Victorian Cross Country League races are conducted using a handicapping system with the aim of allowing athletes of varied ability, age and sex to compete on a level paying field in a competitive environment.
The handicapper assigns a spot to each athlete, which correlates to the handicap time used for different distances.
For staggered start races, athletes start at different “go” times depending on their spot. The runner who finishes first is the winner.
For sealed handicap races, athletes start at the same time. After the race is complete, the officials will adjust the finish times using the handicap times to determine the net time for each athlete. The athlete with the lowest net time is the winner.
New athletes are initially assigned to a novice mark according to their age and gender. New athletes that the handicapper determines to be faster than the novice mark may be given a tougher spot.
The novice mark will often lead to new athletes being initially uncompetitive. However, the handicapper will gradually adjust the spots of new athletes over their first few races to arrive at a fair handicap.
Established athletes will have their spot reviewed on a regular basis. An athlete will be given a lift, which is an increase to their spot, when the handicappers determines that they are eligible according to the Handicapping Guidelines.
An athlete who wins a race will be penalised in the range of 3 to 7 spots, to give other athletes the chance to win subsequent races. Recent winners will also be lifted according to the Handicapping Guidelines.
Download the Handicapping Guidelines which details the handicapping process.