New Highs: Busiest ever weekend for OpenTrack!
Almost half a million page views of grass roots competition...
The weekend just past was our busiest ever! 28 competitions had used us for entries, and a massive 20 of those delivered results during the meeting, with 5,800 results. You can browse through them here.
In the UK, Middlesex and Surrey delivered live results, as well as the North, South, and West Wales regionals. These are big, complex meetings with many age groups and sometimes over a hundred events - Surrey has almost 1000 competitors.
Cyprus held their big spring championships, and Malta an open meeting.
Bosnia & Herzegovina delivered a full Combined Event championships, with live scores for all age groups, in their first season using OpenTrack.
Norway ran two big competitions including the 300-person Groruddalslekene
Serbia ran 5 competitions in 3 different cities
North Macedonia ran their National Team Championships
This is the ultimate “grassroots weekend” - it matters to the athletes, and there are lots of officials logging in to input things or make reports; but there’s not a lot of media interest. Things would look very different at a national league finals or international meeting, where you get a handful of officials, and thousands of fans following the action - an easier problem!
Support requests - almost nil
We are delighted to report that there were only a couple of support requests from all of these competitions, both of which were minor data or user errors.
This is the result of years of work behind the scenes looking at log files, spotting errors, and making sure they cannot happen again, as well as optimising any pages that run slowly.
Web viewing figures
Our previous busiest day was 7 May 2022, the first UK National League match of the season, with 14.1k unique people and 237k views. Saturday was about 5% below this, and Sunday just beat it to be our busiest single day ever!
On the web we had 450,000 page views from 25,000 people over the weekend. Peak loads were mid to late afternoon, with over 400 people on the site at any one time.
We use a tracking system which is completely public and which doesn’t set cookies to invade your privacy - feel free to take a look. It tells us a lot, and can do the same for you. For example, there were at least 15,000 different people looking at results on each day, typically viewing about 15 pages. So, broadly speaking, that’s every athlete plus a couple of friends (or Mum and Dad!)
This is really useful for meeting organisers, as you can see how many people viewed the pages online, which can tie in with attracting sponsors - or at least helping you see how well you are promoting things! Top competitions were the Surrey Championships; viewing start lists for next week’s Night of the 10,000; then Cyprus and the Belgrade Trophy…
Mobile is king
This weekend, literally 90% of the viewers are on mobile phones, as you would expect at trackside. Midweek, it’s more like 60-70%
This is really important for meeting organisers: think of all the people who were NOT hassling the timekeepers for their times, or crowding around the bits of paper! Also, consider asking for volunteers to help use those phones to input your field results, save you some time, and give everyone a better experience.
Opportunities for sponsors
In the modern era, the web really matters for athletics meetings….
Young athletes will share their results on social media, if there is something up promptly to share. So make sure you connect up to the photo-finish, and get field events in promptl (with live recording if possible)
A buzz around the meeting will mean more people entering, either this time or next time
Measurable online viewers mean that you can offer a tangible benefit to sponsors
We offer a clear “home page” for the meeting, with the ability for you to add graphics and sponsors logos to the footer of every page
Appendix - Tuning for performance
Those into the technology might like a little more about how things work.
A year ago, our previous “top day” was the UK National Athletics League on a Saturday in June. At that point, we were learning about bottlenecks in the system, and working frantically to optimize things.
This year, we had two days in a row with 95% of this level of interest, and things sailed through. People saw average response times of 0.25 seconds, with 95% served in under 1 second.
Behind the scenes, competition data (all the events, heats and competitors) live in a database that can be scaled up. So we turn on 3 extra “read replicas” of the database, which answer queries from viewers (if need be, we could have up to 16). And the all-important “master database” is reserved for meeting directors and people putting information in; this never got above 10% of its capacity.
We can also turn on extra web servers. Think of these as supermarket checkout counters. Midweek we usually have two, so we can serve two people at once (and with each page view typically being 0.25 seconds, that’s plenty). But at the weekends, we might have 8-10 in the afternoon. We try to make sure we keep things at around 50% capacity, so we could handle a sudden doubling without any slowdown.
We’re delighted to be working with so many great people to help deliver grass roots athletics - and, we hope, to help this amazing sport grow a little!