Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Snowshoe rankings

There are as many ways to determine a series winner, as there are series and the same goes for ranking runners. The USATF NE road grand prix uses a simple 10-1 for 1st to 10th and total points accumulated over the 7 races wins. WMAC snowshoe uses points based on the number of finishers. It is a simple formula of 100 divided by the # of entrants (so if 50 run it would be 100/50= 2 points so 100, 98, 96, etc.). The acidotic series uses and even simpler method with first place getting the number of entrants then everyone else is -1 for each place back (example 150 entrants = 150, 149, 148, etc.). My favorite scoring method is the one used by the Grand tree trail series and the USATF mountain series, which gives your points as a percent of the winner’s time. Example: winner = 50 minutes, if you run 100 minutes = 50 % or 50 points. I prefer this method as it seems giving points based strictly on the number of entrants rewards runners for going to the bigger races which may not be the strongest fields (example: Frosty’s dash attracts a very high number of finishers, but a fair amount of them are walkers not actively competing). I feel that it is a fair method, as you are not penalized if a bunch of fast runners are between you and the winner as ultimately all that matters is your time in relation to the winner. The drawback is that everything is relative to the winner so of course it can vary from race to race how strong (or for that matter how hard he ran) the winner is.

Each series may also have a different way of deciding the winner. The USATF GP and the acidotic series are decided by point total. The WMAC uses a “best of” format as does the USATF mountain series and the Grand Tree. In a slightly unusual twist the WMAC best of is not a hard and fast number set at the beginning (for the mountain series it is best 5 finishes). This makes sense as the snowshoe races are unique in that we never know how many races will be held, as they are totally dependent on winter weather conditions. For the most par the WMAC is a best 6 races finished format. All of the series recognize the top point getters. The mountain series runners who do all of the races are given the title “Mountain goat” and have been offered a lottery by-pass into the Mt Washington road race. The Grand Tree runners doing the most races are designated “Stone heads” and the snowshoe runners in the WMAC series are listed by total points accumulated.

So having said all that, there are many ways to rank the runners as well. I like how acidotic has thrown it out there and started ranking snowshoers. In my book, anything that stirs up talk about racing is a good thing. I don’t fully understand the formula used (some of it is a closely guarded secret), but hey! You’ve gotta start somewhere.

I’ve also started doing a ranking list, but I’m not using any formula. My method is to look at results and try to get a feel for who would beat who head to head. I fully admit that this is completely subjective and based entirely on how I interpret the results. The list I come up with is how I thin a race MIGHT finish if all of the runners were to show up at the same starting line. A major flaw in this type of thinking is that I’m using an average, not your best or worst day. I’m also not predicting how anyone would do on any particular course (it is more of an all-around ranking). For example if the course is a flat, well packed 5k I would expect Jim Johnson to do very well. If it were a tough slog with big climbs I wouldn’t expect him to do quite as well (he’d still do well, but everything is relative).

The more data points I have, the better the feel for how someone would do under varying conditions hence to make my list three finishes are needed. The ranking would not be based on just the best three finishes but all finishes. This would even out and good/bad races that you had and would also somewhat reward you for more finishes. I tend to look closely at % back to get an idea of the depth of field, which helps with ranking.

Anyway, none of this is an exact science it is just a fun way to spend more time looking at results and talking about snowshoeing. Hopefully I haven’t gotten anyone too mad with how they were ranked (or not ranked). Everyone is entitled to an opinion and here is mine….

Rank—Name—-----last rank—weekend result
1 Justin Fyffe-------2-----Idle
2 Jim Johnson-------3----1st @ Horse hill
3 Ben Nephew-------4----Idle
4 Matt Cartier-------5----Idle
5 Dave Dunham------8---Idle
6 Tim Mahoney------9---2nd @ Saratoga
7 Tim VanOrden----10---1st @ Saratoga
8 Matt Westerlund—12---4th @ Saratoga
9 Ken Clark---------14---6th @ Saratoga
10 Paul Bazanchuk--15---Idle
11 Steve Wolfe------16---2nd @ Horse hill
12 Ahmed Elasser---NR--5th @ Saratoga
13 Abby Woods-----NR--7th @ Saratoga
14 Chris Dunn------NR---3rd @ Horse Hill
15 Brian Northan---NR---Idle

Top 15 if they had enough races (and the no. they have race):
Josh Ferenc----2
Corey Watts---1
Kevin Tilton----1
Josh Merlis----2
Joseph Hayter--1
Jeremy Drowne-1
Leigh Schmitt--1
Andrew McCarthy--1
Robert Jackman--2
Andrew Rickert--1
Dave Quintal--1
Greg Hammet--2
Jim Pawlicki---2
Tim Cox------2


Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...

Thank you for not listing me. Each week I'm getting faster and beating people I didn't beat the week before. So having Chris list me is nice but I'm slower then everyone on your list.

However I like the way the GSSS is scored. It pays to show up and compete every weekend. If things work out this weekend I may hold on to 3rd over all.

You're doing really well at WMAC. Keep it up!!

double-d said...

Scotty, I'm still stinging from you kicking my butt at the Lowell Bay State marathon. So you get no breaks from me :-)

Good luck at the night race!