A lot of people have asked me about this year's Nike Cross Southwest versus last year. "Was it really that much slower this year?"
Well, it depends on what you mean by "that much," but there was definitely a difference, and this year was clearly slower than last year. I've documented that claim with some data below. I took the top 200 returning runners (boys) from last year and compared their times last year straight across to their times this year. And, remember, this is without allowing for any year-to-year progression for these athletes.
Below the listing of individuals, you'll find a summary of boys times (from all states) in 2015 versus boys times in 2016. Following that, you'll find the same summary comparison for girls. I think you'll see what I mean when I say this year definitely ran slower than last year.
Why would that be? The most obvious place to look is the weather report. The funny thing is, though, except for the wind, weather conditions were very similar for the two days in question. Slightly warmer in 2016 than 2015.
The course was muddy in a few places this year, but not muddy as a general characteristic. Most places were firm. There was, however, plenty of wind and airborne dust in 2016 that wasn't there in 2015. I suspect therein lies much of the explanation we are looking for, but I don't know how to break that down but what contributed and how much.
In any case, the time data has a tale to tell:
Interestingly, the summary data is somewhat less telling for the girls: