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Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

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  • #16
    There was a very interesting thread, maybe one of the top 3 or 4 on this (or any, to me) site. The discussion/review indicated that it was very likely that the LJ marks were incorrectly read (many/ most readings were 0.0, 1.0, 2.0). There was commentary on how the readings differed when there was a break in the hurdles, wherein the wind reader there took over and the readings for the LJ returned to 'normal' until he left again. Given the evidence in that thread, along with the anecdotal evidence such as from gh above, my assignment of the likelihood of it not being wind aided are under 10%.

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    • #17
      The wind-reader-change speculation was merely that, speculation. By dj, as I recall, and he may have later found a factor that suggested his theory didn't hold water.

      But that doesn't change the fact that the number of x.0 readings was off the chart and that the Mexico City wind readings have to be treated as fanciful.

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      • #18
        Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

        Originally posted by Anonymous
        Other factors that cloud the issue:

        1) Latitude. Because of the spinning of the earth, gravity is slightly but measurably less near the equator than near the poles. No major meet has ever been held closer to the equator. However, it appears that this wouldn't be as important factor in the 400m as in the jumps, but it still must have had an effect.

        2) The track. From what I understand, rubberized tracks were still somewhat rare in 1968, especially outside of the USA. Needless to say, they are much faster than your run-of-the-mill cinder track. Some Americans might have run on them only at the OT and OG; others maybe only at the OG.

        There are so many differences between now and yesteryear that time comparisons only have so much meaning. Peter Snell ran his 1:44.3 on a 385y grass track; trying to compare that to Coe's best marks is difficult. When Clayton ran 2:08, he didn't have the benefit of a pacemaker or modern sports drinks (and I think the IAAF still restricted access to water at the time).
        Would it be directly latitude or directly the Coriolis Effect? As I know it, one would have to be tending to go a considerable distance north to south (or vise versa) at a critical speed (I imagine the speed of spriters might register in this category) for these effects to register on speed and direction!?

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        • #19
          Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

          The talk in the current Mexico City thread and how much aid there is that high up reminded me of this ancient thread, which I started to point out my long-held contention that it was worth about a second to the quartermilers.

          And I just realized something. The number I came up with for the Mexico men's finalists, an average of 0.89 improvement should actually be larger. Why? Because the Mexico times were automatic, not hand, and the non-Mexico times were hand times. So the MC times would have been 0.1 or 0.2 faster if good old hand-timing were employed.

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          • #20
            Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

            Good stuff.

            Another problem with 1968 performances is that one is inevitably comparing "some" cinder track times to Tartan surface times...and that will make a difference, too. It was the combination of altitude + superb new track that made the MC times so unusual.

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            • #21
              Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

              not sure the Mexico City track was any better than lots of other synthetic tracks already in place at that time. But yes, some of the non-MC seasonal bests probably were on dirt, bringing the differential back a little the other way.

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              • #22
                Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                Originally posted by gh
                not sure the Mexico City track was any better than lots of other synthetic tracks already in place at that time.
                It would be interesting to have some empirical data on this. I snuck into that stadium in 1975 and jogged one lap before getting tossed out... It was my impression that the track surface was incredibly good (even for 1975). I suspect that it was truly state of the art in 1968, but others would know better than me.

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                • #23
                  Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                  A question to which I don't know the answer, but in '68 were there anything but "state-of-the-art" installations? The science was still in the early days didn't 3M (Tartan) pretty much have a monopoly at that point? MC was Tartan. Grasstex was in the biz at that point I guess.

                  MC also hosted the Pan-Ams in '75; when you ran on it, might it have been something newly installed for that?

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                  • #24
                    Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                    Originally posted by gh
                    A question to which I don't know the answer, but in '68 were there anything but "state-of-the-art" installations? The science was still in the early days didn't 3M (Tartan) pretty much have a monopoly at that point? MC was Tartan. Grasstex was in the biz at that point I guess.

                    MC also hosted the Pan-Ams in '75; when you ran on it, might it have been something newly installed for that?
                    If I have time, I'll try to go through old T&FNs to see what might have been said about the MC track. My original comment was based on the fact that the earliest all-weather surfaces were the really mediocre rubberized asphalt tracks like--if I'm not mistaken--the '65 San Diego stadium (27:11; 3:55.3) and the Terre Haute track of '66 (Ryun's 880 WR). I'm not personally aware of any true Tartan tracks in the US in those years; perhaps they began coming in in '67...but where? Most of the major 1967 meets that come immediately to (my) mind were all on cinder surfaces. The MC track I examined (in March 1975) was Tartan, and relatively cushiony--not at all like the very hard sprinters' track surfaces of the 1990s. I'd bet that it wasn't absolutely optimal (by todays standards) for 100 and 200, but was probably nearly perfect for 400 & up. The first time I'd ever actually competed on a similar surface was (in HS) in early 1970 at an indoor state meet at the US Coast Guard Academy. So, clearly by that time, the stuff was pretty widespread.

                    I'd love to see a summary of the first 6 or 8 years of all-weather surfaces--to see where they were installed, when, and how the technology evolved in that formative period.

                    Edit: Just found this on wiki:
                    1968 Summer Olympics at Mexico City was the first Olympic Games to use the Tartan track surface in athletics.[4] The original tradename "Tartan" came from the manufacturer 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing), manufacturers of Scotch Tape and continuing the Scotch name tradition. Those original tracks required mercury as a catalyst, later found to be an environmental hazard. An independent company has perfected the process without mercury.[5] There are now numerous competitors in the "all-weather track" industry. In fact, the "Tartan" tracks of the late 1960s were the second generation of all-weather track surfacing. Before that, there were several tracks constructed of rubber (usually tire shavings) and asphalt. The first recorded use of a Tartan Track surface in competition in England was a long jump at the Norman Green Sports Centre in Solihull, September 16, 1967[6], though there were earlier uses in the United States.

                    And a tidbit from the Tartan website:
                    "In the late 50’s and early 60’s the 3M company retained our research team to develop polyurethane athletic surfacing, initially for horse tracks and stalls. This product came to be known worldwide as the TARTAN® brand athletic surface."

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                    • #25
                      Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                      Originally posted by kuha
                      ....
                      If I have time, I'll try to go through old T&FNs to see what might have been said about the MC track. ...."
                      I can save you the time; i did that before my post. Other than noting that it was Tartan (and the first synthetic Olympics) nothing appears to have been said. Altitude dominated the conversation, but only in the negative sense (slowing distance races).

                      First U.S. nationals on synthetic was '63 in St. Louis, with Hayes running the first 9.1.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                        Interesting thread - though a bit too geeky for me in parts

                        So - hypothetically - Betty Cuthbert's 52.01 in Tokyo (cinders, sea-level) might have translated to a 51.12 in Mexico? :shock:

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                        • #27
                          Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                          In most venues the horizontal jump runways are parallel to and not far from the straightaways of the track. If you happened to know that, say, Dwight Phillips had his third jump while the 400 final was going on and that the wind was, say, -2.7 meters per second, could you use that wind data to say something about its effect on the 400?

                          At the 2011 National Senior Games in Houston, they routinely gave wind data after races longer than 200 just to tell everyone how ridiculous the home straight headwinds were. Readings over -4.0 meters per second were common.

                          About synthetic tracks, my personal opinion of Grasstex (I got to run on it as a high school kid in Queens, NY when St. John's University had it) was that it was too hard, too hot (dark grey or black in color) and basically sucked.

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                          • #28
                            Re: Altitude in the 400 (lonnnng post for geeks only)

                            Originally posted by Vault-emort
                            Interesting thread - though a bit too geeky for me in parts

                            So - hypothetically - Betty Cuthbert's 52.01 in Tokyo (cinders, sea-level) might have translated to a 51.12 in Mexico? :shock:
                            I have zero problem with such a projection.

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