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Running up a grade

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    Rolf Boswell

    Had an issue at recent NISS that was unclear.  A school had 2 x Intermediate girls and 1 x Junior Boys.  They wanted to enter a team in Intermediate girls.
    Before I had to make a decision on this, they agreed to run in Intermediate Boys which is obviously acceptable.
    so do you reckon a Junior Boy can run officially in the Intermediate Girls or even Senior Girls grade?


    Roger Woodroofe

    The case you mention as obviously acceptable fits in the rules as NZOF Rule 5.1 states “Competitors are divided into classes according to their sex and age. Women may compete in men’s classes.”

    This rule is the reason why some online entry forms which are “designed to limit entries to valid classes only” will for women competitors, display all valid women classes for the competitors age and then all the valid mens classes for entry. For male competitors, only the mens classes are selectable. Relays are a little different, but the rules still apply.

    I ‘m personally not aware of how the suggested case would be within the current rules.



    Hugh Forlong-Ford

    The thing to do, Rolf, would be to look at runners who finished in the top ten in IG and compare them with top ten JB runners over the same course. You can do this by identifying runners from the same club and look at their head to head results on the same course.

    Fortunately, I have done this for you (very quickly – I used only a handful of runners). I can e-mail you the results if you want because it identifies who I analysed but I don’t want to publish it all here.

    I will let you know that in sprint races, top 10 JB outperform top 10 IG by about 2:30 while top 10 IB outperform top 10 SG by a similar margin – this is about 10% of winning time. Over longer, rural courses, the margin grows out to about 10 minutes in both cases – again sround 10%.

    I think it would be daft to let JB compete in IG relays or IB compete in SG relays. Your solution was, as always, the correct one.


    Rolf Boswell

    I won’t try and out-analyse Mr Analysis… so thanks for doing it HFF!  Seems that allowing Boys to run in official Girls relay teams is not likely to be fair.
    Not likely to be very common… just the sort of thing a Controller doesn’t need under pressure 30min prior to the start of the relay!!!



    Rolf,  thanks, it was appreciated  for that last minute change. The team was happy with their unexpected grade result.

    The decision made may have been an obvious  choice, for those who are experienced in the subtleties of each grade, but you will find common thinking reasonably assumes;  if girls can run up  the equivalent grade boys then boys would be able to run up to next grade girls.  This logic is from the simple fact that each level is a longer distance, steeper and sometimes with more controls, and therefore harder.  It is quite a revelation that the grades apparently work the way HFF says.

    My solution is briefly set out rule 5.1 in all entry forms,  I don’t think you will ever get all the team managers to fully read, and comprehend the NZOF rules.  Also read the entry forms carefully, (Iknow this is a huge job), but my wording on the form was “Relay team – mixed – two intermediate girls and one junior boy”  – this was your opportunity to fix the problem before the pressure was on for all concerned.

    So next year when I say a team of JB, IG and SG what is the solution?


    Hugh Forlong-Ford

    First of all, I prefer hughff – HFF sounds like the start of a number plate.

    Anyway… Tim, I don’t think the decision was obvious – I was surprised by the size of the results discrepencies and, as I indicated, it was hardly a robust sample size. However it did show that Rolf was correct in his solution.

    Including the rule (girls can run in the boys’ grade) in the form is a good idea as it is a mere seven words and you won’t be the only person who will have this issue. To be honest, I’ve had a similar coversation wih PaulTS and he and I were both of the opinion that the sexes were segregated so I was surprised when RogerW found the rule that said exactly the opposite. Paul will no doubt exploit this in future.

    I don’t think writing “mixed team” on the form will work well as organisers, especially at smaller clubs, are quite frazzled by the amount they have to do and will miss it.You just have to enter the team in the correct grade. And, under current rules as quoted by RogerW, a team of JB, IG and SG must enter Senior BOYS. So good luck with that. 😀


    Rolf Boswell

    Actually I don’t think it was my solution…at the time I was becoming unsure of my own name, so memory is a little hazy. I put the post up as a general discussion topic as I can’t even remember which school… so I am amused that I struck gold with Tim being on this forum!

    There was a constant stream of issues over the 3 days that required such decisions.  My unofficial rule was that that request was acceptable if the competitor ended up winning AND I could look the other competitors in the eye and tell them the situation was fair.  I suspect there is too much uncertainty re boys running in a girls relay grade to pass this simple test.

    One of the joys (challenges) of such events is that the team managers often are very experienced at these events and get to know all the rules very well.  However the organising club officials are likely to be far less knowledgeable and yet they are expected to make a ruling!

    Perhaps at that major school champs it is important that a ‘school rules’ expert is in attendance to assist the event co-ordinators /controllers with such situations. Linda S was a great help at the NISS event with the various interschool points etc. The ‘expert’ doesn’t have to be the NZ O School Co-ordinator but could be anyone with suitable experience.  Of course finding an attendee who is not aligned to a school and is therefore neutral could be a challenge!

    I reckon this sort of issue is only becoming  an an issue due to the increasing size and competitiveness of these events…. and that is a really nice problem!




    It was pure luck that I found this forum – I only found the web site and stumbled on “running up a grade”, the day before I made the post!   I have to agree with your unofficial rule, I think that was how I was rationalising your decision at the time.



    The program is clear on this matter – no decision required. Mixed teams are NOT ALLOWED unless they run as composite teams. See the actual NZSSSC wording below. One reason is that some schools don’t have girls an boys available to select and therefore it is not fair for that reason alone. In the same way that Year 7 and 8 are not allowed to run up. NZOF rules are used unless specifically overridden as in this case.

    From the program:
    Teams: Official teams are made up of students, of the same gender and from
    the same school, who are eligible to compete in the class. Year 7/8
    pupils may not run up to form official teams with secondary school
    pupils. Teams with Year 7/8 and Secondary School pupils may compete
    as unofficial teams.
    To cater for students who are not able to be placed in a school team,
    composite teams will be made up. These teams will run unofficially (ie.
    their team placings will not be recognised in the school team
    competition) and will be denoted with the letters NC.



    Hi Dwayne, where can we find said wording?


    Hugh Forlong-Ford

    Thanks Dwayne. That does confirm the belief PaulTS and I had.


    Rolf Boswell

    Well spotted Dwayne.  Are you a lawyer by chance 🙂

    Tim:  this is in the event programme which is still on the event website      (Pg 12)

    So in actual fact a team from the same school containing boys and girls must run unofficial.  I am not sure I fully agree with that, but I guess it does keep everything clear and avoids such complications that caused me to start this discussion!



    The rule was introduced circa 2001 as it was deemed unfair that co-ed schools could fill an extra spot in a relay team, whilst single-sex schools couldn’t. Geoff M has a comprehensive understanding of the pros/cons and why it was implemented. I think there was a strong co-ed school that couldn’t field a full SB relay team or something like that.

    I don’t personally agree with this as an event-specific rule. I can’t see there being any unfair advantage in having girls running in a boys relay, but it wouldn’t work the other way around. This is backed by the fact that, for example, the SB course is longer than the SG course.

    It’s also really hard to get consensus and make change happen… Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


    • This reply was modified 7 years, 1 month ago by Martin.

    I thought I had commented on this, but cannot see – apologies if this is a second post saying the same thing…

    I support the choice made to allow the mixed team to run officially, and if there is any way we can permit this to happen by default I think it would be beneficial.  Mixed schools are disadvantaged in several ways within the system.  For example: 1) they will need to have a larger team overall to get the same number of boys as a boys school & same number of girls as a girls school.  Being mixed does not mean the school if larger over all. 2) I believe that their team entry overall is considered, so that they tend to fall out of the small teams competition.

    Specifically in the relay, I speak from experience that making up relay teams is frustrating.  A couple of years back we bought I think it was 13 people to one of the school champs, but had to have 4 runners in non-competitive teams (2 boys, 2 girls). A single sex school would manage to only have 1 left over.  The kids feel somewhat left out when they are not competitive.



    Regarding #2, the girls and boys small teams competition is separate and I believe these would be treated separately when it came to determining the small teams.

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