Question about 200 meter straight


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Question about 200 meter straight

Postby fasttrack85 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:06 pm

Why are the world best times for the 200 meter straight not as low as for a regular 200? I thought running the curve would be harder. Allyson Felix has the record for the straight at 22.55(+ 0.2) and it is hard to believe no one could have managed to run faster than that if it was easier. I need some help understanding the physics of this from my track physics geeks. Help me out.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:49 am

The 200/220 straight has not been regularly contested since the 1960s, and then mostly in the U.S.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby gh » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:36 am

People did run faster in those days.

The consummate answer is found in Tommie Smith, who set the last ratified straightaway mark at 19.5 in '66 and a few weeks later ran the last of his non-altitude curve WRs at 20.0. (both of those are 220y, not 200m)

As long-legged as he was, he almost certainly benefited more than most from the lack of curve, but the difference was obviously significant, just as you expected.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby aaronk » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:13 am

If Tommie Smith's straight 200 (okay, 220!!) was 0.5 faster than his curve, does that show that Usain Bolt would be capable of 18.69 for 200 on the straight??

19.19 minus 0.5 = 18.69.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby guru » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:28 am

When looking at Bolt's Berlin splits(9.92/9.27), the most he could have possibly gained on the first 100 would have been .34(PR 9.58), though that is HIGHLY unlikely, and probably would have adverse effects on the final 100 anyway. More likely he might have been able to gain around .20, so certainly sub-19.00 would have been possible, all other things being equal.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:35 am

There is also the fact that probably every 220 straight was a cinder track. Our high school had a 220 straight and we used it 40 years ago.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby gh » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:41 am

not necessarily.

Smith was running on dirt tracks, which would have meant more loss of energy to angular momentum as his spikes slid outwards, so that would probably mean a larger gap between the two. Smith also was running on (much) tighter curves, which also make the differential greater.

So it may well be that a modern runner could "easily" get a tighter spread than 0.5.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby DecFan » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:42 am

We had a 220yd straight on our non-cinder HS track. Used it in some meets my freshman year (70-71) but not after that. One problem with our layout: The property-line fence was about 10 yards from the finish line. Guys (there was no track team for girls for another 2 years) would lean at the finish and then have to raise their arms and turn their shoulders before slamming into the fence.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby Dave » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:02 am

Is the 200 meter straight a harder race than around a curve? I seem to remember back in the day that the 220 straight was considered a physically more difficult race since it was all out for that distance than around the curve.

Was that something foolish HS/middle school runners were told or is that real?
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby user4 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:01 pm

Considering how much wider curves are on modern synthetic tracks relative to the older cinder tracks as great as Bolt is (and I do think he is the best ever) he is not that much better a sprinter than Tommie Smith.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby tandfman » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:27 pm

Remember that 200m/220y hand times were often problematical. If you had a 200/220 on a straightaway and did not have a good flash from the gun (which sometimes happened), the combination of an unusually long delay in the sound reaching the timers at the finish and the tendency of many timers in those days to antipate the finish, rather than react to it, meant that the hand times could be significantly faster than what auto timing would have shown.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:15 pm

tandfman wrote:Remember that 200m/220y hand times were often problematical. If you had a 200/220 on a straightaway and did not have a good flash from the gun (which sometimes happened), the combination of an unusually long delay in the sound reaching the timers at the finish and the tendency of many timers in those days to antipate the finish, rather than react to it, meant that the hand times could be significantly faster than what auto timing would have shown.


All true. I remember standing at the finish of straight 220 starts years ago and it seemed the like the starter was on Mars.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby Halfmiler2 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:39 pm

I ran it once in a summer meet in the early 1970s on a high school cinder track. The finish line seemed like forever. I could not really compare the time since I was not in peak shape.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby lonewolf » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:07 pm

I am (almost)certain every 220 I ran in HS (1945-49) was on a straight and cannot recall a specific 220 on a curve in college (1949-53). Most tracks in those days were inside open end football stadiums with a 220 straight extending outside the stadium on one or both sides.

An eighth of mile does appear to be a loonnnnggg way when viewed all in one piece. We also had a (reasonably) flat 440 grass straight marked off with lanes on our X-C/golf course.. now THAT finish line does seem to take forever to get there..but makes for some fantastic times..
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby tandfman » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:48 pm

For those younger fans who may not have been aware that the 200 was once often run on a straight, you should know that it was also common in those days to run the 400 around one turn, starting out of the same long chute as the start of the 200. If that meant finishing on the opposite side of the track, no big deal--all timing was done by hand so you didn't have to worry about the photo finish equipment. There was none. The timers would just walk to the other side of the track when an alternate finish line was used.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby lonewolf » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:23 am

Yep, we also ran 440s out of the chute.. makes for an alarming stagger if you are in an inside lane. :)
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dukehjsteve » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:30 pm

lonewolf wrote:Yep, we also ran 440s out of the chute.. makes for an alarming stagger if you are in an inside lane. :)



Weren't a lot/most of those one turn quarters, out of a long chute, run without staggers ? That's what I recall.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:34 pm

dukehjsteve wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Yep, we also ran 440s out of the chute.. makes for an alarming stagger if you are in an inside lane. :)



Weren't a lot/most of those one turn quarters, out of a long chute, run without staggers ? That's what I recall.


Yes. For the most part staggers for one-turn 440s were very infrequent until the 1950s. It wasn't hard to do it at relay meets as the 4x110 on one-turn was run in lanes, but staggered 440s allowed far fewer runners on the track than would otherwise be put out there.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby rhymans » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:33 am

Some very big fields could be accomodated in a 440 with just one turn. Jerry White won the 1956 CalHS title in 46.7y, with 11th place in 49.0, and 14 ran under 50 seconds
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby lonewolf » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:59 am

????????? Apparently, I have involuntary selective dementia..I do not recall ever running or witnessing a galloping herd, one-turn 440 from a common starting line..where was the break line ????
Even if the outside lane is able to run a straight diagonal to the curve, he/she will run 6.2 yards (can't find a calculator, some of you 'rithmatic guys can figure out the exact difference) farther than lane one..
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby tandfman » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:20 am

lonewolf wrote:Even if the outside lane is able to run a straight diagonal to the curve, he/she will run 6.2 yards (can't find a calculator, some of you 'rithmatic guys can figure out the exact difference) farther than lane one..

Not true if the start line was appropriately curved, as I think they generally were.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:39 am

Even if a straight, perpendicular line is used, if the distance to the curve is 150 yards, then (150^2 + 8^2)^0.5 = 150.21 or a bit more depending on the lane width, or only about 9 inches. It should have a curve, but...
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dukehjsteve » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:01 am

lonewolf wrote:????????? Apparently, I have involuntary selective dementia..I do not recall ever running or witnessing a galloping herd, one-turn 440 from a common starting line..where was the break line ????
Even if the outside lane is able to run a straight diagonal to the curve, he/she will run 6.2 yards (can't find a calculator, some of you 'rithmatic guys can figure out the exact difference) farther than lane one..



Hey LW, did you take Geometry Back In The Day ?! lol
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dukehjsteve » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:04 am

Curved line ? What curved line ? Never saw them in High School for any non-staggered starts. In the half or the mile, line 'em up on the start/finish line, shoot the gun, and every man for himself heading to the beginning of the curve. Same thing in a 1-turn quarter out of the chute, just a lot more yardage to get to that curve.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:43 pm

lonewolf wrote:????????? Apparently, I have involuntary selective dementia..I do not recall ever running or witnessing a galloping herd, one-turn 440 from a common starting line..where was the break line ????
Even if the outside lane is able to run a straight diagonal to the curve, he/she will run 6.2 yards (can't find a calculator, some of you 'rithmatic guys can figure out the exact difference) farther than lane one..


Lonewolf: You're just not as old as you try to make yourself! Straight-line pack starts with a straight 220 before the turn were common through the better part of the 1940s.

That set-up is what produced such wild variations in pacing, as the key was to be the first to the turn. Herb McKenley often had first and second 220 splits that varied by 4.5 seconds and more.

Also, check your math. A diagonal from the outside of a 10y wide track when the pole lane is 220y, yields a diagonal of less than 221y.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:47 pm

tandfman wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Even if the outside lane is able to run a straight diagonal to the curve, he/she will run 6.2 yards (can't find a calculator, some of you 'rithmatic guys can figure out the exact difference) farther than lane one..

Not true if the start line was appropriately curved, as I think they generally were.


The starting lines in these races were "never" curved, at least not in any photos I've ever seen. NCAA rules as of 1950 required curved starting lines only for those races which began on a curve.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby tandfman » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:47 pm

It could just be my imperfect memory, but I do think I remember some curved lines in that situations. I also remember some straight ones.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby lonewolf » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:50 pm

Apparently, we were either ahead or behind the times out here in the hinterlands. I started HS in 1944/45 and college in 1949. We ran the 440 in lanes with staggers. When we ran the 440 out of the chute it was a staggered start.
Yes, geometry had been invented when I was in school. Although I was not a math star, as I recall the hypotenuse of a right triangle = the square root of X squared +Y squared. I did my admittedly raw estimate based on eight 48" lanes (32'), 220 yards to the curve.
What I apparently forgot was how to manually calculate square roots.. :)
Anyhoo, I stand by my contention that you cannot curve a start line enough to equalize lane distances for a 440 race run in lanes...and I do not recall ever seeing an open 440, one or two turns, not run in lanes.
Further affiant sayeth not.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby tandfman » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:59 pm

lonewolf wrote:Apparently, we were either ahead or behind the times out here in the hinterlands. I started HS in 1944/45 and college in 1949. We ran the 440 in lanes with staggers. When we ran the 440 out of the chute it was a staggered start. . . .
Anyhoo, I stand by my contention that you cannot curve a start line enough to equalize lane distances for a 440 race run in lanes...and I do not recall ever seeing an open 440, one or two turns, not run in lanes.

I think you may have been ahead of your times. As has been mentioned, in the East, running 440 out of the chute was common, but running out of the chute in lanes with a staggered start was not.

As far as curving a start line enough to equalize lane distances for a 440 run in lanes, I'm not sure what you're talking about. If the race is run in lanes, you don't need a curved line.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby gh » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:55 am

tandfman wrote:For those younger fans who may not have been aware that the 200 was once often run on a straight, you should know that it was also common in those days to run the 400 around one turn, starting out of the same long chute as the start of the 200. If that meant finishing on the opposite side of the track, no big deal--all timing was done by hand so you didn't have to worry about the photo finish equipment. There was none. The timers would just walk to the other side of the track when an alternate finish line was used.


It was also not uncommon for some sites to keep the backside finish line for some events long after the straightaway went away. John Smith's 440 WR in Eugene in '71, for example, started and finished at the 200 point.

Cal was still using that setup in the late '70s, maybe even early '80s, even with automatic timing. Required a big tower of scaffolding on wheels, which was rolled around the track as required to get the Accutrack back on line.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby lonewolf » Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:25 am

tandfman wrote:[I think you may have been ahead of your times. As has been mentioned, in the East, running 440 out of the chute was common, but running out of the chute in lanes with a staggered start was not.

As far as curving a start line enough to equalize lane distances for a 440 run in lanes, I'm not sure what you're talking about. If the race is run in lanes, you don't need a curved line.


We are losing something in the translation here.

I am saying there is no such thing as curved start line for the 440. If the runners start from a common straight line, perpendicular to the lane lines, at the head of the chute, run in lanes all the way and finish at a common straight line on the opposite side of the track, every outside lane is going to run further than the lane to the left...and lane 8 is going to run a hell of a lot further than lane 1..that is why there is a two-turn stagger...
It would be the same as a non-staggered, one turn 200/220, only more so.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:22 pm

What's getting lost is the common practice of a pack start (no lanes) with a straight starting line. Break for the pole as soon as you have clearance ahead of the inside runner.

Anything run in lanes was run with staggered starts, but pack starts without lanes were far more common than laned starts with staggers.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby tandfman » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:11 pm

lonewolf wrote: If the runners start from a common straight line, perpendicular to the lane lines, at the head of the chute, run in lanes all the way and finish at a common straight line on the opposite side of the track, every outside lane is going to run further than the lane to the left...and lane 8 is going to run a hell of a lot further than lane 1

I never heard of or saw a race being run that way. As dj said, if the 440 race was run from a common straight line at the head of the chute, it was never run in lanes all the way. Everyone ended up on or near the pole at the end of the straightaway.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby gh » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:46 pm

All this 1-turn 400 nostalgia only serves to remind me once again that the 400 should be scrapped in favor of a 500. Use the 100 start (blocks or standing?) and then make a beeline for the inside lane, running a 400 just like it was the most exciting event on the program, the 4x4.

I'd probably restrict it to 6 people to see it be less of a roller derby (and when you stop and think of it, the confines of lanes 1 and 2 tend to reduce nearly all modern 400s to be 6-person races anyway).
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:22 pm

gh wrote:All this 1-turn 400 nostalgia only serves to remind me once again that the 400 should be scrapped in favor of a 500. Use the 100 start (blocks or standing?) and then make a beeline for the inside lane, running a 400 just like it was the most exciting event on the program, the 4x4.

I'd probably restrict it to 6 people to see it be less of a roller derby (and when you stop and think of it, the confines of lanes 1 and 2 tend to reduce nearly all modern 400s to be 6-person races anyway).


Or use all eight lanes with a one-turn stagger?
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby user4 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:08 pm

I personally would rather see a 600m added to the full menu ... Keep the 400 just as it is. We would see more doubles, 400/600 and 600/800 .. have fun with it!

Question: What is the process by which the IAAF and IOC decide on a new event ?
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby lonewolf » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:18 pm

Nope. Once around the track, 440y or 400m, run in lanes, is the perfect race. After that you are just repeating yourself. Don't mess with it.
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby Per Andersen » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:24 pm

dj wrote:What's getting lost is the common practice of a pack start (no lanes) with a straight starting line. Break for the pole as soon as you have clearance ahead of the inside runner.

Anything run in lanes was run with staggered starts, but pack starts without lanes were far more common than laned starts with staggers.

Is that how they ran the 400 at the 1941 AAU when Klemmer equalled Harbig's WR?
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby paw » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:27 am

lonewolf wrote:Nope. Once around the track, 440y or 400m, run in lanes, is the perfect race. After that you are just repeating yourself. Don't mess with it.


Wolcott and Klemmer setting world records in 1941:
http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675 ... er-klemmer

and another 'perfect' 440 y race from the past:

Herb MeKenley winning in 1948:

1948 – Coliseum May 21 – 110m HH Dixon 14.1 vs Bill Porter 1 feet back, Bill Anderson – 100y Mel Patton 9.4 WRe Lloyd LaBeach – 440y Herb McKenley 46.9, Cliff Bourland 4 yards back
http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist//B ... &st=0&pn=1
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Re: Question about 200 meter straight

Postby dj » Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:06 am

Per Andersen wrote:
dj wrote:What's getting lost is the common practice of a pack start (no lanes) with a straight starting line. Break for the pole as soon as you have clearance ahead of the inside runner.

Anything run in lanes was run with staggered starts, but pack starts without lanes were far more common than laned starts with staggers.

Is that how they ran the 400 at the 1941 AAU when Klemmer equalled Harbig's WR?


Yes. Seven runners on a starting line 22 feet wide.
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