How to handicap club races

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Mar 2018
7:09am, 6 Mar 2018
35 posts
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We want to improve our club handicap system as the current method is a bit subjective and seems to produce very random results. We need a fair and transparent system that will give everyone a similar chance of winning. What do other people use? Any suggestions?
It doesn't necessarily have to be an actual handicap system, just something to level out standards across a wide range of times. One idea we are considering is asking people to predict their time and the closest to it wins.
Mar 2018
7:26am, 6 Mar 2018
2530 posts
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Our club has a fixed course (annual race) and the handicapper mostly uses times from previous events. Win usually goes to a newcomer with a wildly inaccurate estimate or someone who was injured/not trying the previous year. Not very successful IMO but it’s just fun and no-one cares too much.
Mar 2018
8:01pm, 6 Mar 2018
19033 posts
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*bump* would be interested to hear about any such systems.
Mar 2018
10:01am, 7 Mar 2018
408 posts
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oi you
Our club has recently been running a competition based on parkrun. Each run is measured as a percentage of the individuals PB, or Season's Best. So someone setting a new PB scores over 100, and so on. Highest score wins.
It's not a handicap but the handicapping, age-grading etc is all built in.
There's always the issue of a newcomer without a time for the run, but that's not really much different to stting a handicap for them.
Mar 2018
1:37pm, 7 Mar 2018
9 posts
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My club has tried a couple of ways - we've done the "guess the time over the distance and closest to prediction wins" but it needs people to not use watches and doesn't really mean very much.

We also run a timed 5k once per month. Last year I took everyone's PBs for the year and put them in a table, and we had a really simple handicap 5k race where everyone set off based on their PB. So slowest person went first, and everyone started based on the time difference between this person's PB and their own. Theoretically everyone has the same chance of winning, but it's much easier to trim a minute off a 35 minute PB than, say a 20 minute PB.

But everyone really enjoyed the race - there was loads of banter at the start, and a real tension once the first runner had started and people were waiting for their start. We also got what we hoped for, which was for the last mile to be very close, with everyone running along the last part of the race and finishing very close together. We will repeat this again soon, as it was really popular with everyone, and encouraged everyone in the club to push each other. It also meant that the "podium" wasn't filled with the usual suspects. I would highly recommend this approach.
Mar 2018
9:52pm, 7 Mar 2018
36 posts
  • 0
Thanks for the suggestions. I think it would be a good idea to try a few different systems and see what works

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Maintained by The wee beastie
We want to improve our club handicap system as the current method is a bit subjective and seems to p...

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