After the lightning talks session on the afternoon of Sunday March 16 (by all accounts the best one, natch), we had an "Intro to Sprinting" talk & panel led by Brett Cannon. The talk was one of the few I actually saw (much of), and it should become an instant classic once it hits the web. This was followed by sprint tutorials, where each sprinting project went off and did introductions of various lengths.
The sprint tutorials seem to have been quite successful, and were a good way to segue between the conference and the sprints (a transition which felt a bit jarring in the past). Many new sprinters learned what they needed to be productive during the sprints themselves, and many people who couldn't stay this year may have been convinced to extend their stays next year.
There were over 20 projects sprinting. On the first sprint day (Monday March 17), there were over 250 people participating. There were 263 people at lunch, and I know of several who ate elsewhere; but some people who ate with us may not have been sprinting. I believe this was more than double last year's participation, and it continued that way through Thursday (tapering off, but still way above the 2007 numbers).
A list of accomplishments has been compiled (although woefully incomplete I'm sure). (Sprint leaders: sing your own praises by adding to the list!)
We are grateful to Canonical, Sun Microsystems, and Google for sponsoring the sprints. Thanks to them we had four days of hot catered lunches: Chicago-style comfort food. This was a welcome addition to PyCon at our Chicago venue, not least because unlike Dallas in 2006 & 2007, we weren't a quick walk away from dozens of restaurants.
Thanks to Facundo Batista for coordinating the sprints. (Sign up here to help!)