47 All time records were broken or added in 2016! Click here for details.
Note: Since the summary below was published, a scoring error was discovered: A65CA and JA2NDQ will share the Asia Top Score Plaque.
The lack of sunspots did very little to dampen the enthusiasm of our DX Marathon participants in 2016. Although the number of submitted logs was down from last year, the majority of participants simply moved from the higher bands to the lower bands and turned in some very impressive scores. The maximum possible score in 2016 was 332 – only 8 points less the 2015 record maximum. Competition was intense in all categories except 12 meter single band. Single band participation percentage actually increased over 2015, with 40, 80 and 160 more than picking up the loss of 10 and 12 meter participants. However, in spite of fewer logs and far fewer sunspots, no less than 26 all-time records were broken, 48 if we include the new award categories added in 2015. Most amazing were the new high records for CW only and Digital only. The lack of sunspots was clearly not a problem for these winners!
With the change in propagation, SSB contacts dropped by 25%. CW contacts now make up almost half of all the 110,000 QSOs submitted in the 2016 Marathon. Digital QSO’s were up by 25%, although still fewer than CW or SSB. Last year 10 and 12 meters accounted for almost 30% of all QSO’s, yet only 10% in 2016. 15, 17 and 20 remained the most popular bands while 30 through 160 now accounting for 30% of all QSO’s. Although the total number of submitted logs were down, more countries and zones participatedin 2016 than in previous years.
And the Winners Are…
The battle for the top spot in the DX Marathon was no less intense in 2016. Bill, K2TQC, has been a top contender for many years, finishing 2nd, 3rd and 5th in recent years and holds the current all-time record high score for Zone 5. 2016 was his year! Bill finished with a final score of 326, just one point ahead of EA1DR, PY5EG and I4EAT who all finished with a score of 325 points. When multiple entrants have the same score, the standings are determined by the earliest date of the last QSO in the log. Oscar, EA1DR, has never finished lower than 8th in the last 6 years and has also been heavily promoting the DX Marathon in Spain. Oms, PY5EG, was last year’s winner and is always a top competitor in the Marathon. I4EAT is a new DX Marathon participant and his first-time score is very impressive.
Another first-time entrant and the 2016 Limited Class winner was Alex, VE3NEA. Alex is best known as the author of popular ham radio software such as the CW and RTTY skimmer tools, DX Atlas, Gritty and more. I am sure he used his own tools to capture the number one spot. Alex’s score of 291 was 5 points ahead of LU1FAM who came in second with a score of 286. In Formula Class, 100 watt option, the 2016 winner is Walter, PY4ZO, with a score of 286. Walter has participated in the Marathon for several years and won Plaques in 2013 and 2014 for top score in South America. Scott, N4RI, also a DX Marathon veteran, repeated his second place finish with a score of 264. Dan, WG5G, has once again finished in the top position in the QRP category. This is Dan’s fifth consecutive win! Reflecting the decrease in conditions, Dan’s 2016 score was 20 points less than last year at 263, but all scores in the 5 watt category were less. Coming in second at 240 points was another long-time DX Marathon participant, Fulvio, IV3AOL.
As mentioned earlier, the amount of CW activity has increased significantly in the DX Marathon and the battle for the top CW score was very intense. We had a 50% increase over 2015 in CW only submissions. Lada, OK2PAY, once again took top honors, repeating his 2015 win. In addition, Lada set a new all-time CW record with his score of 321. Right behind Lada was Bob, W9KNI at 320. Bob holds many DX Marathon records and tied the previous CW high score of 320. Bob is the Plaque recipient for the Top North America CW score. W1NG was not far behind with his 3rd place score of 316. Gert, PA2LO easily won the Phone title with a score of 296. Gert was also the Phone winner in 2014. Second place went to PY5DK with a score of 263. Tony, IK0OZD has won many plaques in prior DX Marathons and in 2016 he turned attention to the Digital Only category. Not only did he win the Digital only category with his score of 306, he beat the previous high Digital score held by N5ZM by 24 points! Piero, IK5FKF, also a previous Digital plaque winner, was second at 260 points.
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 17 entries were from Brazil with ZY2B at the top with a score of ZY2B. WK3N once again took top honors on 12 meters with a score of 186. On 15 meters, CO6HLP came out on top with a score of 189 and is our first plaque winner from Cuba. LY5M was on top on 17 meters at 280 and VE3VEE once again was the king of 20 meters with an impressive score of 322. I4TJE was the top scorer on 30 with a score of 276. On 40 meters KB0EO scored 244 to take first place. LY7M took top honors on 80 with a very impressive score of 248. Congratulation to all the Band plaque winners. The 160 meter scores were excellent as well with NO3M beating last year’s winner, N4IS, by one point with his score of 186.
Many of the Continental battles were also very close with A65CA repeating his top Asia position with a score of 319, just one point ahead of second place finisher, JA2NDQ. The Europe Plaque goes to Oscar, EA1DR with his 325 score, with only 4 points separating the top five positions. EA8AXT moved up to the number one Africa position with his score of 304, breaking the old Africa record by 15 points! In Oceania, ZL2IFB wins with a score of 316 – his 3rd top title in a row! 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 325. No North America plaque is awarded as Bill, K2TQC already took overall honors as with the highest 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 18 new country records, four new zone records, nine new continental records, four new Canadian call district records and nine new USA call district records. Check out the record high scores page on the DX Marathon website. For 2017, pick a category, work hard and you may be able to get in the record book as well.
Once again Brazil took the top 3 spots in the Club competition, but for the first time in many years, the Araucaria DX Group fell to third place, with the CDR Group taking the top position with a score of 9615. The top USA Club was the Northern Illinois DX Association, sponsor of the top three DX Marathon plaques. Don’t forget to include your club name on your 2017 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 2016, we published almost 2,500 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 program’s database is critical to properly determine the DX location and/or Zone.
Fortunately, many participants are updating their databases regularly as a record number of submissions were error-free in 2016. 24% of all submissions had no errors – a big improvement over last year’s 16% error-free rate. Total error rate was 1.9%, also a tremendous improvement over 2016. 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 two highest error categories in 2016 were Busted Calls and Wrong Zone. 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. 25% of all subtractions were due to Busted Calls. Wrong Zone was also responsible for 25% of all score reductions. It is very important that all non-USA hams understand 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. With many special callsigns in Russia in 2016, there was also many Zone 16,17,18 and 19 errors. Zone 2 continues to be a problem as well. Very few VE2 stations are actually located in Zone 2. The DX Marathon website does list the most active Zone 2 stations.
Invalid Callsigns was the next largest category. These may be busted calls that were so bad that we could not determine the real callsign or simple logging errors. Once again there were many mix-ups between “0” (Zero) and “O” (Oh). The computer is not forgiving, so check your log carefully! Wrong Country continues to be the 4th major cause of score reductions, although the Wrong Country error rate did drop by 50% from 2016. We applaud everyone who frequently updates their logging program databases. Pirates were a much bigger problem in 2016 and their activity is always frustrating. We do publish all Pirate activity that we are aware of on the DX Marathon website. As mentioned earlier, the computer software does check start and end dates for most DXpeditions and a significant number of Wrong Date/Time errors occurred this year. Not in Log subtractions were minimal this year, thanks in part to the many stations who now post their logs online.
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 2016 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 2016 and best of luck in 2017!