Wednesday, October 05, 2011
"World Best" vs. "World Record" - Wha?
Last month, the IAAF (track and field's international governing body) ruled that, in women's marathoning, only times recorded in women-only races would qualify as world records. If a faster time is run in a mixed-gender race, it's now a "world best". So Paula Radcliffe's 2:15:25 in London in 2003—set in a mixed-gender race and aided by two male pacesetters—has become the world best, while her time of 2:17:42 in London 2005—in a women-only start—is the new world record. WTF?!?
Very confusing, I think, and seemingly unneeded. If the course is sanctioned as 26.2 miles, should it matter? The SF Chronicle says the ruling is insulting to women. The World Marathon Majors says it's confusing. Radcliffe says it's unfair. But many agree a male pacer is worth about two minutes.
The New York Road Runners media team has a great "head to head" debate about this topic featuring Neil Amdur, former sports editor of the New York Times, and Tim Hutchings, a British Olympian and TV commentator. It's worth a read.