The data are here

After a couple too many nights not getting to bed on time, I’ve finally gotten the ducks in order (I hope) and launched everything on to the statistics site. So if you are bemoaning the early spring and want to launch yourself deep in to mostly-meaningless statistical “analyses” from the race, by all means, go ahead and do so.

Let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see. I can make no guarantees—it’s time to spend my evenings doing something more productive, like training and core—but if you have an interesting idea, have at it.

The data are coming! The data are coming!

Actually, a lot of it is here. If you check out the “stats” menu on the menu bar above, you’ll find that many of the pages in the 2012 page have been populated. So, have at it, take a look around, visit our sponsor Gear West, which not only is awesome but also shipped a replacement boot cuff up to Hayward for the race for me, and who knows, that could have made a couple seconds worth of difference versus the duct-taped one I had.

What’s not posted yet are the state-by-state competitions (because I have to figure out how best to get a table to display within WordPress) and the search for “special data”—like the time to the timing wire or how many miles each participant traveled—which we had last year for each skier. Because I have to figure out how to make a php database run within WordPress.

That being said, all the charts are in the new site format, which is far superior, I think, to last year’s version. We have nearly all of last year’s data updated (and only didn’t update things which didn’t really change) and a bunch of new stuff, like correlations (all together: “correlation does not imply causation!”) between timing wire place and finishing place by wave. Yes, very nerdy.

Rest assured, we’re working on the rest of the data. It’s 75 in New England so ski season is over (which didn’t keep me from skiing an ice-to-slush 50k this weekend, however) but the hiking trails are still slushy or muddy (not for long, at this rate) so I should have some time to have at it.

Thanks for the patience, and comment on a previous post if there’s anything you really wan to see (no guarantees, of course).


After a formal protest, the Latvian speedster has been properly seeded (and did not come in 14th) and another skier has dropped out of the ranks (someone without a start time, it seems) and your’s truly has moved in to 199th place. The cookie is crumbling in the right direction.

(Statistics charts are mostly done; they’re coming online soon.)

Rosie Ruiz strikes the Birkie

If you thought Joe Dubay was a big deal, this is bigger. (Okay, not really.)

I am in a tricky position. If anyone gains a place in to the top 200, I fall to 201st and I am relegated from the Elite Wave. So, I check the results more than anyone, I’d bet. I was copyediting my race report today and decided, well, what the heck, let’s check those results. And here’s what I found:

That’s right. The unthinkable had happened. Now, instead of making the Elite Wave by 1.5 seconds, I had missed it by half that much. I promised a full investigation on Twitter and Facebook—I wanted to find out who had been inserted in to the results three weeks late. I have the finishing data which shows me at 200th, and compared that to what’s online. I looked at 100th in that data, and that skier had moved to 101st. So I looked at 50th. 51st. 25th? 26th. 12th? Twelfth place was still in twelfth place. So I started reading down. And something stuck out.

The 14th place skier only shows up in the online results. But that’s not what sticks out. Apparently, this skier made it in to 14th place with a four digit bib number. Now, it would be conceivable that a First Wave skier could go out and only have to pass a handful of Elite Wavers and have a hell of a race to 14th. Possible. I doubt it’s ever happened. But from the Fifth Wave? To finish in that kind of time, they’d have to pass, give or take, 2500 other skiers. That’s one every 20 meters. Or one every three seconds. A fifth wave skier would have to somehow get through congested feeds and up bunched hills—and still ski only five minutes slower than the best skiers in the race.

Maybe Petter Northug could do that. Maybe. But a 50-year-old from Latvia? Doesn’t pass the sniff test. (Here’s a picture of him finishing next to a Second Waver who finished in about 3:10, which would validate his 2:39 finish time if he indeed started with the fifth wave but—see below—he seems to have mistakenly started in Wave 2. This would also explain why he was in first place at Timber Trail and OO) Want more? 5342 has no wire start time, so someone put the wrong time in for his start, and he jumped up in the results. I guess. I plan to let the Birkie know about this, so if you finished between 14th and 350th and wondered why your position changed, it should change back.

Either that, or Rosie Ruiz jumped off the trail at the Power Lines and got back on the lake for an almost-victorious ski in to Hayward.

(Okay, it’s a clerical error most likely, no one cheated or wore the wrong bib. And we can not complain about a minor error in a race of 10,000 people where all the timing equipment is buried in snow. But it’s fun to throw around hyperbole, right, 75 commenters about Joe Dubay at FasterSkier?)

Update: I have it from another Wave 2 skier that:

As I waited for the start, a guy with a purple bib [someone who’d skied more than 20 Birkies] tapped me on the shoulder and said I should tell the guy beside me (a 5th waver) that he was in the wrong place.  I told purple bib guy that he would be a little more authoritative than me, so he approached him.  After realizing he spoke no English and had traveled a great distance to participate, [he stayed] and start[ed] with wave two.  There really wasn’t an alternative as the start was less than 30 seconds away.

which makes perfect sense. And that means the Birkie should assign him a start of 8:45 (well, probably 8:46 to account for the minute to the line) which would put him finishing in 3:10. Which is exactly an hour slower than the issue above. In other words, someone must have typed “9:45” instead of “8:45” for his start time, and that got the whole snowball rolling. Okay, for me it’s a snowball. For everyone else, no one cares.

Birkie Data: What do you want to see?

So, I went to sleep after my bedtime last night. Once I’d assigned “place in wave” numbers to about half the field (a bit more arduous in Excel than it should be, but not arduous enough to merit figuring out how to write a script) without having fully sorted the data, I realized it was time for bed. In any case, numbers are coming and should be posted soon and, well, a lot of the charts will look pretty similar to last year. Why? Because when 8000+ people ski a race, there’s only so much variability in the data. In other words, the fourth wave in 2012 looks like the fourth wave in 2011. Which is a good thing.

In any case, I want to look at some new things this year. So I’ll ask: what statistics do you want to see? A couple ideas include:

  • Start position (measured by time to the timing wire) vs finish position: how well do they correlate by wave?
  • Can we measure the overall field fitness in a low-snow year?
  • Did the different weather dramatically change any finish times?
I’ve opened the comments on this post, please post anything you’d like to see there—and, if possible, how you’d measure it—and I will see if there’s any way of wrangling the data to prove your hypothesis.
(Comments have been turned off due to spam, for now.)

8070 lines

That’s how many lines of data we have from all the finishers. And more than a week ahead of last year, too! We’re working hard, rest assured, to bring you all sorts of charts, graphs and other stats to the site. Soon!

Colin makes a video

Colin Reuter, he of internet cycling fame, always wears a GoPro. Because he is awesome. He had a less-than-stellar race, and wrote about it (it’s SFW, but not safe for the dinner table) and there’s a video at the top which is basically a video of all the downhills to OO or so. Good fun to watch.

We’re waiting on data before we can start full-on stats runs. Once we get it, rest assured we’ll drunkenly stay up until 2 or 3 several nights to bring it to you.

Skin of my teeth

As I came up Main Street, I was spent. I could only push a little harder than a couple of the other guys around, and I’d lost some ground to some others. When I came across the line, I didn’t look that good. There’s a video you can watch here. But I did just good enough. After I finish, watch the guy in red to the left. I’ll be in the elite wave next year. He finished 202nd.

God I have to start training. Now.