RunWV's Cross Country Runner Rankings

We've had some requests over the past couple years to introduce Individual Cross Country Rankings. This year, we decided to make that leap and wrap ourselves in completing that overwhelming task. The information below will detail just how we went about setting the initial rankings and how your score can change.

Some things you need to know before looking at the rankings

1. The scoring is completely objective. We have no say in the rankings. The only thing that matters is how you perform against other ranked runners. We do not pick the rankings once the season begins in any way, shape, or form.
2. The system is fallible, as any statistical system is. You may run the race of your life, but if no other ranked runners are competing in that race, your score will not change. You can get added to the ranking list that way, but if you are already on the list, you score will not change. Your score can only change when you compete against other ranked runners.
3. You only have a chance of moving up the rankings if we receive results from your meets. It doesn't matter how well you run if we never see the results.
4. The base score that we started the season with was based on your finishing ranking from last year plus 25 points. Some people were added during an off-season analysis, and they will begin the season with 15 points. The off-season analysis was necessary to bring the number of ranked runners up to approximately its finishing point last year.
5. During the season, your times are somewhat irrelevant. They are relevant only to the extent that they are compared to the times of other ranked runners in the same meet. A male with a score of 200 that runs a 20:00 in a meet will not be hurt if all the other ranked runners in that meet run similar times. A more detailed example follows later on.
6. Although the rankings are separate. AA and AAA will be scored together when they run together. This means that in a typical meet, all the ranked AA and AAA runners will be compared. In a meet such as the Forest Festival that has separate divisions for AA and AAA, the ranked AAA runners will only be compared to the other ranked AAA runners. We felt this was only fair since course and weather conditions change over the course of a long meet. 7. Basically, one second is equal to two points. If your score is 20 points higher than someone else's, you should beat that person by 10 seconds. 8. There are way too many of you out there to rank everyone, so we had to set cutoffs when we calculated the base score. For boys, that cutoff was 19:15. For Girls, we used 23:45. For those not ranked at the beginning of the season, you can get included in the rankings after a meet in which you run a time that beats several ranked runners.

Changes to your Base Score

Additions and subtractions to your base score will depend on how well you do against other ranked runners within the system. Ranked runners will carry a score into each race. For a particular race, they will be scored against other ranked runners (boys vs. boys and girls vs. girls) participating in the same race. If you were supposed to beat a particular runner by 30 points and only beat him/her by 10 points, you will lose points and he/she will gain points. You will be compared to each runner and your base score will change by the average points won/lost per ranked runner participating in that race.

For example, Runner A has a Base Score of 180 points.
Runner B has a Base Score of 120 points.

Therefore, according to rankings, Runner A should run 60 points better or 30 seconds faster than Runner B. (2 points per second)

The race is completed and Runner A runs an 18:05, or 140 Points
Runner B runs an 18:17, or 116 points.
Therefore, Runner A wins by 24 Points.

Runner A was supposed to win by 60 points and only won by 24 points. We will now calculate the point exchange for the race. This assumes that they are the only two ranked runners in the race.

The points differential was 36 points (60-24). To calculate the final addition/subtraction to each runner, divide the points difference by four. 36/4 = 9 Points would be subtracted from Runner Aís score and 9 points added to Runner Bís score. The divisor of 4 is used since it will allow runners that are originally ranked differently to be ranked evenly at the end of a 4-race stretch in which they ran exactly the same time (approximation). Runner A's new score is 171, and Runner B's new score is 129.

If Runners A and B ran against additional ranked runners in this race, their points differential would be calculated for each ranked opponent, totaled and then divided by the number of ranked runners they competed against.

You are only compared to other ranked runners within the same race and how non-ranked runners finished will not affect the scoring system.

Your score would not change until after the race. (I.E. your current score would be compared to all ranked runners and would not change from runner to runner within the same race.) At the end of the race, you would take into account how you fared against all other ranked runners, and that would dictate your new current score for use in your next race.

Getting Added to the Rankings To get added to the rankings, generally you need to perform better than a couple folks that are already ranked. Typically, we see how the average ranked runner did compared to their entering score. We then adjust the baseline time of 19:15 (23:45) based on that comparison. Anyone running faster than the adjusted baseline gets added. One condition to getting added is that you cannot be added at a score higher than someone who beat you in a given race. For example, if the adjust baseline is 19:30 and you run a 19:10, you would typically get added as a 40 point runner. However, if someone that beat you at that race finished the race as a 20 point runner, you cannot be added a score of higher than 19 points. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

I know how to get added to the rankings (I have to run well), how do I get removed from the rankings?

The way you drop off the list of ranked runners is that your point total following a race drops below zero. We allow zero point runners to stay on the list. The good news is that you can become re-ranked by running well in the next race. You can also be dropped from the list after a period of inactivity.

Additional Rules

The maximum points you may lose each meet is 25 points. This is done to protect the ranked runner that may be running while sick (Susie at 70% is still our number 5 runner, get out there and run, Susie). We also donít want other ranked runners to benefit too greatly from this situation. This is subject to one exception. If there are more than 10 ranked runners in a race, your score can increase by more than 25 points. If there are 15 ranked runners in a race, your score can increase by 30 points. If there are 25 ranked runners in a race, your score can increase by 40 points. This is done to allow those that are performing at a much higher level than they were last year to advance up the rankings more rapidly. At no time will your score ever drop by more than 25 points in any one meet.

The maximum points you main gain against an individual runner is 100 points a race. The maximum you may lose against an individual runner is 50 points a race. This means that the raw difference was 200 points (50=200 divided by the 4 as explained earlier). 200 points is equivalent to 100 seconds which means that a runner either wins or was beaten by 1:40 more than they were supposed to against a single runner. Anything greater than 50 points is an aberration and would skew results if not capped at 50 points. This rule can be differentiated from Additional Rule 2 by the fact that this cap is for a single runner and Additional Rule 2 is the average win/loss to all runners you faced. You may net 50 points against a single runner, but your score can never increase or decrease by greater than 25 points for a single race.

The rankings are always a work-in-progress, and we continue to tinker with the system to get people to their rightful places more quickly. In the past year, we added the Breakthrough and Breakdown provisions. These state that a series of races in which you gain more than certain amount of points in each race, you will gain additional bonus points on top of that. If you lose more than a certain amount of points in a series of race, you will lose additional points.

Final Comments

Please don't e-mail us and complain that you are ranked too low. That will not change the rankings. What changes the rankings is your performance compared to other ranked runners in the race. If we do not receive results to your meet, we cannot alter your score. This means that e-mailing us and saying "I ran a 17:04 at the Anytown Tri-Meet" will not do anything to your score. We would have nothing to compare your time to. Until we receive results from that meet, we cannot use it.

If we donít receive the meet results in a timely manner, we wonít be able to score the runners. We canít go back and score a race from September 15th when we have already tabulated results for several races from late September. To go back and use September 15th would dictate that we would have to recalculate all of the other races we had already scored. Therefore, it is important that we receive the results from a meet as soon as possible. We have several methods of delivery available:

  1. Email us the results at runwv@runwv.com
  2. Fax us the results at 873-3445
  3. Mail the results to RunWV, 107 New York Ave., West Union, WV 26456

How Often Will The Rankings Be Updated?

We'll try to update the rankings on a weekly basis, but we make no promise to do this. It will depend a lot on the amount of time we have during the week to get the rankings compiled and how many meets we receive.