Planning an RTB team begins the second you register, if not before. But let’s be honest: After that, there’s a lot of thinking, speculating, and guessing about how things will turn out. Until you can start assigning names to legs, it just doesn’t feel 100-percent real. Well, this year’s maps are out. It’s time to get started.
Making out your lineup is more art than science. Still, I like to start out with some simple math to break down the legs by perceived level of difficulty, then finesse as needed. Once I’ve got a ranking, then I’ll begin penciling in names for each, while also canvassing my team to get their thoughts. Some people might like being early in the rotation, others might like (or, more likely, dislike) hills. A variety of personal preferences can help you iron out a final lineup.
But right now we’re still at step 1. After a first pass at the maps, I ranked them 1 through 36 (1 being the hardest). Then I tallied the scores for each of the 12 sets. Below is the chart I ended up with. As you can see, the result is almost—but not quite—the same as you’d get by simply sorting the legs by mileage.
Here’s what I took into account:
- Length of leg
- Which rotation leg is in
A flat 6 miler in the third rotation ranks as harder than 6 miles at the beginning of the race, for example. In many cases, these legs are quite close to each other in level of difficulty, and that’s where your teammates’ personal preferences can come into play.
I did make one tweak after calculating the rankings: Runner’s 6 and 7 have very similar sets of legs, with #7 ranking as slightly harder. But by virtue of Runner 6’s final leg being more difficult, I moved it up a notch.
I’d be curious to know whether all of you agree or disagree with this breakdown.