Skip to main content

My answer to a question sent by Jim Gerweck. Anybody else have an opinion?

Jim, Kevin,

There are gazillions of ways to handicap races, all of which are wrong.

If it was a flat mile, the time difference in the men/women WR is 30 seconds.

If we use a guesstimate from an old Measurement News, we see that 1 m/km of slope affects the course by 4 m/km of length. Since our mile is 1609 meters, and our slope is 50 meters overall, this yields an increase in length of 322 meters, for a total equivalent course length of 1931 meters.

Using the relationship T2=T1*(D2/D1)^1.07) we get a time for men of 4:31 and for women 5:07, for a difference of 36 seconds on the equivalent course.

Of course, the above depends on the competitors being of world-class fitness. A purse of $20,000 is likely to attract some studs and studettes, but how studly? Is a fast field going to be bought, or is the prize money the only bait? I'd expect a couple of fast - but not top-level - Africans to show up. If they don't, some local hotshoe will get a chance to shine.

Add to this that nobody trains on such a course, so times will be slower.

I'd give the women a 45 second head start, recognizing that this will probably not hit the mark.

After all the mumbo-jumbo is done, what remains is the only figure of interest, which is "How much head start will the women get?" This has not been stated in Kevin's note. While I have shown my method, I do NOT stand behind it, and will cheerily admit that it could be a lot of ivory-tower BS. Still, it's my best shot

I don't think science is much help here. A gut feeling would likely do as well.

Best regards, Pete

In a message dated 6/12/2008 1:47:23 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

I know you’re the guru of handicaps, equivalents and elevation factors, so could you chime in w/ your own .02? Thanks,

------ Forwarded Message
From: Kevin at ChipsNotDeadYet <>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 10:39:37 -0700
To: 'Jim Gerweck' <>
Cc: <>, 'Maurice Wilson' <>
Subject: RE: Chips Not Dead Yet Mile calculation

Thx Jim,

Here's the plan.

Site: 1 mile straight course with 50m elevation gain.
Objective: Gender graded so that females start before males and first PERSON across line wins $20,000. 2nd place wins nothing.
Field: small with 1 woman and 10 men with deadline on Sunday, June 15 at midnight. No entries accepted after that time.

Concept: We use the Mercier tables to determine the fastest anticipated flat mile times for males and females.
We determine the difference between the fastest anticipated male and female miles. This we call X.
Then, taking into account grade research (see below), the females will begin their race by X+Y seconds.

Grade Research: ARRS data has shown that for every 1 meter of elevation gain over 1 mile, the added time it takes a male runner is about 1 second.
Females are affected by uphill grades slightly more than males, by a factor of about 20%.
Assuming our course has an uphill gain of 50m, the fastest anticipated mile for a male would be 50 seconds longer than if it were flat, and 60 seconds longer for women where the difference of 10 seconds we will call Y.

We know this is a simple way to view things, and we are hoping that simple means best.
But before we publish this method, we would love to have a few brains look at it with some critical thinking.

We are accepting entries into this category up until midnight on June 15, so we are hoping to announce the formula at that time.

I thank you for your consideration in advance.

Kevin Thomson

From: Jim Gerweck []
Sent: June 12, 2008 9:21 AM
To: Kevin at ChipsNotDeadYet
Subject: Re: Chips Not Dead Yet Mile calculation

Love to – send it along (I’ll promise to be sober, and I’ll even run it by some other RDs and stat geeks).

Jim Gerweck
Editor at Large
Running Times

On 6/12/08 11:10 AM, "Kevin at ChipsNotDeadYet" <> wrote:
Hello Jim Gerweck,

Would you be interested in reviewing our plan for equalizing the gender and the elevation for this one mile winner-take-all race?
I'd love to have a sober second thought review before we unleash it to the world.


Kevin Thomson

From: Brian Metzler RT []
Sent: June 12, 2008 7:22 AM
To: Kevin at ChipsNotDeadYet
Subject: Re: Chips Not Dead Yet Mile calculation

Yes, I’m familiar with your race and would love to run it sometime.

I would touch base with Jim Gerweck. He’s a veteran race director and a good place to start for something like this...

Jim Gerweck <>

You also might consider the handicaps the Dipsea puts on its runners. ( It’s a 7.1-mile race from Mill Valley, CA, to Stinson Beach, CA, and I think there are handicaps ranging from 1 minute to 22 minutes, based on age/gender.

I’ll keep thinking of other people to talk to, but start with Jim. He might be able to recommend others.


On 6/12/08 5:04 AM, "Kevin at ChipsNotDeadYet" <> wrote:
Dear Brian,

You may be familiar with our new event here in Vancouver, BC called the Chip's Not Dead Yet Memorial Mile (we advertised in your magazine).
We are giving away $20,000 to the first person across the finish line in a winner take all race up a local hill here in town on June 20th.

I am writing to seek your expertise in our gender and elevation calculation plan.
Would there be someone on your staff inclined to offer to feedback on our plan?

We have been working with ARRS and our provincial athletic body, so we feel pretty good about it, but would love another opinion before we set ourselves to the hounds of second guessing…

We thank you for your support of this event, and I do hope you will have someone on staff who might enjoy providing some input on this unique race.


Kevin Thomson
Original Post

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.