Was 2018 Tiger Run Slower Than Past Years?

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The KYtrackXC discussion board had a question posed that made me want to get some answers. The question was, 

Did anyone else think that the overall times at the Tiger Run seemed a bit slower this year? Humidity? Competition? Change in course?
Thanks redsteepler for the question! So, I looked into the data from the six years of the Tiger Run. Each year the race has been run at Louisville Champions Park and has been run on the last weekend in August. This has been as early as August 25 (in 2018) and as late as August 31 (in 2013). Here is what I found.

TIGER RUN MEET HISTORY

The average time of a high school boy in the 5K (regardless of which race; varsity, B Squad, or freshman) has been as follows:

YEAR

AVERAGE TIME

NUMBER OF RUNNERS

201820:48.58424
201720:24.97406
201621:18.50436
201520:47.20449
201420:35.48307
201321:13.06416
With that in mind, the median times for the boys in the 5K (regardless of which race; varsity, B Squad, or freshman) has been as follows:

YEAR

MEDIAN TIME

NUMBER OF RUNNERS

201824:12.16424
201725:32.70406
201629:10.25436
201524:17.65449
201424:18.02307
201326:01.49416

A couple observations from the data. First, 2016 was slow. It was a year in which Alex Mortimer won the race in 16:05, which was the second slowest winning time only to 2013 champion Patrick Gregory in 16:09. The 2013 race was on the hottest of the days over the last six races which the daily high was 95 degrees. The temperature for each year was: 2013 (95º), 2014 (86º), 2015 (88º), 2016 (88º), 2017 (81º), and 2018 (88º). 

With the temperature logic, 2017 should have been the best racing day and it was for the average time. Trevor Warren won that year in 15:28 and has been the fastest winning time in the last 6 years by 13 seconds. However, the 2017 race day provided the fourth best median time, which in my mind gives a better idea of how the field did as a whole instead of allowing outliers to skew an average.

My next step was to check the years and rank them by median and average. From there I did a cross country scoring to see which year was the best ranked. Here are the findings:


AVERAGE TIME RANKED

MEDIAN TIME RANKED

TOTAL SCORING RANK

2017 (1 point)2018 (1 point)2018 (5 points)
2014 (2 points)2015 (2 points)2017 (5 points)
2015 (3 points)2014 (3 points)2015 (5 points)
2018 (4 points)2017 (4 points)2014 (5 points)
2013 (5 point)2013 (5 points)2013 (10 points)
2016 (6 points)2016 (6 points)2016 (12 points)


If that doesn't muddy the water any, I don't know what does. My final takeaway from the last six years is that the course at Louisville Champions Park is as consistent over the years as any course in the state. There are years where the top guys go out and win with a big time, but the field is behind the curve. Then there are years where the winning time is solid, but the field is much closer together (as evident by a lower median time). 

What About the Girls?


The girls data has its own set of intricacies. The data for average race time in the 5K(regardless of which race; varsity, B Squad, or freshman) has been as follows:


YEAR

AVERAGE TIME

NUMBER OF RUNNERS

201826:00.01303
201725:46.10300
201627:25.96313
201526:18.03282
201426:10.66278
201326:13.78306


The median time for the girls is as follows and includes all 5K times (regardless of the race; varsity, B Squad, freshman):

YEAR

MEDIAN TIME

NUMBER OF RUNNERS

201829:30.11303
201729:13.44300
201632:00.47313
201529:12.69282
201429:03.63278
201331:08.09306


Just as the boy's race was, the 2016 race was by far the slowest overall in both average and median time, however it was not the slowest winning time. The slowest winning time was run in 2013 by Michaela Reinhart in 19:16 and Karlee Hoffman's 2018 win in 19:08 was the second slowest. The fastest winning time went to Alena Sapienza-Wright in 2015 with a time of 18:26.


Now that I have mentioned Alena Sapienza-Wright, the Tiger Run was her race! She had the fastest time at the meet in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Her average winning time was 18:33. So was this season slower than season's past? Well, the winning time was the second slowest in the past 16 seasons, but the average time ran was the second fastest average. The median was the fourth ranked median time. 


To attempt some clarity, I checked the years and rank them by median and average. From there I did a cross country scoring to see which year was the best ranked. Here are the findings:


AVERAGE TIME RANKED

MEDIAN TIME RANKED

TOTAL SCORING RANK

2017 (1 point)2014 (1 point)2017 (4 points)
2018 (2 points)2015 (2 points)2014 (4 points)
2014 (3 points)2017 (3 points)2018 (6 points)
2013 (4 points)2018 (4 points)2015 (7 points)
2015 (5 points)2013 (5 points)2013 (9 points)
2016 (6 points)2016 (6 points)2016 (12 points)


This was a little clearer than the boy's results, it looks like 2017 and 2014 were the best years at the Tiger Run with 2018 a close second. 


Bottom Line

Who the heck knows? With the data that I found, the boy's results leave me even more confused. As a fan of a good race, 2018 was the best since the median time was the fastest meaning the variation in times was more compact. If you were looking for the best race up front, 2017 was your year as 8 guys were 16:05 or faster (the next closest to that number was 2015 when 4 guys did it). 


For the girls, the 2017 and 2014 races were the best on averages and medians. Looking at the data, I would choose the 2015 race as there were seven girls under 20 minutes and the top two were only separated by 4 seconds. In 2017, there were 5 girls under 20 minutes, but it was a 30 second runaway for Alena Sapienza-Wright.


To each his own!

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