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Kip Keino's 3.34.9 at altitude 1968

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  • Kip Keino's 3.34.9 at altitude 1968

    How great a run was this? Much has been made of Jipcho pacing the first two laps. Does this detract from the greatness of this run? Is it intrinsically 'better' than Ryun's 3.33.1 at sea level? Your thoughts please........

  • #2
    We've had quite a bit of discussion on this topic in previous threads...but most seem to agree that it was an amazing run. Ironically Keino never ran faster--even at sea level.

    IMO Jim Ryun got a raw deal on 2 counts...1. the altitude in Mexico City (which greatly favored Keino) and 2. He had been injured (hamstring) and also suffered a about with Mono.

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    • #3
      I've only met Joe Vigil once, at a coaching clinic about 10 years ago, and one point he tried to make is that Keino's run at Mexico City was still the best 1500m performance of all time because if you did the NCAA altitude conversion it came out better than the then-WR. I knew that he knew altitude does not affect all athletes equally, so it soured me on him a bit. I know he's a great coach, but any time someone knowingly makes false statements...

      If I'm not mistaken, it was the #4 1500/mile performance of all time as of the end of '68, beaten only by Ryun's 3 world records. I've also wondered just how much of a difference the track made, as synthetic surfaces weren't all that common back then.

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      • #4
        You can adjust times for theoretical influence of altitude, wind, weather, yards vs. meters, drafting, pacing, track surface, the phase of the moon, climate change, age and ingrown toenails but, in my view, assuming the distance and timing are accurate, a time is what it is; the elapsed time from firing the gun to crossing the finish line.
        All else is speculation.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by lonewolf
          You can adjust times for theoretical influence of altitude, wind, weather, yards vs. meters, drafting, pacing, track surface, the phase of the moon, climate change, age and ingrown toenails but, in my view, assuming the distance and timing are accurate, a time is what it is; the elapsed time from firing the gun to crossing the finish line.
          All else is speculation.
          Well said lonewolf. No knock on all those that talk endlessly of wind/altitude adjustment factors, but when it is all said and done, if the wind is 2.0 or less, the time is the time is the time. Having said that I do believe that sprint/jump performances at excess altitude have to be taken with the appropriate grains of salt.

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          • #6
            Factor in his exploits over 10000 and 5000 in the Games prior to the 1500, as well as his ongoing health problems which forced him out of the 10000 and i think you have one of the great Olympic campaigns of all time

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            • #7
              Originally posted by George Matthews
              Factor in his exploits over 10000 and 5000 in the Games prior to the 1500, as well as his ongoing health problems which forced him out of the 10000 and i think you have one of the great Olympic campaigns of all time
              I fully agree. And I assume the stories of his having to run a mile through the streets of Mexico City before the 1500 m final, are true. Keino's Mexico City and Munich efforts are well contrasted. In MC, losses in the 10K and 5K made him try that much harder in the 1500m. In M, his win in the steeplechase, allied to the absence of Ryun in the 1500 m final, dulled the fire in his belly.

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              • #8
                This subject has been given great--indeed, exhaustive, or at least exhausting--attention on several other threads. The basic points, as far as I'm concerned:
                -of course this performance was remarkable; it remains nearly unbelievable, in fact, for me after all these years.
                -there is no "low altitude conversion" formula that is remotely meaningful for this mark; Keino was not a "generic" athlete in any way, a truth underscored by the fact that a remarkable percentage of his lifetime fastest miles and 1500s were run at moderate or significant altitude. All the evidence suggests that Keino was NOT affected, or was affected very little, by Mexico City's altitude. Personally, I'd rate his 3:34.9 there as "worth" perhaps a 3:34.5 at sea level--no better.

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                • #9
                  I think you nail it kuha. A remarkable performance is not necessarily a remarkable standard.

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                  • #10
                    Keino's 3:34.9

                    Originally posted by kuha
                    This subject has been given great--indeed, exhaustive, or at least exhausting--attention on several other threads. The basic points, as far as I'm concerned:
                    -of course this performance was remarkable; it remains nearly unbelievable, in fact, for me after all these years.
                    -there is no "low altitude conversion" formula that is remotely meaningful for this mark; Keino was not a "generic" athlete in any way, a truth underscored by the fact that a remarkable percentage of his lifetime fastest miles and 1500s were run at moderate or significant altitude. All the evidence suggests that Keino was NOT affected, or was affected very little, by Mexico City's altitude. Personally, I'd rate his 3:34.9 there as "worth" perhaps a 3:34.5 at sea level--no better.
                    Interesting. I tend to agree that Keino was not affected. How would you rate Ryun's 3:37.8 at sea-level?

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                    • #11
                      I don't think there's much question that Ryun's 3:37.8 was one of the hardest and most courageous races he ever ran. In terms of "sea-level quality", I'd guesstimate it was equivalent to something like 3:34.5 or 3:35 flat...that's probably the form he was in on that day...not equal to his 3:33.1, but definitely his second-best-ever at the distance.

                      I watched that race live on TV and was stunned. I remain stunned to this day. There's something about it that my own rational processes can't fully grasp.

                      Edit: A further factor here, as several posters have mentioned on those other threads, is that MC was the first major global championship meet on an all-weather track. Almost certainly, that made times a bit quicker than they would have been on a Tokyo-type cinder track. Conservatively, I'd reject the "1 second per lap" formula in favor of merely, say 1.5 seconds overall... By that measure, 3:34.9 becomes something like a "cinder" 3:36.4, while 3:37.8 becomes 3:39.3... Strictly guesswork, of course, but this almost certainly represents some contribution to Keino's astonishing time...

                      It remains interesting that Keino could set a truly massive lifetime PR at 1500 (and do it the hard way--out fast and not really slowing much at all at the end) and then lose the 5000 in distinctly inferior time to a low-lander (albiet a tough, wiley, and altitude-trained one). The answer (as discussed on other threads) must be--in part--that Keino's altitude adaption was freakishly unique up to (at least) 1500 or 1600 meters, but then reverted to something much more "normal" (for world-class runners, that is) from there on out...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kuha
                        It remains interesting that Keino could set a truly massive lifetime PR at 1500 (and do it the hard way--out fast and not really slowing much at all at the end) and then lose the 5000 in distinctly inferior time to a low-lander (albiet a tough, wiley, and altitude-trained one). The answer (as discussed on other threads) must be--in part--that Keino's altitude adaption was freakishly unique up to (at least) 1500 or 1600 meters, but then reverted to something much more "normal" (for world-class runners, that is) from there on out...
                        i doubt it

                        he was 5k wr holder at one time & i'm not sure he really spent much time on it, as his 7'39wr on dirt certainly indicates potential of near 13'10 on synthetic - so he possibly broke the 5k wr off mostly just his 1500 ability

                        an altitude guy with 5k wr credentials shoudn't have much trouble in a slow 5k at altitude which boiled down to a kick

                        more likely his intermittent gall-bladder problem flared up throuout the meet - with gallstones you often find stones can often block the neck of the gallbladder, cause excruciating pain for anything upto a few hours, then stones fall back into the gallbladder with complete, immediate disappearance of pain

                        more likely to have been brought on by any fat-containing meal ( as gallbladder starts contracting pushing up stones into the neck as soon as meal is in the gut - the bile stored in the gallbladder is used to help digest fats )

                        in effect, keino brought on more risk of an attack of colic after every meal & obviously before each race you have to eat well

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                        • #13
                          Note that (if it hasn't been stated already) the effects of altitude are completely different in the distance/aerobic races than in the sprints. Drag corrections are not that important, since they depend on the square of the runner's velocity (v^2). It's a physiological issue relating to the lack of oxygen, which can largely be overcome with altitude training.

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