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  • Where is the next Bayi?

    "I will add that, relatively speaking, Steve Jones's fabulous blast-from-the-gun in '85 is still more dramatic and impressive than anything we've seen since then. None of the 2:03 or 2:04 races we've seen have been as willfully bold as that one."

    I lifted the above quote by *kuha* from the Rupp/OT Marathon thread as it touched on a sniggling question that has been bouncing around in my mind for years. The WR was 2:07 in 1985, it is three and a half minutes faster now. Someone would therefore being going through the first 13.1 miles of a marathon in around 1hr flat to match Jones' relative pace; I think we all agree that would be eye-popping. And wouldn't we love it!!!! There is nothing like someone sticking their neck out in a do-or-die effort; it is one of most riveting and thrilling aspects of our sport, that big question hanging in the air...can they pull it off?

    Which leads me to Bayi. First 800s/880s were lead in 1:52, 1:51, 1:50 (!!) when the mile WR was 3:51. A lesser runner would have been branded a nutcase, but Bayi could hold the pace and either win or finish close. One thing was for certain, winning against Bayi meant giving it everything, and only a few could pull it off.

    So, will we ever see another Bayi? Is there too much at stake now ($) for a runner to take risks like that? And what would that runner be coming through the 800 in now? El G made 1:51 first halves commonplace, and a whole slew of runners were on his heels. How do you gap today's 1500m men at 800? With a 1:48? 1:47? It boggles the mind!

    And what type of revitalizing effect would that have on T&F? Bayi was revolutionary (I seem to recall the phrase "pulling a Bayi" was bandied about in my running circle) by any measure and his efforts resulted in what we now consider to be some classic races (Christchurch, for example).

  • #2
    Re: Where is the next Bayi?

    I could be wrong, but I believe Bayi's then World Record of 3:51.0 remains the fastest mile ever run without a rabbit. He led the entire race.

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    • #3
      Re: Where is the next Bayi?

      Originally posted by tandfman
      I could be wrong, but I believe Bayi's then World Record of 3:51.0 remains the fastest mile ever run without a rabbit. He led the entire race.
      Probably so, but Ryun's race, a mere 0.1 slower, was run on cinders so almost certainly "intrinsically superior."

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Where is the next Bayi?

        Originally posted by pickle47
        So, will we ever see another Bayi?
        Kind of hard to imagine such a thing now, with the talent in so many events pretty evenly spread. In the old days, a Ron Clarke could lead from start to finish and win by 90 seconds. Johnny Gray often ran this way; and there are others, of course.

        Today, you may well see that approach in lower levels of competition, but not terribly often at the very top level. We know that there's a cost to running from the front--something like 3 or 4% more energy is required than with drafting. And in a pro world, the typical reward is for winning, not demolishing records.

        I'm all for a Bayi-like approach--he was definitely the most exciting middle-distance figure of the mid-1970s--but wouldn't hold my breath for a new incarnation. In truth, today's athletes are too savvy--too knowledgable about physiological science and their competition--to do anything more than merely experiment with running that way.

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        • #5
          Re: Where is the next Bayi?

          I tend to agree with you, kuha, and yet...

          Originally posted by kuha

          We know that there's a cost to running from the front--something like 3 or 4% more energy is required than with drafting.
          I would maintain that the runners of the '70s knew this full well.

          Originally posted by kuha

          And in a pro world, the typical reward is for winning, not demolishing records.
          That hasn't changed. And Bayi ran to win. It took him a couple of years to knock a tenth off the mile WR, although he did take that 1500 record pretty early.

          Originally posted by kuha

          In truth, today's athletes are too savvy--too knowledgable about physiological science and their competition--to do anything more than merely experiment with running that way.
          I would contend that Bayi's running depended on the conventional wisdom that it's foolish to go out hard...that's what makes it work!! That's how you get that 20m gap at 800.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Where is the next Bayi?

            Originally posted by pickle47
            I tend to agree with you, kuha, and yet...

            Originally posted by kuha

            We know that there's a cost to running from the front--something like 3 or 4% more energy is required than with drafting.
            I would maintain that the runners of the '70s knew this full well.

            Originally posted by kuha

            And in a pro world, the typical reward is for winning, not demolishing records.
            That hasn't changed. And Bayi ran to win. It took him a couple of years to knock a tenth off the mile WR, although he did take that 1500 record pretty early.

            Originally posted by kuha

            In truth, today's athletes are too savvy--too knowledgable about physiological science and their competition--to do anything more than merely experiment with running that way.
            I would contend that Bayi's running depended on the conventional wisdom that it's foolish to go out hard...that's what makes it work!! That's how you get that 20m gap at 800.
            Good points. On the first question, I actually wonder how much athletes of the '70s thought about something like the 3-4% extra effort of leading? My guess would be that the scientists understood it, but the athletes gave it relatively little thought--or figured that running no extra distance around the curves more than compensated for being out front. Not sure. What does seem apparent is that it's relatively more of a concern with today's generation than it was back then.

            Yes, of course, Bayi was "just" running to win--but in a field that good (and a track that quick!), it took a WR to do so. My comment was not perfectly stated, but was directed at today's athletes rather than him.

            And, yes again, Bayi's strategy worked because it was so novel--and so radically went against the conventional wisdom of the day. But, of course, novel strategies don't remain novel for very long and his competitors pretty quickly learned how to cope.

            He was exciting, for sure. Win or lose, when he was in a race, you knew that everyone was REALLY going to have to work.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Where is the next Bayi?

              Originally posted by tandfman
              I could be wrong, but I believe Bayi's then World Record of 3:51.0 remains the fastest mile ever run without a rabbit. He led the entire race.
              how about the front run 3:32.2 1500 at the commonwealth games 1974?'
              that is good for a 3:49.0 mile.
              according to http://www.iaaf.org/mm/Document/Comp...2011_23299.pdf

              1:51.8 for the half....
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjhC-1W9QTE

              is this the un-rabbited WR? i think so.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                I was in the crowd that day. I saw the race from about the same angle as the camera. It was a fantastic experience. Its great to see a WR, but the way he won the race was incredible.

                And I was looking for Gruffy Crouch to get a gong. Unfortunately he wasn't able to get there. That field was incredible, even 36 years later.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                  Originally posted by gibson
                  Originally posted by tandfman
                  I could be wrong, but I believe Bayi's then World Record of 3:51.0 remains the fastest mile ever run without a rabbit. He led the entire race.
                  how about the front run 3:32.2 1500 at the commonwealth games 1974?'
                  that is good for a 3:49.0 mile.
                  Yes, but it's not a mile. My statement was limited to the mile--I've no idea whether there have been faster unrabbited 1500s than the '74 CG race.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                    Not sure if the rabbit's contract says he/she has to drop out. Maybe a rabbit who keeps going (like Tom Byers did at least once) would do the trick. Or someone really badass or who doesn't know any better or believes going out hard and hanging on IS the best way to run.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                      A bold front runner wins when he's an unknown. Once he does it he's a sitting duck in major races and championships. Bayi's early laps were amazing; amazing in the sense that he finished still strong. Thn we had El-G who pushed hard the last 700. Frankly I think the latter strategy has the runner in more control.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                        Originally posted by kuha
                        Originally posted by pickle47
                        So, will we ever see another Bayi?
                        Kind of hard to imagine such a thing now, with the talent in so many events pretty evenly spread. In the old days, a Ron Clarke could lead from start to finish and win by 90 seconds. Johnny Gray often ran this way; and there are others, of course.

                        Today, you may well see that approach in lower levels of competition, but not terribly often at the very top level...
                        You mean, "lower level" competition like US Nationals? Flanagan took off at the start and never looked back in the last year's 10000m.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                          Originally posted by jeremyp
                          A bold front runner wins when he's an unknown. Once he does it he's a sitting duck in major races and championships. Bayi's early laps were amazing; amazing in the sense that he finished still strong. Thn we had El-G who pushed hard the last 700. Frankly I think the latter strategy has the runner in more control.
                          When Hicham did that in Athens, it looked brilliant. When Webb did the same next year, it looked foolish. It all depends on the end result...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                            Originally posted by TN1965
                            Originally posted by kuha
                            Originally posted by pickle47
                            So, will we ever see another Bayi?
                            Kind of hard to imagine such a thing now, with the talent in so many events pretty evenly spread. In the old days, a Ron Clarke could lead from start to finish and win by 90 seconds. Johnny Gray often ran this way; and there are others, of course.

                            Today, you may well see that approach in lower levels of competition, but not terribly often at the very top level...
                            You mean, "lower level" competition like US Nationals? Flanagan took off at the start and never looked back in the last year's 10000m.
                            I think my comment is appropriately nuanced, not ruling anything out. But, in the instance you mentioned, Flanagan was able to do that precisely because it was NOT an Olympic or WC final field.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Where is the next Bayi?

                              I don't know if this is relevant, but a few recent championship 800m races have been won by front running, including Rudisha's world championship victory last year.

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