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scratch and handicap races


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  • scratch and handicap races

    Id like to get some information on the history of the handicapped race. I can imagine that it was useful for country/county fair races where there was a need to have a competitive race with few participants. But we find even high level competitive races organized with handicaps right into the 20th century and persisting even to this day in Australia. Fist question was the handicap always given as an advantage (shortening of) distance to the weaker runner, or would the handicap be against the stronger runner with the weaker running the named distance.
    ... nothing really ever changes my friend, new lines for old, new lines for old.

  • #2
    As far as I am aware, the longest distance run was always the nominal race distance with slower runners running less than the full distance. In many races no runner ran the full distance (ie from scratch) because none were considered fast enough. This is not to say overdistance handicaps never happened but I have not read anything about this alternate approach.

    There were certainly instances where the handicapping was on time and all athletes ran the full distance, however, this is much more difficult to administer, especially with shorter distances.


    • #3
      In Scotland handicap races have been popular in both amateur and professional versions of the sport before 1992 and have remained popular in the open era since 1992. In all cases the maximum distance run has been that of the published distance, e.g. in a 100m race no-one runs more than 100m. The 'scratch' athlete always runs the full distance and everybody else runs the same or less.


      • #4
        In some Australian results I've seen from the turn of the century, the usual handicaps are given eg:

        * Smith (3y) = running 97y in a 100y race

        but I've also seen in the same races

        * Jones (owes 2y) where Jones would be the notional favourite.

        So I've assumed this meant Jones might have been running 102y.

        In Australian races, a false start means a penalty of additional distance so the scratch runner can potentially go back behind the scratch mark.

        Be interested if anyone else has further clarification of how these rules changed through the years.