Fun Stuff


Portions of the ranking rules were borrowed from (the creators of this ranking system)
It is important to see how the scoring system works. Please take the time to read this.

OK, so how does this thing work?

All ranked runners have a base score. The base score represents how well one runner should run compared to another. 1 second = 2 points. If runner A has a base score of 150 and runner B has a base score of 160, runner B should theoretically beat runner A by 5 seconds. In the event that runner B does indeed beat runner A by 5 seconds in a race, neither runner's base score will change. They did what they were "supposed" to do.

Now say that runner B beats runner A by 10 seconds, or 20 points. Runner B was "supposed" to beat runner A by 10 points but he beat him by 20. Runner B will then gain 10 points off of runner A (20-10=10). Runner A will lose 10 points.

To calculate the final addition/subtraction to each runner, divide the points difference by three (this divisor was changed from four to three in 2015). 10/3 = 3.33 points would be subtracted from Runner A's score and 3.33 points added to Runner B's score. The divisor of 3 is used since it will allow runners that are originally ranked differently to be ranked evenly at the end of a 3-race stretch in which they ran exactly the same time (approximation). In other words, this divisor is incorporated into the ranking calculation to slow down the ranking system and add stability. Runner A's new score is 146.67, and Runner B's new score is 163.33.

Say runner A beats runner B by 5 seconds even though he was "supposed" to lose by 5 seconds. The differential between what happened and what was supposed to happen is 10 seconds, or 20 points. Runner A will gain 20 points off of runner B, while runner B loses 20 points. Once again, you divide by 3, so the final point exchange is plus or minus 6.67.

Now say that there are three ranked runners in the race. Uh-oh, what now? First you compare runner A with runner B, as described above. Then compare runner A to runner C. Then compare runner B with runner C. Divide the score for each runner by the total number of ranked runners run against - in this case runner A ran against two ranked runners, so divide by 2. If 50 ranked runners are compared, I would have divided by 49.

There are caps! Of course, the ranking does not let one single race ruin someone's season-long ranking. The maximum amount of points that a runner may lose in a race is 25 points - no exceptions. The maximum amount of points that a runner may gain in a race is 25 points with a few exceptions. If there are 15-24 ranked runners in a race, a runner's score can increase by 30 points. If there are 25+ ranked runners in a race, a runner's score can increase by 40 points. There will be no maximum point gain at the county championship meet. This rewards runners for racing against strong competition and also puts more weight on the races with many ranked runners.

Rarely used: The maximum points a runner may gain against an individual runner is 100 points a race. The maximum a runner may lose against an individual runner is 50 points a race. This prevents anomalies, which especially tend to occur at the beginning of the season before the breakthrough or breakdown clauses can be activated. This is used in the calculation behind the scenes and rarely makes much of a difference.

Getting Added and Removed From Rankings

  • An unranked athlete gets added to the ranking if they run well enough compared to the ranked runners in the race. Keep in mind the point system is time based. The number of seconds that the unranked runner finishes ahead of or behind the most representative ranked runner determines if the unranked runner is worthy of being on the ranking and how many points with which they will be added to the ranking.
  • The most representative ranked runner is determined after scoring a meet. The ranked runner whose point total changes the least after scoring a meet is considered to be the most stable ranked runner and the most representative of the system.
  • To determine the point total of a newly ranked runner, count the number of seconds the runner finshed ahead of or behind the most representative runner. Multiply that number by two. Add that number to the point total of the most representative runner if the unranked runner beat the most representative runner or subtract that number if the unranked runner finished behind the most representative runner.
  • Unranked runners will not be added to the system with less than 15 points. Under 15 points is considered the danger zone because runners with less than 15 points are in danger of dropping off the ranking.
  • Unranked runners will not be added to the ranking with a point total higher than any ranked runner who beat them in the race.
  • The ranking administrator reserves the right to use discretion when adding runners to the ranking early in the season. The administrator may choose not to add runners based on performances in small dual meets if it appears that ranked runner(s) are in poor shape or do not race to their potential to begin the season. In other words, an unranked runner is not guaranteed to be added if they beat a ranked runner in a small dual meet.
  • Athletes are removed from the system if they are inactive for 4 consecutive weeks or if their base score drops below 0.

  • Provisions

    There are several provisions that are in place to help get the athletes where they belong in the rankings more quickly.

  • Breakthrough and Breakdown Provision - These state that a series of races in which you gain more than a certain amount of points in each race, you will gain additional bonus points on top of that. If you lose more than a certain amount of points in a series of races, you will lose additional points.
  • Inactivity Rule - This a feature that causes athletes to start losing points if they go three weeks or more without running in a meet. This is especially effective because the top ranked runners have a tendency to be pulled down throughout the season by runners who improve faster. Without the inactivity clause, if someone is not racing, they may inappropriately move ahead of those top athletes who are racing.
  • Underrated Rule - This allows me to remove an athlete from the meet comparison if that athlete hurts more than 50% of his opponents by the maximum amount. That athlete will be given the maximum point gain, but will not hurt other runners.
  • Overrated Rule - This allows me to remove an athlete from the meet comparisons if that athlete's performance is substantially below the 25 point loss limit. That athlete will be given the maximum point loss, but will not help other runners.
  • Safe Victory Rule - Any runner who wins a race by 15 seconds or more will not lose points for that race. This rule protects highly ranked runners who may be asked to race against low ranked competition in a low stakes race.
  • Private School Ghosts - *New in 2015* - In 2015, Mocorunning began incorporating Washington DC private school runners into the ranking system but not publishing those names and rankings. Those "ghosts" in the ranking system will never be known to fans reading the rankings and admittedly make it impossible to follow along at home. Mocorunning did this to improve the "mixing" of the ranking system between public and private school athletes. Public and private schools were not crossing paths as much as in the early years of the ranking, and increasing the pool of ranked runners to Washington DC private schools increased the amount of scoring opportunities between public and private schools prior to the private school conference meets.

    County Championship Provisions

    It's important for the county championship meet to be weighed heavily because it is the only race where all MCPS runners are combined. As such, the following special cases are made for the county championship meet.
  • Two Iterations - The ranking formula will be applied to the county championship meet results twice before it is published. The maximum point loss will still be -25.
  • Unlimited Gain - Runners will be allowed to gain unlimited points at the county championship meet, if the formula allows it.
  • Zarate-Woods Clause - A. The individual Montgomery County champion will be awarded a bonus if the formula does not automatically push the county champion to the top. The bonus will be such that the individual champion's new base score will be equal to the score of the highest ranked MCPS runner plus a point bonus equal to the number of seconds by which the individual champion won the race. The individual Montgomery County champion will not be automatically ranked ahead of any runner that did not compete in the Montgomery County championship meet including any highly ranked private school runners.
    B. An individual state champion who places first at the state championship meet may be awarded a bonus no greater than 25 points and equal to the minimum amount of points necessary to move ahead of ranked runners defeated head-to-head at the state championship meet. The bonus will not allow a state champion to move ahead of any runner not entered in the same race as him or her.

    Where Did the Original 2006 Base Scores Come From?

    The 2006 pre-season base scores were developed starting with the top athletes from the 2004 cross country season. The boys were given 2 points for every second that they ran under 19:30 at the 2004 county championship and the girls were given 2 points for every second under 23:00. Many of the known top athletes from the 2005 season were added to the ranking and given the lowest possible base score - 15. I then scored the entire 2005 cross country season using the scoring system. The final scores from the 2005 season is where the 2006 season started.

    Note that the current point totals are no longer based on scales of 19:30 and 23:00. The point totals also cannot be compared from season to season. The point scales shift as the county competition changes.

    Final Comments

  • Keep in mind that the scoring is a math-based formula and is completely objective. It is possible that errors can be made in the calculation so if you think you have found an error, please point it out. However, the rankings will not change based on opinions.
  • Runners can not get added to the ranking if they do not race ranked runners. A runner may run the race of their life, but if no other ranked runners were competing in that race, scores will not change.
  • One injustice of the system is that new runners can be added near the top of the ranking while returning runners may have to claw their way from the bottom to the top after a year of improvement. It is unfair at first, but with the help of the provisions, breakout runners can move up the ranking very quickly after their second race.
  • Results must be received in a timely manner. Typically results are published on Sundays or Mondays. If results are received after rankings are published, results can still be applied to rankings the following week. If results are received after a runner's next race, those results likely will not count in the rankings.
  • You are encouraged to ask polite questions. You can email me and I will answer your question directly.

    Thank you for reading the ranking rules. Please email with questions and concerns.
    Return to Rankings

  • Email | About