KPR Thoughts (9) – KPR as a Ranking System

This post adresses a consequence of my suggested qualifying system with a mix of direct and points slots: The use of the KPR as a Ranking System.

When the KPR was introduced, it’s stated reason for existence was to decide which athletes get a Kona slot. However, WTC and some parts of the triathlon press were also pushing its use as a Ranking System, for example by assigning the bib numbers in Kona based on the position in the KPR.

However, I don’t think the KPR is a good Ranking System:

  • The „most important position“ in the KPR is whether you are over or under the cutoff line. This is what almost all athletes are focused on.
  • Hardly anyone is really interested whether you are placed 8th or 21st.
  • The only other position of some interest may be the #1 spot – and that spot is mostly decided after the 70.3 Championships and Kona. Last year, no one was able to challenge Leanda Cave (having won both races), this year Sebastian Kienle is almost assured the #1 spot (after winning 70.3 champs and placing 3rd in Kona).

There are a couple of elements that would have to be addressed in order to create a ranking system:

  • Athletes don’t race very often during one year, therefore a ranking system would have to include results from more than one year.
  • Even though WTC has most of the IM-distance races, there are other races that should be included in a Ranking System. This certainly includes Challenge races, maybe also off-distance races such as the ITU long distance championships or Abu Dhabi.
  • In order to rank „the best athletes“, some factors would have to be weighted differently than for Kona qualifying (e.g. number of races, inclusion of 70.3s, how to deal with bad results).

As an example of an alternate ranking system, my own TriRating uses a totally different approach than the KPR:

  • based on time instead of placing
  • based on all results of an athlete (with older races having less of an influence into the overall rating)
  • all races have the same weight

It is much more „stable“ than the KPR and – while certainly not perfect – probably a better ranking system.

It might be a good task for the ITU to develop a good ranking system that has a chance to be universally accepted. But the way the long-distance racing scene is fragmented between WTC, Challenge, other smaller races and the ITU, I can’t see any one organization to step up to this challenge.

My assessment: The KPR is not a good system for an overall ranking, but I can’t see a universally accepted alternative to evolve. I will certainly try to improve my own Rating System and hope that its use will increase.

One Response to KPR Thoughts (9) – KPR as a Ranking System

  1. Halvard June 7, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    Thanks for the KPR posts.
    What is making the whole KPR discussion difficult is that Ironman/WTC/KPR is a event company with the most popular event Kona. This way long distance triathlon is not organized like other endurance sports like cross country skiing, biathlon, speed skating, road/mtb cycling or even running.

    In a world championship in any of the other sports you know the best athletes will show up in their best shape. Not so much in long distance triathlon.
    In long distance triathlon we have a turf war and Kona is actually a company championship (I am sure some will disagree). But the problem is that with today’s structure long distance triathlon is missing a athlete friendly system and support. Also the fragmentation create many boring events.

    Hopefully the sport will create a series and a world championship that can attract fans, media and good athletes. The current situation is just lame.

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