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.


  1. Did you watch the Berlin marathon recently where the World Record was set? They had what - 6 pacers? They formed a wall up front and you could hardly see the leaders until past halfway.

    What is the difference in having a pacer whether you are a man or a woman? How much time did the Berlin leaders save by having a wall of humanity cut the wind for them for the first several miles?

    Here is a video of parts of the Berlin Marathon:

  2. Brett - According to the powers that be it is fine to have a pacer (or pacers) as long as female runners only have female pacers.

    David T.

  3. "But many agree a male pacer is worth about two minutes."

    If that really is the reason why the decision was made, then why wouldn't a male pacer be worth two minutes for male racers? (Or ANY pacer for that matter -- Garmin training partner, TV vehicle, motorcycle, etc. etc.)

    The issue, imo, seems to be whether pacers/rabbits should be allowed. Why have a pacer if it isn't benefiting in some way? But their decision to single out male pacers for women racers seems ridiculous.

    And to change existing records seems like a cheap shot.

  4. That seriously sucks. So now the only way a woman marathoner can get a world record is to run in a women-only race, whereas men can (at least in the abstract) get a world record in any certified race they please?! That seems to me to be an even bigger disparity than the one they're supposedly fixing.


  5. This is why track and field is a dying sport. These idiots are just dumb asses. They have NO vision and are stuck in the old fashioned ways.

    A women ran 2:15, accept it. If this ruling stands, they ANY world record ran with a pacer either being man or women should be void.

  6. As a woman and a runner, I can only say that it would depend on how cute the ass of the male "rabbit" is :-) Seems kind of a sexist policy to me (the best versus record, I mean), although I have to think about it more. What about if a male runner going for a WR has a rabbit as they often do - does that only stand as a "world best" I doubt that. Thanks for your site - love it.

  7. That's just BS! I have been thinking about the rationale, and it simply doesn't make sense. So, if a woman runner uses a male "rabbit" they are at an advantage? Again, I say BS! I'm a male, and I can definitively say that no woman in the world would want me as a "rabbit". So, will they start categorizing male "rabbits". (slow rabbit / fast rabbit / old rabbit / young rabbit)

    Whoever made this new rule is an idiot, and most likely a male chauvinist!!

    I say, may the fastest woman win.


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