Wednesday, 10 December 2014
Team Scoring At The US Skyrunner Series
Recently there's been some online and in-person discussion about team scoring surrounding the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler in Marin, including some great thoughts from Ryan Ghelfi (his latest blog post). It got me thinking along lines I'd previously considered before being involved in the US Skyrunner Series as the Series Director - namely that sports need teams for people to support.
Now that I'm in a position to create a system of scoring for teams at a national level, I decided to relate my thoughts in a blog to get comments before putting it into practice, so please let me know what you think. Bear in mind a couple of constraints - there's no budget for offering prize money for this in 2015 and there's no time to create a budget...but this may kick start that side of things for 2016.
As an additional feature, I'm currently working on a way to include live, real-time scoring during each race for teams but details are not ready to be released yet.
Here are the key elements I'd like to incorporate in team scoring:
1. Allow both elites and the entire field to effect the scoring.
2. Incorporate both women and men into a combined score for both elites and the entire field.
3. Create teams that people will genuinely care about.
4. Only include it if it adds something to a given race and/or the entire Series.
To achieve these aims I'm considering scoring for both the top runners and the entire field, but with the top runners still scoring for the masses as well. To get people behind teams, I believe the most effective common denominator is geography as this is what works in basically every sport globally. Then I hope the combination of these factors makes it of interest and gets people psyched to run for and support their team.
The geographical scoring makes most sense if based on US States plus international countries, given all the races are in the US. Every State will score in every race even if they have no runners - see the scoring described below. Only countries with finishers will be included, but once they have a single finisher in a single race they will be scored in every race, even if they have no runners.
Elite team scoring:
Cross-country scoring is tried and tested, so I propose that the top two men and one woman from a team have they gender positions added up. For example, a team with men in 2nd and 3rd plus the 1st woman would score 6 points (2+3+1). If there are not enough finishers for a team to complete their three finishers then each missing runner scores 25 points, so the previously mentioned team score without a female finisher would score 30 points (2+3+25). The most a team can score is 75 and if a team's runner is lower than 25th place then they still score 25 points at worst.
Full team scoring:
Every runner counts for the State or Country they enter under originally (even if they move before race day), including elites. The average position of the runners in their gender is the number that counts for scoring, with a bonus for the more runners they have.
The State or country with the most runners in a race gets a 5 point deduction from their score, second largest gets 4 points off, third largest gets 3 points off, fourth largest gets 2 points off and the 5th largest gets a single point off their score. The lowest score possible is 1 point above the worst scoring team that has finishers. This score applies to all teams that fail to have 3 finishers.
For example, if Colorado has the most runners in a race and the average finisher's position in their gender is 22.567th then we round to one decimal place then deduct the 5 point bonus to give a score of 17.6.
Single race v entire Series:
I aim to include scoring for every distance at every event to give a result for the individual race plus a league table over the season. I guess I'll get comments about how all the scoring favors the States that hold more races since it's easier to get locals to turn up, but the bonus points' system only gives a slight advantage to big numbers. Regarding the elite races, 2015 should see some high-level competition across the entire Series, meaning that the States with the best mountain runners should do better in the elite rankings and they aren't punished too much if they can't get a full scoring team out given it only requires two men and one woman and there's only so many points that can be added as a penalty.
There's a degree of trial and error with this approach since it's something new and relies on the races being reasonably geographically diverse and competitive. Both of these elements should increase over time and this is just the first step. Depending on how it goes it could morph into a number of things in 2016, especially with discussions with sponsors to get top athlete's sponsors on board.
Let me know what you think. Is this an exciting addition to the sport of trail running? Does it add something to the US Skyrunner Series? What would you change to my proposal (be realistic as well as ideas for where to aim for the in the longer term)?