Friday, January 27, 2012

How Much Do You Care?

I was reading a friends training updates recently and also noticed that he is registered for a 50 mile race in late March. He's also dealing with an injury that he is trying to recover from which will likely impact his ability to perform at his best. Here's the kicker, he's a top elite in any race up to 50 miles (my opinion, not his probably) and at any other time would be a contender to win it.

Those familiar with ultra running know that anyone who has run an ultra event can be found on, as long as the RDs report their results to the site (which is pretty much all events now-a-days). People listed on that site receive an overall ranking based on previous finishes. The number itself is represented as a percent. Elites will often be in the upper 80 - 90+% range. However, as often will happen, non-elites who do well in races with small fields (like me) or the races are non-competitive will also have a higher ranking, giving them the appearance of being better than they are (hey, like me).

What does this really mean? NOTHING, not a dang thing. So why do I bring it up? I do it because I'm wondering if there are people out there who care about their ranking and how they compare to other runners? And more importantly (and here's the big question) - would you consider opting out of a race because you are injured or not ready or for other reasons won't perform at your best just so that you can keep your runner ranking high? I think the answer we'd all publicly say is No, of course not. We don't care and it wouldn't have any impact on what races we do or how we perform overall. However, I'm also willing to bet that at least a little part of us is somewhat concerned with that ranking and how it might be impacted by a poor performance.

I know personally that while I'm not really worried about my ranking (because I'm not really an elite) I do look at registration lists for races I'm going to run and check out the profiles of those ranked high in the field because I like to know who I'm racing against. I think it gives an adequate picture of who we are competing against. Like other runners, I take it all with a grain of salt, but I can say that I do look and it does play a role in how I approach the race. I will be the first to admit that I'm a competitive person when it comes to events and I want to do well. I look at those lists and try to decipher where I'm going to land in the field. And generally I'm right unless I personally blow up and perform poorly.

So I'll ask the question again, what does the ultrasignup ranking mean to you?

And since I've made a personal commitment to not post anything on this site any more that doesn't include a photo or video, here is a token photo from a run I did a couple of days ago:

Scott descending from View Benchmark peak where there were 2 foot snow drifts near the top. Cool day.


Mike Place said...

My ranking is nearly always dead-last or at least close to it even though I've won races and done at least reasonably well in others. The reason is that during my first year of running I had a lot of problems (injuries, stomach problems, etc) that produced some spectacular blow-ups and more than a handful of finishes at the back of the field. Those were learning experiences and while they've basically assured that I'll be ranked near the bottom for the foreseeable future, I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. They made me the runner I am today.

Scott Wesemann said...

I think it is fun to look at, but I don’t worry about it at all. Maybe if my percentage was higher and I was an ‘elite’ I might put more stock into it, but I definitely wouldn’t let it influence any of my actions or feel bad about my percentage. I do think it is fun to look at and more than anything just see how people have progressed over the years and how they have finished in certain races.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is an event is considered ultra for distances exceeding a marathon. Why is it that Ultrasignup will post and calculate events that does not qualify as Ultra? In my opinion, Ultrasignup should not include events that do not meet the Ultra distance. Chris in Syracuse

jun said...

Chris, i think there are two answers to your question.
1. I believe that RDs upload results using an online form and it doesn't restrict them from putting in races that are less than an ultra, especially if an ultra was part of the race. Buffalo Run is a good example.
2. Money

Cody said...

I find the rankings interesting though not necessarily that helpful. There are too many flaws in the system to give you an accurate representation of the actual talent of a runner. I do find it helpful to give an estimate of the competition level. Better than nothing I say!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything that's been said. I don't put any stock into the number but it's nice to see the results of those you're competing against. I can usually get a pretty good idea of where I'll end up looking at the field's results, and not the precentage assigned to the runners.

Anonymous said...