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21 Athletes.

20 Laps.

1 Eliminator.

Welcome to                         

history and purpose

The Eliminator was designed to be a track competition that can appeal to a wide range of runners; from the tough and gritty 800m speed demon to the smooth and steady 10,000m grinder.  It rejects the current standard of time chasing and focuses on competition only. Time means nothing. 

Will you be eliminated or will you be... The Eliminator?


Our first race (The Eliminator "Beta" - Summer '12) was put together in about 24 hours. After a busy track season and a few weeks talking about doing it... we said, "why not tomorrow?" We told a few of our running friends and some of the local coaches, the word spread, and the next day we had 26 local runners ready to duel it out... willing participants of the first ever Eliminator. It was a hodge-podge of the very fit and the not-so fit, young and old, male and female. After the race all of the competitors (even the first eliminated) had enjoyed the event and were excited to watch or compete in 2013.


Our second race (Summer '13) was announced 2 weeks prior to race day. Again, most of the advertising was word of mouth and the race included only local athletes. We did end up with enough entries to run a women's and men's race (though we had hopes of a boys H.S. and a men's open). We also added some awards (which were non-existent in year one... though nobody cared) including our lap winner award to give athletes motivation to compete during each individual lap. The ability and age of the groups were fairly diverse though the top group of athletes was greater in number than the "beta" year.


Now that we have been successfull at the local level our goal is to make this an event that runners from all over will be excited to compete in and watch. We want to create one race pitting recreational road racers together, another event bringing together serious track/road racers, and finally another that pits the best of the best against each other. How exciting would it be to see 10 of the best 10k runners trying to dry up the legs of 10 of the best 800m runners? Or to see if the speed of a miler is enough to best the strength of a 10k runner on the final lap?

We look forward to the race where every runner is of the same caliber and each lap is a mystery of who will survive. The race when every lap keeps you guessing about who might win or who might lose.

2022 Sponsors

who are we?

Mike Roberts is a mid-distance All-American from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI. He began his career at Hillsdale College focusing on track (800m) but running cross country to build strength and commradare. His career at Hillsdale was cut short by a hamstring injury but finished as a 3-time NAIA All-American in the 4x800m and DMR with a career best 1:53 for 800m. 

Upon graduation he decided to focus on teaching and sports adminsitration. Mike is currently the Assistant Headmaster/Athletic Director at Hillsdale Academy (a K-12 school founded and run by Hillsdale College) as well as the head girls and boys track coach. Mike has coached the track teams for the past 11 years and continues to press upon students how helpful track can be for the growth of the whole individual.


Michael Nikkila is a steeplechase and cross country All-American also from Hillsdale College. Michael began his career focused on both cross country and track (1500m). His final year at Hillsdale found him moving away from the 1500m and into the Steeplechase, the event in which he would earn his NCAA DII All-American honors. He ended his career at Hillsdale with a 9:07 best in the steeplechase as well as All-American honors in cross country and track (steeplechase).

After spending a year away from Hillsdale, he returned to Hillsdale College to help Coach Bill Lundberg as an assistant CC/Track coach. He eventually took a full-time position with Hillsdale Academy teaching math and physics as well as changing his coaching duties from the college to the high school level. Michael just finished his 2nd year as head CC coach and will be in his 5th year assisting Roberts on the track. He continues to compete in road/trail races as well as the occasional track meet and currently holds the title of... The Eliminator.

why The Eliminator?

The Eliminator is the brain child of Mike Roberts. As a middle distance man who enjoyed cross country, Mike always found himself lagging behind during CC workouts until he ran the HC staple: 20x1min with 1min jogging recovery. During this workout he found himself not only surviving the task but doing so among the best cross country runners on the team.

Since that day he has never forgotten the success he, a young 800m specialist, had among older 5k/10k specialists and wanted to find a race that gave both extrema a chance at victory. He needed to include the speed of the 800m runner with the strength of the 10k runner. The race would need to be long but have an aspect of speed. The five mile eliminator race has volume while the elimination provides the necessity for speed. An addition of a short recovery period provides both types of athletes the chance to use their strengths (speed to kick down opponents or strength to out run them) during each lap and still be prepared for the next...


Thus was born... The Eliminator.

so, what is The Eliminator?

The Basics

In the standard version of The Eliminator the race begins with 21 athletes whose goal is to never get last. The competitors run 20 laps of a track with an agreed upon recovery period (typically 90 sec) after each lap which begins immediatly after the first finisher crosses the finish line. The last finisher to cross that line is eliminated. Thus, the next lap begins with one less competitor.


The Start

Each lap begins using a waterfall start where positions on the line are determined on a first-come-first-serve bases. There is no rule governing how many must be in the first row, how many must be in each lane, or how many lanes must be filled. As long as each competitor starts the lap with his feet on the track and behind the starting line they are legal. It is the responsibility of the athletes to be on the track and at the starting line when each lap is begun.


The Starter gives athletes recovery time announcements with the last time announcement at 5 seconds after which a single command of "Go!" is given to start the lap.

The Double Variation.

The Mystery Variation.

The Fifteener... or Twelve-er.

With a competition field greater than 21, in order the maintain the 20 lap event some pre-determined laps will be chosen (and made public prior to the start of the lap) to eliminate the last two finishers.

With fewer than 21 athletes, in order to maintain the 20 lap event some pre-determined laps are chosen to be "mystery laps" where no athletes are eliminated. This is revealed only after the lap is completed.​

When a field is comprised of only a handful of athletes (i.e. less than 16) the number of laps to complete can be reduced to 15 or 12. This reduces the number of mystery laps (joy to some, not to others) and keeps the laps competitive.

what about awards?

Why run fast? Why win a lap? What's in it for me besides being the fastest and strongest distance runner around?


Lap Awards!

The winner of each lap receives an award from one of our many sponsors. These vary in value and content (clothing, gift cert, cash, etc) so each lap award is announced just prior to the start of that lap.


"Special" Awards!

An award is also given to the competitor who wins the most laps throughout the competition as well as the competitor who runs the fastest lap of the day whether that is the first, the last, or any in between.


Record Awards!

There are a number of possible records to be broken during each Eliminator and each one will be awarded. 

Fastest lap - the fastest lap ever run in a competitive Eliminator (based on Gender).

Most lap wins - the most laps won during a single event.



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