Thursday, October 23, 2008

Did Nike Blow It Again?

The other day, Darryl sent me a link to a column about the unfortunate case of Arien O'Connell. She ran the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco over the weekend in a PR of 2:55. It turns out it was the fastest time the day. The problem: Nike had 20 "elite" runners go off 20 minutes before the field. The race's official results had another woman as first with a time of 3:06. My first thought was injustice and another case of Nike totally blowing it. But then I thought about it some more. This was a tough one. Marathons aren't time trials. Yes, it seems clear that Arien was the fastest runner that day, but there is a strategy to racing that can't be dismissed. It's not just USATF rules. It's simple logic: you adjust your pace based on your competitors. Yesterday, Nike awarded Arien fastest chip time for her run. This was the right thing to do. What mystifies me is that the race had so many slow "elite" runners. I'm sorry, but a 3:06 and above is hardly elite. Nike said it wouldn't have an elite start next year, which it clearly doesn't need for a race without any prize money or true elite runners.

12 miles, 1:23:38


QUO VADIS said...

Competition makes a race. Had she been clocking that pace among the elite group, I imagine she would have spurred several of those runners to kick it into high gear, and my guess is she would have had an extremely tough time keeping up.

I'm impressed she was able to push herself so hard without competition in her group. Impressive. Let's see how she does in her next race, now that she has some notoriety. Everyone will be gunning for her, and she'll the true test she deserves.

Brian Morrissey said...

very true. it's impossible to guess what would have happened. she clearly ran a great race, with something like an 11-minute PR. to me, it really argues for elite starts to be used sparingly, if at all.

buzz bishop said...

Every race Ive been in is decided on gun time. Chips are just there to help us figure out our personal time because of the volume of people at the start. The official time is always gun time.

Why the elites needed a 20min headstart instead of just 3-5 is the part I find confusing.

Sure, she had the fastest chip time, but she didn't have the fastest gun time, that's what counts.

TunaTacoGrande said...

She can crush you, Morrissey!