Who is below scratch and how did they get there?

Martin Rees

How is your runbritain handicap score looking? If you have run in a UK Athletics licensed event or a parkrun since the beginning of 2010 you will have a handicap score between MINUS 6.6 to 36.0. How are you doing?

The handicap scoring system is now in its fourth year and the national ladder is more full than ever but we still have room for more and are eagerly anticipating passing the 40,000 mark!

The scoring system, which has been developed in conjunction with the team behind the McCain Power of 10 website, rewards regular racing and factors in a degree of difficulty for slower courses. It works just like a golf handicap system as a measure of the course difficulty and your ability on that course.

Recently the system has been upgraded to include all distances from 800m and up (at the beginning we only featured 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon) and to give rankings within age groups and postcode areas. So, with more runners than ever in the system, we thought it would be a good time for a quick stock check, a peek at the numbers below scratch in each of the masters age group categories and an idea of what it takes to get there.

Category Number below scratch Category leader Just under scratch Points of interest
M35 160 Nicholas Torry (MINUS 4.9) 37th overall Will Smith (MINUS 0.1) 2144th overall

Nicholas is the current leader in the runbritain Grand Prix.

Will has previously been as low as MINUS 1.8 but had let his performances slip at the beginning of 2013. His recent outings in relays has brought him back below scratch.

W35 1 Alyson Dixon (MINUS 0.9) 1493rd overall   Alyson was as low as MINUS 1.3 after the Brighton Marathon this year, where she ran 2:31:08. She has slipped slightly although still below scratch.
M40 78 Anthony Whiteman (MINUS 5.4) 16th overall Darren Newbould (MINUS 0.1) 2099th overall Anthony reached the dizzy lows of MINUS 5.4 in August when he ran 1:50.74 for the 800m.
W40 1 Jo Pavey (MINUS 0.2) 2038th overall   Jo was on MINUS 2.7 this time last year but hasn't raced this year and so we are in danger of losing our W40s from below scratch. However, Emma Stepto looks likely to dip under soon. She was on 5.2 at the beginning of 2010 and has slowly chipped away. She is currently on 0.0 but heading in the right direction after running 73:40 at the Bristol Half Marathon on 15 September.
M45 33 Tim Hartley (MINUS 2.5) 558th overall Steve Murtagh (MINUS 0.1) 2080th overall Steve looked to be in the shape of his life when he ran 2:36:48 at the Virgin London Marathon this year and achieved a handicap score of MINUS 0.7. He's dropped slightly since then but still maintaining a below scratch score.
M50 4 Andrew Green (MINUS 1.8) 899th overall Phil Parry (MINUS 0.1) 2129th overall Andrew hit an all-time low this summer when he ran  four 5k races between 15:38 and 15:52 within the space of a month. Phil had dropped back above scratch until the Midlands Masters' 6 stage relays on 21 September where a superb run took him back below.
M60 1 Martin Rees (MINUS 1.3) 1257th overall   Age seems to be no barrier for Martin. He took his handicap to an all-time low at the Welsh Castles Relay in June and with recent times such as 71:30 for the half marathon and 32:48 for 10k it's no surprise that this V60 is below scratch.

The overall men's leader is Mo Farah (MINUS 6.6)

The overall women's leader is Marilyn Okoro (MINUS 2.1). There are currently 42 women below scratch.

Photograph - Martin Rees on his way to 32:48 at the 2013 Bristol 10k.