Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

Know the score

Posted by boakley59 on January 19, 2012

The first race in the 2012 Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix series is Sunday’s One Hour Run in Russellville. The White River Roadrunners have quite a few runners racing, enough to constitute men’s and women’s teams in the club team competition. Team results are tallied using cross-country scoring, so for those of you who did not run cross-country in your younger days or do not have children on school teams, I’ll explain what that means.

In cross-country scoring, every eligible runner is given points matching his place in the finish order of all eligible runners. (For the ARRCA Grand Prix team series, eligible runners must be Grand Prix registrants and dues-paying members of their local running club, and their team must have a minimum number of scoring runners.) The points are added for the first few eligible runners of a given team (high schools and colleges usually count five runners per team; the Grand Prix counts four men or three women). The team with the lowest point total wins the event. A team may enter more than the required number; a team with fewer than that number of finishers is not figured in the standings. The additional runners on larger teams do not count toward their team’s score, but they can push runners from other teams farther behind, thus increasing those scores and helping their own team win.

An example will help. Say the White River Roadrunners send eight eligible runners to the Hill Lovers 1-Mile Stumble, and Team Bandylegs sends the minimum of four. WRRR takes 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 14th places, with TB taking 2nd, 4th, 6th and 13th. Unattached runners finish 11th and 12th. The unattached runners are irrelevant to the team count, so their finishes are discarded and for the team tally, 13th and 14th places become 11th and 12th among eligible runners. The first four finishers for WRRR score 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 16 points. The four finishers for TB score 2 + 4 + 6 + 11 (was 13) = 23. WRRR wins 16-23. The WRRR finishers in 8th, 9th and 10th didn’t count in the WRRR score, but they pushed the last runner in TB back to 11th place, fattening the TB score. The WRRR runner at the back of the pack gained valuable racing experience and will outkick the last TB runner next time!

It’s good to have a fast team, but it’s great to have a deep team. A team is only as good as its weakest scorer. A team that runs well together generally scores better than a team with a hotshot and some other guys.

That’s how single events are scored in the Grand Prix team challenge. For the yearlong challenge, the teams are then awarded position points for 1st through 10th against the other teams in a given event. The first place team gets 30 points in the “championship” races and 20 points in the non-championships. Each subsequent place is worth 3 points less in championship races (27, 24, down to 3 for 10th place) and 2 points less in the others (18, 16, down to 2 for 10th). At the end of the series, the team that has accumulated the most position points is the winner.

Teams win individual races with low point totals, which gain them high position points in the overall series. The team challenge includes 21 races, but a maximum of 16 will be counted toward a team’s total, and a team must have 10 scores to be eligible for year-end awards. This rewards teams that are persistent and prevents loaded teams from accumulating big points in a few races and then dropping out of the competition.

The Grand Prix, of course, is built around its individual challenge, where Grand Prix registrants are awarded position points for 1st through 10th places in a number of men’s and women’s categories: Overall (every runner), Masters (age 40+), Grand Masters (age 50+), Seniors (age 60+) and five-year age groups. The 30 by 3 and 20 by 2 scales described above apply here as well. The major categories are “topless”: A Senior can tally points in Grand Masters, Masters and Overall, a Grand Master can score in Masters and Overall, a Master can score in Overall. The five-year age groups have floors and ceilings, no overlap from other groups.

The individual challenge includes 20 races, but only a runner’s best 10 will count, five championship and five non-championship. An individual must have at least five scores to be eligible for year-end awards. Again, persistence and series participation is favored over mere speed.

This year, the White River Roadrunners are renewing our own challenge series, with men’s and women’s overall, 60 and older, 0-9, 10-14, 15-19 and 10-year age groups. We have nine races in our list, with only a runner’s best six counting. A runner must finish at least four to be eligible for year-end awards.

Click for the combined schedule of Grand Prix and White River Roadrunner challenge races, and a Grand Prix WRRR teams-tracking page.

Roadrunners! Beep beep.

2 Responses to “Know the score”

  1. The best explanation of this mess o’ scoring that I’ve heard outa you so far! 🙂 Thanks for putting it in writing so I can understand it better.

  2. boakley59 said

    If this is the best, I suspect that means either you haven’t heard me explain it before at all or maybe I write gooder than I talk!

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