Friday, March 10, 2017

How many runners did I pass? Shamrock Shuffle Edition

Since the 2017 edition of the Shamrock Shuffle is the only race on my calendar, I've had more time to focus on 8k race strategy/planning than usual. In order to glean some insight as to what I should do strategy-wise this year, I went to the race website and looked at my splits from the Shuffle last year (which was a huge PR). Looking at the splits, I was surprised at how big of a negative split I had run. The first mile was run at 6:05/mile and the last mile was at 5:36/mile! Now in full disclosure, I purposely held back during the first mile to see how I felt, since I was unsure of my fitness going into the race. Anyway, as expected with such splits - I passed lots of runners most of whom weren't negative splitting. So, of course I was curious of exactly how many I passed. So like I did two years ago (post 2015 Shuffle) I wanted to find out.
2016 Shuffle Finish

Since the 2016 results have 1 mile and 5k splits, I was able to come up with the following analysis:

Shamrock Shuffle 2016:

Number of runners I passed after 1 mile mark:

Number of runners I passed after 5k mark:

Number of runners I passed total:

Number of runners who passed me after mile 1:

My place at the 1 mile mark:

My place at the 5k mark:

My place at the finish line (8k):


So, over the last four miles I passed 128 runners and moved up in the standings accordingly.  Here is another interesting tidbit:

Of the people that I passed after mile 1, the average runner ran the first mile 10 seconds FASTER than me (5:55 vs. 6:05), yet that average runner finished the race almost a whole minute (50 seconds) SLOWER than me!

Now, I guess you could say I should have run more even splits which seems to be the consensus best race strategy. However, if not the best strategy, at least negative is better than positive. If those average runners had kept at that 5:55/mile first mile until the finish line, they should have been 40 seconds faster than me (10 seconds x 4 miles) overall. Instead they ended up 55 seconds slower. That's a swing of 95 seconds over four miles.

Why do so many runners go positive a the Shamrock? I think it's because it's the first race of the season for most people, and they tend to overspeed in the beginning thinking that they have the same fitness that they did at the end of the last season. Also, there are actually a few people who think it's a 5k rather than a 5 miler and then at mile 3.1 (after burning up all of their energy) realize too late they have another 2 miles to go and so they have to crawl for the remainder!

In any case, my recommendation for all of 2017 Shufflers:

Run the first mile relatively slowly - then open things up and start passing...
Here I am at mile 2 of the 2016 Shamrock Shuffle (red hat and gray shirt)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


  1. As usual, I love all of your analysis. That's a pretty cool stat to figure out!

    I have a hard time not starting any race out too fast in general (rookie mistake that I can't quite seem to shake!), but it is especially bad at the Shuffle. Being in the back corrals, I always feel like I need to blow by the walkers so I don't get stuck behind a big group, and then I realize I've run my first mile at least a minute faster than I should. Oops! I'll probably make the same mistake this year :)

    1. Thanks. Well, it did take me awhile to figure it out, I didn't think there would be that many runners! Anyway, in looking at the results I saw plenty of running shoe store team runners who ran some pretty big positive splits, so don't feel too bad about the first mile. Also, I always blow by the slower runners that for some reason lined up in front of me and it needlessly takes a lot of energy. Hopefully, I will remember to take my own advice this year and start slowly! :)

  2. Haha--I pretty much go out fast in every race. It's truly my downfall. When will I learn? You've got the proof right here. I love your analyses!

    1. I think 95% of runners go out too fast, and even though I know better, I still do it on occasion. Thanks Wendy!

  3. Neat! I always start either with a slower pace group than my goal, or at the back of my goal pace group. Because it seems like everyone else always starts every race too fast. Even if their goal is an 8:30, they start out at an 8:00 pace. If they tapered, they're on fresh legs and think they can hold a pace that feels good at the start. Another benefit to running by effort. My heart rate doesn't lie. (Unless my gadget isn't registering it correctly.)

    1. Yes, I'm sure many people change their strategy once the race starts and then later regret not sticking to their original pace plan. Yes, heart rate is an excellent indicator of effort. I need to check mine more often. :)

  4. Love the in depth analysis. I totally agree that Shamrock runners often take it out too quickly. Maybe it just adds to the party atmosphere :). Have a blast there this year!

    1. Yeah, the Shamrock is a big party. I spend much more time at the beer garden than I do actually racing. :) Thanks!