Computer Rankings and Handicapping Algorithms

During the years when the JPL Running Club conducted its 2-mile Handicap Race, every effort was made to determine accurate handicaps for all runners having at least three data points from races of various lengths. A handicapping formula was used to convert race times for distances longer or shorter than 2 miles into equivalent 2-mile times.

This handicapping formula produces the same relative ordering of runners regardless of whether the handicapped distance is 2 miles or some other distance within the range of typical Club races. Thus, the ranking of runners by 2-mile handicap time serves as something akin to the "computer ranking" of pro tennis players. At race distances ranging from about 1 mile up to about 10 kilometers, an accurately ranked runner should defeat all runners ranked below and lose to all runners ranked above.

Some computer rankings from past years are linked below. Additional results will be posted as they become available.

1986

The leftmost column gives the runner's 2-mile handicap time, based on race times for various distances normalized to equivalent 2-mile times in the columns to the right. At least three data points (accumulated during the previous year) were required to qualify for a computer ranking. Men and women are ranked on the same list, but the rankings of women runners among themselves are noted separately.