Final? Even Podium? 800m & 1500m

In the last post A WC Medal or Final Maybe? What It Takes – the Sprints  we talked about the percentile level of duncanSCORE it would take to make the final, or maybe even win a medal at a WMA Outdoor Championship in the Sprints (100m, 200m, 400m).

In general for the Sprints, you need a 92 percentile to stand on the podium. An 84 to race in the final.

Well, how about the Middle Distances? Is it the same or similar? Let’s have a look.

Like I did with the Sprints, I have taken the results from the last 4 WMA Outdoor World Championships (Sacramento 2011, Porto Alegre 2013, Lyon 2015, and Perth 2016).

As in the Sprints, for the 800 and 1500,  I isolated the times required (the slowest “q”)  to reach the final (unless the event went straight to final), and the time of the bronze medal winner. I used all age groups from M35/W35 to M75/W75 inclusive. Then I calculated the duncanSCORE percentile for each instance. Again, to eliminate anomalies, I discarded the top 3 and bottom 3 percentile instances in each Championship, then averaged the remaining results.

Preliminaries (as Semi-finals) are not an issue in mid distance at World Championships. During the last 4 WCs, only Lyon had any … 800 prelims/semi-finals for M50, M55, and M60.

Because the number of competitors in the final are slightly different (10-12 in the 800, and 15 in the 1500), the dSCORE percentiles are a bit different to reach the final. For the 1500, you generally need a 74 percentile, and the 800 usually requires 78.

But to climb up the podium is very consistent for Middle Distance. You need 91 percentile dSCORE in the 800m, and 90 percentile for the 1500m.

And you can determine where you are in the 800 and 1500 by getting your very own duncanSCORE. Go here

Track DE

In the next post we will cover the 5000 and 10000, and those events where the athletes insist on jumping over things while they run.

And if you’d like to be notified when the next post is up, click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of your screen.



A WC Medal or Final Maybe? What It Takes – the Sprints

Photo courtesy Doug “Shaggy” Smith


A couple of posts ago  How Much Class Do You Have? I opened the conversation about what it takes (specifically what level of duncanSCORE) to reach the final, or even win a medal at a typical WMA Outdoors Championship. This seemed to me a better definition for high level performance than the more vague “world class”, “national class”  or “regional class” terms used now. How far at the World Champs does “national class” (over 80% Age Grade) get you? I doubt if anyone knows. As a “world class” performer (over 90% Age Grade), what can you expect? A medal? Just the final? Your guess is as good as mine.

I’m going to start with the Sprints (100m, 200m, and 400m). The hurdles I’ll cover another time, as their performance criteria are actually quite different.

I am using the results from the last 4 Outdoor WMA Championships (Sacramento, Porto Alegre, Lyon, and Perth).  I isolated the times required (the slowest “q”)  to reach the semi-finals (if there was a semi), the final (unless the event went straight to final), and the time of the bronze medal winner. I used all age groups from M35/W35 to M75/W75 inclusive. Then I calculated the duncanSCORE percentile for each instance. To eliminate anomalies I threw out the top 3 and bottom 3 percentile instances in each Championship, then averaged the remaining results.

It’s not perfect, and it is a generalization. But I think it’s pretty damn close. So if you are a Sprinter, and you have your heart set on making the final in Malaga, or even stand on the podium, here is what you need.

No, it’s not a guarantee … but it’s the way to bet. Averaging the 3 events … drum roll please … to reach the semi final you need a dSCORE percentile of 75.

To fly in the final requires 84%.

And if you hope to medal, you better be a Sprinter with a 92 percentile.

Here are the averages by event.


dSCORE Requirements SPRINTS

You can determine where you are by getting your very own duncanSCORE. Go here

Track DE

Coming soon 800m and 1500m.  And if you’d like to be notified when the next post is up, click on the “follow” button at the bottom right of your screen.

The Karla Konundrum

Karla in the 200m at Porto Alegre WC (2013) – Photo courtesy Doug “Shaggy” Smith

This post talks to how “numbers” can play tricks on you. Sometimes you need to be careful. Age Grade percentages versus duncanSCORE percentiles can sometimes be eerily similar despite the fact they are comparing to different “realities” (in the case of AG against the theoretical best possible performance, dSCORE against your peers across the globe). Let’s do a deep dive on these numbers.

Recently, Canada’s superstar women’s sprinter, Karla Del Grande set 2  new (pending) World records (100m and 200m) for W65 at the Canadian outdoor championships. She currently holds those Outdoor World records for W60. She also came very close to a new WR in the 400 (3/100 shy). This was her first National championship in a new age-group (W65).

The Hytek scoring system spits out these Age Grades (latest 5 year Age Grades based on 2014-2015) for the 100m as 96.49%, for the 200 as 99.16%, and the 400m as 96.96%. All exceptionally high AGs, as you would expect. But note, the 100m is her “poorest” AG, just oh so slightly inferior to her 400m AG (despite the 100 being a WR and 400 not!) The 200m AG is over 2 1/2 pts better than the 100m. And here are her AGs for her W60 100m and 200m world records … 100m – 98.83 and 200m 100.64. So AG says her most recent performances are not as good as 5 years ago. (But in AG’s defence, there is certainly more to come as Karla builds and heads to Malaga for the 2018 WC).

Maybe you’re asking what are her duncanSCORES?  I’m glad you’re asking.

Her 13.96 W65 100m converts to a 966 duncanSCORE (97 percentile). The 28.53 200 converts to an almost identical 967 SCORE (97 percentile). The 400m also rates incredibly high – 952 SCORE, 95 percentile.

The duncanSCORES rate her 100 and 200 performances as identical. The 400, 1 1/2% inferior. AG says the 100m was the poorest performance, the 200 the best. And the 400 2.37% worse than the 200. Her W60 world records in the 100 and 200 also rate near identical scores (954/95 percentile and 953/95 percentile).

So the 2 grading systems yield differing results. AG says the 200 is Karla’s best event, and as of right now, her 2 new WRs are much less than her W60 records. dSCORES indicate that her 100 and 200 are equally her best, and that versus her peers, in 5 years she has improved significantly.

You choose!

But definitely run the duncanSCORE (duncanSCORE) and enter some of your past performances. See what it says about how you are doing (versus your peers in the same age group) then, ,versus now. How are you faring?

Postscript: The week after her new 100m and 200m WR, Karla ran in an invitational Masters 100m  at the NACAC (North and Central American, Caribbean) Championships. She ran 13.91! Primed for Malaga

How Much Class Do You Have?

Today I want to write about “Class”. No not that kind. I’m talking “World Class” and “National Class”.

What in the world do we mean by World Class and National Class? I bring this up because in Age Grading terms, 90%+ is “World” Class, and 80%+ is “National” Class. 70%+ is “Regional” Class. I can’t find any reference on the WMA web site but the USATF Masters site does offer some discussion, and posits these AG percentages and their relative “Class”

100% = Approximate World-Record Level
90+% = World Class
80+% = National Class
70+% = Regional Class
60+% = Local Class

Beyond 100%, there really isn’t any clarification or definition of the levels. Is Slovenian (pop just over 2 million) “National” Class the same as U.S. (pop 325.7 million) “National” Class? I wouldn’t think so. And who decides on “regions”? Is that a state? Or a province? Or in Ontario’s case the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)? Why is there no definition? And why 80% for “National” class? Why not 85%? Or 75%? Surely it can’t be that hard! I’m guessing it has been purposely left vague. Which frustrates me to you know where.

With the duncanSCORE I set out to do things differently. And as much as possible, one thing I hope to do differently is to define things. Like percentages. What do they mean? You probably understand the percentile calculated by the duncanSCORE i.e. your performance is as good or better than “xx%” of Masters athletes in your age group/event. Fairly straight forward.

Now I would like to define the dSCORE percentile further. Typically, what kind of percentile do you need to win a medal at a WMA Outdoor Championship? To make it to the final? To qualify for a semi-final after the opening round?

I’ll be exploring those questions over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

First up … SPRINTS


So … How This All Started

above photo courtesy of Dan Slovitt

Header photo courtesy of John MacMillan

The “beginning” for the duncanSCORE was the very late autumn of 2015.  Without going into details, I was on committees that were selecting “Athlete of the Year” in a couple of jurisdictions. My input involved athletes’ successes in terms of medals won at various championships, and records set.

Needless to say athletes in different age groups and across the track and field event spectrum were involved. Picking winner(s) was difficult. Often the discussion came back to “well Abc had an Age Grading of xx.xx% while Xyz‘s Age Grade was only xx.xx-1%”.

After much back and forth, I gave up, infuriated. Comparisons were being made across age groups and events and disciplines, and the Age Grade differences in my mind were insignificant. Knowing that the sample “sizes” for each age year and event were only ONE, and the model created included some manual “tweaking”, I knew this was a very inappropriate use of Age Grading. Believing that an Age Grade to the 1/100 was significant over a similar result from a different age group and event was ludicrous.

There had to be (and needed to be) a better way!

A few days later it started dawning on me. For the last year or so, since he had taken over the masters world rankings from Martin Gasselsberger, John Seto was beginning to amass a treasure trove of Masters’ performances. (For some history on rankings for masters, read this on Ken Stone’s masterstrack blog

Could these not be used? Perhaps they could be!

I started pulling the data for a few track events and a couple of field events from a single year for a collection of age groups. I wanted to see if it was possible, and moreover, if the results made any sense. They seemed to. I consulted with my coaches Paul Osland and Mike Sherar, and they too thought there was something there.

I pressed on. Adding more age groups and looking at 3 years of data for M50 800m. I added a few more events.

All this took me into the late spring of 2016.

I played around with different scoring systems and ideas. At the same time I started gathering more data. As many years as possible. To this point I have organized 4 years of best performance (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016). See here the mechanics how it works

I won’t further bore you with all the problems and blind alleys I pursued. Just know I explored a lot of them before deciding on the concept you see today.  I’m a slow learner and worker, but here at last, is a “beta” look at the concept.

For a more in-depth understanding see An Introduction