Welcome to the Science of Sport, where we bring you the second, third, and fourth level of analysis you will not find anywhere else.

Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or the dehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance.

Consider a donation if you like what you see here!

Did you know?
We published The Runner's Body in May 2009. With an average 4.4/5 stars on Amazon.com, it has been receiving positive reviews from runners and non-runners alike.

Available for the Kindle and also in the traditional paper back. It will make a great gift for the runners you know, and helps support our work here on The Science of Sport.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

London 2009 splits and pacing

London 2009 - splits, pacing and live results

Check out the post race report, and a comparison between Wanjiru's London win and Gebrselassie's 2:03:59 at our Race Report Post HERE

Below are the splits and a graph of the pacing used in the 2009 London Marathon, which was won by Sammy Wanjiru in a new course record of 2:05:10. Second went to Tsegaye Kebede in 2:05:20, third to Jaouad Gharib a further seven seconds back.

Join us later for a full recap of the race, and how it actually unfolded. I just need a couple hours to recover, and watch the last part of the race. But it's on the way!



Don't forget to join us for the post-race analysis and a more detailed breakdown from the race. I just need an hour or two to recover, watch the last part of the race again, but check in later!


Last word

I just have to get a word in about the commentators and coverage - they couldn't pronounce names (invented letters in names - it wasn't "Yamauchi", but Yamamuchi, and "Tadese" became "Tadusu". Wanjiru, Kebede, he got them ALL wrong). That is embarrassing and unforgivable. You know as a commentator that you'll have to say these names, so learn them before the coverage starts.

Also, they didn't know the athletes, didn't appreciate the pace or the nuances of the marathon race. In particular, the male 'anchor' was very poor - he didn't know what he was looking at 90% of the time, he was clearly guessing at distances and times, and failed to add value to the pictures. Very disappointing. Where were Brendan Foster, Steve Cram and the experts?

As for the picture, we got to see prolonged coverage of the women's race, where, quite frankly, little happened for long periods. It was, to be blunt, a boring race, with the exception of the brief challenge by Yamauchi. The broadcaster obviously is obliged to dedicate a certain part of the day to each race, but it was very frustrating to watch this mediocre race when the men were racing at 2:02 pace for the first half and then surviving in the second.

So apologies to those who love to watch women time-trialling the last 10km of a race, but when Wanjiru, Kebede and Gharib are racing head to head and we get to see such dull images of the top 15 women coming in...well, is it any wonder that athletics and road-running lags behind other sports for popularity?

So congratulations to the broadcaster, you've successfully cheapened your own product. I notice that the theme song to the show "Biggest Loser" was playing at the finish line as the women's top 15 came in (and you showed all of them). How appropriate for everyone, who lost out on a quality broadcast.


Gus said...

This is very interesting indeed.

Gus said...

Still think Wanjiru will win?

Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more about the woeful commentary. IIRC he didn't realise until the men had reached 7 or 8 miles that they were running under 2:02 pace - even the 10k split of 28:30 didn't make a wave. Any minor running enthusiast can work out the final time based on a mile or kilometer split - How hard is it to divide by the miles run and multiply by 26.2??? Quite unbelievable really - and I'm afraid that Jo Pavey didn't do any better on that score...

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi Gus, anthony

thanks for the posts.

Gus, sorry i didn't reply to you right away, i was too busy trying to get the splits off the TV and internet and write the posts! I suppose that if I claim now that I DID think wanjiru would win after that fast start, I'd look sneaky! But yes, I felt he'd win. Off that strong pace, my money was always on him because he showed last year in Beijing that he has that ability to survive off a strong and fast pace. But Kebede fought hard, and he'll win a major marathon again.

THen to anthony, totally agree. I an Excel file that i use to calculate the splits right away, and even without that, it was obvious. They really let themselves down today. Then there is the name issue. You cannot, in a million years, try to convince me that a professional commentator should be excused for not being able to pronounce the names of athletes who they KNOW will feature at the front of the race. It's just ridiculous. And to top it all off, they didn't seem to me to understand the sport, and just didn't add any value. Very disappointing.

But thanks for the visit, hope you enjoyed the coverage!


wayfool said...

I agree with the comment on the coverage. This seems to be a recurring issue with the split men/women coverage. It seems to me the commentator should have some control over what's being shown, although I guess for the British audience, Mara's performance was inspiring. The same thing happened at Boston when I watched my recording. The coverage completely missed the break that occurred at around mile 17 when Merga surged and by the time they went back, the race was over and there was nothing to watch. It would have been particularly inspiring to see Ryan Hall's move up the standings.

wayfool said...

Also, anyone else think the pacers did a poor job by running successive positive splits instead of trying for an even pace and hitting the halfway point in 1:01:50. Seems like the pacers wore themselves out and couldn't help with the pace by mile 15 or so.

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

hi Wayfool

I hear you on the commentary. Ideally, the day will come when you can select your feed and then they'll have two teams of commentators, one for men, one for women. Obviously, that's expensive to do, but one day maybe it'll solve this problem.

Today though, it was quite clear that neither the commentary nor the TV director (who does decide which image we see) fully appreciated the sport, because to show the top 10 women coming in when the men were in the peak racing period was just crazy. Pity, because the sport needs better media coverage than this to capture the attention of people, and it really could be improved massively.


Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi again wayfool

Very true. It's difficult to know what was going on there. I assume they were being given time feedback. Apparently the race car just in front of them was showing not only elapsed time, but projected time, and so they must have known what was going on. So why they kept pressing is beyond me. I can only assume that once the race started to get away from them, they just kept going on no signal came to bring it back down.

But yes, what then happened is that they got slower and slower. Hard to say what scenario would have been better. It should have been spotted after the first two miles, and then a command to slow it down should have come. That would have enabled them to settle, hit 5km in 14:30, which was still too fast, but doable. from then on, they should have returned to the normal schedule.

As it was, they kept the hammer down, but obviously, couldn't maintain that pace, and the result was that the record started disappearing soon after 10km.

Check in tomorrow, because I'm going to do a more detailed post on pacing, and some of the talking points from the race, including this issue of pacemakers and bad judgment.


Hywel said...

UK viewers with digital TV could choose between two feeds on the BBC. Cram & Foster were commentating on the main channel with the split feed, while Martin Gillingham & the excellent Veronique Marot were doing the women's race and Mike Gratton and a n other who I forget did the men's race so it is doable just not yet widespread.

VavahF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VavahF said...

I'd like to know if this is how the runners' names are properly pronounced:

Zersenay Tadese
zair-sen-IGH tad-USS-uh

air as in hair
igh as in high
u as in fuss
uh as "a" in ago

Tsegaye Kebede
tsuh - GIGH - yuh keb-ED -uh

ts as in bits
igh as in high
uh as "a" in ago


Anonymous said...

I cringed everytime the commentator mispronounced the names, got frustrated everytime he tried to convert the times, and grew angry when the top 10 women were being televised while the men's final miles were being contested.
It's hard enough having to watch the race live at 4 a.m. (I live in Ottawa, Canada) but there is no way a premier international race should have such mediocre coverage.
Anyways, I still enjoyed both races and look forward to Berlin.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the poor coverage from Universal Sports may be do to the "dynamics" of the situation. The BBC covers the race and provides the video feed for groups who may want to do coverage outside the UK. They might well have restricted what Universal got, not wanting to share their product. Doesn't explain the commentary issues, however, as there are plenty of UK folks who could have done well in the commentary roles, even if Universal didn't have the funds to bring their own people over from the US.