How Marathon Results Could, and Maybe Should, Be Shown

I recently took a typical online set of marathon results in a table, from the 2016 Mount Desert Island marathon, and turned it into an interactive display and analysis here. I’d embed it to show you but I can’t use JavaScript embedding on WordPress.

The key to it is for the individual runners, I answered all the key questions I could think of that could be derived from the data, beyond what was provided. For example, how long it took someone to cross the start, derived from official time minus chip time. Did that cost them a potential placing, or award for the faster runners? How did their first and second half splits compare? And what was the consequences in terms of places gained or lost in the second half? There were also other questions, done for the overall, gender, and division situations, where appropriate.

I also did a field analysis, like who showed up for demographics, from where, how did each demographic (including home town and state/province) do for average times? Median times for middle of the pack were also given. A scan of how people ran their respective first and second halfs, as a collective, was also done. You can very quickly see who had good and bad days, then fly over the dot to see more about them and their performances in the additional information provided.

You could then generate your own graphs and tables with unique combinations of runners by names, bib numbers, geography and/or other filters. You could group two sets of them on one dashboard to see who had the faster average times, as if they were two teams, for example. There’s tons of fun and analysis to be had!

The whole thing took me about a week to create on Tableau Public software. However, now that the shell has been created, swapping data for other races would only take 2-3 hours, mostly for customizing some features like scales on axes, entering a few parameters calculated in Excel because Tableau isn’t very capable with time averages and divisions at the moment. It’s a minimal amount of work, for a ton of additional information that’s easy and interesting to digest! I’m not sure if many or most people would be interested to the extent I am to see results like this rather than in a table people will look at for a minute or so, on average, I would say. I guess only time will tell.

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