Monday, April 18, 2011

Records and Rules

The good news? Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest recorded marathon ever -- two hours, three minutes, and two seconds -- in today's Boston Marathon. The bad news?

The time is not considered a world record ... because the Boston course is not sanctioned as being record-eligible by the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field’s world governing body.

I.A.A.F. rules state that marathon records must be set on what is considered a loop course instead of a point-to-point course, meaning that the starting and finish lines cannot be farther apart than 50 percent of the race distance, or 13.1 miles. The Boston course starts in Hopkinton, Mass., 26.2 miles from the finish.

Times in races on point-to-point courses, even difficult rolling ones like Boston’s, can be significantly affected by a tail wind, which was the case Monday, when the wind was blowing 15 to 20 miles per hour.
... the overall decrease in elevation from the start to the finish cannot exceed one meter per kilometer, which comes out to about 138 feet. The Boston course drops about 470 feet.
The one time I had the privilege to run that course, it certainly didn't feel like a net elevation drop. World record or not, today saw an astounding performance --- staggering, astonishing, amazing, incredible -- and those barely approach it. Well done, Geoffrey Mutai. Records will be records, but this accomplishment stands well apart.

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