The Handicap League is named in memory of Keith Vine, who was a leading light in the Doddlers for many years.
The intention is to encourage runners of all abilities to improve their race performance. The best way to do well in the league is to keep one step ahead of the handicap by making steady improvement throughout the year. It also helps to run lots of races, because only your best 10 results are counted. A race qualifies for the Handicap League if at least 5 people running as Dorset Doddlers finish the race (the only exceptions are the two main Doddlers races, the Stur Half and the Stickler, as we want to encourage members to marshal rather than race). Everybody is assigned a handicap pace for a mile which is intended to reflect their average pace over a flat 10km course. This handicap pace is used to predict the time you should expect to do in a race. If you are new to the league, your first result will be used to generate your handicap pace.
For each race, your handicap pace is used to calculate your predicted finishing time, with adjustments made to reflect different race distances and challenging terrain or weather conditions. 10 mile races are assumed to increase times by 4%, half marathons by 6%, and marathons by 18%. Hilly, off-road or swampy courses will have an additional terrain adjustment applied to reflect the increased time needed. Once the results of a race are known, your actual and predicted times are compared.
Runners are ranked according to how far they were ahead of or behind their predicted times. The person who was furthest ahead is awarded 1 point; the next person gets 2 points and so on. After each race, your handicap pace is adjusted by moving it to a point half way between where it was and where your most recent result suggests it should be.
At the end of the year, if you have scored in ten or more races, your points for your best ten race results are added up, and the lower the total score, the better you have done. There are stylish trophies for the best man and best woman to keep for the year.
See here for previous years’ winners.