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PROTRACK » GENERAL » A guide to ranking the most important races in a season.

A guide to ranking the most important races in a season.

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ProTrack Star
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Ranking the best races of the season: A Victorian-centric viewpoint

As DizzyRunner saw The Boss win from scratch (again) at St Albans, he couldn’t help but wonder, “how does this win compare to the Boss’s win 3 weeks earlier at The Bay? How did that win compare to the Boss’s win at Stawell off scratch?”. Dizzy started wondering about the best way to rank races in such a way that wins can be compared. Most would agree that a win at Daylesford isn’t equal to a win at Bendigo, or a win at Burnie equal to a win at Euroa. But how could we compare meets that are far more similar? How does winning at Bendigo compare to winning at Ballarat? What about a win at Rye compared to a win at Maryborough?

Dizzy has thus decided to design a model which utilises two variables to list the most important races in the season. It was deemed far too hard to compare races of every distance, and so in part one of this ranking exercise, Dizzy will rank just the distance events: 1600-3200 (if interest is high enough a similar exercise will be undertaken for middle-distance race 500m-800m). All VAL events have been included and the larger interstate meets as well (eg. Bay Shef, Burnie, etc). There are obviously some other big interstate meets worthy of entry, however, a line had to be drawn at some point.

Two variables are used: prizemoney and prestige. The first is entirely objective. It involves taking the prizemoney of each event and converting it into a score out of 10. For example, of the 34 races ranked, the average prizemoney was $1662 (for a total pool of $56,500, fairly impressive). This has been rounded down to $1500 for the sake of convenience. A race worth $1500 rates 5/10 for prizemoney. Each race moves up or down 1 point for every $500 they differ from the average eg. Maryborough 1600m ($1000) = 4/10, Devonport 1600m ($2500) = 7/10. At the top end of the scale, $4k and $5k races, the interval is adjusted so that the maximum rating is a 10/10 for a $5k race.

Here are all the races sorted according to their prizemoney.

Bendigo 1600m Backies 5000
Stawell 1600m Herb Hedermen 5000
Bay Shefield (S.A) Select 1600m 4000
La Trobe (TAS) 1600m 4000
Stonnington (Prahran) 1600m 4000
Albury 1600m 3000
Burnie (TAS) 1600m 3000
Devonport 1600m 2500
Wangaratta 3200m 2500
Stawell 1600m Backies 2000
Stawell 1600m Fronties 2000
Stawell 3200m 2000
Noble Park 2000m 1500
Ballarat 1600m 1000
Ballarat 3200m 1000
Bay Shefield (S.A) Backie 1600m 1000
Bay Shefield (SA) Fronties 1600m 1000
Bendigo 1600m Fronties 1000
Burramine 1600m 1000
Maryborough 1600m 1000
Northcote 1600m 1000
Keilor 1600m Backies 750
Keilor 1600m Fronties 750
Rye 1600m 750
St Albans 1600m 750
Ararat 1600m 600
Ringwood 1600m 600
Terang 1600m 600
Warragul 1600m 600
Avondale Heights 1600m 500
Daylesford 1600m 500
Euroa 1600m 500
Maribyrnong 1600m 500
Meadowglen VRTA 3200m 500

The second variable, far more subjective than the first, is prestige. This is about the esteem or reputation of a race when money is not taken into consideration at all. If it helps, imagine that every race is worth $1, which races would you want to win? You would be making your decision based on prestige. DizzyRunner gave a list of the 34 races to 10 people who have been involved in pro-running. This included current and past athletes (inc 2 athletes who have been successful at the national level), at least 2 coaches of pro athletes, and 1 person who has been involved in the administration of the VAL. The reason to consult so many people is to minimise the influence any one person may have, thus producing a more reliable sample, and more reliable data. The results from these 10 people were averaged so that each race got a score out of 10, eg Stawell 3200m = 9.2, or St Albans 1600m 2.6.

The prestige scores can be seen by clicking on the link below:

Finally, the prizemoney score and the prestige score are added together to give a score out of 20.

The final ranking can be seen by clicking on the link below:

Not surprisingly, the Stawell 1600m Herb Hedermen ranks as the number 1 pro race with a perfect score of 20/20. Not only does this race have the equal highest prize money of $5000, the same as this year’s Bendigo backmarkers mile, but every person asked to rank races according to prestige gave this race the highest score of 10. One could question whether the race should be on this list at all. Firstly, it is invitational, meaning it is not open to all pro-runners. Secondly, the limit imposed on the race every year of about 100m means those who cannot run a 1500m in less than 4min have no chance of winning this race. The same criticisms could be levelled at the Bay Sheffield 1600m Select and this year’s Bendigo 1600m Backmarkers. Nonetheless, Dizzy justified the presence of these races on this list because they are usually well-populated by regular pro-runners.

The Bendigo 1600m Backies race in 2nd place is an enigma. This race does not usually carry a $5000 purse and thus if the race was given its usual prizemoney of $2500 it would fall into 7th place. However, this year the race takes on a new importance. Though it already carries a high prestige value of 8.3, when coupled with the maximum points for prizemoney in 2013, it rockets to second on the list.

The big interstate carnivals, Bay Sheffield Select and the 3 Tassie Xmas carnivals, are all comfortably placed in the top 10. This is in large part due to their high prizemoney values. But not all interstate races are thought of in the same way. For example the Bay Select 1600m had a prestige score of 9.2, very high relative to most Victorian races. In contrast, the La Trobe 1600m, prestige 6.7, and Devonport 1600m, 7.5, did not impress in terms of prestige.

A standout was the high place of the Maryborough 1600m. Although it only carries a $1000 purse, the high prestige rating of 7.05 sees it placed in the top 15 of all races, above the Bendigo 1600m fronties, the Ballarat 1600m and the Rye 1600m.

Then there are those 5 races on the bottom: Warragul 1600m, Terang 1600m, Meadowglen VRTA 3200m, Avondale Heights 1600m, and Marybynong 1600m. With low prizemoney, $500-$600, and abysmally low prestige scores, 2.5-2.65, it appears these races are almost not worth winning. It is not that these races do not have a place in the sport, but perhaps the short history of these races combined with little monetary incentive leaves most to plan for other ‘bigger’ races, or to use them to get ‘ticks’.

DizzyRunner wonders whether this system might provide an alternative way to determine the athlete of the year awards. The current awards system is based predominantly on prizemoney with almost no consideration for the prestige of different races, which has an effect on the difficulty of winning each race.

Invariably, people are going to care about races differently. Factors like location to family, whether a past family member or friend has won that race, or the proximity of meets to other non-pro races affect the importance we give to the races we run, and when we will try. The next time an official asks you why you didn’t put in 100%, try drawing their attention to the races ranking on this list and see if that gets you out of trouble.


P.S DizzyRunner is considering a middle-distance ranking table, 400m-800m, though may wait to see how the above piece is received before commencing work.

Running Man

ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
DizzyRunner wrote:
P.S DizzyRunner is considering a middle-distance ranking table, 400m-800m, though may wait to see how the above piece is received before commencing work.

I think it was a solid write-up and a good read. I'd definitely be more interested to see how the 400m-800m tables would look not only because I participate in those but because there isn't in my eyes as clear a winner for prestige due to no invitation/select events. Bendigo? Stawell? Camden? Bay Shef? St Bernard?

It would be hard work though, I imagine.

And while there are races you would obviously want to win more the idea is to try as hard as you can every time you run. I certainly haven't ever intentionally left anything behind and try to take home anything I enter. A win's a win after all.


ProTrack Star
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Well done Dizzy.
Would be interested how you rate Ringwood when it comes to rating the 400s.
Being the actual GIFT race for the meeting should push it a fair way up the list.


Dizz im happy to make your top 9, but geez this one is taking it to the next level!
Way too much time on your hands SON.


ProTrack Star
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Whispers: They were not my ratings, but those of 10 people, including current and past athletes and coaches.

Vicinsider: Tennis has way too many breaks.

Does anyone challenge the place of any races? Has anyone else been busy tallying up their wins and counting how many points they are on?


Dizzy, great read and very thought provoking.
Prestige is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. It may depend on whether you are gen Z, gen Y, gen X or a baby boomer as to how you view things. For example a gen Y athlete would more than likely go for the highest cash where a gen X may have a respect for the history of certain events and prefer those. The big 4 carnivals in Vic used to be Stawell, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Maryborough with Lavington, Burramine and Ballarat probably next . That has changed in recent times (last 15-20 years) with Keilor and Ballarat providing great carnivals which now probably rank them in the top 4. Stonnington and Albury in the last 2-3 years are also making a strong play by providing great meetings which won’t take long to climb the prestige scale.
Would be interested how Hippo ranks the prestige as he was running these dizzy events in the 80's when some carnivals were at their prime.
Also interested in Shane Thiele's thoughts as to which order he ranks the top few races, as he has won all of the top 4 from the prestige list.
The final rankings seem quite good and cover the history/prestige versus prize money debate well.

On a personal note, I do not agree with Bay Sheffield backies 1600m sitting at 13th on the final list and would give my left nut to win that over Latrobe which sits at 6th. But that is the beauty of choice, if we all liked the same things it would be pretty boring old world.

The question needs to be asked of Dizzy: Since you have 2 of the bottom 4 and one in the middle, can we expect to see you going for a higher ranked race soon? Razz


well having been around in the 70s and 80s and 90s and just being a very average runner in those years the best meets were wangaratta,bendigo,maryborough and stawell for those days we had backmarkers and frontmarkers 1600m nearly every meeting then wang, bendigo and stawell had great 3200m fields where you had to be able to run quick if you wanted to those days i dont think we worried too much about the prizemoney it was all about the sash.


ProTrack Star
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With so much prize money available at the big distance meets over the past few years, this invariably leads to faster racing as the kids (those young guns finishing or having just finished school) see the appeal of several thousand dollars in their pocket.


Love the rankings, and the level of effort in compiling the data! Although I haven't ventured to many interstate events, I'd say it's a pretty fair assessment of the Vic races.

A possible suggestion: could you incorporate the number of entries, or the race finishing time to adjust the prestige value? Obviously this would tak a hell of a lot more work, but the thinking would be that the more prestigious races would attract a large field and probably a faster finish.

There are some obvious difficulties, namely attendance for invite races, or big races with high entry fee. Also changes in handicapping from year to year could affect finish time. Still, it'd be interesting to see how much effect prize money and prestige have on finish times and participation.

Nice work!


Dear Mr Dizzy,
Well done on such a comprehensive look at the distance scene. I can see a budding VCCL handicapper in the making.
One has to feel a little sorry for Stefan Catalano who did 55 metres for two wins in the lowest ranked events.
From a personal point of view I am surprised that Keilor and Mayborough
are not higher on the list and amazingly the Wangaratta mile,which no longer exist,would have been in the top 6 or 7 in years gone bye.The list certainly shows the ebb and flow of many events that come and go but Stawell is still the highest ranked venue with four of the top five.

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