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When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

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  • When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

    I suspect it began on the European curcuit...but I'm trying to remember when pacing with a rabbit started and how long it was before becoming common place. Also, anyone know who started the idea? And, while we are at it, what do you think is the effect it has had on distance running?

  • #2
    Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

    Some one else can give you a more definitive answer, but there was a time ( 50's... ) when it was illegal. Ibbotson's 3:57.2 got held up for a few years over contention that he was rabbited ( Blagrove ? ) . Of course Bannister clearly was rabbited by Brasher and Chataway in his 3:59.4, but everyone hushed up about it, not wanting to spoil the occasion.

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    • #3
      Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

      Rabbit pacing has had the remarkable effect of making 3:26 for 1500, 12:40 for 5000 and 26:30 for 10000 boring. I cannot muster a shred of enthusiasm for such races. They're more like timetrials. The athletes lose any idea of how to compete, they get to championships and we get the likes of the 2007 Worlds where the 800 was won in something like 1:47, and the 5000 run at slower than 10000 pace.

      Is it any wonder Kenenise Bekele feels overshadowed by Usain Bolt, at least Bolt is exciting and doesn't run to a preset script every time out.

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      • #4
        Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

        Think Martti Jukola wrote about Jean Bouin using rabbits. Then, he's about as reliable as a Wikipedia article with The content of this article is unreferenced and disputed at the top...

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        • #5
          Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

          I'm guessing Kuha will find us a citation of the English pros of the late 19th Century availing themselves of hareage.

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          • #6
            Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

            Rabbits are used in 19th century meets, although often with different purposes.

            The main purpose for rabbits today is to draw out the best in a runner trying to run a fast time. That was one of the purposes long ago, but not the only means of achieving that end as handicap races could produce a similar result (except that the scratch man then to circle the field.)

            The other common purpose for rabbits was in scored meets, when one runner might attempt to draw out the opposition at a pace they couldn't maintain, or to help his teammate by doing the donkey work. One finds this usage in the Oxford-Cambridge meets, the Oxbridge meets against American universities, U.S. dual meets, and championship meets like the IC4A and the AAU (remembering that the AAU was a team championship.)

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            • #7
              Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

              Originally posted by dukehjsteve
              Some one else can give you a more definitive answer, but there was a time ( 50's... ) when it was illegal. Ibbotson's 3:57.2 got held up for a few years over contention that he was rabbited ( Blagrove ? ) . Of course Bannister clearly was rabbited by Brasher and Chataway in his 3:59.4, but everyone hushed up about it, not wanting to spoil the occasion.
              I guess the true question is when did it become legal for rabbits to drop out? As I believe everyone in Bannister's race finished but not so sure about Ibbotson's. So, at one time it wasn't rabbiting if the person finished no matter how slow. :?

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              • #8
                Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

                Originally posted by gh
                I'm guessing Kuha will find us a citation of the English pros of the late 19th Century availing themselves of hareage.
                Right, as noted by dj, that was a huge point of the entire history of handicap racing.

                And, as has already been noted above, the SINGLE most famous footrace of modern times was a rabbitted affair, and blatantly so...

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                • #9
                  Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

                  When Jules Ladoum├Ęgue set a WR of 3:49.2 for 1500 he was helped by Sera Martin (the 800 WR holder) and Jean Keller. Martin dropped out after taking the pace through 600m and Keller did the same shortly after the 1000m mark.

                  Not quite sure of the reference about Martti Jukola's reliability. Jukola was regarded as the top Athletics writer in Finland in the first half of the last century (Matti Hannus would be similarly regarded for the second half of the 20th century).

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                  • #10
                    Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

                    Originally posted by rhymans
                    Not quite sure of the reference about Martti Jukola's reliability. Jukola was regarded as the top Athletics writer in Finland in the first half of the last century (Matti Hannus would be similarly regarded for the second half of the 20th century).
                    Many fans of our sport I've talked to - probably the majority - have named Tapio Pekola as the leading, or at least best-liked, Finnish T&F writer of the second half of the 20th (and I agree). I mention this as the two, Pekola and Jukola, have one semi-relevant thing in common that nobody else has even come close to: they can describe a race in words so vividly you end up learning every detail, remembering everything much better than if you'd merely actually watched the event. They can make a boring race epic, and an epic race doubly epic.

                    Jukola certainly was epic; however, the most epic writer isn't necessarily the one you'd trust most, especially if he's writing a long time after the fact. (Think of Homer.) He wrote about facts, he wrote about what he thought was facts and wasn't, he wrote about what he thought was facts and may have been (nobody can tell anymore), and - as befits a good epic writer - he wrote myths. The Finnish T&F heroes of our golden era are appropriately comparable to the ancient heroes of Greece, and Jukola wrote the mythology. He was good at it; the Nurmi myth is so well constructed it's almost impossible for us to tell whether he really was that good - the Finnish son of Zeus - or merely your run-of-the-mill nine-time Olympic champion. There's just the right amount of reporting the bad bits, failures, inconvenient details to make his accounts much more believable than the Greek stories... and as always, the key is writing to an audience that really wants to believe.

                    He was a great writer, a good reporter, even an OK historian, but most of what he says must be taken with a pinch of salt. Anyway, in the case of Bouin, the historian element also comes into play, and any merely okay historian writing a thick tome is bound to get many of his supposed facts wrong.

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                    • #11
                      Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

                      I think most avid distance running fans prefer a race with no rabbit pacing...although there is excitement and a place for both. The play of how to actually win (or place high in) a race with all the tactics etc. is the most interesting part of a distance race. And it is much more evident in a non rabbited race. Whereas rabbit paced races are viewed by many as merely a "time trail" to acheive a fast time.

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                      • #12
                        Re: When did distance running rabbit pacing begin?

                        Originally posted by lovetorun
                        I think most avid distance running fans prefer a race with no rabbit pacing...although there is excitement and a place for both.
                        Agreed! If a runner has a chance for a record, why not use rabbits? The runner is still actually doing the running. However, if they practically walk the first few laps, there is excitement as the tension mounts as to who will break from the pack. I've never understood those who boo such tactics as I find it quite interesting. But maybe that's just me.

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