The Handicap Competition is a great complement to the Race Series competition as it seeks to reward improvement rather than absolute performance. The scoring system also has an inbuilt bias to favour slower runners, hence the club members performing best in the handicap are likely to be quite a different set of names from those winning the Race Series! This is a particularly good competition for new runners as the competition rewards continuous improvement through the year. The race is run on a monthly basis (with the exception of August and September) on a 5.6km course starting and finishing at the cricket club. The competition winner is determined in December based on points scored through the year.



This competition is so-called because all runners are assigned a “handicap”, just like in a game of golf, so that everybody can race on a level playing field, no matter how fast or slow they are. The handicap is set in terms of a time penalty and is applied to each runner’s start time, i.e. the slowest runner will start the race first and then everybody else will start so many minutes and seconds after them.

Your “mark”, which is the fastest time you have run the course out of your last four runs, determines your handicap. So, in a given race, the slowest runner’s mark minus your own mark will give your start time, e.g. if your mark is 25 minutes and the slowest runner’s mark that day is 40 minutes then you will start 15 minutes after them. In this way, if everybody ran according to their mark, they would all finish the race together. Hence the winner of each race will actually be the runner who manages to beat their mark by the largest margin (and therefore crosses the line first.)


Every runner is awarded a point just for completing the race. You also get another point for beating your mark. The first runner to cross the line is then awarded 20 points, the next 19 points and so on, down to the 20th runner. The order of crossing the line relates directly to how much one has beaten (or fallen short) of one’s mark. Hence the winner of each race is the runner who has improved their time the most. Usually at least the first five or six finishers will have beaten their mark. Beating your mark means that your time will become your new mark for the next month and hence you will have to make further improvement to score highly again! On the other hand, because your mark is the best time of the last four, your handicap is “sticky” and doesn’t fall so quickly if you get slower!

Winning the Competition

The competition is run monthly over the course of the year and the winner is the one with the highest number of points at the end, with the best seven scores taken from the ten races. In order to do this, one needs to improve consistently through the year, i.e. to keep beating one’s mark, which requires improvements in performance but also the commitment to keep running the races! In fact often the winner of the competition overall may have won very few of the year’s races (or even none at all) – steady improvement and commitment to running as many months as possible is usually the winning strategy! Because the winner each month is the one who beats their mark by the greatest absolute margin, i.e. the most seconds, it’s actually a little easier to achieve for slower runners. This is because if two improving runners make similar relative gains, say for example they both get 1% faster, then a runner whose mark is 20 minutes will beat it by 12 seconds, whereas a runner whose mark is 30 minutes will beat it by 18 seconds.

Online registration

Check-in online to participate. The starting clock time starts at 18:35 and the online check-in will show your starting clock time.


  • Online check-in normally closes at 17:30 on handicap night.
  • Your start time in min/sec after the clock is started at 18:35 and your actual start time in hr/min are shown against your name.
  • New runners can only check-in at the cricket club.

The route

The rules

  • Your mark is the best of your last four times up to two years old.
  • Your PB is your best ever and is therefore never slower than, but can be faster than, your mark.
  • Your start is the slowest mark minus your mark (the faster you are, the smaller your mark and the later you start).
  • The first twenty scoring runners to finish get twenty down to one scores points.
  • You need two runs before you can score other than for running and beating mark.
  • Anyone completing the course gets a run point.
  • Anyone who beats their mark gets a mark point.
  • The highest 7 scores count towards the total.
  • The time of anyone finishing more than a minute behind anyone else, and anyone finishing after them, will not be used to compute their mark. They will still get points but it means that a string of unreasonably slow runs won’t give someone an easy mark. Contact Sam Miller in the event of long-term injury affecting your times so this can be amended.
  • Numbers in last month’s results reflect scores, marks and PBs as of last month whereas the overall and next month start lists reflect current values.