Monday, January 13, 2014

Ultrasignup SNOBS

Before I get going on this post I want to be very clear. I LOVE Ultrasignup.com and all that they do for our sport. They have opened their creative minds to serve others in a way that I feel is epic-ly selfless. To think, that there is a site who will host the FREE registration of a Fat Ass Running Series.. FOR FREE... is nothing shy of amazing. What they have created and continue to create is second to none. Myself and countless others appreciate all of their hard work and dedication to "getting it right."So I thank them, and openly state that this post is in no way a negative review of the website.

A story...
I decided to look into UltraSignUp.com as a place to host registration for my Fat Ass series this winter season. Why? Well, I felt that having folks registering for Fat Asses gave it a more professional feel, made folks think about committing to the events, and having the numbers of registered runners gave me an idea on how much aid I needed to buy for each event. It was a win win for me, in that I could accomplish all of these things and to my surprise, free of charge.


The other side of that, is I knew it would provide me with a place to post the historical results for each Fat Ass event, from years past - this year - and future years. So when the first Fat Ass of this season completed, I was delighted to post the results to Ultrasignup. But... doing so.. made things different.

First thing I noticed: Once some of the runners who showed up to the Fat Ass knew I would be posting results; it wasn't your typical Fat Ass anymore. Now it was a race. A race, is the furthest from what I want my Fat Ass events to be about. So not only did this worry me, but it kind of ticked me off. I didn't understand why. I was thankful to have Jeremy Ebel explain to me that these Ultrasignup.com Snobs existed out there.. people who actually cared about their ranking on the website.

So I uploaded my results from that first Fat Ass, and that's when I noticed: that I couldn't plug anyone in as a DNF. I didn't log a time for the registered runners who Did Not Finish (or Did Nothing Fatal).... (or Did Something Different)... (DSD).... so Ultrasignup.com logged them as a 0. Once this happened, every runner who was actually a DNF in the Fat Ass (who had no other results on Ultrasignup), now had a runner ranking of 100% on the site. But how could that be?! They have a 100% ranking for not finishing the race?!

So I went to my results, and realized that any race I had ever DNF'd, did not show up in my results on this website and subsequently, played no role in figuring out my runner rank percentage on it. Finally it dawned on me, why some of the faster kids out there would rather DNF a race then finish in a place lower then they expected. It would mess with their ranking.

While I was on my results page, I noticed something else: There are races that I've finished, where for some odd reason I have been omitted from the results on Ultrasignup.com. Some Examples: 2007 Stone Cat 50 Miler in Ipswich, MA. For some reason, I was omitted from the site in 50th place for that year, and even though now it's been corrected, runner number 49 is still missing. That means, until I requested that result be added to the site, it was omitted, and thus.. omitted from my runner ranking. This same thing happened for the 2007, 2008 and 2010 Pittsfield Peak Ultras.

So.. I have a runner rank percentage on this site. It excludes every single one of my DNF's (of which I think a 1% should be awarded), and it currently excludes my 2007 and 2008 Pittsfield Peaks results.. which is no big deal... to me. So I asked...
"What is runner rank and how is it calculated?

Runner rank is simply an average of your past results in our database. Rank is calculated using past results in our database. For each race, we take the gender specific best time(winner) and divide that time by each participant's time. The result is a value less than 100% with winners receiving the full 100%. The average of the participant's past races is their ranking."

(Credit: https://ultrasignup.com/faqs.aspx)

Ok.. that is actually pretty cool. During the next Fat Ass event that I held I had that talk with Jeremy and he expressed that I should refrain from posting results from the Fat Asses on Ultrasignup because it'll force those runners who actually care about their ranking on there.. to show up and run the Fat Ass as a race. When they do that, they'll take away from what the Fat Ass is actually about, which is community. So I agreed, and removed the results from the first Fat Ass from the site, and have refrained from posting any other since, nor will I.

I've actually received a few e-mails leading up this past weekends Fat Ass from runners wondering, "So what's the deal..Will the results be posted on Ultrasignup?" To which I replied NO.. because it's not a race, though I'll post them on the Human Potential Running Series site strictly for historical reference to average finish times of events. I have struggled with how to feel about this. To each his own of course, run as fast as you want. I'm fine with it. But that's not the Ultra Running I fell in love with a decade ago. The ultra running I fell in love with, was a group of runners who simply ran. They didn't care about their time or their rank or your time or your rank. We just ran... 

I thought about it some more.. I have concluded, in my opinion, that the runner ranks on Ultrasignup.com are incredibly skewed. It excludes DNF's (which I think should be included); Some of your results are missing, so it's not a total ranking for every race you've run (that's hard to do and my hats off to Mark Gilligan and the boys for trying their damnedest to fill in the blanks); and lastly.. my rank is around 66%.. but that includes all of my results since 2005. How is that possibly an accurate representation of who I am as an ultra runner NOW, or who I was as an ultra runner 2 years ago? It's not.. it's skewed.

And so to the Ultrasignup snobs out there I say this... your rank?... it's skewed and IT DOESN'T MATTER.
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NOTE: Peace, Love and Happiness to the folks at Ultrasignup.com. Whenever a race uses a different service (like RunReg [VT100] or ItsMyRace [Bighorn 100]) I not only cringe, I ask "why?" If your results are missing from Ultrasignup, send a request for results on your results page. The boys will do everything they can to get it on there.. and we should all appreciate their willingness and hard work in doing so.