Welcome to Illinois XC Speed Ratings.
My name is Roland Hopkins and I started running cross country in 8th grade at Jefferson Junior High in Woodridge, IL. I ran four years of cross country and two years of track (thanks Raf) at Downers Grove South (class of ’02). I continued on to run four years of cross country and track at North Central College. I was a volunteer coach at Waubonsie Valley for a year and a half (2009 - 2010).
I am a CPA with an MBA in financial management. I work in the financial reporting group of a semiconductor company. In my free time you can find me with my daughters in tow tagging along with the Minooka Cross Country Teams where my wife is an assistant coach.
I have to thank a few people for helping with this endeavor. First, Kevin Gummerson, Mike Callahan, and Jeff and Cheryl Tutt for pressuring me to take the leap and try this. Also, Mr. Bill Meylan of Tullyrunners.com for so graciously responding to all of my email questions and helping me understand his process better and Mike Newman with Athletic.net for having a comprehensive database with results to make this process easier. Last, but not least, my wife Jes for putting up with me and all the time I’ve spent getting this site up and running.
I learned how to do speed ratings based on the articles posted on Tullyrunners.com and have been trying to do them on a small scale for my reference over the past two years. The ratings are still a work in progress, but I feel comfortable enough to try and expand to do them statewide. I hope that you enjoy what the site offers. Please bear with me through the initial growing pains. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.
What are Speed Ratings
In Illinois there are many cross country courses with so much history. Whether it's Katherine Legge Memorial or Leroy Oaks, to the hills of Edwardsville or Lockport, it has always been said you cannot compare times on different courses. While that might be the case, you can compare the speed of the race from one course to another. In the early 2000’s Bill Meylan of Tullyrunners.com created a method to be able to compare the performance of runners on various cross country courses throughout the season. His methods calculate what are called Speed Ratings. Over the last several years they have been used to predict the top teams in the nation and the state of New York, so I figure why not try Illinois.
So, what are speed ratings? Speed ratings are a number calculated based on a time run at a race adjusted for the speed of the race overall. The speed of the race overall is calculated by comparing the race graphically or through a reference runner method to a baseline to see how much faster or slower the race was. For my baseline, I use Katherine Legge Memorial Park since it is a pretty fair course and many races have been run on it historically. Why not use Detweiller you might ask? Generally speaking, most race courses and races are a much slower speed than Detweiller which can make other races hard to rate. I won’t bore you with the actual math calculation, but for simplicity sake 1 speed rating point is generally equal to 3 seconds. With no race adjustment 26:00 would be equal to a speed rating of 0.
Here is an example of how a speed rating can be used to compare runners against each other for races run on completely different courses. For this example, I am using the 2016 Lions Pride Meet at Lyons Township and the Hornet-Red Devil Meet run at Katherine Legge. In last years boys race at Hornet Red Devil, Blake Evertsen and Soren Knudsen ran 14:48 and 15:02. While at Lyons Township, Dylan Jacobs, Vince Zona and Danny Kilrea ran 14:19, 14:21, and 14:25. On paper it looks like the boys at Lyons Township ran significantly faster based on times with the winning times being almost 30 seconds apart. In terms of speed ratings the performances are a bit closer. Evertsen and Knudsen’s speed ratings at Hornet Red Devil were 184.8 and 180.33, while at Lyons Township the ratings were 187.66, 187.11, 185.76. The rating difference converts to about an 8 second difference between the winners of each race.
The Detweiller calculators on this site are using the race adjustment from the 2015 Girls State Meet and the 2015 and 2016 Boys State Meet as they were rated at the same speed.
Hopefully this gives you a basic understanding of how the speed ratings work. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.