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Effect of NXN on Speed Ratings at Foot Locker Nationals

by Bill Meylan (TullyRunners ... December 19, 2017)


One common question surfaces when the cross country season approaches the NXN and Foot Locker regional and national races ... "Which race attracts the better runners (NXN or Foot Locker)?

The question is generic and subjective ... and depends on what is meant by "better runners" ... As expected, Opinions vary.

Since speed ratings are the main focus of TullyRunners during cross country season, I decided to take a quick empirical look at the speed ratings of the top finishing group at both NXN and Foot Locker Nationals ... The top 15 finishers at Foot Locker earn "All-American" status, so I decided to empirically evaluate of the top 15 finishers at both races.

Background Information

Basic Methodology

I figured something simple and understandable would be a good way to present some empirical data ... So I averaged the speed ratings of the top 15 finishers at both Foot Locker and NXN on a yearly basis and plotted the results on a graph.

I was looking for trends in speed ratings at both races (speed ratings trending up or down).

I entered the evaluation with some suppositions (opinions):

Results & Conclusion

The four graphs below illustrate the speed ratings trends:


Graph 1 -  Boys Average Speed Ratings at Foot Locker 1983- 2017

From Graph 1 ... The average speed rating for some years during 1983 to the mid-1990s was relatively low ... The biggest exception was 1985 when Reuben Reina set the Balboa course record and a bunch of other guys ran exceptional fast times ... I still get criticized for the speed ratings in 1985 because some people think they should be higher ... For the very few who might be interested, I wrote an article a couple of years ago about "Footlocker at Balboa Park - Relative Speed" ... In this average speed rating exercise, I found out that 1985 had the highest median speed rating for the top 15 finishers of all Foot Locker years (and 3rd highest average speed rating ... Dathan Ritzenhein & friends helped the average in 1999 and 2000).

The 2017 average speed rating was exceptional low ... I assume 2017 will be an outlier year and the average will go back up next year ... Perhaps poor air quality from nearby wild fires contributed to the low speed ratings in 2017.


Graph 2 -  Girls Average Speed Ratings at Foot Locker 1997- 2017

From Graph 2 ... I limited the girls' graph range to illustrate the recent years ... The trend is obviously declining since individuals were added to the NXN races.


Graph 3 -  Boys Average Speed Ratings at NXN 2004- 2017

From Graph 3 ... Slight trend upward for the Boys at NXN ... nothing spectacular, but the first few years at NXN had some very good team runners.


Graph 4 -  Girls Average Speed Ratings at NXN 2004- 2017

From Graph 4 ... Noticeable upward trend in the average speed rating for the girls ... BUT note 2004 - the team field had multiple Foot Locker Finalists and it showed in the average speed rating.

Final Opinion ...

Page Link - Data Used - Average & Median Speed Ratings for Top 15

Page Link - Foot Locker Speed Ratings 1997-2016