spread Sheet is that it’s all too easy to pick up one particular piece of information, thinking ‘I wonder what…’ and then getting sucked down a rabbit hole in examining the stats related to that piece of information.

A question asked by Alan Sloman on my last post (as to whether I had considered only the First Timers who had finished the event, thus discounting Retirees (you’ll have to go to the comments on Part 3 to see the answer to that one!)) made me realise that I had forgotten to deal with the ‘Did Not Start’ (DNS*) First Timers, which in turn meant that my first cut of Part 3 was skewed. I’ve now put that right, but in the process I got sucked down a rabbit hole, starting with ‘how many DNSs never came back’ and going on from there.

‘Did Not Start’, as the name suggests, occurs where someone was on the list of Participants, but didn’t make it to the start line. Nowadays, with the standby list, people tend to pull out officially rather than simply not arriving at the start line and, although there must be scope for DNSs (sudden day-before-the-start accidents or emergencies), either they are not recorded or one hasn’t occurred for years, as the last DNS recorded was in 1997**. As the system has changed, the DNSs are of little statistical value, but, even so, let me share what I found.

The first recorded First Timer DNS was in 1982; the last was in 1995 (note that I’ve only looked at First Timer DNSs, not at people who DNSd on their second or subsequent Challenge). Over the period 1982 to 1995 there were 1330 First Timers listed, of whom 24 did not make it to the start line. A very small percentage really:


Not a very interesting statistic by itself, is it? It becomes more interesting when you start to look at what happened to that 1.8% in subsequent years:


When I say ‘Didn’t Enter Again’ what I mean is they didn’t appear on the list again. If we were to be pedantic, I concede that it is possible they entered then withdrew before the start.

So, only 5 out of the 24 First Timer DNSs ever entered the event again. What happened to those 5 people next?

Incredibly, of those five, every single one of them did start a subsequent Challenge and every single one of them retired from a subsequent Challenge. Let me repeat that: 100% of First Timer DNSs who came back for a later event have retired on at least one Challenge. Of course, some of those five returning First Time DNSs entered more than one subsequent Challenge, and not only did every one of them retire from at least one Challenge, but 40% of them DNSd for a second time.

Some were successful on subsequent Challenges, but no-one who DNSd on their first entry managed successfully to complete more than two Challenges:


The ‘never completed’ includes both DNS and Retired.

And now, having spent/lost another morning playing with data (so much more interesting than work!) I really must go and do a little housework and then take myself out for a little yomp through some of the local mud.

(*Please forgive me for having treated ‘DNS’ as both a noun and a verb!

**Whilst looking at when the last DNS occurred, I noticed that one of the 1997 DNSs was on the list for 9 Challenges in the 1990s and didn’t even make it to the start line on 6 of them. He completed two and retired on one. Two completions in 9 consecutive entries – I wonder if that’s a record? Hmmm, there’s another rabbit hole down which I could so easily fall …)


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

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 5     Part 6


  1. Very graphic! As you are inserting photos atc into blogger blogs, may i ask a question? thanks.

    I can no longer insert a photo where I want it. it defaults to the top of the blog and I have to drag it to its final position. Are you having this problem? Nor can I any longer insert a full picture in my heading. It used to be make picture fit.

    Any ideas.

    Sorry to ask these but you are a regular Google blogger.

    1. As Martin has already said, the answer is Windows Live Writer. I never use Blogger Dashboard to post, and haven't for years.

      Windows Live Writer is far less painful and lets you put pictures where you want without any need for dragging (and if you set it up right even makes those pictures a pre-set size and centres them for you).

    2. Yep, the Blogger editor is a pile of ****.
      But it has been a twitchy pain for ages and it's about time they fixed it.

      Another set of interesting stats Mick :-)

  2. Incredible!

    [Totally unrelated comment for welshpaddler - have you tried using Windows Live Writer? Without that I have the same problems as you - it makes blogging a bit tedious.]

  3. There should be a memorial to the Lassitude Lad - the one who kept successfully applying but never turned up. Maybe a Challenge toast at the Thirsday do..?

  4. Well!

    The Coordinator must have had a very good reason to allow the 1990's niner DNSer back in or the niner DNSer must had kept the negatives.


  5. Wow thanks Gayle!
    I didn't know about Windows Live Writer, I've just tryed it on my Test Blog and it's just so much easier than Blogger. :-)