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How You Too Can Come First- And Not Win A MarathonAn article on a woman's fastest time who didn't win


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#1 Scarlett

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:14 AM

I saw this linked on one a running community I visit and I couldn't believe it. Especially the retort from Nike!

Arien O'Connell, one of the fastest losers you'll ever meet.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

At Women's Marathon, fastest time didn't win

By C.W. Nevius

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There were over 20,000 competitors in Sunday's Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. And 24-year-old Arien O'Connell, a fifth-grade teacher from New York City, ran the fastest time of any of the women.

But she didn't win.

It doesn't get much simpler than a footrace. All it takes is a starting line, a finish line and a clock. You fire the gun and the first person to the end of the course is the winner.

However, as the marathon officials said to O'Connell - not so fast.

While O'Connell had the greatest run of her life and covered the course faster than any woman, she was told she couldn't be declared the winner because she didn't run with the "elite" group who were given a 20-minute head start.


So what could have been a lovely Cinderella story about a young woman rising above her expectations in a race that bills itself as all about empowering women turned into a strict the-rules-are-the-rules edict. That's not the image we're trying to promote here.

San Francisco has become one of those destination locations for the new breed of distance runner. Between the San Francisco Marathon in July and the Nike race - billed as the largest women's marathon in the world - over 40,000 runners will visit this year.

It is great that these events are held here, but they are also representing the city. What we are hoping is that they leave town talking about the terrific location, the great restaurants and the perfectly organized event. Instead, we look like we don't know how to operate a stopwatch.

"That's pretty weak," said Jon Hendershott, associate editor of the authoritative Track and Field News magazine, based in Mountain View. "Think of the PR they could have had with this girl coming out of nowhere. It sounds like they got caught totally off guard."

O'Connell, who describes herself as "a pretty good runner," had never managed to break three hours in five previous marathons. But as soon as she started at 7 a.m. Sunday, she knew it was her day. In fact, when she crossed the finish line 26.2 miles later, her time of 2:55:11 was so unexpectedly fast that she burst into tears.

"I ran my best time by like 12 minutes, which is insane," she said.

At the awards ceremony, the O'Connell clan looked on as the top times were announced and the "elite" female runners stepped forward to accept their trophies.

"They called out the third-place time and I thought, 'I was faster than that,' " she said. "Then they called out the second-place time and I was faster than that. And then they called out the first-place time (3:06), and I said, 'Heck, I'm faster than her first-place time, too.' "

Just to make sure, O'Connell strolled over to a results station and asked a race official to call up her time on the computer. There it was, some 11 minutes faster than the official winner.

"They were just flabbergasted," O'Connell said. "I don't think it ever crossed their minds."

No one seemed exactly sure what to do. The trophies had already been handed out and the official results announced. Now organizers seem to be hoping it will all go away.

"At this point," Nike media relations manager Tanya Lopez said Monday, "we've declared our winner."

O'Connell said some race officials actually implied she'd messed up the seeding by not declaring herself an "elite" runner.

"If you're feeling like you're going to be a leader," race producer Dan Hirsch said Monday, "you should be in the elite pack."

So this is her fault? O'Connell was just being modest.

"I'm a good, solid runner," she said. "I never considered myself elite."

Jim Estes, associate director of the long-distance running program for USA Track and Field, did his best to explain the ruling. He's had some practice with the issue. The Sunday before last, at the Chicago Marathon, a Kenyan named Wesley Korir pulled off a similar surprise, finishing fourth even though he wasn't in the elite group and started five minutes after the top runners.

In that situation, and in this one, Estes made the same ruling: It didn't count. O'Connell wasn't declared the winner and Korir didn't collect fourth-place prize money.

"The theory is that, because they had separate starts, they weren't in the same race," Estes said. "The woman who is winning the elite field doesn't have the opportunity to know she was racing someone else."

Estes admits that giving the elite runners a sizable head start may not be the best policy.

"These are things this race and other races need to look at," Estes said. "It comes down to what a race is, and who is racing who."

Nonsense, said Track and Field News' Hendershott. He said O'Connell took her best shot, ran the fastest and should have won.

"What's she supposed to do, lay back because she's not an elite runner?" he asked. "If the elites are going to lay back, that's their fault."

As for O'Connell, she's not bitter. After all, she got her best time ever, had a nice weekend in San Francisco and comes home with a story.

But she didn't win. Maybe the best way to explain that is to say it is just another case of the elites in San Francisco giving the city a bad name.


http://www.sfgate.co...?...Q.DTL&tsp=1

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#2 loubee

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 05:45 AM

That is just wrong  :)

#3 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 05:54 AM

what is really pathetic, is that apart from this 1 time, all the others decalred elite were running above 3 hours.

There should not be any prizes for times over 3 hours.

Interesting is teh seeding, on the entry they allways ask for Your PB and best time of this or last season.

Her PB was about 3:07, if she did 12 min PB, so with this time on teh entry form, how come organizers did not sticj her into elite over 3 hours group ? and how big was exactly teh elite over 3 hours group.

Another 20 years and teh elite group would be 4+ hours ???


Is it the nike shoes they are wearing in this race ?

#4 Jogger

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:19 AM

I have heard of similar things in Tris and its just dumb.

(just as dumb as races that say you can't win your age group if you win outright ... a lot more common occurrence).

#5 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:31 AM

Kev, what is the 6ft policy if the finish time is fastest from 2-3-4 waves ?

#6 Mick

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:37 AM

We had the exact same discussion about City2Surf, the fact that the winner is determined by first gun time.  If you ran the quickest time in City2Surf from the 2nd or 3rd group, you would not be classified as the winner either.

If they are the race rules, that the winner will be classified as the first person to cross the line after the first gun, then they are the rules. It makes some sense, in a big media based event, can hardly have the first person cross the line, then have to wait 20+ minutes to see if someone in a 2nd/3rd group might have ran a quicker time before you can declare a winner.

#7 tamaelia

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:50 AM

View PostMick377, on Oct 22 2008, 07:37 AM, said:

... It makes some sense, in a big media based event, can hardly have the first person cross the line, then have to wait 20+ minutes to see if someone in a 2nd/3rd group might have ran a quicker time before you can declare a winner.

Why shouldn't they have to wait? Maybe they should call it the 1st C2S, 2nd C2S etc and give out trophies to each "winner" of each separate "race". Why go to the effort of having timing chips that can accurately record your time if someone who "started" further up the road than you but ran slower over the distance can be declared a winner with a greater elapsed time? Seems pretty farcical.

#8 MrD

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:07 AM

This kind of thing is bound to happen time to time. Rudolf, I don't think you should criticise the 'elite' winner for running over 3 hours, all she had to do was beat the ladies around her and she did that, she shouldn't have to worry about competitors from another start doing a quicker time. It's a race, not a time trial. If they were the rules, then I think the organisers made the right decision.

Kev, I'm also interested what you would do if someone from wave 2, 3 or 4 posted a quicker time in 6 foot than the 'first across the line'.

#9 Simlin

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:08 AM

I completely agree that she should not be declared the "winner" of the marathon as Estes says the front runners might have run faster if she was up the front...it is not a time trial (fastest time wins) it is a race (first across the line wins)...if you were a proffessional runner and running for the prize money and glory of winning you wouldn't necessarily thrash yourself for a PB when all you want to do is win and save that extra effort for another race.

Having said that I think she needs to be acknowledged by the race directors...maybe have a first place prize and then a fastest time prize....most of the time first place will claim that prize but on the odd occassion where this happens...

#10 Scarlett

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:13 AM

I figured that if you are first over the line you win. She was first. She wasn't declared the winner. She had a better time than anyone else and was still not declared the winner. With such a great time like that it's hard to think they wouldn't even have a passing glance at recognizing her for her amazing achievement.

#11 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:14 AM

my point was, that the elite group was bigger than 1 runner, so if the whole group was racing each other and all they can come up with was 3+ hours ??? If You fast runner, than forcing Yourself to run slow is actually not economical.

I doubt there was any real elite in that race at all, so they should just let everybody start at the same time, only split the start wave for under 4H and over 4 hours to separate the walkers with prams.
This could work for few years, than move the split start to 5 hours etc as the humanity will develop further

#12 Brick

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:26 AM

They should do the same as a lot of other races, have the elite runners start at the same time at the front of the pack.
The SMH half has a special roped of section for elite runners at the front 30 seconds before the start the ropes cone away and they all start.
Easy really, starting 20 minutes before the rest is just stupid.

As to the Tri thing in most races you can win the race from any start time because different age groups start at different times.
But you can not win prize money you need to a registered Pro to win money.

#13 rohan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:29 AM

20,000 'competitors' and 2;55 is the fastest time!
almost a whole minute per km slower than the womens WR!

yes i know this is not the point... but damn that's slow for a big race.

#14 glenda

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:47 AM

I guess it pays to check the race rules. i know i would be pretty cranky if it was me, but as she says she knows she was the fastest and got a pb too. I am hoping to run Boston next year and I have to start with the Elite Women's start to qualify for prize money, even though I am not "elite", I have a shot at pretty good prize money in the Masters and if I don't start with them, i am not eligible, even if I run faster. I would rather run with the mass start though for the atmosphere.

#15 Simlin

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:59 AM

View PostScarlett, on Oct 22 2008, 07:43 AM, said:

I figured that if you are first over the line you win. She was first. She wasn't declared the winner.

That doesn't make sense.  As she obviously wasn't First over the line starting 20mins behind the "elites" and effectively in a different race, hence in my book can't be declared the "winner".
Alas, I believe she should have been acknowledged as the "fastest" female competitor on the day in some way as I have previously stated.

#16 Scarlett

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:04 AM

View PostSimlin, on Oct 22 2008, 08:59 AM, said:

That doesn't make sense.  As she obviously wasn't First over the line starting 20mins behind the "elites" and effectively in a different race, hence in my book can't be declared the "winner".
Alas, I believe she should have been acknowledged as the "fastest" female competitor on the day in some way as I have previously stated.

At to that point I must have got confused, I understood it as first over the finish line, not the starting line.

#17 Gronk

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:26 AM

I hope she gets a preferred bib offer next year, then says no thanks. Posted Image

#18 cerebis

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:44 AM

I think the race officials should have recognized her in some way. It wouldn't have taken a lot. Hopefully they didn't just quote the rule book and treat her like an annoyance that messed up 'their' race. I kinda get the feeling she got treated shabbily.

That said, I think the ruling make sense. All races I've participated in have always stated how the winner is determined. Clearly if it is based on gun time and they're starting in waves, then you need to be in the first wave and preferably at the front of it.

If people self-seeded intelligently, rather than the usual mixture of selfishness and delusion, then elite waves in large events might not be necessary. Self-seeding also breaks down when people treat the column of runners like a giant waiting line for tickets. Lining up 2hrs early shouldn't entitle you to be in front of faster runners. If it worked properly, everyone could warm-up and then get into position closer to the start.

But that's not the whole story and I'm not sure what I think about the realities of marketing races; invitations, prize money, and all the rest of the nonsense that goes into trying to 'develop' an event.

Like someone said above, it is a race and a marathon at that. Had she been in the leading group, would she have won? This would have been a test of both her mental state and what the other runners had to offer. It went entirely untested running from behind the main contenders.

Lots of people talk about running from the back of races and a lot of the motivation to do so is a sense of there being less pressure. By her own words she didn't consider herself elite; she might very well have be afraid of that situation and avoided it. That shouldn't be possible if you want to be declared the winner of the "race". Walk away knowing you ran the fastest.

#19 Speedysnail

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:07 AM

View PostScarlett, on Oct 22 2008, 08:34 AM, said:

At to that point I must have got confused, I understood it as first over the finish line, not the starting line.

She started 20 mins after the 'elite group' therefore with her time being 5 mins (or whatever it was) quicker than the fastest elite runner she would have finished 15 mins or so after the 'winner' went through

I agree with Simlin, the organisers can't be expected to wait for the other groups to finish before they work out the winners and place getters, however some sort of recognition would have been nice, as she must feel pretty shitty about it all.

#20 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:08 AM

View Postcerebis, on Oct 22 2008, 09:44 AM, said:

Like someone said above, it is a race and a marathon at that. Had she been in the leading group, would she have won? This would have been a test of both her mental state and what the other runners had to offer. It went entirely untested running from behind the main contenders.

Lots of people talk about running from the back of races and a lot of the motivation to do so is a sense of there being less pressure. By her own words she didn't consider herself elite; she might very well have be afraid of that situation and avoided it. That shouldn't be possible if you want to be declared the winner of the "race". Walk away knowing you ran the fastest.

I do not think, that You can accuse her of not being mentaly tough as the reason for not choosing the elite wave.

She knew her PB was 3:07, she might have hoped for new PB and perhaps under 3H, however this is no elite performance,
so she was only realistic.

How could she expect the Elite in this race means something else that in other marathons, or that the elite would make the deal inside the group, and fake the race jog around for 3H and than agrreed to decide the prizemoney in the sprint to finish line ?

The organizers should really looked into elite group performance and see if the "race" was not rigged

Edited by Rudolf, 22 October 2008 - 09:21 AM.


#21 Tiger Boy

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:37 AM

A 3.07 PB is hardly elite, and the winner should be embarrassed to win with a 3.06 time after claiming they were "elite".
Also, if they are going to start the apparently elite 20mins early, don't pretend to everyone that they are in the same race. If you are having wave starts then surely you are conducting different races, therefore she was the winner of the No.2 event, and if you start in say the 4th or 5th wave, you should be able to be declared the winner of that event.
C2S is a prime example. Sure the winner is in the elite group, but given that they have finished before the gun goes to start the later groups, then surely thethe later groups are not running C2S, but rather C2S no.3, or 4 or whatever.
The organisers got it right technically, and according to the rules, but there should be some recognition for somebody coming from nowhere to post the fastest time of the day. Given that it was Nike, maybe they didn't have enough profits for this, and they will have to slash pay rates in the sweat shops to cover this contigency in future.

#22 flyingdutchman

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:51 AM

Were the "elites" wearing Nike shoes ? I bet she wasn't.
If she was, I bet she won't any more.

#23 roddixon

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:51 AM

To my mind this one's pretty simple and its really just another piece of sensationalist journalism.

Clearly she did not win the race.  The winner crossed the line 5 mins or so before her.  To win the race from the 20 min handicap she appeared to impose on herself then she needed to run another 5mins quicker.  She was clearly the fastest but this race, to my understanding, was a first over the line race not a time trial.  If it was a time trial then again she would have clearly 'won'.  She knew or ought to have known the rules when she entered and thats the end of that.  If there's no provision in the rules for a prize for fastest time then thats the end of the matter.  Next time she's got 2 options, firstly enter as an elite and attempt to actually win the race or secondly, assuming a similiar winning time, run at least another 5 mins faster!

#24 rohan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:07 AM

View PostTiger Boy, on Oct 22 2008, 12:37 AM, said:

A 3.07 PB is hardly elite, and the winner should be embarrassed to win with a 3.06 time after claiming they were "elite".
you got that right.
even melbourne marathon with 3500 finishers (total, not sure of number of women) tends to have about 10 women going under 3hrs each year.
assuming about 1000 of the finishers are women. that would mean about 1 percent of women at melbourne go sub 3. (yep, guesses and estimates). so in a race of 20,000 women surely they could get about 200 going sub 3?

San fran is pretty hilly, so maybe that plays into it... but 40mins slower than WR?!

#25 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:47 AM

View Postrohan, on Oct 22 2008, 11:07 AM, said:

San fran is pretty hilly, so maybe that plays into it... but 40mins slower than WR?!

well how come than the nonelite did 12 min PB, if this race was that harder ?


edit - it is 51 minutes slower

Edited by Rudolf, 22 October 2008 - 11:00 AM.


#26 undercover brother

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:05 AM

this wouldnt happen in a trail race.
well except maybe bogong :)

#27 Sportsman

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:52 AM

There has to be a set of logical rules for these races.

Suppose she did a faster time by 1 second from the 2nd group? Should she be declared the winner?
No- because the first over the line winner would be disadvantaged. She may have coasted to an easy win, and could have done more than 1 second faster if pressed by another runner.

What about 2 seconds....or 30 seconds...or 3 minutes   etc etc.


But she should be recognised, even a Fastest time trophy.

#28 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:16 PM

I was readin 6ft website, but did not find anything to explain the situation.

It is intersting, since appart from main race there are other races as well, as teh firefighter race, clubs race team race,

so how about firefighters starting from various waves - who wins ?

#29 Emrun

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:22 PM

Melbourne Marathon Female Results for 2008

818 Finished
6 sub 3 hour
13 sub 3:07:XX  (the time run by the eilite winner at the San Fran women's marathon)

I feel that starting the elites 20 minutes earlier classifies theirs as a seperate race, therefore 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the "mortals" race also deserve acknowledement of place in the form of trophies/medals and any prizes on offer (such as gear), they may well have though, I haven't checked.  I have checked the results online however and she is listed first on the overall results, she even beat the first man (first man finished in 2:58:XX), not sure whether or not the blokes has a seperate start too.

From the article the girl who ran the fastest time seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing, it is defintely the journo beating it up.

I think the race organisers are just a little red faced over it and didn't want to detract attention from their "elite" field or draw attention to the fact that their prestigious event can't attract a decent elite field.

Edited by Emrun, 22 October 2008 - 12:24 PM.


#30 rohan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:29 PM

View PostEmrun, on Oct 22 2008, 03:22 AM, said:

Melbourne Marathon Female Results for 2008

818 Finished
6 sub 3 hour
13 sub 3:07:XX  (the time run by the eilite winner at the San Fran women's marathon)
thanks em,
MM kinda slow this year. wind and temp.
was going by memory as last year i went sub 3 and there were 10 women in front of me. so at least 10 went under in 2007.

View PostRudolf, on Oct 22 2008, 01:47 AM, said:

edit - it is 51 minutes slower
paula radcliffe... the relevant WR holder has a time of about 2;15.
so about 40mins slower.

#31 Jogger

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:39 PM

Quote

Kev, what is the 6ft policy if the finish time is fastest from 2-3-4 waves ?
the person with the fastest gun time wins - regardless of which gun/wave they started from ie common-bloody-sense.

we have had people from the 2nd wave place outright and of course they were awarded the trophy. it's our fault if a fast runner is not put into the fast wave not theirs. however we try very hard to ensure anyone with form is in the first wave so its reasonably rare for a faster runner from another wave.

Quote

It is intersting, since appart from main race there are other races as well, as teh firefighter race, clubs race team race, so how about firefighters starting from various waves - who wins ?

the one with the fastest guntime - from their wave's gun to the time they cross the line. everything is done from gun time so people not in the first wave are not penalised.

#32 Long Arms

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:48 PM

the girl should have been given an award for winning the race that she won. However, she wasn't in the "elite race" so the organisers were right in not reversing their decision. There were not two separate time trials for women; they were two separate races.

Kevin,are you suggesting that 6ft track is 4 separate time trials? If that is the case, then it is not a race.

#33 Jogger

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:56 PM

long arms, rudi etc - why all the attention on 6ft - it is but one race from hundreds on the calendar.

I am not going to be so bold as to assign a term like "race" or "time trial". I inherited a waved race from a previous race director and have not seen good reason to change it (and neither has anyone suggested it to date). You can each call it whatever you fancy.

What I do know is that if you start in wave 2 and run a faster time than the fastest person in wave 1 then you will win. This has not happened previously. however one year the fastest female in wave 2 had a faster time than the 2nd place female in wave 1, and therefore she was awarded 2nd place. As it stands the other 750 runners not in wave 1 have a fighting chance and assume are happy with the process. the only person who might complain is the (rare) runner from wave 1 who runs a slower time than a person in wave 2. To date this has been one person and my wife accepted that graciously :)

#34 lisa1979

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:32 PM

View PostRudolf, on Oct 22 2008, 08:14 AM, said:

.. they should ..... split the start wave for under 4H and over 4 hours to separate the walkers with prams.


Um.... you still have to run pretty fast to finish in 4 hours. I trained my arse off for eight months to run a 4:24 marathon   :)

I would think that walkers would take at least 5 and a half hours!

#35 Brick

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:37 PM

View Postlisa1979, on Oct 22 2008, 02:32 PM, said:

Um.... you still have to run pretty fast to finish in 4 hours. I trained my arse off for eight months to run a 4:24 marathon   :)

I would think that walkers would take at least 5 and a half hours!
Not quite true.
This link to some records

Carlos Mercenario Cabajal

Mercenario's 1997 marathon time was 3:21:54. His personal best at 50K is his 1991 mark of 3:42:03

That is some walking in my opinion.

EDIT:
I was not trying to say you did not train your arse of for your Marathon PB.
The 3:21 is only 2 minutes of my PB, so if you ask some people I am slow.

Edited by Brick, 22 October 2008 - 01:39 PM.


#36 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:39 PM

Kev, the reason I asked about 6ft is, that it is the only race I remebered as a wave start. Boggong was discussed few weeks ago, and kinda agreement was that the potential winner should start from the late wave, early start is only for those who just wanna finish and so are out of race.

so it 6ft only in my mind, and since You are the only RD from such races here, it was logical to ask You.


From teh brief reading of the website, the rules are not explicitly stated there and perhaps You could do it to avoid any potential future missunderstandings.

But what is great is that You have clear policy on this issue so in case it happens You would not be a deer looking into headlights.


Rohan _ I though that we talking the elite winner - 3:06 as ridiculous for elite winning time being slower xx minutes than WR

#37 Rudolf

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:43 PM

View PostBrick, on Oct 22 2008, 02:37 PM, said:

Not quite true.
This link to some records

Carlos Mercenario Cabajal

Mercenario's 1997 marathon time was 3:21:54. His personal best at 50K is his 1991 mark of 3:42:03

That is some walking in my opinion.

EDIT:
I was not trying to say you did not train your arse of for your Marathon PB.
The 3:21 is only 2 minutes of my PB, so if you ask some people I am slow.


Brick, You do not have to go that far, there are australians walkers, who do split marathon under 3H on their way to 50 km.


Me choosing 4H was just brave guess, that should guarantee elite group to win  :)

Edited by Rudolf, 22 October 2008 - 01:44 PM.


#38 Long Arms

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:11 PM

View PostJoggerKev, on Oct 21 2008, 08:56 PM, said:

long arms, rudi etc - why all the attention on 6ft - it is but one race from hundreds on the calendar.

I am not going to be so bold as to assign a term like "race" or "time trial". I inherited a waved race from a previous race director and have not seen good reason to change it (and neither has anyone suggested it to date). You can each call it whatever you fancy.

What I do know is that if you start in wave 2 and run a faster time than the fastest person in wave 1 then you will win. This has not happened previously. however one year the fastest female in wave 2 had a faster time than the 2nd place female in wave 1, and therefore she was awarded 2nd place. As it stands the other 750 runners not in wave 1 have a fighting chance and assume are happy with the process. the only person who might complain is the (rare) runner from wave 1 who runs a slower time than a person in wave 2. To date this has been one person and my wife accepted that graciously :)

6ft is a classic RACE Kev, in so many ways because of your great work.

I reckon that in any waved races, such as City to Surf and 6ft track, any potential winners should be forced to start in the elite wave/Group A or whatever they call the wave in that race where the contenders are lining up.

There are many fine runners out there who are great trainers and or time trialists but poor racers. It is usually a case of them folding under pressure. Racing involves tactics such attacking uphills or downhills, surging at various stages, sitting and kicking, attempting to go out at near-suicidal pace and hoping one psyches out the opposition and can hang on, etc. Top "racers" will often lift 5% or 10% if there is a competitor trying to surge away from them, or possibly someone breathing down their neck.  We all know that feeling when the invisible but completely realistic rubber band has been snapped and either we have dropped out opponent or he or she has dropped us. That is the thrill of racing- the crunch time in a race.

A lot of people line up in races over a variety of distances, including classic like 6ft and C2S, with aims such as "to finish", "to run X, Y or Z time", or maybe for an "adventure or the like". These runners motives are fantastic- it adds to the beauty of this great sport. But these runners, plus race directors, must always remember that if you call it a running race, then that is first and formost what it is....... a race.

Where is the race component if the supposed fellow racer is starting 30 minutes behind you and out of mind/out of sight for the entire journey? Even the HARE AND THE TORTOISE started the race together- with completely different tactics yes, but they were in the same classic race. If a runner is good at  simply going out at their own pace without the pressure of fellow competitors trying a range of tactics in front of, beside and behind them (eg an elite runner starting out in wave 2 could get into this cruisy scenario), they could easily go much faster if done as a solid time trial.

The year in 6ft track that the fastest female in wave 2 had a faster time than the 2nd place female in wave 1 and therefore she was awarded 2nd place, I believe that 2nd place in wave one should be awarded her prize, if she can be tracked down. (I have no idea who either of these women are and am sure they are both great runners!)

#39 Magnus M

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:29 PM

There was no reason to start the elites that far infront.  They could have strated them at the sae time with the elites at the front.   I think in a case like this they should give out 2 first prizes !!!  If they are not prepared to do that then they should think about why they are strating the elite women so far infront

#40 runningcat

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:12 PM

Nike would have just stated clear rules

OR

Organizers should have been diplomatic and still gave Nike a good name for at least giving a handicap recognition to O'Connell

#41 glenda

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:31 AM

I think the reasoning (rightly or wrongly) in starting the women so far in front, is that then they get no "assistance" from males , at least where it is otherwise a mixed race.  A la the elite women's field at London who start on their own 45 mins before the mass start. And big raspberries to those of you knocking the other women's times and bagging them for daring to enter the elite start. At many races , 3.15 and under allows a women to get a preferred start, including Melbourne.

#42 Jogger

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:39 AM

Quote

I reckon that in any waved races any potential winners should be forced to start in the elite wave/Group A or whatever they call the wave in that race where the contenders are lining up.

Certainly that is what we do wherever possible, whether they request that wave or not, based on any previous history we can come up with. Also the gap between waves 1 and 2 is 5 minutes - a smaller deal than a regular marathon given the winning times are about an hour slower.

#43 Tux

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 03:02 PM

There has been an update to the story, which can be read here. From the article:

Quote

O'Connell said she was contacted early this morning by a Nike representative who said they were going to award her a trophy and recognize her as a winner.

So she is declared a winner and has been given a prize equivalent to the winner's. It goes on the say:

Quote

O'Connell said the Nike representative also said that the sports shoe corporation had also decided to eliminate the "elite" category in the annual San Francisco event and would let everyone start at the same time.

This makes sense, the faster women can be given a start at the front of the pack, and then it is a race with the winner being first across the line. Given this was a women's only race I do not understand why they started the "elite" women 20 minutes ahead of the rest in the first place.

One of the great things about running compared with most other sports is the opportunity to compete in races like this against potentially the best in the world. The average runner might not have a hope of actually racing against the elite runners however to be able to run the same course, at the same time under the same conditions, is both fantastic and humbling.

One reason not mentioned so far for not allowing the winner to come from a later group start is the risk that the person with the faster time actually started in the wrong wave. I know that timing chips are supposed to prevent this but it still happens.

Edited by Tux, 23 October 2008 - 03:04 PM.


#44 Simlin

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 03:41 PM

Nice to see after a couple of good night sleeps Nike have acknowledged her great run.

#45 Rudolf

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 04:55 PM

Nike realized they will never have elite runners so they decided to drop elite wave.

#46 Colin

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:07 PM

Some of the information out of the sensationalist reporting needs clarification.

Elites start that far in front because it is actually a separate race for them. This was introduced to prevent the leading women sitting in a 'bus' with say the 2:20 pack in the mens race and being aided to a record, which would then come under dispute...and I might guess that all those crying out here would cry out at that too.
Starting any closer to the males will still have the possibility of being swept up by the leaders at some stage and set a national record of some sort.
This is not usually an issue where there is no chance of a WR... and that, rather than a "few good sleeps" is why the organisers have changed their policy.

The elites got into that category through a qualifying time. I would guess that the qualifying time would have been under 3hrs, certainly faster than the 2:55 runner's previous PB (otherwise she too would have been in elites).
That they then ran much slower is irrelevant, and a bit silly to compare against Melbourne or WR etc. They could just argue- quite correctly- that they only ran as fast as necessary to race each other, whereas the 2:55 runner was 'caught up amongst much faster packs of male runners. You would have to look at the distribution of finishing times to confirm this.

The point is that she ran a 'separate race' on the same day. She did not win the race from which the winner would be selected.

The 6ft Track Ultra has different starting waves for a completely different reason. Simply , you cannot let 800 plus runners start together down the narrow Nellies Glen.
As far as possible, Kevin tries to get all 'potential winners' in same wave. If some new hot shot cannot justify his form, then wins from other  wave it is not his fault, and you are left with a dilemma.
But if say Jonathan Wyatt rocks up incognito in 4th wave, when he should have made his presence clear to other runners he is "racing" , he should not be given the win, because that would be a clear disadvantage to the others from someone who knew he could win and would have been given the same start.
He would be the fastest timetrialist over course, but he did not beat the others head to head.

There are different rules applying to different cases and the RD has to make a judgement call sometimes. If we don't know why this lady was a non-elite starter (her own choice vs selection policy or whether she could have reasonably known she could run that fast), or if we don't know why the 20min gap was enforced, then its no use having a go at the organisers

Cheers

#47 HillsAths1

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:10 PM

I guess she got more publicity than she thought she ever would!

#48 DrJH

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:17 PM

Long Arms has hit the nail on the head. It wasn't a time trial. If awards start going to the best time from any start, all runners should be made aware before hand. In other words, it's not enough to beat 2nd place, you have to run it as fast as possible, just in case someone from a later start gets a faster time!

#49 Rudolf

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 05:40 PM

Colin, lots of assumptions without checking the facts.

This was women only marathon, where did You get pack of fast males to help elite potentialy as reason for wave start and where did You get pack of males running at 2:55 pace ?

The girl pretty much run solo.


I think, that elite runners would not get permission to run at a competitors race from the sponsor, and so none of teh Asics, reebok, NB etc sponsored elite female was allowed to turn up at this race.

It does not paint pretty picture for Nike, so they decided to simply go for a funrun in future, no elite.

#50 Emrun

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 07:07 PM

View PostRudolf, on Oct 23 2008, 06:40 PM, said:

Colin, lots of assumptions without checking the facts.

This was women only marathon, where did You get pack of fast males to help elite potentialy as reason for wave start and where did You get pack of males running at 2:55 pace ?

The girl pretty much run solo.

True, it was billed as a women's only marathon however when I checked the results when this thread started I noticed that men did run, the fastest man finished in 2:58:xx so Miss O'Connell was still the fastest runner from the second wave, regardless of gender.

I guess that is political correctness taken to the nth degree, a women's only race but the fella's can run*

*now in my defence I don't care for women's only races, I like boys and I like their long legs in little shorts so come one come all I say  :)