Doh! [forehead slap]

It’s recently come to my attention that achieving blue bibbery may require something faster than a sub-7:00 pace. Like perhaps sub-6:50 or even sub-6:30, depending on the race’s field size.

And here I thought I’d arrived. Now it seems I have more work to do. I’ll have to run even faster to catch that damned carrot.

15 Responses

  1. I’m confused. Doesn’t the pace also depend on the distance of the race?

    • No. That’s what’s really bizarre about the NYRR seeding system (if there really is one — it seems to consist of an ultra-secret algorithm akin to what the credit reporting agencies use; or the recipe for Cocoa Puffs). You’re judged solely on pace, with the race length not a factor. So there’s an advantage to racing shorter ones to gin up (or down, as the case may be) your pacing score.

  2. except that since virtually everyone will have run one of the ubiquitous four-milers and that will likely be the fastest pace, it’s creates something of an apples-to-apples comparison.

    I did get a red number last year.

  3. I am sure you will get one despite the dubious methods used by NYRR.

  4. I find it very suspicious that NYRR refuses to make the corral algorithm public. After all, every runner who ever wears a colored bib deserves to know how their place in the corrals is determined.

    I suspect NYRR is worried we will find their system is seriously flawed and full of inconsistencies. Case in point: I know of a runner who has completed 6 races. here are the distance, date, bib color and pace for each of her races:
    10K – 8:35 pace GREEN bib (June 2009)
    5 mile – 8:28 pace GREEN bib (June 2009) ** Her best pace
    5 mile – 8:53 pace YELLOW bib (January 2010)
    4 mile – 8:52 pace YELLOW bib (February 2010)
    4.9 mile – 9:04 pace YELLOW bib (March 2010)
    15k – 9:12 pace YELLOW bib (March 2010)

    As you can see, her fastest pace ever was just 8:28 for a 5-mile race. How in the world did she earn a yellow bib?

    Compare this to my experience…
    Since February 2010, I have run 4 races. All of them faster than her 8:28 pace. However I have yet to be granted a YELLOW bib :
    4.0 mile – 8:27 pace ORANGE bib (Feb 2010)
    4.0 mile – 8:22 pace ORANGE bib (Feb 2010)
    3.1 mile – 8:22 pace ORANGE bib (March 2010)
    4.9 mile – 8:22 pace GREEN bib (March 2010)
    15k – 8:32 pace GREEN bib (March 2010)

    Despite the fact that I have beat her in every race, she is the one who wears the yellow bibs while I am stuck behind wearing GREEN or ORANGE. Clearly, there is something wrong here. I am sure if we did some research we would find plenty of discrepancies like this.

    • Corcovado, are you male or female? I suspect they take gender into account, since men generally run anywhere from 10-20% faster than women do for physiological reasons, all other things (fitness level, age, etc.) being equal.

      Your observations actually give me some hope that I may get blue bib status anyway, since it’s harder for a woman to race at sub-7:00 pace than it is for a man to do so. Meaning the system might work something like this:
      Female >= 7:00 = red bib
      Female below 7:00 = blue bib
      Male >= 6:30 = red bib
      Male below 6:30 = blue bib

      One day a clever NYRRer with lots of time on his or her hands will crack the code of NYRR’s mysterious seeding methods. But it probably won’t be me.

  5. I’m confused too. What was with the sub-7 mile pace? Do they take the top X% of the field or something? Are more women running faster?

  6. I am a female. And I am 11 years older than Miss Yellow Bib. I don’t think that gender should enter into the equation, because pace is pace. It really would not make sense to have 2 sets of criteria to qualify for BLUE, RED, etc.

    I am sure that the corral system is one big cluster****. If it weren’t, then NYRR would reveal the formula.

    • Well, in that case that is bizarre and unfair. Were I in your position, I’d document this and send to NYRR and ask for an explanation. Maybe they’ve got you coded wrong somehow.

  7. Maybe it’s a “mistake,” but I doubt I am the only one in this position. I will send NYRR an email and inquire. It’s surprising there hasn’t been more noise around this issue. I only care about the bib color because I often spend the ENTIRE race weaving around slower runners. In larger races, I have even been stuck behind slow runners until the finish line. This was never an issue a few years back when race attendance was less than half of what is is today. But now, I am paying twice the amount (or more) for races which I am often unable to run at a decent pace due to slower runners ahead of me.

    I don’t expect NYRR to respond, but in case they do I will let you know what they say.

  8. Well that’s annoying. Perhaps the algorithm is one that could be “gamed” if people knew it. Perhaps only certain races are considered?

  9. I know this is a delayed response… just found this post looking up stuff about the bib colors.

    I don’t believe they have any mysterious “algorithm.” I think that they don’t give out a set pace per corral because they take the population of a given race into consideration. They try to spread everyone out evenly.

    So in a race with less fast runners, the blue corral cutoff might be 7, but if it’s getting really full, they’ll make the cutoff 6:50 to even things out.

    I have a friend who was on the border between red and yellow. His best pace never changed, but he would be assigned to red or yellow depending on the size of the race.

  10. Sorry, I just read the post from corcovado more carefully. That sounds like some kind of mistake.

    I have a handful of running friends and we’re all at different paces. The colors and times have always seemed consistent to me, within reason. I’ve never seen someone with a slower pace be assigned to a faster corral.

    • This has been my experience as well — the corral assignments are fluid rather than fixed, with race size being the factor that tips you into one vs. the other.

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