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Old 02-14-14, 03:05 PM   #1
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How important is 47th place?

With the technology available to promoters today, they're able to provide race results for every single competitor no matter how far behind the leaders they finish. Or where in the pack they finish.
This gained popularity in MTB racing, and now it's a thing in road racing. It's what helps USAC provide rankings on their website.

My question: why does that matter?

We raced for years and years without knowing (or caring) who placed out of the prize list. You knew if you were in the pack or not. Who cares? But now it seems that we all have to know what our time was for a mass start event.

Am I alone on this? Or is this a waste of time and energy to provide those results?
Why are we so fixated on data that is utterly meaningless for a pack sport?

It's a fallacy to think that everyone is sprinting therefore the final results beyond 20th place have any validity.

I want to hear your responses before I explain where I would like to see the sport move instead.
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Old 02-14-14, 03:09 PM   #2
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'why are we so fixated on data that is utterly meaningless for a pack sport"

Then why race if you have no interest to know your placing?
For some people/coaches it's important to compare result/placing with each race
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Old 02-14-14, 03:32 PM   #3
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I think it's a valid thing if you're dealing with Cat 5s who need to finish races. With a placing it's easy to prove you finished. Without it it's much harder. This is sort of invalid if the rider in question got lapped 7 times and wants to claim that as a finish (which has happened to me).

Also it's a good check - as a promoter if we have someone in 6th and in 46th then we made a mistake.
*edit or we have someone that jumped in the wrong race, which has also happened (since if we can't read the leading hundred # it's okay because we use one set of numbers per race).

For racers it's good because it typically confirms what they already thought (for experienced racers) and teaches them how optimistic they are (for inexperienced racers). It also sort of validates the places up front, i.e. if they got me okay in 47th place then they probably got the other ones pretty well also.

I do doubt that coaches place importance in places outside the very front, even if dealing with a Cat 5 that's just starting out. There's the win, in the hunt, and out of it. Until you're in the hunt you're out of it - 30th or 40th isn't really significant, which is the point that ES was trying to make.

I do think that times are significant in timed or road race type events. To finish in the front group versus 3 minutes down, or to finish 3 minutes down versus 15 minutes down, that's sort of significant, if you take into account the groups etc. It's better to be 3 min down and solo ahead of the field than 1 minute down but in the middle of the field (obviously in different races but the point is that finishing ahead of the field is better than in the field in this example).
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Old 02-14-14, 03:54 PM   #4
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I think it's a valid thing if you're dealing with Cat 5s who need to finish races. With a placing it's easy to prove you finished. Without it it's much harder. This is sort of invalid if the rider in question got lapped 7 times and wants to claim that as a finish (which has happened to me).

Also it's a good check - as a promoter if we have someone in 6th and in 46th then we made a mistake.
*edit or we have someone that jumped in the wrong race, which has also happened (since if we can't read the leading hundred # it's okay because we use one set of numbers per race).

For racers it's good because it typically confirms what they already thought (for experienced racers) and teaches them how optimistic they are (for inexperienced racers). It also sort of validates the places up front, i.e. if they got me okay in 47th place then they probably got the other ones pretty well also.

I do doubt that coaches place importance in places outside the very front, even if dealing with a Cat 5 that's just starting out. There's the win, in the hunt, and out of it. Until you're in the hunt you're out of it - 30th or 40th isn't really significant, which is the point that ES was trying to make.

I do think that times are significant in timed or road race type events. To finish in the front group versus 3 minutes down, or to finish 3 minutes down versus 15 minutes down, that's sort of significant, if you take into account the groups etc. It's better to be 3 min down and solo ahead of the field than 1 minute down but in the middle of the field (obviously in different races but the point is that finishing ahead of the field is better than in the field in this example).
If I am out of the money (points don't matter as I can't upgrade any further) I won't even contest a sprint or give a ****.
If it were a stage race based on time then obviously that is a different story but some of the most horrific crashes I have seen are cat 4/5 riders sprinting head down for 20th place.
Look at the pros, if they aren't contesting for the win the sit up and pull off (not out).
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Old 02-14-14, 03:58 PM   #5
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'why are we so fixated on data that is utterly meaningless for a pack sport"

Then why race if you have no interest to know your placing?
For some people/coaches it's important to compare result/placing with each race
Are you the type to sprint for 40th place from the 5th chase group? If so: a) I don't want to finish anywhere near you, and b) not everyone out of the money is really racing any more, so how can your placing be any more useful than catching someone on the local MUP?
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Old 02-14-14, 03:59 PM   #6
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Then why race if you have no interest to know your placing?
Because if you're sprinting for 47th place against ten guys who are coasting, what information does that provide about your ability? Not much. It says plenty about your desire, but that's now how we measure things in a bike race.

To me, I'm either in the lead pack or I'm not. I'm usually killing myself for a teammate.

In a MTB race, everyone is trying their best (theoretically) and trying to match their time against the winner's. But in a pack sport like road racing, it's apples and oranges.

And to CDR's point about RR events, the data isn't accurate either. The motivations are all over the map. For instance, if I sacrificed my legs in the first half to get my teammate in the breakaway, then how does my placing in that race contribute to my ranking, and if some guy beats me for 47th place, it carries no meaning.
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Old 02-14-14, 04:01 PM   #7
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Old 02-14-14, 04:09 PM   #8
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In 2010, the NCNCA had several "bad" Cat 4 crashes that were discussed extensively on the NCNCA forum. One of the culprits was racers sprinting for deep in the money spots i.e. 30th place.


Here is the crash sequence from the 2010 Bariani Road Race finish. A rider in the front goes down with the Cat 4 field together at the finish sprinting - mayhem followed. http://hcphoto.smugmug.com/DBC-and-N...Qm9qVPx/Medium
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Old 02-14-14, 04:45 PM   #9
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In 2010, the NCNCA had several "bad" Cat 4 crashes that were discussed extensively on the NCNCA forum. One of the culprits was racers sprinting for deep in the money spots i.e. 30th place.


Here is the crash sequence from the 2010 Bariani Road Race finish. A rider in the front goes down with the Cat 4 field together at the finish sprinting - mayhem followed. http://hcphoto.smugmug.com/DBC-and-N...Qm9qVPx/Medium
Here's the thing though - guys will still sprint for 40th place if the scoring is accurate up to that point or not. (I assume) they figure well I got beat by those guys up the road, but at least maybe I can beat someone today.

I don't actually think this discussion is about sprinting when you're out of the money, I would imagine that's always been the case. And it's also totally different comparing p/1/2 fields to cat 4 fields - p1/2's definitely don't care about 20th place (unless it pays), even in these "non good-ole days".
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Old 02-14-14, 04:58 PM   #10
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My question: why does that matter?
If you're going to measure place, and you can, then you might as well do it for the few people who care about it.

Back out the perspective and you get to "it doesn't matter" because we're all going to die. So unless we're going there, I am fine with wanting to know where, in the middle of the 100 dudes, did I finish.

What's the harm?
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Old 02-14-14, 05:00 PM   #11
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Because if you're sprinting for 47th place against ten guys who are coasting, what information does that provide about your ability? Not much. It says plenty about your desire, but that's now how we measure things in a bike race.

What does winning prove if the field is weak?


I guess what irks me about this is that whenever it's asked "what's the point of XYZ" what is really being said is "I don't like XYZ."

That's fine, list some reasons. It seems like people think not placing people after a certain spot makes things safer. If that's true, that's a reason to consider making a change. But to rhetorically ask "what's the point" and expect people to come to the conclusion you've already drawn discounts that the point is "some people care".

Maybe Pros or experienced racers don't care about it (anymore), but that doesn't invalidate that the guy who does care about it. The guy who lost the race but still wants to do as well as he can and have a measure of that is deserving of a little respect. The fields are 2/3 full of guys who have zero chance at winning, but come out for the competition and the fun. Without them, racing would suck.
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Old 02-14-14, 05:24 PM   #12
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In 2010, the NCNCA had several "bad" Cat 4 crashes that were discussed extensively on the NCNCA forum. One of the culprits was racers sprinting for deep in the money spots i.e. 30th place.


Here is the crash sequence from the 2010 Bariani Road Race finish. A rider in the front goes down with the Cat 4 field together at the finish sprinting - mayhem followed. http://hcphoto.smugmug.com/DBC-and-N...Qm9qVPx/Medium
WOW, that sequence is crazy!

I crashed last week trying to move/sprint coming into the finish. Had I just sat up, I would not have crashed. I started sprinting in 12-15th place and may have been able to get a point or something if I hadn't crashed. In retrospect, I'd rather have just sat up because I hurt like crap. However, in my previous race I sat up and rolled in when sitting 8th or so because the sprint was pretty sketchy and I wanted no part of it (two crashes with less than 1/2 lap to go).

For me, in my crashed out race I wasn't thinking "I hope I beat these guys for 12th place", but rather, "there's a big hole and if I can get through it, I'll have a clear shot toward the finish". Problem was the hole closed right when I got in it. Lesson learned and probably too risky.

With all that said, if it's already being done and it's not a huge challenge, I see no problem with scoring all folks in the race. My opinion may change as I race more though.
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Old 02-14-14, 05:26 PM   #13
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In 2010, the NCNCA had several "bad" Cat 4 crashes that were discussed extensively on the NCNCA forum. One of the culprits was racers sprinting for deep in the money spots i.e. 30th place.


Here is the crash sequence from the 2010 Bariani Road Race finish. A rider in the front goes down with the Cat 4 field together at the finish sprinting - mayhem followed. http://hcphoto.smugmug.com/DBC-and-N...Qm9qVPx/Medium

i was in this race. had a mechanical and finished 2 minutes behind. best mechanical ever. also i don't do that race anymore
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Old 02-14-14, 05:39 PM   #14
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I knew what that link was without clicking on it.
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Old 02-14-14, 05:57 PM   #15
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Given that the technology now exists so that even local promoters can accurately place the top ten in a race - and I think we can all agree that the top ten is important - and that said technology ALSO allows the rest of the field to be accurately placed as well, why not?

There are a couple of assumptions here, one of which is reasonable and can be strongly defended, and one of which isn't.

The first, stronger one: that sprinting for places deep in the field is dangerous. I think there's a case here, but honestly I think it's so hopelessly dependent on the situation that making a generalization is foolish. The culprit for Cat 4s crashing at the end of bike races is that Cat 4s aren't great pack riders at any point in a race. Sprinting for 1st can be dangerous in a Cat 4 race, or any race, for that matter. Yeah, yeah, at least there's something at stake if you're in the placings. Right. A high placement in a Cat 4 race. If we're going to say that sprinting for 40th is important, where do we draw the line? Why is winning any local bike race worth the risk we assume? I'm with Fudgy on this one, judging guys who want to put in a strong finish is petty and low, and plenty of these deep-placement sprints are safe as can be.

Assumption two, the pitifully weak one: if we don't place riders past the money spots or the top ten, riders won't sprint for the deep placings. Can you guess what I think about this? Let me just make it 100% clear and say that I think perhaps 1% of the guys who sprint for 47th will be deterred by not getting a placement.

I think getting placements for every rider is nice. With more experience there is the eventual realization that, past a certain point, your placing is basically irrelevant. But early on, it really can be a way to mark progress or set goals. And even when you do have the experience to know it's meaningless, maybe you're in a small dropped group with a buddy and you sprint it out, and then having a placing means you can razz him about getting beaten back into 66th place by your killer sprint. Not to mention that a recorded result is a nice record to be able to come back to and remember a race. Given that we have the technology to place everyone, I only see it adding to the experience, not detracting. I see this grumbling about placing past the money as nothing so much as "back in my day" humbuggery. Technology changes the way we participate in the sport. Deal with it.
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Old 02-14-14, 06:35 PM   #16
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There was discussion at the NCNCA race promoter's meeting about using this placing technology for Nevada City to avoid having to pull lapped riders. But Nevada City is sort of a special case and a real headache for the officials.
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Old 02-14-14, 06:36 PM   #17
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What does winning prove if the field is weak?


I guess what irks me about this is that whenever it's asked "what's the point of XYZ" what is really being said is "I don't like XYZ."

That's fine, list some reasons. It seems like people think not placing people after a certain spot makes things safer. If that's true, that's a reason to consider making a change. But to rhetorically ask "what's the point" and expect people to come to the conclusion you've already drawn discounts that the point is "some people care".

Maybe Pros or experienced racers don't care about it (anymore), but that doesn't invalidate that the guy who does care about it. The guy who lost the race but still wants to do as well as he can and have a measure of that is deserving of a little respect. The fields are 2/3 full of guys who have zero chance at winning, but come out for the competition and the fun. Without them, racing would suck.
I like this perspective - good post.
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Old 02-14-14, 07:04 PM   #18
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sprinting for meaningless places is dangerous. NJ series long series gives out points to 20th. the race may only pay to 5th though, so you have guys sprinting for 15th and guys sitting up at 8th. dangerous.
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Old 02-14-14, 07:45 PM   #19
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What I'm asking is "WHY are riders so attached to the results well beyond the prize list?"

My point is not the safety of the finishes. That's a true concern, but it's not where I was going with this. Nor am I judging people trying to do their best, but I felt I should point out that they're sprinting against non-contenders as often as not.

I'm just trying to gather information on how strongly people feel about it. So far, it appears that it's heavily weighted in the Cat 4 and 5 fields.

I'm trying to develop a new feature for cycling, and I'm running into problems because of this single issue. I'll explain after I've gathered more info.
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Old 02-14-14, 07:47 PM   #20
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dunno. I won't sprint if I'm out of the money.
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Old 02-14-14, 07:48 PM   #21
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With the technology available to promoters today, they're able to provide race results for every single competitor no matter how far behind the leaders they finish. Or where in the pack they finish.
This gained popularity in MTB racing, and now it's a thing in road racing. It's what helps USAC provide rankings on their website.

My question: why does that matter?

We raced for years and years without knowing (or caring) who placed out of the prize list. You knew if you were in the pack or not. Who cares? But now it seems that we all have to know what our time was for a mass start event.

Am I alone on this? Or is this a waste of time and energy to provide those results?
Why are we so fixated on data that is utterly meaningless for a pack sport?

It's a fallacy to think that everyone is sprinting therefore the final results beyond 20th place have any validity.

I want to hear your responses before I explain where I would like to see the sport move instead.
I think this is an incomplete question, in that a meaningful answer can't be provided without more specific context.

For example, the OP mentions that MTB races are different and 19th vs 20th place can matter. I would argue that mass start HC's and CX races are similar. And very likely RR's with a lot of climbing, especially if they end on a mountain top, are also the same. Sprinting for 19th place in these sorts of races matters.

Any race where the prizes or points go deep...for instance here in CO the points for the season competition goes 20 deep or more in the big races...also indicate that sprinting for 19th matters.

From another perspective, experienced and/or advanced racers, or racers on a team, where they have a shot at winning, may only care whether they or their team wins or not. But for racers that don't think they or their team have a chance of winning, the challenge of the race is something different. For example, in a RR that's broken into a few groups, it can sometimes be the case, especially in lower cats, that a given group's members may not be competitive with the group(s) up the road, but within their own group they are, and that's really where the race is at for them, so to tell them sprinting against that group robs them of the race experience.

Suppose some guy isn't competitive in a field, but he enjoys sprinting, and/or wants to get better at it. Just because some other guy who often wins, but isn't going to in this race and therefore has decided to sit up, doesn't eliminate reasons why guys behind him might sprint.

Lastly, again in the lower cats, there is a wide variety of skills. It's entirely possible that a guy in the pack, but sprinting from 20th, pull off the win. To compound the issue, in the 4's, nobody knows who has this sort of potential, so to give up and not sprint is to perhaps deny oneself a shot at victory.

I think race finishes speak for themselves: just because sprinting for 20th is silly to some doesn't mean it's silly for all.

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Old 02-14-14, 07:55 PM   #22
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I personally sprint if I can for a place, even if the win/money is up the road. I virtually never make the break so if I get a chance to enjoy a sprint I'll do it. Last year I only finished 4? 5? races well enough to even think about sprinting, and only one after Bethel. I don't think I've ever sprinted for 48th but I've sprinted for 12th or so (in a 6 place race) and similar. I've also sprinted for 5th in a race where a 10 rider break was up the road, only to learn there was no break and I was in the money.

Also, for some sprints in the lower categories (3-4-5), it's possible to win or place top 3 in a sprint from 20 back at 400m to go, 200m if it's an uphill finish, or from last place in a field of say 80-90 riders with a mile to go. I've won and gotten second after being slightly off the back at the bell in a sub-mile crit course; I've gotten 2nd and 3rd launching from 20 back with 250 to go. I got 3rd and I was pretty much last in the field at 400m to go. Etc.

I sprint with my eyes up, looking down only to check my six or to see what the others around (behind) me are doing. Anyone sprinting with their head down is an idiot.

Most of the sprint crashes I've seen are pretty far up front, like in the first 6-8 riders. If you're 20th and not sitting up you may get away without crashing, but if you're sitting 8th or 10th then you're hitting the deck hard. My last fall in a race I was sitting 4th in the field when the guy in 3rd wheel swerved across the road. At Somerville in 2010 the guy in 6th swung across the road at maybe 400m to go, taking out a slew of riders. In Harlem 2010 the guy leading out the sprint crashed. I agree that crashes in the back don't have a great "reward for price paid" ratio but they're also typically a result of poor judgment in leaving room, in looking, in technique, etc. It's not just the place you get, it's also how you do it.

I also sit up in sprints. If I can't go I simply can't go, it's not like I plan on blowing up 10m from the line, it just happens. People behind me should be sprinting with their heads up.

Ironically pros will try harder now for a place than before because UCI points make the lower placings worth more. There was some complaining initially (when UCI points in whatever format made their mark - before that it was top 10 or so in the classics and a bit deeper in the Tours) that making the points deeper will make sprints more dangerous as well as encourage domestiques to hold something back so they have a decent finish. I think that's sort of the case now, although not to the extent it used to be (now that racers aren't free to super-dope themselves - that rule change happened around when EPO hit so it was a double whammy).

I firmly believe that all regular category races lapped riders should be pulled (meaning a Cat 5, 4, 3, any mix of 2-3 categories, etc race). For races that have a wide spread of abilities for Juniors and Women (typically Cat 1-4) where there are very few racers (nationally, regionally, locally, and at the race that day), lapped riders can usually be kept in the race without problem. Say field sizes 40 and under. Even if the field was totally blown apart, 8 groups of 5 riders, the officials should be able to keep track of them.
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Old 02-14-14, 08:03 PM   #23
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What I'm asking is "WHY are riders so attached to the results well beyond the prize list?"

My point is not the safety of the finishes. That's a true concern, but it's not where I was going with this. Nor am I judging people trying to do their best, but I felt I should point out that they're sprinting against non-contenders as often as not.

I'm just trying to gather information on how strongly people feel about it. So far, it appears that it's heavily weighted in the Cat 4 and 5 fields.

I'm trying to develop a new feature for cycling, and I'm running into problems because of this single issue. I'll explain after I've gathered more info.
This wasn't up when I started my response (nor anything below it).

People get involved with results because it's a metric measuring their performance. If a rider gets, say, 120th one year and 60th another then it shows some improvement in placing. It doesn't take into account much of anything else (120 out of 150 versus 60 out of 61 for example) but they're numbers and they work.

Personally I would put a "DNP" (Did Not Place) for my "non-contested finishes", meaning the finishes where I just roll across the line. 67th, 78th, it doesn't matter. In 2011, when I did the Cat 2 Somerville, I got caught behind a crash with a half lap to go. I rolled in sort of hard because I didn't want the Missus to worry about me being hurt but I was pretty slow, doing maybe 22-24 mph instead of the 28-30 mph the field was doing. A friend of mine, ahead of me in the field but slowed by the crash, took it easy as he had no one spectating. I was placed dead last I think and he was a DNF even though he was close behind me at the finish. He joked about being ripped off in terms of his finish.

For me DNP works as well as whatever I got that year. I looked. 67th out of 68 official finishers.
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Old 02-14-14, 08:51 PM   #24
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Are you the type to sprint for 40th place from the 5th chase group? If so: a) I don't want to finish anywhere near you, and b) not everyone out of the money is really racing any more, so how can your placing be any more useful than catching someone on the local MUP?
Valid point. For me, I would like to know where I was placed unless I get lapped.
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Old 02-14-14, 09:01 PM   #25
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1) If I finish 47th in this race, I want to finish 46th or better next race.
2) My buddy/rival finished 45th. How far was I behind him?
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