Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Spreadsheet orienteer


For no good reason I created a little spreadsheet orienteer this morning. I was looking at the world ranking results of orienteers ranked between 224 and 232. Not coincidentally, Boris is in the middle of the list and Patrick Goeres is at 232. As I was looking at the distribution of individual race results, I realized it'd be pretty simple to make a spreadsheet that would create similar results.

My spreadsheet orienteer has five results (results=world ranking points):

Race 1 = 955 points
Race 2 = 906 points
Race 3 = 1076 points
Race 4 = 952 points
Race 5 = 984 points

The world rankings are based on the top four scores, so my spreadsheet orienteer drops the 906 score and has a four race total of 3967. That would rank 228th (which is Boris' spot).

The way the spreadsheet works is it uses Excel's random number generator to create results based on the distribution of the actual results of all of the orienteers ranked 224 to 232. That's not exactly right, I made a few simplifications and I make it impossible to score 0 in the spreadsheet (though some very low scores are possible).

In Excel I can then run the year over-and-over and see what happens to my spreadsheet orienteer. Think of the spreadsheet as performing more-or-less like Boris but sometimes having different luck (sometimes better luck, sometimes worse). I ran 100,000 seasons and the spreadsheet orienteer averaged 3812 points (which would rank 251, where Jon Torrance is currently ranked). That average is a little too low, so I should probably tweak my spreadsheet...except there isn't really any point. It isn't like I'm going to use my spreadsheet orienteer....

In those 100,000 seasons, the luckiest the spreadsheet orienteer got was 4626 points. That'd rank 125th. And that would be really lucky (a 1 in 100,000 chance). The unluckiest would score just 185 points. That'd rank 1802.

Probably the most interesting thing to do with the spreadsheet orienteer is estimate the value of running more than the minimum number of world ranking competitions. The world ranking list is based on the best four results (in fact, quite a few runners have fewer than four, but most of them aren't ranked in the top 300 or so). If you run more than four ranking events, you can drop your worst score.

How valuable is it to drop your worst score?

For my spreadsheet orienteer, it is very easy to find out. You just run a bunch of seasons where you base the result on 4 races and then a bunch of seasons where you base the results on 5 results, but you drop the worst result.

It turns out that dropping the worst of 5 results is worth about 325 ranking points (which seems a bit too large...another suggestion that I might want to tweak my spreadsheet). That's a big jump. Adding 325 points to someone with ranked around 225 to 230 would jump them up to about 185th place.

It turns out that most of the orienteers I looked at already have more than 4 world ranking results. So, they've already got the 325 point bonus.

Enough...time to make dinner.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:28 PM


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