Survey in Reverse by Bob Fleshner

surveyOne of my least favorite jobs is reviewing survey results.  In fact, I dislike it so much that I have a colleague take a first run at doing it.  “Uh oh,” you’re thinking, “the American Odyssey Relay gets bad survey results, who knew?”  Actually, we are fortunate enough to get mostly very positive reviews in our surveys.  And, not surprisingly, we pretty much know what we need to improve upon before we even look at the surveys.  Although it’s not unheard of, it’s pretty rare to get feedback that is totally unexpected.

So, why do I dislike going through the survey results?   Because I always want our participants to be happy and it bothers me when I can’t respond to comments made in the surveys because they are made anonymously.  That’s frustrating for me.  If we see a pattern of negative comments then the issue is certainly worth mentioning in a Facebook post, a blog post or an e-blast.  But, when only one person mentions something he/she wishes were better, it makes no real sense to get into it publicly.  So, I’m disappointed that I can’t engage individually with those runners who might have a criticism, whether fair or unfounded, because I want them to know that we care and have taken their comments seriously.  And, I also want to set the record straight if I believe they have unfairly criticized us or are just plain wrong about something.

To turn my survey frustration into a positive and fun exercise, I decided to review our participants in much the same way they review us in surveys.  So, with tongue firmly embedded in cheek, here goes:

Q. How do American Odyssey Relay participants compare to those in other races?

A.  I’m really glad you asked. I think Odyssey participants are smarter, better looking, and more successful than those who participate in other events.  The real question is whether that’s a result of running in the American Odyssey or whether it takes someone with these qualities to see the benefits of participation in our race.  We will need further study to determine causation!

Q.  How honest are team captains in terms of setting their predicted paces?

A.  Honest? As honest as the day is long! (First one to name the movie in which that remark was made gets a free American Odyssey water bottle!  Comment below!)

Q.  What is your biggest complaint about this year’s Odyssey participants?

A.  They did not provide the Odyssey Production Team with nearly enough baked goods! Seriously, I have very few complaints.  BUT… I wish our runners would follow the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution (of course you know that was the Prohibition Amendment, right?) while they are hanging around at our transitions.  Yeah, I know it was repealed by the 21st Amendment, but I’m pretty sure that Congress would have included language in the repeal that said, “drinking alcohol is once again legal except on the grounds of public schools and any other American Odyssey Relay transitions.”  Seriously, we’ve come close to being rejected for permits twice now because our runners were caught drinking alcohol during the relay.  It’s already tough enough to get permits, please don’t make it tougher for us.

Q.  Do American Odyssey Relay participants understand how incredible our volunteers are?

A.   Actually, I think most do. There may be one or three who haven’t yet realized that it’s pretty damn amazing for someone to hang out at a transition for several hours from, say, 2:00 AM to 5:00 AM in the middle of freaking nowhere!  But, those are truly the minority.

Q.  How did American Odyssey Relay participants respond to the need to adopt all of the baby Freddies (or is it Freddys)?

A.  We were very touched by the response and many Freddies were adopted! Some have been fully integrated into their adoptive families and have even traveled with them.  But, we’ve gotten a few slightly desperate texts and calls from baby Freddies indicating that they’ve been kept in a closet, held in a smelly gym bag or bitten by a dog. . . or a child.! These are tough cases.  Anyone work for Flamingo Protective Services?

Now that I’ve been able to share my thoughts about all of you after you’ve shared your thoughts about us, I feel so much better.  So cathartic!   If you have any other questions you’d like me to answer about American Odyssey Relay participants, just ask them in the comments section  and I’ll jump right on it!

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