Explaining the Rankings
Unlike most systems that try to rank runners, the concept of the competitive rankings is based on exchanging points between runners rather than accumulating points. For example, suppose runner A has 2900 points and runner B has 2850 points. Runner A is expected to beat Runner B. If B managed to beat A, then B takes more points from A than A would take from B for beating B. Assume B beats A and this is worth 8 points. This gives Runner A 2892 points and Runner B 2858 points. Conversely, if A beats B, suppose this is worth 2 points. This gives Runner A 2902 points and Runner B 2848 points. It is a "zero sum" game.
Now break down the race among the ranked runners into all possible two-way matches and compute the point exchanges for each match. Put some upper bound and lower bound limits on the total point gain or loss for any runner and you have the essence of the competitive rankings.
An unranked runner that meets the minimum time standards (30:00 equivalent 10 km for men, 35:00 equivalent 10 km for women) is initialized with a point level based on his/her time. The minimum time standards represent a point level of 2600 for men and 2500 for women. The maximum initial point level is set at 2850. It takes three performances for a runner to become "vetted" or eligible to be listed in the Competitive Rankings.
An inactive runner is defined as a runner that has not raced in more than ten weeks. An inactivity penalty of 3 points is deducted from that runner's point level for every week of inactivity. Once a runner returns to racing, he/she can recover these penalty points by "demonstrating form." A runner inactive for more than 52 weeks is removed from the rankings and must start as an unranked runner if he/she begins racing again and meets the minimum time standards.
Runners who dnf are placed after that last ranked finisher, in the order of distance completed if that is known. In other words, a runner can't just drop out of a race if he/she is having a bad day and avoid any point loss. Similarly, the "Pilkington" rule says that designated pace setters that do not finish are counted as dnf, in the same way as any other runner. Usually the pace setter has a lower point level than the runners being paced and doesn't lose very many points in such cases.
The second column provides the relative frequency of road (R), track (T), or crosscountry (C) races for
that runner with the first letter indicating the venue most frequently raced (over the past 12 months).
NOTE: The addition of the "RTC" listings was prompted by a suggestion from ARRS member Dave Monti that the
ARRS could increase its credibility by producing road rankings and distributing these widely to the sports
media. After some discussion as to what criteria should be used to define a "road runner," it was decided
simply to show the runner's racing preferences in terms of road, track, and crosscountry (all non-track/road
In this way, you can decide whether or not Kenenisa Bekele (TCR) should be considered the top road racer or
whether that distinction should go to Paul Tergat (RC). In Bekele's case, he only has one road race in the
past 12 months (of 18 total races) whereas Paul Tergat has seven of his ten races in the last 12 months on
the roads. Of course, Martin Lel (R) could be considered a pure road racer since he has not raced track
or crosscountry for the past 12 months.
A lower case letter in the first position indicates that fewer than 50% of the performances were of that type; in the second position, it is less than 30%, and in the third position, it is less than 10%.
Runner statistics supplied by Association
of Road Race Statisticians, PO Box 219,
Petrolia CA 95558. E-mail at
Statistics information derived with permission from Race Results Weekly and Running Stats,
newsletters of international track, road and cross country results and