Parkrun timing glitches - twice in two runs

How common is this?

81 to 100 of 107 messages
08/05/2014 at 09:00

If you don't like it I guess you can always ask for a refund?

 

08/05/2014 at 09:10

On a more serious note, there are a handful of people at HQ, responsible for several hundred weekly events as well as all the administration that goes along with running a not for profit business. All with a minimal amount of funding from sponsors, funding which goes to necessary areas and development of the results processing engine.

Besides which above anything else, parkrun is about getting more people running and growing running communities in a sustainable way. Such a "feature" would simply imply that parkrun is about competition, which it clearly is not.

Edited: 08/05/2014 at 09:11
08/05/2014 at 09:23

No, it would only imply that they cared about getting the results right.

if it is not about competition, then why time the races at all?  Even if people are competing against the clock and not other runners, the time being accurate still matters.

Might I suggest a way Parkrun could get this small program or data procedure written for free.  Approach Imperial College or any or the maths and computer science departments in any University and ask whether any of their undergraduate or msc/phd students would like to solve the challenge.  Frankly, it is very easy to do so I am sure you would have a choice of students offering to do it.  Instead of paying them, Parkrun put up, and keep up, a single web page which explains how they, with the help of Imperial College, Kingston Polytechnic, and "Frederick Chong", (nearly all the best students are Chinese) solved the problem of false times, freak times, mistakes and cheats, which let's face it, must happen occasionally.

Parkrun look pro-active and the times are more credible, which avoids the Run Britain debacle of them not publishing Parkrun times, (something which still has not been rectified).  Kingston Poly get to brand themselves in this new and exciting area, which is a hot topic for business right now, lots of business people are running Parkruns and will be for the next 10 years, and Frederick Chong gets offered a job in a hedge fund or IT department of an investment bank and is earning six figures before he is 25 because some Parkrunning financier figures he must be pretty smart.

Everyone's a winner.

08/05/2014 at 09:27

Mattywarr, you cannot ask for a refund from the NHS or Meals on Wheels but I am pretty sure you would like both to keep their standards of hygiene as high as possible and review them and check them and constantly look to improve them.

08/05/2014 at 09:52

Mike - I don't doubt the authenticity of the PR distance per se, as other times posted are consistent and indeed they have carried out their own GPS tests.

However, the runner you identified has quite clearly, given the course map, taken a shortcut or cut some corners.
Can I be sure of that? Not really, but the athlete in question is the same race year as my youngest. Mine beat this athlete by ~200 places at the National XC, and ran a 1500 ~20s quicker 2 weeks ago. We also ran a PR a few weeks back in about 23.00, could perhaps have gone 30-60s quicker but not much more.
As the race director says they are only cheating themselves, and explains why PR are listed not as 5k on the Po10. It's also why I place little faith in Po10 and Run Britain as bona fide (but then what would be?). After all she is now ranked #1 on Run Britain over 5k & the girl placed 6th on that list was 3rd in the Nationals, some 352 places ahead of this athlete.

I agree that credibility of results matter and there will always be outliers like this when there aren't stringent ratifying processes in place. PR are as culpable as other organisers - even the London marathon don't do 'split analysis' otherwise they would spot recent rogue runs that have made the news.

Don't get me wrong I don't like cheats and I don't like PR - the one I did was my 3rd in what, 6 years, but I get the impression that their raison d'etre is to get people running in which they are successful, and that is no bad thing.

Perhaps drop an e-mail to the club and ask them if they think its credible after all it questions their integrity.

08/05/2014 at 10:13

You can be sure of it.  There is no way, in reality that a 2.49 800m runner finishing 300th in the nationals is running 17 min Parkruns.   It is so statistically freakish that you know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that it is false.

emailing the club is not really a solution.  Humans should not be picking these things out ad-hoc and making subjective judgements.  Computers and algorithms are ideally suited for the task and can do it with a minimum of human involvement.  They can also "learn" from their mistakes, like Arnie in Terminator 2 and self optimise.

08/05/2014 at 10:21

Well I can't say with absolute certainty, but the evidence is 99.99% conclusive!

E-mailing the club and pointing it out that one of their junior runners is under scrutiny on a running forum for rogue runs at least flags it up to them. At the very least their coach should be made aware. I know if any of my athletes posted a time like that I'd be questioning their woeful underperformance at every other race.

As I said previously race organisers aren't bothered. There are other threads on RW that have highlighted 'errors' and the point about algorithms has been made many times before.

08/05/2014 at 10:43
MikeDuke wrote (see)

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/harrowlodge-juniors/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=6

 

If you look at the above link you will notice that not only is the time outrageously fast for 2km for a 10 year old boy but everyone in the face broke their personal best by over a minute.  It's annoying for the runners who held genuine records to be knocked off the top spot, it makes rankings meaningless and frankly it will put decent runners off turning up at this new Parkrun, which struggles to get 40-50 participants because the record is impossible to beat.

I wish people could apply a little common sense and realise that a 10 year old boy over grass is not going to get within a minute of Zola Bud's 2km world record on a running track and that a jump from 75% to 86% in age group ranking is likely a timing error.

 

Sorry...your moaning about the results of a junior Parkrun for children of 4-14 and you bothered to email PR HQ about it???

08/05/2014 at 12:18
Steven O'Donoghue 3 wrote (see)

There are no times as of now- that is my point. I'm not complaining about them not being spot on- but finding  out out what time I did would be nice- Orr not if it was very slow. 

I'm not knocking the volunteers but there is something wrong if their hard work does not produce an end result 60 hours later- when it only takes 15 mins to actually upload the data.

that said between are two kinds of good job- one is well paid the other is done well

I would say volunteer to do the timing one day, observe how it's done, suggest changes. 

08/05/2014 at 12:37

Flat footed.  If you wish to class it as moaning then yes, I am moaning.  But why are 4 to 14 year olds less important?  If we want to produce medal winners at the Olympics and world championships the 14 year olds are only 10 years away from being those Medalists and finalists.

What you are suggesting is that "kids racing times" and their personal bests are somehow less important that adults.  I doubt that is true, if you ask the children themselves.  The person who currently ranks second, Almi, is the daughter of an Olympic athlete and trains extreme hard to be where she is.  Why is her ranking as a U13 any less important than a U23 or senior?

Children will only consider rules, conduct, accuracy, discipline important if the adults do.  If we are going to say why does a child's record matter to them then we can equally ask why the clean athlete is bothered by the one on PEDs who beats him.

My own son ranks no 1 for his age, because of frequent, hard quality training.  I can assure you that it has boosted his self esteem, his academic work has made big improvements and he has become motivated in far more than just his sport.

In short, it matters.

08/05/2014 at 13:08
The object of ParkRun is to encourage participation in sport on all levels in a fun community environment.

If you want accurate 5K time trials. Join a club and run on a track.

I can't believe all this fuss.
Cheerful Dave    pirate
08/05/2014 at 13:11
MikeDuke wrote (see)

Why is her ranking as a U13 any less important than a U23 or senior?

They all have the same importance, i.e. very little.  Rankings, particularly arbitrary ones like runbritain (which as an aside haven't included parkrun results for some time now, and don't include all races by any means) are far less important than placings in national and regional championship events.  If people look at them out of curiosity or to boost their ego, then that's fine, but the odd anomaly really doesn't matter in this context.

MikeDuke wrote (see)

Children will only consider rules, conduct, accuracy, discipline important if the adults do.

That's right.  If someone was cheating in a race then that would be another matter.  But equally, kids have to learn that sometimes mistakes happen, and parkrun timing glitches fall into that category rather than something justifying a public enquiry.

08/05/2014 at 13:17

Agree CD
Was thinking about this on my run today. Its not the fault of the juniors involved if teh course was short/badly marked and they ended up running a distance less than that advertised.
As I posted earlier, ranking are generally not that great owing to erros, missing times, rogue runs (number swap anyone?) If the posts/comments I read not only on RW but facebook and other fora are anything to go by, its more for ego massaging.
At the sharp end, the athletes know who's who.

One exception though: Park run is on Run Britain:
http://www.runbritainrankings.com/rankings/rankinglist.aspx?event=parkrun&agegroup=U13&sex=W&year=2014



Edited: 08/05/2014 at 13:18
08/05/2014 at 13:41

No one is suggesting is was their fault.  What I was suggesting is that statistically anomalous results should be ditched and not show up at the bottom of each parkrun page as a record or be included in rankings, whether on Run Britain or each individual Parkrun site.  It is not a record nor a 2km run time because they didn't run 2k. They ran 1655m.

Those people are not, in fact the record holders at all.  Moreover, why would a half decent young athlete turn up and challenge themselves to beat their personal best at a junior parkrun, or any Parkrun, if the record for the course is out of their reach and on the rankings it is going to look like they cannot match the time of a person in a lower age category?

Would Mo Farah be tempted to run a Parkrun if Andy Baddely had a time of 12mins, 54 seconds for his Bushy Parkrun and not 13.54.  No, because Farah knows that the only way he could beat that time is if the timing is wrong again.

Many top athletes are focused and motivated by their ranking position.  When you are 896th in the country it is of less importance than when you are top 10.

It is not a marathon runner's fault if a course descends 200 metres over 26 miles or a sprinters fault if the wind happens to be blowing when they run.  But those results don't count either.

This is a simple problem to solve.  parkrun could either employ data science and delete results and/or email the athlete and give them the option of withdrawing statistically anomalous results. 

08/05/2014 at 13:55

Let me give a more concrete example of why it matters.

Let's assume that Almi N is applying for a scholarship place to a private school or a funded university place in the USA.

The admissions director looks at her times and thinks, "Ok, she is good, but there is a girl called Georgia who can beat her 5k time by 50 seconds, so she is really just another decent top class athlete.  So factoring that into our decision we will offer her a half scholarship or lesser bursary".  The admissions director is not an expert on 5k running times.  He might be an expert on hockey or basketball.  They only have a limited number if scholarships so they save them for the absolutely exceptionally talented runners.

In reality, Almi N's parkrun time is absolutely brilliant for a 12 year old at a full minute faster than girls who would easily top five or win their country cross country championship.  In other-words, if the data was correct it would be immediately obvious that Almi was a shoe-in for a full sports scholarship and would, very likely, in future go to the Olympic Games like her father Richard.

08/05/2014 at 14:03

In reality I am certain that an admissions director would look at finishing positions in a number of top competitions (county/regionals/ nationals etc.) alongside, if not instead of, rankings.
Indeed your point that she is a full minute faster reflects the fact that some other, high quality athletes of the same age either haven't run a park run, or used it as training (not being a 'race').
They would more likely look at 5th in the Nationals, 6th in the Southerns.

Indeed I'd expect the parent of a child seeking such a bursary to disprove or otherwise (as we have shown) spurious results.

meant to say too, well done to your boy with his training and races. What's his main event?

Edited: 08/05/2014 at 14:11
cougie    pirate
08/05/2014 at 14:31
I don't think anyone would be using parkrun as evidence of performance for scholarships ?

As Dustin says - County/Regional/Nationals yeah.

Parkrun - no.

Would a RFL result count ? Nope.
08/05/2014 at 15:13
MikeDuke wrote (see)

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/harrowlodge-juniors/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=6

 

If you look at the above link you will notice that not only is the time outrageously fast for 2km for a 10 year old boy but everyone in the face broke their personal best by over a minute.  It's annoying for the runners who held genuine records to be knocked off the top spot, it makes rankings meaningless and frankly it will put decent runners off turning up at this new Parkrun, which struggles to get 40-50 participants because the record is impossible to beat.

I wish people could apply a little common sense and realise that a 10 year old boy over grass is not going to get within a minute of Zola Bud's 2km world record on a running track and that a jump from 75% to 86% in age group ranking is likely a timing error.

It does seem fast. However, the most important point is to get kids out there running. The times don't matter very much. I would say 40-50 participants is an excellent number. I have an idea: volunteer to help out. If you think things are wrong and you believe they could be made better, then help.

08/05/2014 at 15:19
Dustin wrote (see)

Mike - I don't doubt the authenticity of the PR distance per se, as other times posted are consistent and indeed they have carried out their own GPS tests.

However, the runner you identified has quite clearly, given the course map, taken a shortcut or cut some corners.
Can I be sure of that? Not really, but the athlete in question is the same race year as my youngest. Mine beat this athlete by ~200 places at the National XC, and ran a 1500 ~20s quicker 2 weeks ago. We also ran a PR a few weeks back in about 23.00, could perhaps have gone 30-60s quicker but not much more.
As the race director says they are only cheating themselves, and explains why PR are listed not as 5k on the Po10. It's also why I place little faith in Po10 and Run Britain as bona fide (but then what would be?). After all she is now ranked #1 on Run Britain over 5k & the girl placed 6th on that list was 3rd in the Nationals, some 352 places ahead of this athlete.

I agree that credibility of results matter and there will always be outliers like this when there aren't stringent ratifying processes in place. PR are as culpable as other organisers - even the London marathon don't do 'split analysis' otherwise they would spot recent rogue runs that have made the news.

Don't get me wrong I don't like cheats and I don't like PR - the one I did was my 3rd in what, 6 years, but I get the impression that their raison d'etre is to get people running in which they are successful, and that is no bad thing.

Perhaps drop an e-mail to the club and ask them if they think its credible after all it questions their integrity.

The other alternative is that on the day the course was less than 2k. It's possible that start and/or finish were put in the wrong places. I suspect the kids still had fun and the IAAF aren't losing much sleep.

08/05/2014 at 15:20
TimR wrote (see)
The object of ParkRun is to encourage participation in sport on all levels in a fun community environment.

If you want accurate 5K time trials. Join a club and run on a track.

I can't believe all this fuss.

Agree 100 per cent. Or even 110 per cent - (I've cheated there).

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