The 13th annual Flagstaff Summer Run Series is in the books.

Congratulations to all 182 participants and especially Michelle Wesson and Chris Gomez who defended their titles. Beyond that we had quite a shakeup in the standings.

Grand Masters winners were Kent Haugerud and Annette Adams; Masters champions Sara Wagner and Will Drexler (Will was the only repeat); and finally in the Open, Aaron Biah and Stephanie Hunt.

For me, the most memorable moment was the thrilling Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon finish. While Anthony Masayesva cruising to the victory was impressive, it was the race for second that really turned heads. As the large crowd lining Aspen Street looked westward, two of Flagstaff’s racing icons were in a dead heat. It was like watching Wild Kingdom with two gazelles stride for stride, barreling at the speed of light toward the Run Flagstaff finish line.

It seemed only fitting that the last two Flagstaff Summer Series champions, Gomez and Nick Arciniaga, tied for second at the 40th edition of Flagstaff’s oldest footrace.

Perhaps the most noteworthy record was that 26 runners competed in all seven races. Thanks to our non-traditional scoring system based on percentile finish, they gave themselves an edge up on their competition. When we first developed the Series standings formula in 2005, who knew back then of its complexities? Well, for one, I did.

To simplify, only the best three percentile finishes of the races count. This subtle but significant twist means that even if your competition beats you in more matchups, you have a decent chance to rank higher, especially if you have a high performance in a race where they do not participate

This is because the standings are based on placement against the whole field, not finishing time at each race. Consistency and always outkicking as many runners as possible down the stretch is the key.

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The formula also gives heavier scoring weight to races with larger participation, often wreaking havoc on the standings. For example, if a runner finishes in 10th place from a field of 100, their score is 0.9000 (1 minus 10/100)) whereas a 10th place finish in a race of 200 participants is 0.9500 (1 minus 10/200)). So running stronger against a finishing field of 200 yields a much higher score. Run below your average percentile finish, your score is lower.

Again, this is where a strong finish at every race counts. Despite all the camaraderie that our Summer Series fosters, every person passed at the end matters.

Much thanks to Gail Hughes for voluntarily offering her database management skills to tackle these complexities. For the first several years I did the scoring in spreadsheets always battling the “Butterfly Effect,” endlessly making updates when errors to a specific race arose. Gail took the formula, applied it across the database of Series results, doing so even when she had moved away from Flagstaff for a couple of years!

Registration for the 14th annual Flagstaff Summer Series will open around Thanksgiving with early-bird pricing and structure that will be the same as last year. As most of you know, the value of the series and the camaraderie it fosters is priceless. In the meantime, you can relive the summer races with results and photographs all posted on

Neil Weintraub has voluntarily coordinated the Flagstaff Summer Series since its inception in 2005. Once a math major, he graduated from Grinnell College with an anthropology degree, so the Series formula and its vagaries play right into his lifelong obsession with numbers. He also co-founded Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association 16 years ago and invites anyone to join NATRA on their Saturday social group runs. Visit and click on next run.

Myles Schrag is coordinating editor for High Country Running. He invites submissions on any aspect of the local running scene, as well as submissions for the “To Imogene: A Flagstaff Love Letter” book project. He can be reached at


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