The 2013 DX Marathon (September 3, 2013).
I'm not one for contests, but this one intrigues me. The last thing I want to do is spend a nonstop weekend calling "CQ Contest". I know a lot of guys that do contests, and that's OK as there's enough facets to this hobby that everybody can stay happy doing their own thing, but a weekend contest is not for me. However, this "DX Marathon" is a different kind of contest. It lasts the whole year. It's not a "balls to the wall" kind of contest that lasts a day or two, but more like a long, winding road with speed bumps along the way. A true marathon. Everybody gets dinged along the contest route, nobody is exempt. Whether you can't operate because of a two week family vacation, or maybe your amp went down for a month, or you were busy riding your motorcycle all summer and couldn't find time for radio - you can get right back in where you left off because this contest outlasts them all. It truly is a 365 day marathon.
Rules are simple. From the DX Marathon Website; "Starting January 1 of each year, the DX Marathon is the perfect answer for the DX-er who needs that extra incentive to get on the air every day! Simply work as many countries and CQ Zones as you can in each calendar year, regardless of the band or mode. Each country and zone counts only once, so you can concentrate on working new ones rather than working the same ones on multiple bands and modes. Awards are given for the top overall scores in two classes plus the top scores in 3 modes and 10 bands plus low power/small antennas. More information on awards is available here or contact us at: email@example.com"
Pretty simple I'd say. But there's more. "Categories: Each entrant in the DX Marathon may submit one log each year per operating location. Participants submitting logs for single mode or single band entries must include only those contacts. Logs submitted with multiple mode or multiple bands will not be considered for mode and band awards." And then there's the plaque qualifications: The CQ DX Marathon Committee will award plaques as follows: Highest overall score in Unlimited Class; Highest overall score in Formula Class; Highest overall CW, Highest overall SSB and Highest overall Digital only scores; Highest overall score for each of the 6 Continents; Highest overall score for single band entries for the 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 and 80m bands. Plaques for CW, SSB, Continent and Band winners are awarded regardless of Class and will only be awarded if the winning scores in those categories are at least 50% of the score of the overall DX Marathon Unlimited Class winner. Entrants may receive only one plaque per year. In the case of a participant qualifying for more than one plaque, that participant will receive a plaque for the highest level based on the above order".
Those paragraphs caught my attention. Since you really only know what you've done for the contest, and can only "speculate" on what other DXers may have done - you can only turn in ONE log. So, say you have a total Unlimited score of 310 and enter the Unlimited class. Well maybe the overall winner of the plaque has 312. Even though you may have had the highest score on 40 Meters, you can't submit for 40 Meters because with the "Logs submitted with multiple mode or multiple bands will not be considered for mode and band awards category" rule, you are placed in whatever order your 310 score captured in the Unlimited category. However, you can still win the high score Continent class plaque (if that 312 was from outside North America), but no "single band" award.
And here is where I was making a huge mistake. I was posting my running log to Club Log. Updating weekly as I worked new countries, and also comparing my results to others that were uploading their logs too. I could see I was off 1st place in the world by a few, but I was ahead of the highest posted North American score by a few too. So what does that all mean? Well, ya' know we're all a little vain, and we all like to show off a bit - but this turkey has learned a few things along the path of life too. Why would I keep updating my log as I worked a new country, just so the competition knew what I was doing? Why would I post rare DX such as XZ1Z Myanmar to the DX Cluster just so my competitors could work him too? What kind of contest is that where you shoot yourself in the foot, lol?
With any contest, there's always some strategy involved. And now with two thirds of the year in the rear view mirror, here comes time for some "N0UN strategy". For the rest of the competition year (and until after logs are due in) - you won't see me post rare countries on the DX Cluster, you won't find my log on Club Log, I won't answer inquiries as to my present score and I won't reply to what category I'll submit my log to. We'll keep everybody guessing, just as many have me guessing. A true contest, I love it!
Good luck to all contestants of the 2013 DX Marathon! See you on the air.
UPDATED September 4, 0400Z.
Well, that didn't take long - I've had a change of heart. It dawned on me that I was looking at this DX Marathon in the wrong light. That happens ya' know. Sometimes a man has to put it in reverse and back up a bit. I was starting to act like a little squirrel hiding his nuts. I deleted my log from Club Log so nobody knew what and when I was working new ones. I was burning up my time sending e-mails all over the world to set schedules with rare DX all the while thinking, "I'm a Ham Radio Operator". I even caught a couple fish I didn't tell anybody about. I didn't spot to the DX Cluster, never called my friends on the phone. I was being a greedy little Ham with a wicked little sneaky grin. And that's not me. I guess I'm like that when I compete at something, but for me this hobby isn't about how many I worked this year, it's more about relaxing and enjoying it. You know, building a new antenna, figuring out a new piece of gear, fixing an issue, meeting new Hams, helping a friend, and always looking to work new DX. A laid back, stress-free kinda' hobby, full of fun. That's what I'm after.
I'm glad I caught myself because I enjoy searching for (and working) rare DX. I like spotting a DX station and then listening to the pileup. I like hearing the excitement in voices when they work a new one because of one of my spots. I enjoy calling my friends and asking if they're near their rigs because, "XZ1Z is on", and I'm not gonna' bullshit anybody - I like hearing, "thanks to you I got'm!" That makes me feel like I've actually accomplished something.
So in a nutshell, I've reversed my position from when I wrote the DX Marathon post above. Let the chips fall where they may, my score is my score. I'll post my log back to Club Log in a few minutes, I'll spot any good DX I find, and I'll always help anybody I can get a new one, even if it's the "competition". Life is much easier when you're not competing!
See you on the airwaves!
UPDATED October 15, 1600Z
Here I go again. Back to being a little squirrel and stashing my nuts... I guess the competitor in me is rising above the mellow, laid back, no stress kinda' guy that I occasionally am. I'm waffling back and forth, back and forth. Hmmm, don't know what I'll end up doing here, but either way this DX Marathon has surely been an invigorating experience for me.