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Musings about the men's OT 800 splits


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  • Musings about the men's OT 800 splits

    I posted this on the 800 thread but thought I'd split it off on it's own.

    Here are all the 200 splits for the men's 800: ... Splits.pdf

    It is instructive to note that the three going to Beijing are the only three in the field to close sub-28.

    Also instructive to note that those same three have among the best, if not the best, 1500/mile PRs of the field (Symmonds 3:56i, Wheating 3:38, Smith 3:38).

    I don't believe that it is a coincidence that the guys with the best 1500/mile PRs slowed less/closed better than the rest of the field and occupied the top three places.

    I have long maintained that the 800 has been badly hurt by the fact that more milers today focus on the 5,000 as their secondary event rather than the 800/1500 middle distance types we have seen in the past (Snell, Ryun, Coe, Ovett, Cram, et al).

  • #2
    Hey Zat,
    I agree, in principle with your main point. However, it seems as though there are more complications in this equation. Clearly, the 800 metres is sort of an in between event. It's too long for sprinters, and too short for distance runners, so what are the characteristics that could enable one to be successful at the World Level in this event?
    1) Leg Speed - There are some runners who can come down to 1500 metres, from the longer events, but just can not generate that extra gear - such as going through 400 in 50/51/52, and having any legs left.
    2) Endurance - There are some runners who can move up from 200/400 metres, but just can not finish off the required 400/500/600 metre effort.
    3) Tactics - Some of those athletes moving up from the sprint distances have never run in a non-laned event, and are not able to make that adjustment, especially being able to run in a controlled, relaxed manner in traffic.
    4) Putting it all together --- being able to stay relaxed and controlled in mid-later stages of the race, and summon maximum effort to finish strongly --- such as Symmonds and Wheaton were able to manage,
    Interestingly enough, although Symmonds and Wheaton were hanging a bit loose at the back, they were only a few tenths back. So the question then becomes whether the extra energy expended by the front runners was more psychological than physical --- whether the energy gained by settling in behind the pack offered an ability to settle and gather and wait to strike later. That's how it looked to me, however the ability to determain phys. advantage vs. psych. advantage is an unknown.


    • #3
      No doubt that the top three all ran smarter races than the likes of KD and others.

      I do think that Symmonds was playing with fire to stay boxed that long, but it worked for him. He seems to have a knack for getting out of boxes effeciently, but that's a razor-thin margin for error. Obviously it worked for him.

      Wheating looked like his coach just pointed to Symmonds and said, "Follow him and do what he does when does it, and you'll be fine." Not a bad tactic for one so green.

      Smith ran a nearly flawless, efficient race and probably ran the shortest distance by several strides of anyone in the field. He made the team as much with his head as he did his guts. Always near the front and in contention and timed his finish perfectly. Had KD run the race that Smith did, I don't think Smith would have made the team.


      • #4
        One can come at the 800 from either direction. Witness Lopez of Cuba, who has the second fastest time in the world this year, who has a 400 meter background. David Rudisha, one of the favorites to be on the podium in Beijing, has a 400 meter background. Kipketer and Borza are more 400-800 types. What matters is how fast you can run 800 meters, and, it goes without saying, that if you are one of the best in the world at 800 meters, you can likely run either a respectable 400, a respectable 1500, or both....It is not worth debating whether it is better to be a 1500 type or a 400 type, as it is not clear that it matters...


        • #5
          Agreed. This was debated on an earlier thread, but I believe that some runners will always be more successful running from the front, while others will win with their "kicks". The same approach will not work for every athlete!