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Running the Shortest Possible Route


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#1 ChezJfrey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 09:27 AM

We had a conversation this last Saturday while running the latter half of the Portland Marathon course about running tangents and USATF course certification procedure and I'd like some additional thoughts about the following scenario:

The USATF guidelines for course certification specify that a race course is defined by the shortest possible route that a runner could take and not be disqualified. They further instruct course certifiers to measure the shortest possible route. Note the bottom of the linked page and the example of the chicane with the tempting route across the grass. The guide specifically demands that one, "measure across the grass in those areas where the runners are likely to shortcut."

Below, I've attached an image of a portion of the Portland Marathon course on Willamette. I added a yellow line that follows where pedestrians have worn a path through a grass field.
Attached File  PDXCourseCut.jpg   174.05KB   61 downloads
I measured the difference between the shortest route on the road and this shortcut. At the speed I would run the marathon, this would save approximately 3.6 seconds. Here's my question for you...what would you think if you were running alongside me, then I cut this corner and ended up several seconds ahead of you? Would I be in the wrong? Would you care?

Keep in mind that if the course certifier followed the USATF measuring rules, I would NOT be running less than 26.2 miles. Anyone following the road at this point would just be running extra distance. Link to Portland Marathon certification info.

#2 Joe D.

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 09:38 AM

QUOTE (ChezJfrey @ Oct 1 2007, 10:27 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Here's my question for you...what would you think if you were running alongside me, then I cut this corner and ended up several seconds ahead of you? Would I be in the wrong? Would you care?

I would do a double-take, and wonder if you were Torrey shifty.gif poke.gif

My own personal code of ethics dictates that if I'm running on an obvious road, I stay on the pavement at all times, regardless of USATF specifications. But that's just me. I wouldn't be bothered much if others "cut" the course, I would just figure they were cheating themselves tongue.png
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#3 Tim

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 09:39 AM

Cheater! whistle.png tongue.gif

It's a road race, not cross-country. rolleyes.gif

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#4 ChezJfrey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 09:40 AM

QUOTE (Joe D. @ Oct 1 2007, 10:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would do a double-take, and wonder if you were Torrey shifty.gif poke.gif


Ha, interesting you mention him, because he is the exact guy I spoke to about this because he graced us with his presence for this run. I agreed with him that the course was very likely measured across that path, rather than the road.

#5 timknox

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 09:50 AM

We need to get an official ruling from the marathon officials. If the course is measured across the path then we need to take the path just to see how the people around us react. I have run the marathon four times and never taken the short path. And I don't recall ever seeing anyone else do it. But I really want to do it now if it's legal.

EDIT: I sent the question in email to info@portlandmarathon.org. I'll post the response (if any).

#6 PDX Road Racer

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 09:53 AM

I think this shorter route is plausible, but I doubt anyone's following on your shoulder for this ride. whistle.png

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There once was a man named Stinky Stick,
Who didnít have the sense of a common tick.
He lived in an old barn,
And was happy to charm,
And tell a big yarn,
But still was just a stupid dumb hick.

#7 ChezJfrey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:05 AM

QUOTE (timknox @ Oct 1 2007, 10:50 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
EDIT: I sent the question in email to info@portlandmarathon.org. I'll post the response (if any).


Good luck with that. I never got a response about updating their master's records to include Odis Sanders, aged 46, when he ran a 2:32:51, placing 3rd in Portland in 2005...the feat still isn't recorded on the site either.

#8 Torrey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:20 AM

QUOTE (Joe D. @ Oct 1 2007, 10:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would do a double-take, and wonder if you were Torrey shifty.gif poke.gif

laugh.gif Ha!

Jeffrey and I were not only discussing the USATF "shortest possible route" info, but I even pointed out several spots that reminded me of a certain 10k course that someone may have mistakenly thought I was cutting tongue.gif

The fact that Portland is a certified course means that it had to be measured using the "shortest possible route" method. If they want you to stay in the road, they are required to have cones and volunteers at places like this to make sure you don't cut the course.

Portland Marathon map submitted for certification

USATF Ceritification Manual - info on shortest possible route

#9 Johncdc

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:21 AM

They should not have measured using the grass path there because runners are NOT "likely to take the shortcut"...Why? Because 1) The front-runners do not take it, so those behind will 'likely' NOT either.
2) There are always at least a few spectators along the grass path there (often times there are people sitting on the curb or right at street-side) and if you jump up on the curb/grass path, then you are running BEHIND the spectators and you run the risk of having to avoid a dog on a leash, a baby carriage etc. plus the potential "shunning" of your fellow runners (due to you being a loser ;-) ).

I have watched the marathon from that exact spot at least twice and never seen a runner jump up on the path. Now maybe later int the race walkers and other folks do....but I have never seen a sub-4 hour runner do it.

Anywho, just because it is currently not against the 'letter of the law' it certainly is against the 'spirit of the law'. Just DONT do it.

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#10 BrianH

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:21 AM

I think I'd give you a stranger look if I saw you making the sharp turns of the red line. frantics.gif
Is this guy Robo-Runner? shocked.png
Not that I ever get to see you guys for more than the first 100 feet or so of the course dry.gif

I'm with Joe, I think take the shortest distance on the road if it's a road course.

If you take shortcuts to achieve a PR, that's worse than counting a downhill race PR whistle.png

Unless it winds up being the winner or someone finishing in the prize money (Rosie Ruiz)
I'm not going to worry about it too much.

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#11 Torrey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:27 AM

I just re-read the USATF info on that link I posted. Here's my favorite part:

"you should assume that runners will short-cut all they can and measure that way, even if the runners are instructed to run a longer route."

Those sneaky runners... assume they will short-cut all they can grin.png

#12 PDX Road Racer

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:49 AM

Looking at the second link that Torrey provided called "USATF Certification Manual," unless there's a barrier or cones obstructing the short-cut path, my earlier short-cut path may very well be the path the USATF official measured for the 26.2 mile course. rolleyes.gif

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There once was a man named Stinky Stick,
Who didnít have the sense of a common tick.
He lived in an old barn,
And was happy to charm,
And tell a big yarn,
But still was just a stupid dumb hick.

#13 TDG

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:10 AM

CCB's:

Why worry about that little grass shortcut? If you take the train bridge, you can cut off even more mileage. A lot more than 3.69 seconds.

#14 ChezJfrey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:21 AM

QUOTE (PDX Road Racer @ Oct 1 2007, 11:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Looking at the second link that Torrey provided called "USATF Certification Manual," unless there's a barrier or cones obstructing the short-cut path, my earlier short-cut path may very well be the path the USATF official measured for the 26.2 mile course. rolleyes.gif


That would probably be the route John Golden would take because it would require hurdling a metal guardrail, streaking 112 feet down an embankment, then scaling right back up another 112 feet, jumping back over the rail and onto the road...he lives for that kind of stuff!

#15 PDX Road Racer

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:51 AM

QUOTE (ChezJfrey @ Oct 1 2007, 12:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That would probably be the route John Golden would take because it would require hurdling a metal guardrail, streaking 112 feet down an embankment, then scaling right back up another 112 feet, jumping back over the rail and onto the road...he lives for that kind of stuff!

One could visit the location on Saturday, and lay out some slip n slides (end-to-end) for a fun ride down the embankment. w00t.png
There once was a man named Stinky Stick,
Who didnít have the sense of a common tick.
He lived in an old barn,
And was happy to charm,
And tell a big yarn,
But still was just a stupid dumb hick.




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