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 ultrasignup.com, 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: