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  • missive from London

    File this under "Hey, relatively speaking, our guys are awesome!"

    The current issue of AW has a brief bit on the state of UK athletics, with particular attention given to the men's marathon. In 1983, 102 British men broke 2:20. This year, a total of 20 Britons have done this: 19 men and Radcliffe. And, of course, 7 months on, Radcliffe's WR performance remains the year's fastest performance by a Brit. Jon Brown is scheduled to run the upcoming Fukuoka race--but he is apparently the only male runner with any hope of finishing the year with the top British time. A doubly unbelievable state of affairs: 1) Radcliffe's talent; and 2) the horrendous decline of her countrymen.

  • #2
    Re: missive from London

    This parallels what others are saying about long distance runners/running in the USA, although in the marathon alone, the situation is far worse for Britannia. What gives? Too many armchair sportsmen - watching TV, eating/drinking beer and cheering on their favorite teams? Fear of competing against others, especially East Africans? Your take would be appreciated.

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    • #3
      Re: missive from London

      A few years ago some mathematicians with zero common sense extrapolated the women's progress in the marathon vs. the men's to exclaim that the women's WR would pass the men's around 2050. Now I'm starting to wonder ;-).

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      • #4
        Re: missive from London

        I well remember those "projections"--mathematically speaking, they were absolutely worthless...the equivalent of saying that, at the rate of growth when a child is 3 years old, at 30 years old, he/she will be 12 feet tall.

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        • #5
          Re: missive from London

          In fact the newest issue of AW says they made a mistake, only seven men plus Radcliffe broke 2:20 last year...

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          • #6
            Re: missive from London

            <A few years ago some mathematicians with zero common sense extrapolated the women's progress in the marathon vs. the men's to exclaim that the women's WR would pass the men's around 2050. Now I'm starting to wonder ;-). >

            <I well remember those "projections"--mathematically speaking, they were absolutely worthless...the equivalent of saying that, at the rate of growth when a child is 3 years old, at 30 years old, he/she will be 12 feet tall. >

            Your comments are right on. In fact, in response to the original article in "Nature", a correspondent pointed out that by simple arithmetical projection of records, in less than 100 years, the women's marathon would be run in a time such that each 200 m segment was faster than the (then) men's 200 m world record!

            Who was it that first said "Lies, damned lies and statistics"? (I have Winston Churchill and/or Benjamin Disraeli down as possible "originators").

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            • #7
              Re: missive from London

              Actually the 1990's story about "the women will outrun the men in the future" was even more ridiculous.
              Because the article published in "Nature" (2 Jan 1992 issue, page 25) claimed that female marathon runners would overtake their male colleagues not within some half a century but rather within just six (yes, 6!) years!
              The "scientific" calculations "proved" that both sexes would do the marathon in 2:01:59 by 1998! Thus now five years further on the women would have left the men far behind and be approaching the 1:55-barrier ....
              It must have been one of the darkest hours in the history of the otherwise reputable magazine "Nature" when they published that article.
              PS. The two authors of the article were not mathematicians, rather it was one physiologist and one anaesthesiologist (!) from UCLA.

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              • #8
                Re: missive from London

                The funny thing about predictions is that both the most optimistic and pessimistic ones tend to be wrong, and that actual results tend to fall somewhere in between.

                This whole discussion brings to mind a humorous quotation that I remember from the book "The Lore of Running."

                In about 1930, one British gentleman (who was purportedly some sort of expert on running) remarked "It has been said that there is a woman who has run a marathon in three hours and forty minutes. And that is a claim that I am disposed to doubt."

                Doubt that he would have predicted Paula Radcliffe.

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                • #9
                  Re: missive from London

                  You guys have to get Karl Keska off his lazy butt and out there.

                  Just kidding, Karl! Best to you at Athens in the 10.

                  Go Ducks!

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                  • #10
                    Re: missive from London

                    I read Karl Keska is running his first marathon in London this spring (Maybe it was on this website, I can't remember).

                    If you read this board Karl, best of luck to you!

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                    • #11
                      Re: missive from London

                      Women running marathon is a crime.

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