Author Topic: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?  (Read 7265 times)

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Offline Ryan

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Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« on: April 23, 2011, 04:09:51 PM »
There has been a lot of talk this week about how much aid the wind was at Boston, whether or not Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02 should be considered a world record, and so on. Well, to be clear, I fall in the camp of it being significantly aided and not worthy of a world record.

For a good recap on why I feel this way, someone with better credentials than I has written a solid reply here to the one "scientific" claim that Mutai's run wasn't "excessively" aided. Let me state it more simply. The ARRS says Mutai benefited by about 1:37 by the wind and claims that wasn't significant aid. That means, without the wind, he runs 2:04:39, 40 seconds short of the world record. With the wind, he breaks the world record by 57 seconds. That's not significant aid? That's a world record worthy run?

There's a reason for criteria for record-eligible courses. Boston is not record-eligible and Monday is a perfect example of why.

At least I think I'm coming up with a sense of what might make for a good May poll.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2011, 05:52:03 PM »
Duh, quite obviously significantly aided!  8)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 05:54:57 PM by Andrew A. »
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2011, 07:25:57 PM »
Significantly, excessively, whatever term you want to throw in here. Not that it wasn't a great run, it just shouldn't even be part of the discussion of the world record because it was quite obviously very much aided. I just keep going back to the fact that ARRS estimates a 1:37 benefit but then claims that's not excessive aid. 1:37 is the difference between a world record by 57 seconds and the 6th fastest marathon all time. At the world class level, that's significantly excessive aid.

Offline Charlene

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2011, 07:31:03 PM »
I would vote aided too but still think that it was an amazing performance.  A great day for the sport of running.   

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2011, 07:54:37 AM »
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
‎"There is no such thing as an overachiever. We are all underachievers to varying degrees." - John Wooden.

Offline Ryan

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2011, 08:12:29 AM »
To me, that goes too far in the opposite direction. It's about as ridiculous as the acceptance of Mutai's run as a WR, knowing full well (or being naive enough to actually not know) that it isn't.

A marathon is 42.195km (within the tolerance, of course). Period. End of story. Boston qualifies as a marathon. Period. End of story. A record eligible marathon must meet the other criteria. That's where Boston has the problem.

The issue isn't that Boston isn't a marathon. The issue is that Boston is aided. Geb's WR needs no asterisk. Whoever breaks his WR also needs no asterisk. If anything, Mutai's Boston run is the one that needs the asterisk. It also needs a lot of people to accept the facts - he would not have run under 2:04 without the aid the wind (and net downhill) provided on that day.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2011, 08:45:06 AM »
I see some fair points, both in the blog post and in the comments below.  The fact that the BAA submitted the performance for official WR consideration is simply ridiculous.  What would people say to the officials in Seoul submitting Ben Johnson's 100m time for official WR consideration in the face of his doping offenses?  If the performance is knowingly ineligible due to outside aid, it flies in the face of decency and dignity to apply for record consideration. 

If the sport has evolved then it might be time to add the record-worthy criteria to course standards -- otherwise, it remains more of a circus sideshow.  You know that any 10,000m run on a standardized track (in the absence of lap miscounts, doping, etc.) stands up to comparison with any other 10,000m run on a standardized track.  Of course weather conditions and surface material can have an effect, just like road surface, number of turns, etc. can have an effect in road racing -- there will be room for variance yet there is clearly room to cut down on that margin significantly.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 09:03:13 AM by Andrew A. »
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 09:21:48 AM »
Well, I think submitting it for WR consideration is ridiculous and I hope it is slapped down with the vigor it deserves.

However, as for the rest, I'd say it is more reason to go back to the world where we didn't have road world records than to declare that the Boston Marathon, the oldest annual marathon in the world, can no longer call itself a marathon. I understand that the world changes but tradition and history also matter. Boston is the birthplace of the annual big city marathon.

I think people just have to understand, some marathons such as Boston are different and some of those differences make them ineligible for records. Even on the track, sprint times and some field event performances are ineligible for record consideration depending on the wind.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 10:19:52 AM »
Of course it will be slapped down with sufficient vigor -- the point is that the BAA folks had the stones to even submit in the first place is a significant statement.  I see the blog post as deserved push-back against that fatuousness.

I know I often must seem like a NYC honk, yet I think of ING NYCM as the true birthplace of the annual big city marathon.  Boston has clearly been around much longer yet it has never been at a level that NYC has enjoyed.  The fact that Fukuoka was long considered the de facto marathon world championships (either establishing that distinction or usurping it from Boston) tells me that, as well.

Hey, marathons such as St. George are "different" as well -- yet how many of us with a background in the sport look askance at people who claim PRs from courses with profiles akin to St. George's?  Does anyone feel the same regarding those claiming marathon PRs coming out of 2011's race?  Why or why not?  Falmouth is certainly different and has history yet the organizers do not try to score cheap publicity by pushing for record status (a la "well, typical weather conditions make the course more like a 12K for the average runner" or some such)  in situ.  Better standardization of race courses would help in bringing increased legitimacy as a sport, I feel.
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
‎"There is no such thing as an overachiever. We are all underachievers to varying degrees." - John Wooden.

Offline Ryan

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2011, 11:47:50 AM »
Again, I go back to the point that calling it a marathon and making it eligible for records are two completely different things.

You bet I'll look askance at people who claim PRs from Boston 2011. Just as I did at people who did the same from Boston 2004 and as I do at people who claim PRs from St. George. It's a "personal" record so it's your personal choice but I won't consider a 2:50 from this year's Boston or pretty much any St. George to be equal to the same time from Chicago, London, NYCM, Twin Cities, or whatever other marathon. Still, they are marathons.

I understand the push back, I agree there should be push back. I just don't think such a facetious argument does anything to move the discussion forward.

Offline Ed

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2011, 12:26:47 PM »
This is a bit like a discussion I had on facebook.  I wouldn't count it as a PR with that amount of tailwind.  I would rather know in my heart if it truly was a PR or an advantaged quicker time result. 
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Offline ksrunner

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2011, 01:14:46 PM »
I think that there is definitely a place for both flat, fast WR-eligible courses and for courses like Boston. Generally, I think that races with significant bumps in their elevation profile are more interesting to run and to watch.

I'm not much of a marathon runner, but even with road 5Ks, course topography can make a big difference. I always look forward to the Labor Day 5K as the flat course generally yields the fastest times of the year, but as far as the actual race experience, one of my favorite races is the corporate challenge 5K. (I wish my company were competing this year.) That course starts on a flat stretch on top of a large hill, drops down to loop through some smaller rolling hills before returning to climb the big hill and finish in the flat atop the hill. You have to take that hill at the start and finish into consideration as you approach the race. With an even effort, the first mile will most likely be the fastest. In many ways, I feel better about a solid performance on that course than I would about a PR on the flat course.

The performances at the recent Boston marathon were exciting and worth remembering and talking about in future years. As far as Mutai's time, that too is exciting, but even as a course record, I think that it deserves an asterisk. It is interesting though to speculate on how Mutai's time might impact strategy in the fall marathons as Ross did at the end of this post.
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Offline ksrunner

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2011, 01:25:14 PM »
One last thought on aided courses and PRs. The Trolley run which I ran recently is on a down hill, point to point course as well. Locally, I think that it is common for runners to quote a four-mile PR from that course. Locals would understand that it likely comes from the Trolley Run, but wouldn't think too much of it.

If I'm talking to someone who isn't familiar with the Trolley Run, I would make sure that they understand that it is an aided course.
We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2011, 07:24:24 PM »
At least it didn't take long for the IAAF to put the BAA's request in its proper place.

Offline trivianut

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Re: Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02, aided or not?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2011, 06:11:58 AM »
I personally feel that there should be no world records for road race distances, because of all the variables involved. It's like saying is a round of golf in 63 is better at Pebble Beach than a round of 62 or 61 at Brown Deer Country Club (Home of the US Bank Championship). It really can't be determined. Therefore, I think all times on courses certified for the distance should be considered for the best time. And in that capacity, there can be no doubt that Mutai's 2:03;02 is a 'world's best' and the fastest ever run for the Marathon. Just my $.02