Tuesday, March 27, 2012

USAT Rankings - 2011

USAT does many great things for Triathlon.  Part of the service they deliver for members is a ranking system, so you can see how you stack up against people in your age group across the country.  Here’s my take in my performances for 2011, and how it translated into the ranking system'.

After mentioning that USAT does great things – I have to point out that there is something they do very poorly.  The website/page for rankings is absolutely awful.  I tried again today to see where I landed in 2011 – it took many page views to figure out that I was #708, with 83.3876 points, out of 5,015 (based on the 2011 Unofficial rankings as of March 12th 2012).  I found my results were on page 36 (when race details are shown) or page 9 when just the totals are displayed. I knew roughly how many points I had, so I could narrow down the focus, but surely there is a way to search and get the page that I appear on with only a few clicks.

The ranking system is complicated, and I am not even going to attempt to describe it.  If you need to find out more about the calculations, I heard a great podcast about the subject – the Tri Talk Podcast, episode's 66 and 66a. 

The basic requirements are that you complete 3 sanctioned races – your top 3 performances for the year are used for your ranking.

Here’s a list of the races that I completed, in chronological order:-

Race Points USAT order My order
Kinetic Sprint - May 76.82689 5 5
EagleMan 70.3 - June 81.76985 3 4
Luray Sprint – August 80.94807 4 3
Nations Tri – September 82.85825 2 2
Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 – October 85.62872 1 1
Total Ranking 83.3876 709  

Looking at the numbers, the rankings reflected how my season progressed.  I got a lot stronger and faster throughout the year.  Part of that was a slow start from injury recovery (calf strain), the other part was that I started following a training plan for the first time in July.

I added 2 columns to the table above, one showing the USAT order, the other showing my order.  This ranks my events in order of best (1) to worst (5).  The only difference in USAT compared to my perception is that EagleMan 70.3 was ranked with more points than the Luray sprint – however I had a much better race at Luray than Eagleman (click links for race reports).  I know that the ranking points are calculated based on time, and a athletes with known performances, this may account for higher points at EagleMan, it is possible that while I felt my race was worse, it was better than others at a similar level (they might have suffered even more than me).  And for the sprint race, I may have been competing against people who specialize in the sprint distance.

Overall it is I find it interesting to see how I stack up, not that it really matters, but it is something that I occasionally look at.  For the 2012 season, I hope to move up the rankings – hopefully into the top 500.  That would get me into the ‘Honorable Mention’ category (the top 250 have ‘All American Honors’).

  • #1 Points  - 106.2325
  • #250 – 89.08105
  • #500 – 85.3765

Note:  this ranking includes some pro athletes, like Tim DeBoom, Jason Shortis – so the results may change a little when they are removed.  Edit:  just as I was posting this article, the final official results were posted – I went from #709 down a whopping 5 places to #704.

As a side note:  today I learned what All American means… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-America.

The ranking points are calculated based on your race time, not place – so every second counts, after pouring through the results, I found the following:-

Luray Sprint (750m/18mi/3.1mi)

my time:      1:30:22 - 80.94807 points, 
competitor 1:27:04 - 84.0161
                        3minutes ~ 3 points

EagleMan 70.3 (1.2mi/56mi/13.1mi)

my time:      5:16:22 - 81.76985 points, 
competitor 5:01:10 - 85.89681
                        15 minutes ~ 4 points

Beach2Battleship 70.3 (1.2mi/56mi/13.1mi)

my time:      4:49:49 - 85.62872 points, 
competitor 4:58:57 - 83.01264 points 
                        9 minutes ~ 2.6 points

I guess there is one other thing i can deduce after looking at the rankings.  It is possible that I am am either a little better than others in my age group at longer races, or less willing to suffer on the much shorter sprint races – perhaps a little of both.  Either way, I have some improving to do this year.