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The handicap system explained

Understanding "The System” is the equivalent to gaining a Degree in Pure Mathematics and English Literature. Don’t feel bad about not understanding it, you are in good company. The Handicappers have been the only ones who know how it works.
The hardest and most thankless job in the Westies Joggers club is that of the handicapper, as you only get one person (the winner) thinking they get it right each race; and then that person sometimes thinks he/she was so good that he/she, and only he/she, could overcome the enormous odds to not only defeat all the other runners but also the handicapper.
There is a method to this madness. This article attempts to unravel at least the mathematics of the job, how this has translated into start times is where the handicappers come into their own. 

I understand they have a network of spies listening, looking, assessing how people are going, looking at stress levels on people when they are running, taking run times from fun run results, listening to rumours and succumbing to compliments, but be assured that no money or gifts will assist your cause as the gentlemen are beyond materialistic.
10km handicap race The handicap is based around a 50 minutes base or benchmark time. So if you were running 50 minutes for 10km you would go off scratch. If you normally run 45 minutes for 10km your handicap start time would be plus 5 minutes. If you run 52 minutes for 10 km your handicap start time would be minus two minutes. 

The theory is that if everybody runs to their handicap time they should finish together. We know people have good days and they have bad days. People are not that consistent with their running times, so therefore there usually is a spread of finishing times. You are allowed to break your handicap time by up to two minutes before you are disqualified from winning the handicap race for that month. This margin allows for fluctuations in people's running to accommodate the good and bad days. 

If you do beat your handicap by more than two minutes you cannot win that month's handicap, but the points awarded for your place are not affected.
3.5km handicap race This follows a similar methodology with the mathematics. The base or benchmark time is 31 minutes. So if you run 16 minutes for 3.5km your start time would be plus 15 minutes, if you run/walk 42 minutes then your handicapped start time would be minus 11 minutes. You are allowed to break your handicap time by up to one minute before you are disqualified from winning the handicap race for that month.
Prizes, points and progress scores Both handicaps commence in September each year and run for 12 months. The two races have a common arrangement in terms of prizes and points allocation. 

There are actually four races within each handicap race:

There is the handicap winner on the day for that month - he/she receives a trophy on the day and a yellow t-shirt at the presentation night, usually held each September.

There is the progressive point score. Points are given from 100 down in the 3.5km and from 200 in the 10km race, so the first place will receive 100 points (3.5km) and 200 points (10km), second-place will receive 99 points (3.5km) and 199 points (10km) and so on.

For the purpose of scoring points it doesn't matter if you have beaten your handicap by more than two minutes. However if you are a first time qualifier or requalifier you will score 10 points (3.5km) and 100 points(10km). The point score is cumulative, but only your best 10 results/point-scores count towards your final handicap point score. So, if you miss out on two runs or have two bad runs, it won't have an adverse affect on your total.

For each distance, the individual with the most points after the August run is declared the ‘overall’ handicap point-score winner and awarded a major trophy. Trophies are also awarded to the top three males and top three females. The ‘Top 10’ place-getters (regardless of gender) receive red t-shirts. These awards are made at the presentation night.

Another race within the handicap is for the "quicks". Each run, points are awarded to the male and female runners with the 10 fastest times. The fastest male and female runner receives 10 points, the second
9 points and so on. Again, the scores are cumulative over the year. Again, only the best 10 scores count. The top three place getters for each gender receive a trophy on presentation night.

At the end of the season the 12 monthly handicap winners in each distance have a “shoot out” or “race off” (it is handicapped). The winners for each distance are lauded as the “Best of the Best” and receive a
trophy and green polo-shirt emblazoned with a “Best of The Best” logo awarded on presentation night.

Summary of Race Day rules
All competitors:
  • must wear a number bib else may be disqualified
  • must be a registered Club member to be eligible for the trophy
  • must run the approved course to be eligible for the trophy and /or receive points.
New competitors:
  • Must complete 3 handicaps (10km) and 2 handicaps (3.5km) before becoming eligible for the trophy; these runs are identified as qualifiers
  • should a runner miss three handicap races between qualifying runs, the status reverts to qualifying run #1, i.e you start the qualifying process again
  • in both handicaps, once a competitor has qualified, if he/she misses 3 runs in a sequence, they are classified as a "Re-qualifier" on their next run, for that one run.
Points are allocated to finishers on the following basis:
  • In the 10km, first across the line earns 200 points, second 199 points, etc, subject to: first run qualifiers and re-qualifiers only earning 100 points;
  • In the 3.5km, (first across the line earns 100 points, second 99 points, etc, subject to: first run qualifiers and re-qualifiers only earning 10 points.
During the events, no pacing is permitted by non-participants. Should competitors miss their ‘start’ time, there will be no retrospective adjustment, and the place and clock time result achieved will be the result that stands.