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August 24, 2017

I let you simulate a HS XC race via Google Form; here’s what happened.

A few days ago, I asked you on Twitter to help me stage a hypothetical high school cross country race via a low-tech, data-input-fueld “simulator” I made in Google Forms.

You got to choose your runner’s name, team (it was a quad meet between the Dirt Hawks, the Flat Worms, the Tattlers, and The Wild Hogs II), and how fast to run each mile of the three mile race.

In a sense, it was the worst sports video game ever created. But 110 of you decided to play anyway. Here’s how the race panned out.


Intentions

I thought it would be best to keep the range of possible outcomes for each athlete extremely realistic. After all, why do people play video games if not to experience highly probably scenarios from the perspective of a mildly different person? As such, the fastest possible time you could hit was 15:00 for three miles, run off of a 30-second-per-mile positive split (4:30, 5:00, 5:30) in true high school harrier fashion.

However, you could also test the waters by running substantially slower. That’s what I did with my character (“Short Bobby,” who placed 104th, running 20:00 the hard way after going out in 4:30). At the time, I figured more folks would run their virtual races similarly. Boy, was I wrong.


The battle upfront

Right off the bat, I realized I’d made a series of errors. For starters, there are only so many possible outcomes within the confines of the few race mile splits I’d afforded challengers. I also didn’t implement a character limit on athlete names.

So what we got was a monstrosity of a race.

Twenty athletes ostensibly tied for the win. That’s right. Twenty of you thought the best use of this emergent technology was to just blast the race simulator from the gun and run 15:00. That said, per the Google Sheet I extrapolated from the Form data, this apparent blanket of 20 finishers did in fact yield a clear victor, and somehow it also ordered the other 19 15:00-finishers into a tidy list by some metric I didn’t bother to look up.

So congratulations to Justin, representing the Flat Worms, who was the meet’s overall champion, on what must have been one hell of lean. (Justin has no last name–this was a common phenomenon: last names were rarely given. Maybe most fictional high school athletes in our imagined region are like Cher and have only one name, or perhaps they’re just very into the idea of personal privacy in defiance of the ever encroaching tentacles of the surveillance state.)

After Justin, things quickly heated up in the team battle, as three Wild Hogs II finishers (Mo Farah, aa, and HC) crossed in spots two through five. In fact, the Hogs pushed seven finishers into the top 20, securing a decisive win with just 24 team points.

It’s worth pointing out that both the Flat Worms’ and Dirt Hawks’ top five scoring runners also crossed the line in 15:00. Team scoring for all but the woeful Tattlers was determined by a series of nanoseconds. But while the Tattlers largely shat the bed, their top two runners compensated with star power, as the squad was led by Steve Prefontaine and Michael Scott.


The rest of the race

After my initial shock over how 20 of you abused–by my estimation–the power of this simulation to generate some pretty unfeasible results, I figured out why things played out the way they did. Video games are a form of escapism for many. And winning is hard to come by for the layperson. I can’t remember the last time I won something. I’d imagine most of you are in a similar boat. So you tried to outsmart your peers by simulating as fast a race as possible. That makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense then, if we are to view this experiment through the lens of gaming-as-a-means-of-escapism, is why so many of you chose to run a perfectly average, believable race. Evander Malkovich, of the Flat Worms ran 6:00, 6:00, 5:30, for a completely sensible 17:30 finish. While I respect and appreciate the commitment to keeping things rooted in reality, I’m somewhat troubled by folks like Evan and their willingness to be a cog in this sort of worthless thought experiment.

This whole thing was a farce. Going forward, any running simulations will allow for more participant customization to avoid onslaughts of ties, and the sort of names selected by our 12th and 84th finishers. Here are the final, dumb results.

I’m sorry.

Final results

Team Score
Wild Hogs II 24
Flat Worms 51
Dirt Hawks 56
Tattlers 142

 

what is your name? which team are you on? how fast do you run your first mile how fast do you run your second mile how fast do you run your third mile Total time Place
Justin flat worms 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 1
Mo Farah wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 2
aa wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 3
HC wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 4
Augie dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 5
Steve Prefontaine tattlers 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 6
Julio Montoya wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 7
Danny Napora wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 8
Mike Slack flat worms 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 9
Taylor dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 10
Matthew hahn dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 11
Aragorn son of Arathorn son of Arador son of Argonui son of Arathorn son of Arassuil son of Arahad son of Aravorn son of Aragost son of Arahad son of Araglas son of Aragorn son of Aravir son of Arnuir son of Arahael son of Aranarth son of Arvedui son of Araphant son of Aravel son of Arveleg son of Arvegil son of Angeleb son of Araphor son of Arveleg son of Angeleb son of Malvegil son of Celebrindor son of Celepharn son of Mallor son of Beleg son of Amlaith of Fornost son of Eärendur son of Elendur son of Valandur son of Tarondor son of Tarcil son of Arantar son of Eldacar son of Valandil son of Isildur son of Elendil, High King of all of the Dúnedain flat worms 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 12
Bo dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 13
United States flat worms 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 14
Saul Pnyder flat worms 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 15
Matt wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 16
Ben dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 17
South Africa Gatorade Runner of the Year dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 18
Michael Scott tattlers 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 19
Tom wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:00:00 20
Micha Ingebritsen flat worms 4:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 21
Benard Legat dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 22
Nick wild hogs 2 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 23
Stoogie tattlers 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 24
steven wild hogs 2 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 25
Cade dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 26
Russel Westbroom dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 27
Captain Hennessy wild hogs 2 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 28
Riptwix dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 29
Aiden flat worms 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 30
Josh dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 31
Gabe dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 32
Breydon wild hogs 2 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 33
HurricaneP dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 34
Justin dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 35
dylan dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 36
Evan dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 37
Tyler Clark dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 15:30:00 38
Alex wild hogs 2 5:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 39
Kyler Ting flat worms 5:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 40
Ryan wild hogs 2 5:00:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 41
monkey dirt hawks 5:00:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 42
Luke flat worms 4:30:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 43
Tad McSuperfast dirt hawks 4:30:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 44
Jham wild hogs 2 5:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 45
Matt Parker tattlers 5:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 46
Addybby tattlers 5:00:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 47
Kieron conway dirt hawks 5:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 48
Brianne of Tarth tattlers 5:00:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 49
EA wild hogs 2 5:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 16:00:00 50
Colinbine tattlers 5:00:00 5:00:00 6:00:00 16:00:00 51
Matty Ice wild hogs 2 5:00:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 52
Josh tattlers 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 53
Jacob Gray wild hogs 2 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 54
Ricky Martin dirt hawks 4:30:00 6:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 55
Cornman dirt hawks 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 56
William Anderson wild hogs 2 5:00:00 5:30:00 6:00:00 16:30:00 57
Tu Faust dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:30:00 6:30:00 16:30:00 58
Jacob tattlers 5:00:00 5:30:00 6:00:00 16:30:00 59
Pablo sanchez wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:30:00 6:30:00 16:30:00 60
Dirk Vetter flat worms 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 61
Daniel R dirt hawks 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 62
Joe dirt hawks 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 63
Stuart wild hogs 2 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 64
Why is this so fun flat worms 5:00:00 5:30:00 6:00:00 16:30:00 65
Adam dirt hawks 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 66
Chris tattlers 5:30:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 16:30:00 67
Bill dirt hawks 6:00:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 17:00:00 68
Fursnatch flat worms 5:30:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 17:00:00 69
Dirk Diggler wild hogs 2 6:30:00 5:00:00 5:30:00 17:00:00 70
Galen Rupp jr. tattlers 5:00:00 6:30:00 5:30:00 17:00:00 71
Chad dirt hawks 4:30:00 6:00:00 6:30:00 17:00:00 72
Adam dirt hawks 6:00:00 5:30:00 5:30:00 17:00:00 73
Kirk Vetter flat worms 5:30:00 5:30:00 6:00:00 17:00:00 74
Bryan Turner flat worms 4:30:00 6:00:00 6:30:00 17:00:00 75
Ian Leavitt dirt hawks 5:30:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 17:00:00 76
Tobert wild hogs 2 5:30:00 5:00:00 6:30:00 17:00:00 77
Jeffrey Koehler tattlers 6:00:00 5:00:00 6:00:00 17:00:00 78
Halftite W. Up wild hogs 2 4:30:00 7:30:00 5:30:00 17:30:00 79
dirty d flat worms 4:30:00 7:30:00 5:30:00 17:30:00 80
Brad Zit flat worms 5:00:00 7:00:00 5:30:00 17:30:00 81
Evander Malkovich flat worms 6:00:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 17:30:00 82
Craig Butz flat worms 4:30:00 5:30:00 7:30:00 17:30:00 83
The a—– kid from the Wild Thornberries flat worms 4:30:00 7:30:00 5:30:00 17:30:00 84
chris maienza flat worms 5:30:00 6:00:00 6:00:00 17:30:00 85
Zach wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:30:00 7:30:00 17:30:00 86
Triv dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 17:30:00 87
Bj dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 17:30:00 88
pablo sanchez wild hogs 2 4:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 17:30:00 89
Ted dirt hawks 4:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 17:30:00 90
Fuck boi Jones flat worms 4:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 17:30:00 91
Sasquatch tattlers 6:30:00 6:00:00 5:30:00 18:00:00 92
Roid Sharpley tattlers 5:30:00 6:00:00 6:30:00 18:00:00 93
Skylar wild hogs 2 4:30:00 7:30:00 6:00:00 18:00:00 94
will dirt hawks 6:00:00 6:00:00 6:00:00 18:00:00 95
Skinnyfat dirt hawks 5:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 18:30:00 96
Jane Ebooger flat worms 5:30:00 6:30:00 6:30:00 18:30:00 97
Daniel Dingleberries tattlers 5:30:00 5:00:00 8:00:00 18:30:00 98
Galen flat worms 5:00:00 6:00:00 8:00:00 19:00:00 99
Usain Bolt tattlers 5:00:00 6:30:00 8:00:00 19:30:00 100
Hugh Jaynus dirt hawks 4:30:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 20:00:00 101
Pre dirt hawks 4:30:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 20:00:00 102
Boobs flat worms 4:30:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 20:00:00 103
short bobby dirt hawks 4:30:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 20:00:00 104
Maryland Gatorade Runner of the Year flat worms 7:00:00 7:30:00 5:30:00 20:00:00 105
Johnny Bravo II wild hogs 2 7:00:00 7:00:00 7:00:00 21:00:00 106
Turd Ferguson wild hogs 2 7:00:00 7:00:00 7:00:00 21:00:00 107
Sad Boy flat worms 7:00:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 22:30:00 108
RJ dirt hawks 6:00:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 21:30:00 109
Sad Boy flat worms 7:00:00 7:30:00 8:00:00 22:30:00 110
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