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Timing the Steeplechase

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  • Timing the Steeplechase

    Alan Shank here, AKA "The Mad Splitter". Unlike the regular lap races, which are pretty easy to project with a little base-60 arithmetic, the steeple presents the problem that the laps are not 400 meters, being either shorter or longer depending on the location of the water jump. If you take lap splits at the starting line:
    A) they're not particularly meaningful of themselves, being for an unknown distance and over hurdles
    B) the first lap is not like the others, because it includes the segment with no hurdles between the starting line and the finish line AND
    C) there's going to be that last segment between 7 laps and the finish.

    OTOH, if you wait for the kilometer mark:
    A) it may not be marked
    B) there may not be an announcement of the kilo split (Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson wouldn't know a kilometer from a thermometer, not to mention Carol Lewis or Tom Hammond.)
    C) even if you get it, the race is 1/3 over already.

    The key is, of course, that once the runners have covered the distance from the start to the finish, there are seven equal laps, all with four hurdles and a water jump, to go. Once you have the time of that segment, it's a constant, and you can take times at the finish line and project the final time each lap.

    As some of you may have guessed, I have a program for doing that, not just for the steeple, but for 800, 1500, 3K, 5K, 10K as well. Here's how it works for the steeplechase:

    The user interface consists of a menu of races, radio buttons, only one of which can be "selected", an "OK" button,an "Exit" button and a space where text is displayed.

    The user checks the "3000-meter steeplechase" button and clicks "OK". A popup message box appears with the text "Press the OK button to start the race" and, you guessed it, an OK button. When you see the flash of the gun, click the button to start the timer. Another popup message box appears, saying "Push OK button to take next split, at finish line with 7 laps to go". When the lead runner (or the runner you want to split) hits the finish line, click the OK.

    In the text box, you will see:
    Cumulative time is <whatever>
    Split time is <whatever>

    Obviously, the split time will be the same as the cumulative time.

    At the same time, yet another message box with the text, "Push OK button to take next split, at finish line with 6 laps to go". When you click it, the new Cumulative and Split times are shown, as well as the "Push OK button to take next split, at 1000 meters" message. Click that when the runners reach the kilo point. NOTE: YOU MUST TAKE A KILO SPLIT, EVEN IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE THE KILO MARK IS. OTHERWISE THE PROGRAM WILL GET HOPELESSLY CONFUSED. JUST ESTIMATE. The next message box says, "Push OK button to take next split, at the finish line with 5 laps to go". When you click that, you will see:

    Cumulative time is <whatever>
    Split time is <whatever>
    If they continue average pace, time will be <projection1>
    If they continue current pace, time will be <projection2>

    For example, here are some times I took in Osaka in a mens' SC heat. The water jump was outside the track, so the laps were longer than 400m, and the starting line was on the homestretch. The time from the starting line to the finish line was just 5.8 seconds. The time with 6 laps to go was 1:21.3, so the lap took 1:15.5. Seven laps at that pace plus the 5.8 comes to 8:54.3. There's only one lap to go on, so average pace and current pace are the same. With 5 laps to go, the time was 2:37.7, so that lap was 1:16.4. The average projection is now (2:31.9 * 7 / 2) + 5.8 = 8:57.5, while the projection of the current pace is 2:37.7 + (5 * 1:16.4) = 8:59.7. (The kilo time was 2:58.9.) The rest of the splits were:

    F-4 3:51.6 (1:13.9)
    F-3 5:01.8 (1:10.2) proj1 8:43.8 proj2 8:32.4
    2K 5:46.8 (2:47.9)
    F-2 6:13.2 (1:11.4) proj1 8:40.2 proj2 8:36.0
    F-1 7:24.6 (1:11.4)
    8:29.5 (1:04.9)

    Now nobody is going to do this stuff in his/her head or even with a calculator while watching a race (you wouldn't see much), but that's what computers are for.

    After the last split is taken, the message box says, "Press the OK button to stop the timer". When the race is over, another message box says, "Press the OK button to display splits", and the entire set of splits appears in the text box, which has a vertical scrollbar. The program also saves the splits in a file with a timestamp filename, so you will have a different file for each session, i.e. all the splits for races taken from the time you launch the program until you quit the program.

    I have a windows version and a Linux version. On Windows, I used Borland C++ Builder to generate the code for the GUI; on Linux, I used Trolltech QT, which is supposed to be able to generate code for the Mac, as well. I don't have a Mac, however. I am taking my laptop to Berlin, which has a dual boot, Windows Vista and Linux, so I will have both versions with me.

    This would be an excellent tool for someone in the pressbox to use, I would think, not the announcer, but a "boot-licking lackey", so to speak, to feed info to the announcer that could be passed on if notable.

    I will try to get some photos of the GUIs and put them on a site you can link to.
    Cheers,
    Alan Shank, "The Mad Splitter"
    Woodland, CA

  • #2
    One of my boot-licking lackies put a generator of some sort on his laptop a few years back. Problem for me is that projecting final times is frowned on at the WC/OG level.

    Comment


    • #3
      You really are mad, aren't you!

      Seriously, that's amazing work.

      Comment


      • #4
        photos of GUI

        Here's the Windows version:

        http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/7741/stopwatch001.jpg

        Linux:

        http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/8290/stopwatch004.jpg

        Not great pictures, but you get the idea, anyway.
        Cheers,
        Alan Shank

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by tandfman
          You really are mad, aren't you!

          Seriously, that's amazing work.
          Gotta agree..wow!

          I have to say that I was amazed a year or so ago on these boards when certain folks said they didn't know what 1k splits meant in the steeple. At every Euro meet I've ever seen, the clock stops to show both 1 and 2k splits, and all knowledgeable fans pay attention. I'm not so sure that this is standard practice in the US, however.

          Since there are only 2 "real" splits in this race, fans really shouldn't have any trouble figuring out what's great and what's merely good...

          2:40 pace = 5:20 and 8:00
          2:45 pace = 5:30 and 8:15
          2:50 pace = 5:40 and 8:30
          etc.

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          • #6
            although malmo has taken issue with me on this statement, I know of no track in the U.S. that has steeple-kilo marks, and I've never (and that I state with pretty good confidence) seen kilo splits taken in a steeple on U.S. soil other than in Atlanta for the OG. A track which obviously no longer exists.

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            • #7
              It's not that hard to figure kilometer splits. You have two types of steeple set ups - inside water jump(A) or outside water jump(B).

              For type (A) its 7 1/2 laps plus about 10 extra meters for each water jump (about 70m extra, added on at the start. The first lap is 400 with no water jump, second lap is 390, so need 210m( +10m for water jump) past start line. Easy to site a spot 200m from start line and add 20m. That is kilometer split (usually about midway down homestretch). For 2k split I reverse the process from finish line, but it's basically 2/3 of distance from starting line to 200m mark.

              For type (B) tracks it's 7laps plus a bit more. Subtract the distance from starting line to finish line (usually under 100m) from 3000, and divide by 7. That gives you the distance of each lap(approx. 420). Easy to figure approximate km mark by adding distance from start line to finish + two lap distances, then estimate position on track of km. Probably something like 60+420+420=900, 100m past finish line is km split. Find 2k split by working backward from finish line: 3000-420-420-160=2000

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bruce Kritzler
                It's not that hard to figure kilometer splits. You have two types of steeple set ups - inside water jump(A) or outside water jump(B).

                For type (A) its 7 1/2 laps plus about 10 extra meters for each water jump (about 70m extra, added on at the start. The first lap is 400 with no water jump, second lap is 390, so need 210m( +10m for water jump) past start line. Easy to site a spot 200m from start line and add 20m. That is kilometer split (usually about midway down homestretch). For 2k split I reverse the process from finish line, but it's basically 2/3 of distance from starting line to 200m mark.

                For type (B) tracks it's 7laps plus a bit more. Subtract the distance from starting line to finish line (usually under 100m) from 3000, and divide by 7. That gives you the distance of each lap(approx. 420). Easy to figure approximate km mark by adding distance from start line to finish + two lap distances, then estimate position on track of km. Probably something like 60+420+420=900, 100m past finish line is km split. Find 2k split by working backward from finish line: 3000-420-420-160=2000
                While this is very well worded, I find it odd that in a sport as exacting in it's calculations as track and field to the point in which we eliminate marks to a degree which are made outside of a set of parameters we're down to approximating or getting "pretty close" on this one.

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                • #9
                  Have sympathy for those sitting near Alan in Berlin. :roll:

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Timing the Steeplechase

                    Originally posted by Alan Shank
                    Alan Shank here, AKA "The Mad Splitter".

                    >B) there may not be an announcement of the kilo split (Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson wouldn't know a kilometer from a thermometer, not to mention Carol Lewis or Tom Hammond.)

                    >This would be an excellent tool for someone in the pressbox to use, I would think, not the announcer, but a "boot-licking lackey", so to speak, to feed info to the announcer that could be passed on if notable.

                    >Cheers,
                    >Alan Shank, "The Mad Splitter"
                    >Woodland, CA

                    Alan, I fully admit clicking on to this thread mostly because YOU started it.

                    Not just what you say, but how you say it. Great (and fun!)!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      To add to the discussion, tracks in Europe will have a 1000 marking simply due to the fact that the 2000st is contested by youths (16-17-year-olds) so you have a starting line for that race too, which indirectly gives you a mark for the 1000m split of the 3000st race.
                      In any case, as pointed out above by others, it's fairly simple to work this stuff out if you have very basic arithmetic knowledge: if the water pit is on the inside(95%?), estimate how far it is from the 3000st start to the 3000flat start and divide by 7; the 2000 split will be 3 times that number BEFORE the 3000flat start line (or if you like, 4 times that past the 3000st start line). Such laps vary in length but it's common for them to be 397m (I've never seen one longer than 397.5, for self-evident reasons, and possibly shorter than 396, unless the water pit is very much into the inside of the track, which is very unusual).

                      When the water pit is on the outside the lap will usually be 416m if a 6-lane track, 421m if an 8-lane track and 423.5m if a 9-lane track: Basically the simplest way to build such a track is to have the curve going out the track to the water pit be of the same radius as lane 1 of said track, only moved forward by a length dependent of the space occupied by the track. For reference 6 lanes account for 6*1.22=7.32m, 8 for 9.76m, 9 for 10.98m, hence the 416, 421,423.5.

                      For example there's a 6-lane track with the outside water pit around here and the 3000st start is exactly 88m from the finish (therefore [3000-88]/7=416), the 2000st start (1000m split of 3000st) is 80m past the finish line (88+2*416+80=1000). For such a configuration the 2000m split is generally very close to the barrier at the water pit (of course it depends at what point of the arc you place the pit AND how long the arc/straight are for that specific track).
                      Rule of thumb is a couple of meters before the pit for 8-9-lane tracks.

                      ok I'm finished :lol:

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                      • #12
                        yeah, I know that the first thing on my mind when I go to a meet is to get back into a mathematics class!

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                        • #13
                          Alan, at the very least, you win this year's Tafny (and it's only half-way through the nomination period!) for 'Best Arcane Contribution to Track Stat Geeks'!!!

                          I'm sure I'll never have occasion to use it, but somehow my whole universe is just a little better off knowing it exists. Seriously!

                          Good on ya, mate. 8-) 8-) 8-)

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                          • #14
                            Yeah, I'm really in awe of all these totally "logical" and "easy" mathematical formulas........but........I'm happy to just have the stadium clock show 1k and 2k splits as they happen.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kuha
                              Yeah, I'm really in awe of all these totally "logical" and "easy" mathematical formulas........but........I'm happy to just have the stadium clock show 1k and 2k splits as they happen.
                              Clearly, you can estimate where the kilo marks are, but I'm afraid that's just not good enough for a true "split geek". :lol:

                              In WC meets, and probably most European meets, you can find the kilo marks by looking for a "timing eye". That's how I got kilo splits in Osaka, etc. I rarely attend meets in the US, except high-school ones, where there is no steeple, of course.

                              And, thanks, BTW.

                              As for those sitting near me, well, they'll have information others won't, and if they're not interested, it's no worse than sitting next to someone discussing his/her next business deal. :lol:

                              Cheers,
                              Alan Shank

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