Geoff Wightman celebrates Jake topping the runbritain National Ladder

Geoff Wightman and Jake

Jake Wightman (handicap -7.1) topped the runbritain National Ladder for the first time after his recent middle distance medley of top class events that saw him rise to 2nd on the all time runbritain rankings for 1500m with 3:29.47 and 11th on the all time list for 800m with 1:44.18. Added to this, Jake's rise to the top came on the 10th birthday of the runbritain rankings, which was the brainchild of his father and coach, Geoff Wightman.

The runbritain handicap scoring system, launched in September 2010, was marked by a photo shoot at Tower Bridge with Jenni Falconer and Dave Bedford.

Geoff Wightman was the Managing Director of runbritain at that time. The runbritain ranking system aimed to create something a bit like golf handicap scoring, where runners over a wide range of abilities, distances and surfaces had something to compare themselves against.

More than 100,000 runners have now claimed their free handicap score, which is an average rate of about 30 runners signing up every single day. Tim Grose of Athletics Data created a very clever and unique online algorithm to support this.

The beauty of the running handicap algorithm is that you don’t have to run a PB to improve. The calculation factors in slow, hilly courses and windy or cold/hot conditions. At the same time, Geoff and Tim created the runbritain National Running Ladder, which has more than 500,000 UK runners listed.

If you find yourself ranked 150,000th among British road runners, it might not be that motivating on first glance. However, if you segment the standings you may discover that you are the third ranked over 45 female runner in your postcode area and that might give you a bit of a boost in your training and racing.

There are free graphs and calculations to guide you to your strongest racing distance too. Parkruns are included.

We asked Geoff if, when his handicap scoring system came to fruition, he would have envisaged that Jake would, one day, be on top of the ladder. Geoff said, "When all this was launched, our son Jake would have just turned 16 and not really in the target audience for the national running ladder. He was actually ranked 26th= among Scottish under 17 1500m runners at that time but steady progress is the name of the game and, this month, in a race-starved year for everyone, his track times of 3.29 for 1500m and 1.44 for 800m have taken him briefly to the number one position on the ladder. It was an entertaining moment to mark the 10th birthday of the runbritain rankings. Here’s to 200,000 score claimants in the next few years.".

Jake will need to make the most of it because as the road calculations are added and the algorithm updated  it will have a road half marathon and a 20,000m split from  Mo Farah’s recent one-hour world track best.  Of course we also know Marc Scott has been busy with many road races and it will be a close run contest to top the runbritain national ladder this week!

Photograph - Geoff coaching Jake and training partner at altitude training camp.