Thursday, September 22, 2011

A World Record Is Not What It Used To Be

I brought attention to this travesty on my Facebook page, and the outcries of “bullshit!” were so paramount, I thought it needed a bigger discussion forum.

Did you see this NY Times article on Wednesday?

For Women’s Road Records, No Men Allowed

In short, the powers that be (the IAAF) have made a decision that “records in women’s road racing will count only if they are set in women’s-only events, to nullify the benefits of pacesetting by faster male runners.

Ummm..excuse me?

Yeah, you read that right. So Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 world record in London 2003 is now null and void because it was a mixed race. It will now be called a “world best” not a “world record.” I guess as long as the elite women start at enough of a different time as the men, then it’s okay. But, if they are all running together, apparently women get an unfair advantage from faster pacers who have penises.

I never understood the outcry that a race time was unfair just because someone was paced by someone else. It’s not like they were picked up and carried, or pulled by their hair or put on horseback by someone else. They still ran the damn race on their own two feet, the required distance. If someone who is running near them provided inspiration and set a pace that prompted faster speed, so be it.

Plus, if this so-called pacing is such an advantage, one could argue that all women in that race have the same conditions: they all have faster men to pace off of, so it should be an equal playing field.

However, when it comes to world records, the IAAF thinks that the extra bonus provided by male pacers muddies the race results and makes them non-legit.

What do you think of the new rules? Reasonable or outrageous?

Is it ethical to strip someone of their world record after the fact?

Is there anything about this that makes sense?

SUAR

70 comments:

  1. Personally it is bull$&@-! If it were a man with a record that wasn't as good as a women's in the same race I guarantee it will still be a men's world record!

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  2. That is a big pile of steaming crap.

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  3. That sucks. That's so freaking LAME!

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  4. If a runner can keep pace with the other runners in the field, who gives a shit what [all] their genders are? An athlete is an athlete. I always considered running the great equalizer--men and toeing the same starting line together, but this ruling clearly segregates us. And what happens when a woman wins a mixed gender race outright? It does happen.

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  5. Are they going to void Geb's WR?? I believe he used a pacer to set his...

    Total bullshit!

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  6. Dumb. In addition, every elite woman has the opportunity to run in those very same mixed races with the same elite men. Out of the few dozen elite distance runners in the world, who didn't get to run in a mixed race? Really, who?

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  7. f'ed up!!That is crazy!

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  8. besides the Olympics are there any other female only marathons???? this is just plain stupid!!!

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  9. Bull$hit stupid rule that makes no sense.

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  10. Total crap. Don't races sometimes "hire" rabbits to pace the men to set world records? To be fair, their records should also be nullified... This whole thing stinks of a total load of sh*t.

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  11. I read this yesterday....totally stupid!

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  12. Wow. that is really stupid and makes no sense.

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  13. If they do this, then someone has to tell Roger Bannister that his 4 minute mile doesn't count.

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  14. I'd love to know how many women were on the world governing body that made the decision! Absolutely crazy!

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  15. This reminds me of what happened last year in Boston. The man who won, set a world record, but it was considered null and void because the course has hills and there was some wind. BS! I was utterly pissed. He ran the course, which isn't an easy course, and if he was able to run it with hills and on a windy day, so be it! Let the man have his cake and eat it too!

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  16. I read it yesterday. I think it is ridiculous and no she should not loose her WR title. I agree nobody male or female dragged her or carried her, it was her legs, her lungs, her mind, her heart. this makes me soooo soooo mad.

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  17. This is absolutely ridiculous! I'm sorry what year do we live in?

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  18. This is so odd. If women running in a race with fast men have an advantage, then it is an advantage that all other racers have, including men. It's not like races with men and women competing together are the rarity and so it's not fair because only these lucky few get to run in them.

    It almost seems like the IAAF is afraid that the gap between men and women is going to close up, and so want to encourage the separation of the genders.

    Also, changing the rules after the fact is just wrong. The current record holders chose and ran their races based on the rules at the time, and those records should stand.

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  19. If it is unfair to have someone faster than you pace you, then every single person who runs a race would then have to run the race solo, and then its not really a race is it?

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  20. Also, who is to say that running with men is what made the woman break a record? At that level, pacing is an art and running with men could actually cause a runner to go out to fast, sabotaging her race. Or maybe her motivation comes from elsewhere, or maybe she is just uber-fit. Who knows? Not the IAAF. Anyway, good luck to the race directors of non-segregated races, I guess you won't get the elites anymore.

    I am glad that all of the commentary I am reading about this decision (U.S. anyway) is against it.

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  21. Sorry if this was mentioned...I'm too lazy to read the other comments. This is not OK. I've read several places before that men have a biological advantage to women in sprinting and shorter distance races. Apparently though women have a distinct advantage in ultra events though. So my question would be, do the men not get to hold records in ultras from the pacing women provide in that event? Oy give me a break, let everyone run in their own style and call it a day. It's all impressive.

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  22. wha??? which IAAF guy got chicked in a race and is now taking it out on all elite women runners???

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  23. I have never read anything so stupid... or insulting!! Misogynistic barely begins to cover it.

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  24. Yeah...second this...pretty dumb! Give her the GD record!

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  25. wow. so insane. No, she shouldn't have her WR taken away - give her the record!

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  26. Seriously, the fastest woman in the world could pace me and it would make absolutely no difference to my time. I can only run as fast as I can run and if Paula Radcliffe ran a world record then she deserves it.

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  27. Does that mean that I (a guy) can only run a world record in a guys only race?

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  28. The most stupid thing about that, is that the men in the London Marathon have pacers! Does that mean their times shouldn't count either?

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  29. I think it's bullshit. It's like saying men are setting up their records because a motorcycle is pacing them.

    You can put anyone in front of me to pace me, and I'll tell you right now I'm not setting any records. If you can't do it on your own two legs, it doesn't matter who is pacing you. This is so fucked up is not even funny.

    And it's so unfair because there are so few chances for women now to set records that "count" because most races are mixed races.

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  30. Someone has too much time on his or her hands. Or a girlfriend who complained about this pacing biz and now won't put out until she feels vindicated.

    It's stupid. But I guess there hasn't been anything controversial going on in track and field lately.

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  31. I am not sure this will last. The article did not mention there are several organizations protesting the rule and still recognizing the "old" record.

    My opinion is that it should not matter who paces who - the point is to bring out the very best in someone.

    On the other hand, does that mean that any male paced by a female for a Boston qualifying time is now prohibited from running Boston until the get a male pacer?

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  32. ugh, this is so freaking ridiculous!

    whether you have a pacer or not, you still have to possess the ability to keep up with them, which is a reflection of your athletic strength, which means you deserve the credit, pacer or no pacer.

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  33. how had I missed all this?


    Carla

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  34. Gender bias is the prejudice in action or treatment against a person on the basis of their sex.

    W.T.F. ???

    So does that mean if male worker #1 is doing something better/faster and it prompts worker #2 to also do better that the #2 worker is getting an unfair advantage and should be paid less?? But if worker #1 is NOT around then kudos and higher pay can go to #2 because they are doing their best without anyone encouraging or challenging them to be EVEN better?

    Screw that. This is straight up discriminatory. This needs to be fought. I am not a competitive runner. I'm just a gal trying to find her running legs. ;) But I take it as an insult as a woman. If a man, a dog, a rabbit- hell an angry bear or tiger chasing my butt causes me to run even faster than before it does NOT deny that I ran faster. And a record is a record.
    We need to throw off these sexist chains. Someone should start a new organization and tell them we don't need their BS ideals telling us what counts and what doesn't.

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  35. On the face of it, this sounds kind of crazy, but studies have shown that faster runners benefit the most from drafting, so a faster woman would benefit more drafting off a faster man than a slower women drafting off a slower man. So the no-men rule might make sense. The retroactive removal of records is always problemtic, unless it can be demonstrated that an unfair advantage aided the effort.

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  36. I have not read the article so I am going at this somewhat uneducated (although people can say that anytime I open my mouth) I will say I am tired of this women can't/can nonsense.

    Give me a f'n break and let's just call it like it is which is women are just as good at men AT EVERYTHING.

    Seriously are women allowed to vote anymore?

    Ask men is they are willing to be pregnant for 9 months. How about breast feeding or menstrual cycles? How about hot flashes? The answer is NO. We, men, have it easy and I will never ever say different. I am thrilled that I am a man for those reasons above.

    One of my favorite authors/twitterers posted about a similar topic yesterday on Competitor magazine's site and I loved it:

    http://running.competitor.com/2011/09/out-there/out-there-cue-the-spice-girls_38372

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  37. This is just plain lame!!! A record is a record...plain and simple!

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  38. Not even debatable--total bullshit! Amazing in 2011 that we still face issues on equality. How about men's records? Men's only events for them? Ridiculous!

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  39. I think this is crap, ESPECIALLY to take away her record. I understand the issue of pacing, but in a 26.2 mile race, the winner is clearly benefiting more from years of intense training than anything, and that's what makes a world record holder.

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  40. This just seems a rule for the sake of a rule. There are so many factors that influence how fast a person runs on any given day..it seems nonsensical to me to pull out that one factor and say it influences the outcome more than any other. A world record should be evidence of what a human being (man or woman) can achieve within the context of a race and so even if having men in the race makes a woman run faster (but what evidence is there that it does?) at the end of the day SHE ran it, it was her legs, her ability to judge a good pace, her determination that allowed her to cross that finish line when she did...
    I think there are many men who would say that the field of runners in a particular race impacted their faster times.
    I do understand that there has to be certain standardization to make the world records valid but I think this is just crazy...I wonder how many women were involved in the IAAF decision.

    I think to continue this that all the women who have a male trainer/coach should be disqualified...(j/k) but it makes the point I hope..

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  41. NOT, not, NOT cool. I'm surprised at the men (my husband included) that justify this blatant discrimination. As the comment by Carla stated:

    "It's like saying men are setting up their records because a motorcycle is pacing them."

    RIDICULOUS.

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  42. Travesty.
    How about this new rule? Men's World Records can only be set in all-male races, because of the possibility that they can only run that fast due to the fear in the back of their mind that they could get chicked.

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  43. Keep the shirts on... or not.
    The rule makes sense, the only problematic thing is that is retroactive. I do feel sorry for those who have a record and will lose it now, and if records mean a lot to them they did not know they should have focused on women only races... but the rest of you, blogosphere???
    Women at 800 m do not have a chance to be paced by men. Why would marathoners have that!
    Also, it would not be fair to have a pacer who would not start the race from the beginning, but jumped in somewhere in the middle.
    Pacers are by all the rules the one who start at the same time as everyone and gave pace in the first part of the run, as long as they can - if they can keep it up to the finish line, it is them who win. Simple as that.
    I don't understand why are you all so hyped about this. Use common sense.

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  44. I saw this article yesterday too and it just infuriated me!! WHY must we constantly hold women back and hold them to a lower standard. A well run race is a well run race...period.

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  45. Totally don't agree...there are always conditions/things that affect an outcome of a race/result. You can't start accounting for all of them. Absolutely rediculous....crazy really.

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  46. Yuck! I hadn't heard and I think that's completely out of line... I've seen elite athletes paced by officially race pacers, so are their times null & void too?

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  47. I think is completely insane. I don't like it at all. I think it will do more to weaken women than to strengthen them. I sort of think that many of the women's only events are pretty lame in general (due to my {miss} impression that they more beginner oriented), maybe just because I haven't ever done one, but maybe those will get better if the elites have to start doing them.

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  48. OMG! This does not mean women will be able to set world records only if racing in women only events. But their start will need to be earlier than for men so that men will not be able to pace them - which is practiced for elite runners in many top marathons already.
    Please show some sense and sensibility when discussing this topic that is not even relevant to vast majority of you, and obviously you are not able to even grasp it.

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  49. If women can't be paced by men, then men can't be paced by men. The men's record should only happen in a solo race where no other racer, human or otherwise, could provide speed inspiration. They'll have to clear airspace over the course, because a plane might go over and cause the runner to speed up. Also, snipers will be on standby in case a bird should fly too close.

    AKA, this is crap. It doesn't matter what motivated someone to run faster just as long as they did it.

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  50. "Hey look at this box...whats the name on it? Pandora? Let's open it!"

    So does this mean the PR I set following hot (and much faster) female runners is now null and void, and I can only count the PR's I've set when slogging away behind old fat guys?

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  51. Anon: I think most people are "grasping" it just fine. The issue is not that it's a women's only event. The issue is that there can be no world record set if men and women have the same start time and run together due to pacing. People take issue with that. We get it.

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  52. In no other running distance women can be paced by men, and that makes sense. A legal pacer is the one who would win the paced person if faster.
    No, it does not seem this idea is grasped at all.

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  53. Anon: thank you for enlightening us.

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  54. She wasn't on steroids, or other performance enhancing 'drugs'.... The faster males were nowhere in site as she finished. Ridonkulous!!!!!!
    Just when you think the world MAY be becoming a better place, BAM!!!! A lousiville slugger smacks you back into the 19th century!
    What's next? Can't use Gatorade, only Powerade? Bodyglide will disqualify you due to it's 'aerodynamic' making capabilities?!
    Seriously, pull your heads out!

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  55. Complete BS... I've written a couple of posts about it on my own blog.

    The weird thing: on my FB wall this discussion blew UP. Someone I knew in high school (former "glory days" track star... now approaching middle age) basically told me I "wouldn't understand" because I don't know what it's like to run "at the front of the pack."

    If I still lived in my old hometown (thankfully not!) I'd have slapped him. 1 - because I have won my division and I resent the insult, and 2 - because the ruling doesn't outlaw PACERS, just male-female pace combinations. Women can still have women pacers. Men can still have men pacers. Either outlaw "rabbits" or overturn this stupid rule!

    (I'm not bitter...) ;)

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  56. I dont swear often, but even I called BS after reading this article yesterday

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  57. Anon-I'll say it. You're obviously a male. Possibly without perspective. If this is deemed okay by you (and other like minded individuals) what about ultra distance running....those persons winning races such as Badwater, Leadville etc (generally male, but not always) are paced during the race...AFTER a specific distance. Therefore the pacers, 'jump in' mid race....many of these pacers are women, for male athletes....so does thus mean these athletes shouldn't win the race, or set ultra running records due to these practices...? 
    What will happen when women start running as fast or faster than men? And please, do not go into 'women can't run as fast/far/efficiently/etc....many moons ago it was thought our uterus' would fall out, doesn't happen...women couldn't break three hours/15 min 5k/blah blah etc and the like.... It can happen. Probably will happen. Where is the argument then...? There isn't one, it falls apart...
    I'm not trying to start a harsh, negative banter....just giving perspective. 

    And no one should be stripped of a record. She ran the record with rules set in place at that time that deemed her 'worthy' of such a title. Period.

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  58. What a load of Bollocks! She ran it with her own legs! What about the triathlons where you see the runners being followed by bikes? Are their times discounted because a bike was there while they ran?
    What about female runners with male trainers,are they cheating because it isn't a woman training them?
    Cycle races with motorcycle cameras in front? Does the motorcycle make the cyclist speed up or reduce the wind in front of the peleton? Gawd what ever next?

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  59. that is BS. I can't believe that.

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  60. I think this is total crap and that it sucks... for Paula and for all runners, male or female.

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  61. This made me really mad. First of all, even though she stills holds the world record for a slower time, voiding a record set in 2003 is crazy in and of itself.

    I can maybe see an argument against having official pacers, but even that I'm not sold on. It's crazy that this kind of male/female segregation is still going on. Women are winning the Badwater marathon, Leadville, etc. OVER-ALL, not just in the female category. Women have only been "legally" running the marathon for 40 years, and Paula's already 10 minutes off the male record. Sorry, boys, but the gap is closing!

    Males run with pacers, too. Why somehow Paula was the one with the "unfair advantage" escapes me.

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  62. So what happens with Boston? If a woman breaks the record at Boston (having started ~30 mins before the men's/overall field), would it count then? Or if a man passes the elite women, does it then nullify it?

    Talk about over-engineering the freakin thing.

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  63. That's BS! As you said, they won't get carried or anything like that and all women have the same conditions. This makes me as upset as last year's unofficial men world record. I can't remember the details, but it was not considered a world record due to the way the course was designed. Crazy rules!!

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  64. That is such a crock of s**t! This article downright angers me... It's wrong. Straight up WRONG!

    Sarah @ Thinfluenced

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  65. If you are physically able to keep a certain pace then good for you. Music, prayer, mantras, family on the side, visualization, male pacers . . . why does it matter what the motivation is? You called it correctly . . . bullshit.

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