In it to win it?

There is a big brouhaha going down in the running world about a woman who beat the elite field in the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  The elite runners started 20 minutes before the rest of the group.  This woman ran with the non-elite runners and posted a faster time than the elite winner.

Most people appear to be outraged that she was not given the win.  I think it was a fair call on the organization’s part.

How can you win a race you are not in? Isn’t it fair to assume the race dynamics would change if the elite runners saw this woman ahead of them? A running race is not a time trial, in the sense that real race tactics are involved.  Runners interact.  They pace each other, they run in packs, they play psychological games to break spirit and flesh.  If we extend the slippery-slope analogy, why should anybody who does not break a course record be the winner of any race?  After all, somebody sometime ran the course faster.

It’s quite common in cycling for a lesser category to complete a course faster than a higher category.  This happens for any number of reasons having to do with tactics, breakaways, race length, etc.  Yet nobody suggests these separate races be scored together.  It’s crucial to demarcate the race from the time trial.  A race is won by the fastest time of all the participants.  If you are not a participant, meaning your comptetion does not have a fair chance to see you run/ride/swim/row/crab-walk off the front, then you cant win the race.


~ by wcuk on October 22, 2008.

2 Responses to “In it to win it?”

  1. I don’t get it. This is just like when I won the 100m dash at the Olympics this year. They made this big stink about “qualifying races” and “being in the stadium illegally”.

  2. I have been the victim of this kind of situation. I swam a faster time in the 4oo IM in heat 1 of finals, than two girls in heat 2 off finals. Since I was not in heat 2, I didn’t place higher than those two people. I still think I should have gotten 5th overall, but I do see the case you make with runners and bikers.

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