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Author Topic: In praise of the CQ DX Marathon  (Read 1652 times)
AA6YQ
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« on: January 04, 2018, 02:35:46 PM »

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.   Many awards are given for the top overall scores in four classes plus top scores in modes, bands, US call areas and more!

In my experience, CQ DX Marathon is an excellent way to keep improving your DXing skills after reaching the point where what's needed is either rarely QRV, or out of reach propagation-wise at this point in the solar cycle. You can pursue mixed, a particular band, or a particular mode; there are several different classes based on power and antennas. During 2016, I pursued 160m exclusively - and had a blast.

For those of you have not tried it, now is the perfect time to get started!
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WO7R
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 06:11:21 PM »

I have participated for many years now.  I anticipate another top 60 or top 50 finish for 2018.  That doesn't give me any plaques, certificates or bragging rights, really, but it does show a certain prowess that I think anyone with a similar score can take pride in.

There's a little throwback element to it as well.  Since this is really about Mixed DXCC, and a little bit about WAZ, it isn't really about DXCC Challenge, which kind of becomes a consuming (if de facto) goal for many of us.

Here, you are freed from that and can go a bit old school.  Back to a time when nobody really cared if you worked them on every darn band and mode.  Just get 'em once.

It also motivates me to get an annual WAZ.  Even many of the top scores seem to clock in at 39 zones.  I have managed WAZ for four years in a row.  Since I managed zone 22 already this year, I have a good shot at doing it in 2018, too.  Which is satisfying in itself, really.

Another bonus is you don't have to worry about QSLing, at least not for this stuff.  It is prudent, as we have discussed before, to have _some kind_ of confirmation for your Marathon Qs.  Sure, the rules say "sure QSOs only", but I have mistyped calls into my log (for instance) that get caught if you collect your confirmations as a double check.  Not to mention that pirates never confirm.  But, these confirmations can be from any combination of Clublog, LOTW, eQSL, even QRZ logs.  The few you don't get?  You live with.

You can, if you wish to really score, go to school on individual DX.  W9KNI, who is one of the founders of this, gave an excellent talk at Visalia on finding some DX that really work hard to avoid pileups.  But, if you want to really score, you have to flush out these "shy" stations. 

I haven't done it, but if you take the trouble to collect, over time, a "little black book" of these stations, and their habits you can get a score the rest of us can't touch.  (These stations do things like run lower power, try and run hand keyed CW in the SSB bands, etc., so don't just sit back on spotting networks).
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KB3LIX
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 06:57:52 PM »

I submitted my entry and expect to finish at the bottom of the heap.

4 multiple day stays in the hospital and 2+ weeks in a nursing home
put a dent in DXing.

Maybe next year will be better.
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VA3VF
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2018, 07:47:16 AM »

Ok...I'm in.

AD1C has an excellent tool for submissions.

http://software.ad1c.us/marathon/

Deadline: January 10.
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VK3MEG
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2018, 05:52:32 AM »

i dont enter atm but do keep my tally i gave it a decent go in 2014 came 7th in the world ssb unlimited with  100 w and no warc bands but i had a 5 element tribander. it gives you a reason to jump on the radio most days when you can and to have some fun. the best bit is all those hard countries when you had a small station and were climbing the dx ladder just become you regular contacts for the year Smiley
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W6OU
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2018, 04:35:27 PM »

After I submitted my entry, I realized one of the three zones I did not work in 2017 was my own zone (Zone 3).
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WO7R
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2018, 04:58:53 PM »

You sure about that?  No VE7s?
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N0UN
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2018, 05:20:33 PM »

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.   Many awards are given for the top overall scores in four classes plus top scores in modes, bands, US call areas and more!

In my experience, CQ DX Marathon is an excellent way to keep improving your DXing skills after reaching the point where what's needed is either rarely QRV, or out of reach propagation-wise at this point in the solar cycle. You can pursue mixed, a particular band, or a particular mode; there are several different classes based on power and antennas. During 2016, I pursued 160m exclusively - and had a blast.

For those of you have not tried it, now is the perfect time to get started!


Great contest.  Best ever (I've participated in).  Very forgiving as it's a year long contest, but non-forgiving for log mistakes and when you miss a rare DX station that cannot be made up.

I was ultra-sensitive to callsign typo's and making sure who I was actually working.  Too many times to count I've seen bogus DX Cluster spots and folks pile-on not actually knowing who they are working, the callsign of the station, or even if the callsign was correct.  "Not in the log".

I saw one Californian who lost 20+ points a few years ago from what he submitted to his actual score because of plain sloppiness.

3 years submitted, 3 years zero deductions.  I really enjoyed the strategy of the DX Marathon, almost like playing chess between several players - at the same time.

Good luck Participants!  Did I mention it's FREE?  Zero cost to submit, zero cost for plaques, certificates, etc.  Not even postage.

N0UN
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 05:29:12 PM by N0UN » Logged
VE3VEE
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 04:08:27 AM »

After I submitted my entry, I realized one of the three zones I did not work in 2017 was my own zone (Zone 3).

Sometimes double-checking helps. I thought I had missed working TA1/Europe because my logging software (LOG4OM) indicated all of my worked TA1 stations were located in Asia. The day before yesterday, I looked into it deeper and found LOG4OM was wrong. I resubmitted my XLS spreadsheet. I'm very happy because this one extra point means I beat my own personal record from a year ago.  Grin

Marvin VE3VEE
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NU1O
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 04:36:02 AM »

After I submitted my entry, I realized one of the three zones I did not work in 2017 was my own zone (Zone 3).

Sometimes double-checking helps. I thought I had missed working TA1/Europe because my logging software (LOG4OM) indicated all of my worked TA1 stations were located in Asia. The day before yesterday, I looked into it deeper and found LOG4OM was wrong. I resubmitted my XLS spreadsheet. I'm very happy because this one extra point means I beat my own personal record from a year ago.  Grin

Marvin VE3VEE

That's a nice catch, Marvin!  Congrats.

I've been pretty active on FT8 the past week or so and have seen your call a number of times.  I didn't know you were using the mode.  Did it help you add any countries or zones to your Marathon score?

73,

Chris  NU1O

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VE3VEE
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 05:11:52 AM »


That's a nice catch, Marvin!  Congrats.

I've been pretty active on FT8 the past week or so and have seen your call a number of times.  I didn't know you were using the mode.  Did it help you add any countries or zones to your Marathon score?

73,

Chris  NU1O


Chris,

My xyl has been out of the country, so I was spending more time on the radio this past week. I have found FT8 to be faster for working the more common countries so most of what I've done since January 1 has been on FT8. In the first 8 days of 2018, I have worked 143 DXCC entities. The next 143 though will take the next 12 month.  Grin

Marvin VE3VEE
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WO7R
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 08:30:13 AM »

It is still possible to enter your score for 2017.

All you really need is to have a logger that exports ADIF that shows the DXCC entity (e.g. <DXCC:2>33 for "Chagos").  Then you can install the converter tool (http://software.ad1c.us/marathon/ ) and create the necessary spreadsheet, which you email.

You may lose a few things (did you track TA1 versus TA2,3,4,5,6,7,8,0?  Bear Island instead of just Svaalbard?, maybe you worked a pirate somewhere), but you will be able to enter for this year, at least.  A small score reduction over what it "could have been" beats no score.

Deadline is January 10th.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 08:33:00 AM by WO7R » Logged
AA6YQ
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 04:43:22 PM »

Sometimes double-checking helps. I thought I had missed working TA1/Europe because my logging software (LOG4OM) indicated all of my worked TA1 stations were located in Asia. The day before yesterday, I looked into it deeper and found LOG4OM was wrong. I resubmitted my XLS spreadsheet. I'm very happy because this one extra point means I beat my own personal record from a year ago.  Grin

Several years ago, CQ DX Marathon Award manager John K9EL pointed out that Marathon participants were unnecessarily risking the loss of 2 points by submitting the same QSO for both country and zone credit. He suggested considering every candidate for each zone, and submitting the least risky among then. This led to a spirited discussion among John, Jim AD1C, and me about techniques that could be used to reduce point lossage.

After chewing on this, I added "country risk" and "zone risk" items to each QSO logged in DXKeeper (DXLab), and extended DXKeeper's Marathon submission generator to automatically take these items into consideration when populating the Marathon scoresheet. There's an option to automatically consider any QSO confirmed via QSL card, eQSL AG, or LoTW as having low "country risk" and low "zone risk". More information is available here.
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WO7R
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 06:45:51 PM »

So far, I have yet to lose a point for any submitted QSO with confirmation from any of:

1. eQSL (whether AG or not).
2.  LOTW
3.  Clublog

It is probably better to have a zone station that is not also a country station, period, just for the extra surety, though that has not yet hurt my score to have "two" (confirmed) points from the same QSO.  

Some years, I have taken the trouble to submit a separate zone station whenever I can.  However, so far, the validation above has been enough.  I also check my DX Calls against their "problem/hints" web page as well, but I have also found that if the QSO confirms by any of the above, they also are either not found in that record at all or (at worst) for dates other than my QSO with the station in question.

If you are still looking to submit for 2017, I submit you don't worry overmuch about this issue and just make the best submission you can.  The deadline is now very close.  Point deductions do happen, even with precautions taken, but if you lose more than one or two per cent of your score, even if you take no precautions at all, that's an unlucky year.  My very first year, I didn't understand the reason to take precautions, and I did lose some points.  It was irritation, especially as some of them I should not have lost with more care, and so I have worked on that in later years.  But, overall, it just isn't that big a deal, especially if you're not looking to win any plaques.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 06:53:50 PM by WO7R » Logged
N3QE
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2018, 08:19:00 PM »

After I submitted my entry, I realized one of the three zones I did not work in 2017 was my own zone (Zone 3).

A lot of us have postulated a rule change for contests, (especially CQ WW), that your own zone and DXCC should be a “gimme”. But the fancy has never advanced to reality.
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