Results of the 2017 DX Marathon




Magazine Text - full article with photos will be available soon


            Sunspots??   Who needs sunspots!   We were expecting fewer logs and fewer QSOs for the 2017 Marathon but just the opposite happened!   Overall participation was up 13% and total QSOs were up 3%.  So, although the average number of Qs per entrant was fewer due to propagation, the increased participation made for great competition.   Although entrants from Europe were down 8% and participation from NA was flat over last year, we saw significant increases in logs from Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.  The DX Marathon is truly a worldwide competition.

            For sure the reduced sunspot number was responsible for the lower average scores compared to 2016, but the introduction of the FT8 mode made a big impact on the Marathon.   Overall Digital QSOs increased by a huge 50% from last year along with a 50% increase in the number of entrants submitting Digital only logs.  Digital QSOs were one third of all QSOs and significantly more than Phone QSOs.  The weak signal FT8 mode has definitely helped during this lower solar activity period.

            The maximum possible score in 2017 was 332, which is very impressive and the same as 2016.  There is still plenty of DX activity on the bands!  In fact, 33 DX Marathon records were broken in 2017 quite an amazing feat.  Four of the six Continental Digital records were broken reflecting the shift to Digital.   All time records for the 6, 80 and 160m bands were also broken.  No higher HF band records were broken as the 10,12, and 15 meter bands accounted for only 24% of all QSOs compared to 34% last year.  Not surprisingly, 80 & 160 meter QSOs jumped to 9% of the overall total.

And the Winners Are.

To reach the number one position requires a lot of dedication and a lot time on the air.   Bill, K2TQC, once again finished as the top overall score his second year in a row.  Although Bills claimed score was not the highest, log accuracy counts and we congratulate Bill for his position at the top of the standings with the top score of 328 two points higher than his last years winning score. He only missed four active entities in 2017.  In second place, and a former Marathon top place finisher was Oms, PY5EG with his top South American score of 326.   Eduard, OM3EY finished in third place with a score of 324 and the top score in Europe.   Rounding out the top five was Serge, R6YY, with a score of 323 and Marvin, VE3VEE with a score of 322.  Serge was in the top 5 as well in 2015 and 2016.  Marvin was also the number one finisher in the 20 meter only category.   Newcomers to the Top Ten worldwide include Dennis, K7BV (7th); Paul, K9NU and Domenico, IZ8JAI who tied for 8th place.

In the Limited Class category, congratulations to EA8KC who jumped from 11th place last year to first in 2017!  His score of 289 was very impressive considering the current conditions.  Aod uses a hex beam for the higher bands and a vertical for the low bands.   Second and third place positions went to HA0IV (281) and IK2RPE (276) respectively.   In Formula Class, 100 watt option, the winner is SV1CNS, who scored 276 points 50 points ahead of his 2016 score!   Vassilis has been increasing his score each year.   HA7LJ finished with 266 points and came in second, followed by N4RI in third place.   Working the Marathon with wire antennas is a real challenge with no sunspots.   Even more difficult working DX are those brave hams who do so with QRP power.   This year we saw a decline in 5 watt submissions and scores were noticeably lower than in previous years.  So congratulations to Bert, K4AR, for winning the QRP category with 238 points.   Interesting to point out that the majority of Berts QSOs were on the WARC bands.   Fulvio, IV3AOL, repeated his second place finish of last year with an impressive 234 points.

Although overall CW activity was down slightly from 2016, we had the same number of entrants competing in the CW only category.  In spite of the poor conditions, CW scores remain very high compared to earlier years.   Lada, OK2PAY, once again finished in the number one position with a score of 318 this is his third year in a row at the top of the CW pile.   Very impressive!   Ken, W1NG, was the top North American CW finisher with a score of 311.  Ken will soon be the holder of a DX Marathon plaque to decorate his shack along with Lada.  In third place was Norm, W4QN at 306 points.   2017 saw a 50% increase in the number of Phone only submissions and the battle for the top position took place in Europe.  Tony, IK0OZD, a multiple DX Marathon plaque winner set his sights on the Phone category this year and came out on top with a score of 308.   Tony will add a Phone plaque to his collection of DX Marathon trophies.   Gert, PA2LO, Phone winner in 2016 and 2014, came in second with 302 points.    The most significant change in 2017 from 2016 was the amount of Digital activity.  As mentioned earlier, we saw a 50% increase in the number of digital QSOs and a 50% increase in Digital only submissions.  Jan, OM5XX, has always had a high score in the Marathon including Limited Class winner in 2015, but this year he focused on the Digital category and will earn a Plaque for his top score of 290.  Juan, EC1DBO, is a newcomer to the Marathon and finished in second place with a score of 277.  Carlo, IK2RPE was just one point behind in third place at 276.

Plaques are also awarded to the top score on each of the 10 through 80 meter bands plus the top score on each Continent.  In the single band competitions, starting with 10 meters, all 20 entries were from Brazil with PU2PSP at the top with a score of 114.  WK3N once again took top honors on 12 meters with a score of 155.  On 15 meters, PU2WSQ came out on top with a score of 245.  LY5M was able to repeat his win last year with a score of 234 on 17 meters and VE3VEE once again was the king of 20 meters with an impressive score of 322.  We had no single band entrants on 30 meters but W9KNI crushed the competition on 40 meters with an amazing score of 305.  Bob actually finished 27th worldwide in the standings even though he only operated 40 meters!   LY7M once again took top honors on 80 with an amazing score of 265 almost 20 points more than his 2016 winning score!  Congratulation to all the Band plaque winners.  The 160 meter scores were excellent as well with NO3M repeating his first place position with a score of 198 - 22 points more than 2016!  K7ZV was second on 160 meters with a score of 164.  I4EAT took top honors on 6 meters with a score of 138.

Many of the Continental battles were also very close with A65CA repeating his top Asia position with a score of 297.  JA0DAI was second at 288.  The Europe Plaque goes to Eduard, OM3EY, with his score of 324.  Eduard has won many DX Marathon titles over the past few years.  The European race was very close with R6YY second only one point behind at 323 and EA1DR third at 321.  EA8AXT once again achieved the top spot in Africa with his score of 308, breaking his old record he set last year!  In Oceania, VK3GA came out on top with a score of 310.  ZL2IFB, previous Oceana winner was second at 292. Oms, PY5EG, one of the top overall winners in the Marathon over the past few years, took home top South America honors with a score of 326.  No North America plaque is awarded as Bill, K2TQC already took overall honors as with the highest overall worldwide score.

Well over 100 DX Marathon certificates are awarded each year in various categories, including the top Continental score for each of the three modes, top score in each country, top score in each CQ zone, top score in each Canadian call district plus the top score in each USA call area for each of the four DX Marathon classes.  Many new records were set this year, including 10 new country records, five new zone records, eight new continental records, three new USA call district records and two new Canadian call district records plus new records on the 6, 80 and 160 meter bands.   Check out the record high scores page on the DX Marathon website.  For 2018, pick a category, work hard and you may be able to get in the record book as well.

Once again Brazil took the top three spots in the Club competition, plus the CDR Group set a new all-time club record of 12,608 points.  The top USA Club was the Northern Illinois DX Association, sponsor of the top three DX Marathon plaques. Dont forget to include your club name on your 2018 DX Marathon submission.

Each year the DX Marathon website publishes a large amount of information to help participants minimize errors in their submissions.  The Helpful Hints page can be accessed from the DX Marathon home page.  In 2017, we published almost 2,000 callsign exceptions and notes to help every participant reduce the number of errors in their submissions.   We also recommend that you regularly update your logging program callsign database. Unusual callsign prefixes seem to multiply every year, so updating your programs database is critical to properly determine the DX location and/or Zone.

Apparently 2017 was a difficult year for prefixes as the overall error rate increased to 2.1%, up from 1.9% last year. 23% of entrants had no errors in their submissions, which is a slight drop from 2016, but still a big improvement from 2015.  The database that is used for scoring the DX Marathon includes start and end dates for all major expeditions, so please make sure that dates and times are properly logged along with the callsign, country and zone for each QSO.

The highest error category in 2017 was Wrong Zone which accounted for 26% of all score reductions.     Confusion with USA Zones is one of the biggest sources of Zone errors.  It is very important to note that USA callsign numbers are no longer required to match their QTH.  A W6 could be in New York, or a KL7 could be in Puerto Rico.  In addition to the USA, there are many special callsigns in Russia that do not follow the traditional callsign mapping, thus creating many errors in the 16,17,18 and 19 zones.  Zone 2 also continues to be a problem.  Very few VE2 stations are actually located in Zone 2 most are in Zone 5.  The DX Marathon website does list the most active Zone 2 stations. 

The next highest number of subtractions were due to Wrong Country.   There were a lot of new and unique prefixes in 2017, but if your logging program utilizes a country database, please keep it up to date.  Invalid callsigns and Busted Calls were the next highest categories.  Unfortunately, the number of bad and incorrect DX Spots seems to be on the increase.  When logging a QSO from a DX spot, listen carefully to the DX station to make sure the callsign is logged correctly.  44% of all subtractions were due to Busted or Incorrect callsigns.  Some Invalid callsigns may have been busted calls that were so bad that we could not determine the real callsign.  Once again there were many mix-ups between 0 (Zero) and O (Oh).  The computer is not forgiving, so check your log carefully!     We applaud everyone who frequently updates their logging program databases.  Pirates were not a big problem in 2017, but Not In Log reductions jumped to almost 6% of all score reductions.  With more logs being posted online, it is easy to check if you are in the log before entering that QSO in the DX Marathon. We do publish a lot of helpful information on the DX Marathon website, but there is nothing we can do to make sure you are in the log. 

As part of this issue you will find a complete listing of all scores plus a listing of the Top Scores in all available categories.   The DX Marathon website will include additional information and details on the 2017 results plus photos of plaque winners as they become available.  For any questions or comments about the DX Marathon, please contact the author.  Thank you for your participation in 2017 and best of luck in 2018!