The South Coast Grand Prix (SCGP) was started in September 1994 with a goal of providing an incentive for members to compete in the Race of the Month. Editor’s Note: The Grand Prix was Mike Friedl’s idea, but he is not one to brag about that. Although as explained below scoring is based on race performance, Mike’s primary goal was to create a system heavily weighted to participation. “Show up and don’t get zero” became the Grand Prix mantra.
The age-graded SCGP scoring system provides a level playing field for disparate ages, genders and distances. Concluding each season in June provided a natural set of awards to distribute at the Recognition Banquet. The first season was a best 8-of-10 format, and each subsequent year was best 9-of-12 format until the 2020 pandemic shortened the 26th season to nine races. The 27th season will also be curtailed, the number of races dependent on the pandemic.
Scoring is fairly simple: Each June, we get an updated list of American Road Records (ARR) for all age groups from USATF. At a Club Race, the ARR is divided into member’s performance and multiplied by 1,000 to provide a whole number of points. This means a time equal to the ARR would earn 1,000 points. A time exactly double the ARR would equal 500 points and so on.
To say SCRR and the SCGP have impacted the local racing scene would be an understatement. In the first 26 seasons, 613 different runners have completed nearly 10,000 races. Scoring competitively requires consistency. The best 9-of-12 format allows a runner to miss or drop only three races each year (the number of points after dropping races is called the “net points”). That requires planning and injury avoidance. The great Lois Edds won the very first SCGP with only seven races (one fewer than the max that year). In the 25 years since, there has never been another winner who didn’t run at least the max number of net races.
An unexpected benefit of SCGP scoring is the cycling of runners through age groups as they enter the Masters ranks. “Aging up” matches a runner’s performances against an older, and presumably slower, ARR. This provides a boost in point scoring for the first year or two in a new age group, settling as that runner progresses through that age group. This results in a healthy churn of peaks and valleys. There are certainly many familiar faces in the Top 20 each year, but there is always a smattering of new faces.
Winning the SCGP is incredibly difficult. One needs to be fast relative to his or her age group and competitive in at least nine races each year.
Thru 2019-2020, 26 seasons have been won by nine runners:
5x Lois Edds
5x Bob Morris
5x Sherri Ellerby
4x Fred Cowles
2x Dave Parsel
2x Mike Connors
1x David Schiller
1x John Gardiner
1x Leilani Rios
The All-Time SCGP points list is a veritable who’s who of SCRR membership. In May 2020, two-time winner Mike Connors became the tenth runner to top 100,000 career points. 2007 winner David Schiller leads all contenders with 182,000 points in 233 races over 24 seasons.
The top-scoring couple is Cathy Shargay and Ken Atterholt. They are the only couple with both members >100,000 points so their 272,000-point total vastly exceeds all others.
The SCGP has provided structure and friendly competition to SCRR for more than a quarter century. Indeed the format has been copied by at least three other clubs. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we were honored when USATF’s Southern Section called and asked for permission to copy the SCGP, and they asked for advice on best practices for everything from scoring to selecting races.