Can a Girl Really Run a 180 Speed Rating??
by Bill Meylan (TullyRunners ... December 19, 2015)
Amber Trotter has my highest girl speed rating rating ever (180 at Footlocker 2001 run in Orlando, Florida). She ran for Ukiah high school in California.
As noted in a previous article that compared Boy-Girl winning time differences, at Footlocker 2001 in Orlando, Amber Trotter broke Sara Bei's course record by 31 seconds ... Sara Bei (now Sara Hall) won Footlocker 2000 ... Amber Trotter won Footlocker 2001 by 40 seconds ... she beat 4th-place Molly Huddle by 55 seconds ... she was only 1:34 slower than boy's winner Timothy Moore ... Chris Solinsky finished 3rd in the boy's race only 2 seconds behind the winner (so Amber Trotter was only 1:32 slower than Chris Solinsky).
Watch The Race ...Footlocker 2001 was broadcast nationally on television by the Fox Sports Network on a delayed basis (no web-cast) ... The first one-hour replay started the Monday following Footlocker ... That broadcast is currently available on the Internet at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMrOOeMhPTA ... You can watch Amber Trotter run the 180 speed rating.
It was warm and very humid at the Orlando Disney World golf course in 2001 (about 80 degrees at race-time for the girls) ... you can see dew on the grass ... Amber Trotter's coach (Jerry Drew) was interviewed before the race and said Amber would go out in 5:00 to 5:05 ... he said she was healthy and "everybody knows about the anorexia problem".
Amber Trotter competed against three exceptionally talented runners at Footlocker 2001 ... I posted a high-school look-back article about Molly Huddle in 2012 ... It lists the remarkable high-school performances by Molly Huddle ... NY State & Federation champion and she had broken 12 cross country course records her senior year entering Footlocker ... she would go on to break the National outdoor high school 2-Mile record (10:01.08) at the National Meet in hot & humid North Carolina in June 2002 ... Molly Huddle is currently one of the top American distance runners.
Erika Odlaug (Deerfield HS Illinois) had broken 12 course records in 13 races (she did not break the Footlocker Midwest course record; it was completely rain-soaked and muddy) ... The Illinois girls were racing a 2.5-mile distance in 2001 ... Erika Odlaug had shattered that Detweiller Park record earlier in the season and she broke it by an additional 5 seconds in winning the State Meet (13:25) ... She won the IL State Meet by 45 seconds ... The previous outdoor track season, Erika Odlaug won the Golden West 2-Mile in 10:11.31 and was 2nd at the adidas Outdoor Nationals 2-Mile.
Natasha Roetter (Lexington HS, MA) had won back-to-back Footlocker Northeast titles ... she was 4th at Footlocker Nationals in 2000, and was also undefeated entering Footlocker 2001.
Footlocker 2001 ... The race video shows what happened ... Amber Trotter opened a big early lead and extended it all the way to the finish ... She ran the opening mile in 5:03 (had a 23 second lead over Molly Huddle who was in 2nd at the mile).
By the halfway point, Amber Trotter's lead was 36 seconds and it was clearly obvious that the real race was for second place. In fact, her race was so dominant that race officials had to call for a second golf cart to pace the group of 32 of the nation's finest female runners. One for Trotter, and one for the rest of the field (as reported by http://fl.milesplit.com/articles/253/amber-trotter-does-the-expected-unexpectedly).
Amber Trotter passed the 2-mile mark in an incredible 10:21 (Natasha Roetter was 2nd at 2-miles in 10:54) ... 10:21 for 2-miles in heat, humidity and wet grass ... Amber Trotter won by 40 seconds over Erika Odlaug who edged Natasha Roetter ... Molly Huddle was 4th (55 seconds back) ... Molly Huddle was 15 seconds ahead of the 5th-place finisher ... Full results listed here with my speed ratings.
Girls Footlocker 2001 Results (with speed ratings) 1 Amber Trotter (12) West Redwood Valley CA 16:24.07 180.3 180 2 Erika Odlaug (12) Midwest Bannockburn IL 17:04.30 166.9 167 3 Natasha Roetter (12) Northeast Lexington MA 17:05.14 166.6 167 4 Molly Huddle (12) Northeast Elmira NY 17:19.59 161.8 162 5 Laura Stanley (12) South Fletcher NC 17:34.54 156.8 157 6 Felicia Guliford (12) West Gallup NM 17:35.67 156.4 156 7 Jackie Zeigle (12) West South Jordan UT 17:41.84 154.4 154 8 Valerie Lauver (12) South Allen TX 17:45.40 153.2 153 9 Amber Harper (11) West Orem UT 17:46.10 153.0 153 10 Heidi Lane (12) West Great Falls MT 17:46.93 152.7 153 11 Julie Allen (12) West Corona Del Mar CA 17:50.51 151.5 151 12 Sally Meyerhoff (12) West Tempe AZ 17:51.40 151.2 151 13 Tracey Brauksieck (12) Northeast Cuyler NY 17:51.87 151.0 151 14 Megan Kaltenbach (11) Midwest Aurora CO 17:52.68 150.8 151 15 Kara Scanlin (12) South Ponte Vedra Beach FL 17:53.19 150.6 151 16 Kristina Roth (12) Midwest Celina OH 17:53.83 150.4 150 17 Mindy Sullivan (12) South Lubbock TX 17:56.74 149.4 149 18 Angela Homan (12) Midwest Delphos OH 17:57.27 149.2 149 19 Liz Gesel (12) Northeast Manchester NH 17:58.19 148.9 149 20 Zoe Nelson (9) West Kalispell MT 18:00.88 148.0 148 21 Jessica Gall (12) Midwest West Lafayette IN 18:01.25 147.9 148 22 Laurel Burdick (12) Northeast Manlius NY 18:03.34 147.2 147 23 Stephanie Madia (12) Northeast Wexford PA 18:06.15 146.3 146 24 Jackie Mulrooney (12) Midwest Hartland WI 18:08.67 145.4 145 25 Nicole Bohnsack (10) Midwest Rockford MI 18:14.01 143.7 144 26 Jessica Cickay (10) Northeast Newtown PA 18:14.64 143.5 143 27 Lindsay Van Alstine (11) Northeast Midland Park NJ 18:16.79 142.7 143 28 Julia Cathcart (12) South Starkville MS 18:23.88 140.4 140 29 Amber Smith (10) Midwest Ishpeming MI 18:34.19 136.9 137 30 Carly Matthews (12) South Winston-Salem NC 18:39.23 135.3 135 31 Jessica Hellender (12) South Cooper City FL 18:51.63 131.1 131 32 Brooke Stewart (11) South College Station TX 19:09.99 125.0 125 ** Link to a partial Speed Rating history of Footlocker Nationals
Where Did the 180 Speed Rating Come From??
Speed ratings are never derived from the performance of one individual runner, especially the winner .... Speed ratings measure how fast runners run in relation to each other and in relation to baseline profiles of the same and other groups of runners of previously-determined speed ratings ... Groups of runners and/or groups of individuals determine the speed ratings.
Quality ... When comparing groups of runners from one race to another race (and over a period of years), the quality of the groups is an important consideration ... Footlocker has undergone two changes that could affect the quality of the groups ... (1) Expanding the field from 32 to 40 runners in 2004 ... (2) Competing with NXN for the top echelon of runners ... this became very apparent when NXN started regional qualifying races.
An expansion by itself may not affect the quality for my purposes ... For example, if Footlocker still has the same qualifying races, qualifying procedures (8 or 10 qualifiers) and pool of runners, then simply excluding the qualifying runners finishing 9th and 10th from the group comparison of previous years is a quick fix.
But the competition with NXN for the top runners and the dividing of top talent between Footlocker and NXN is a major consideration that required systemic fixing on my part and with my group comparison profiles ... Fortunately, my speed rating process consists of both group profiles and an extensive database of speed ratings for individuals ... Individuals with known speed ratings are my "reference runners" ... these individuals can be clumped together in "groups" of known speed that can be compared to other groups of similar quality.
Graphical Show-and-Tell ... A graph is a good way to illustrate how fast Amber Trotter ran at Footlocker 2001 ... Although I derived her 180 speed rating long before 2014 by using Footlocker group comparisons over different years, I thought a comparison to 2014 runners would be interesting since most current viewers will know Anna Rohrer (Footlocker winner in 2014 and 2012) and Allie Ostrander (NXN winner in 2014) ... In addition, my race adjustment (use to calculate the speed ratings) was similar for the Footlocker Girls in 2001 and 2014.
The problem in comparing Footlocker 2014 to 2001 directly is the quality variation ... The talent in 2014 was divided between Footlocker and NXN (not so in 2001) ... Thankfully, the race times at NXN 2014 on the new course at Glendoveer were reasonable similar to those at Balboa Park ... Experience has shown that the top runners at Footlocker generally get speed ratings a few points higher than at NXN due to the nature and conditions of the races ... Using this extrapolation, I hypothetically added Allie Ostrander, Danielle Jones, Fiona O'Keeffe, Ella Donaghu and several others to the Footlocker field ... No division of talent in this race ... I used their NXN performances plus several speed ratings points which turned out be their exact race times at NXN ... This "merge" put Allie Ostrander between Anna Rohrer and Ryen Frazier.
Here is the graph depicting the race times and finishing positions of the top 24 runners from the actual 2001 Footlocker race and my merged 2014 Footlocker+NXN race:
Amber Trotter, Erika Odlaug, Natasha Roetter and Molly Huddle were clearly faster than the other girls at Footlocker 2001, and the graph shows it very nicely ... The performances by Odlaug and Roetter would make them Footlocker champions in many years ... and see how much faster Trotter ran than them at Footlocker 2001.
Note that Anna Rohrer and Allie Ostrander are slightly faster than Molly Huddle ... The next green dot on the graph is Ryen Frazier (not labeled) and she is just behind Molly Huddle.
Hard to Imagine But True ... Think of Anna Rohrer winning Footlocker for her second time in 2014 ... Think of Allie Ostrander winning NXN in 2014 ... Now imagine a girl finishing finishing nearly a minute ahead of them ... That's what the graph is illustrating.
Speed Rating Consideration ... Note how remarkably well the final times of runners #5 through #24 match-up between 2001 and 2014 ... This is the "group" that classifies the speed of the race ... Amber Trotter and Anna Rohrer do not classify the speed of their respective races - The other groups of runners in those races classify how fast Amber Trotter and Anna Rohrer ran relative to everybody else ... That is the essence of speed rating.
The "groups" in 2001 and 2014 are relatively equal in quality ... This is a judgment on my part, but it is easy to defend (based, in part, on known speed ratings of individuals entering the races) ... The graph shows the relative speeds of the 2001 and 2014 races are equal.
I know the relative speed of the 2014 girls with a high degree of certainty ... Anna Rohrer had a speed rating of 163.70 in winning Footlocker 2014 ... Equating that to 2001 - Amber Trotter's speed rating would be 179.98 ... That agrees nicely with previous determinations.
I know I will get asked ... "How does Alexa Efraimason, Elise Cranny and Sarah Baxter at NXN Nationals 2013 compare to Amber Trotter at Footlocker 2001"??
I merged Footlocker 2013 (won by Tessa Barrett) with some runners from NXN 2013 similar as described above for 2014 ... Adding Alexa Efraimason, Elise Cranny and Sarah Baxter certainly helped the quality.
The NXN course at Portland Meadows in 2013 was fast because it was mostly frozen ... I extrapolated and adjusted the actual race times from NXN to be more comparable to Footlocker 2013 ... I believe I gave a benefit-of-the-doubt to the NXN girls (perhaps too much credit).
Here is the graph depicting the race times and finishing positions of the top 24 runners from the actual 2001 Footlocker race and my merged 2013 Footlocker+NXN race:
The graph shows Amber Trotter 32 seconds ahead of Alexa Efraimson and a bit more over Elise Cranny and Sarah Baxter ... I know some people don't believe that's possible, but I do ... Amber Trotter's performance at Footlocker 2001 was one of those very rare occurrences of exceptional lifetime performances ... she was very good during the 2001 season, but not at the level of Footlocker 2001.
As for my speed ratings at NXN 2013 ... The 2013 NXN field was full of girls with known abilities and speed ratings entering the race (I had posted most of the speed ratings for everybody to see) ... Groups of girls & groups of individuals classified the speed of NXN 2013 very effectively ... Those groups classified how fast Efraimson, Cranny and Baxter performed and NOT the other-way around.
My evaluation had Footlocker 2013 running 3 seconds faster than Footlocker 2014 ... The Balboa course has run relatively consistent in some period of years, but it has also run noticeably inconsistent at other times (both fast & very slow) ... But that will be included in a future article looking at Balboa from the early 1980s to present day (Guess which race I will focus on).