Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dumb marathon rules

Recently, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran a marathon that shattered the world record. His time of 2 hours and 25 seconds was more than two and a half minutes better than the old record.

But it won't count.


Because of dumb rules. The official sanctioning body said this race was run in too much of a "controlled environment". Well then. Let's look at some of the reasons they cited.

The temperature was a rather cool 52 degrees. Should that matter? Typically, the Boston Marathon, perhaps the most famous of them all -- is run in April. The temperatures in Beantown at that time of year are pretty cool as well.

The track was a consistent asphalt surface. What's wrong with that? They're not supposed to have to run over broken glass, through gravel, or a mine field -- though the latter would certainly add an element of suspense. BOOM!! "Oops, #52 seems to be experiencing some serious physical difficulty and has fallen off the pace." On second thought, nix that idea. We don't need that.

The authorities said Kipchoge had rotating pace-setters throughout the race to keep him clipping along at world-record pace. What difference does it make? It's still the same guy running the same distance. And besides, all marathoners wear watches to keep track of their times at certain points in the race.

Ah, but the pace-setters were in triangular formations behind the pace car (did they need a pace car when they have so many pace setters?), which broke the wind resistance for Kipchoge.

This is patently ridiculous. In NASCAR or Indy racing, closely tail-gating another car (drafting) has a lot to do with less wind resistance, hence the trailing car uses less horsepower -- and fuel -- to keep up. But that only comes in to play at high speeds. Do the math on how fast even a world class marathoner runs. Roughly 26 miles in roughly 2 hours. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that equates to about 13 MPH. A snail's pace by comparison. Does anybody really believe the atmosphere hasn't replaced itself in the time between when a lead runner breaks through it until the the following runner gets there? It takes a small fraction of a second at best. So scrap that stupid theory. It doesn't apply.

They said the track was level without sharp turns. If it's all downhill for 26 miles, that's one thing. But how much fairer could a level track be? And no sharp turns? Ever seen a sanctioned marathon yet without gradual sweeping changes of direction? It's not like these guys (and gals) are running pylon drills at the NFL combine. Let's toss that flimsy excuse too.

Oh, that's right. Kipchoge was wearing the latest in fancy athletic shoe technology. Well gee. Don't they think all high level football, hockey, baseball, basketball, tennis, and soccer players do the same thing? Hello? Would you disqualify one of them if they set a record? Of course not. Sure the gear keeps getting better. So what?

Thing is, it's only a matter of time before the two hour barrier in the marathon is broken. Ages ago, the four-minute mile was thought unattainable. That mark fell way back in the 1950s, and any decent miler routinely runs under it these days, sometimes by quite a bit.

There is also some serious hypocrisy afoot here. In certain races, a runner is deemed ineligible for any sort of record if they had too much wind at his/her back.

But what do you think would happen if an NFL place kicker booted a 70 yard field goal, shattering the existing record of 64, even though he had a 40 MPH tail wind helping his kick? Would they still count it?

You betcha they would.

So get rid of all these stupid rules. If somebody sets a record -- dammit -- it's a record.

Just because the conditions weren't conforming to archaic "standards" shouldn't matter one bit.

Somebody else will come along, at just the right time, and in optimum conditions themselves, to better it again.

Whoever thought funny cars and rails would run a quarter mile in under 4 seconds at speeds well over 300 MPH? Nowadays, it's routine.

In other words, in the time it takes the texting nitwit in front of you to realize the light has turned green and it's time to go, the hot rod folks have already run a full quarter mile. Pretty incredible when one stops to think about it. Their gear keeps getting better too. Hear anybody ever objecting to THAT?

So spare me the nit-picking details, rules, and regs about how Eliud Kipchoge's marathon time wasn't "official". The dude ran the same distance in, by far, the fastest time ever. And nary a whisper about any sort of performance enhancing drugs being in play. You just KNOW he got tested both before and after the race.

He set a record and it should count as such. Period.

So what's the problem?

Maybe they should start drug testing the people that keep coming up with all these silly rules.

2:00:25 is getting close to knocking on the door of the once unheard of two hour mark.

A mere 25 seconds -- or probably roughly the time it takes a marathoner to run the length of your average soccer field. Over the course of 26+ miles, it doesn't seem like much at all.

Oh yeah, it's going to happen someday......

No comments:

Post a Comment