time difference between old and modern tracks


Forum devoted to track & field items of an historical nature.

time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby norunner » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:54 pm

Today (June 21st) is the 52nd "birthday" of Armin Hary's first officially acknowledged 10.0 sprint from Zurich in 1960. His official electronic time was 10.25s. I'm guessing this has been discussed before but i don't know what to search for: What would his 10.25s be worth if he had ran on a fast modern track instead of ash (or whatever else they had in Zurich then)? Would he possibly have been the first man to run below 10 seconds electronically? Would Bob Hayes have run below 9.80 in Tokyo in 64 ? Of course this is just guess work but i am curious what the experts here think how much sprinting gained from modern tracks.
norunner
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:21 pm

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby kuha » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:15 pm

We've had various versions of this discussion over the years. I think it's safe to say that no one has anything like empirical data on this question: it's all a matter of guessing. In the old days, some thought that there was a 1 sec. per lap difference in distance events from cinder to all-weather tracks. I've always thought that was a bit generous, but no one can actually say. With sprint times, it's probably even more subjective, given the variety of all-weather surfaces over the years. No question that all-weather surfaces were faster (even mediocre all-weather surfaces) than natural surfaces, but there's no genuine way to quantify any of this.
kuha
 
Posts: 9035
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby mrbowie » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:06 pm

No clue, and this is not an answer, but the present day athletes don't even look like the ones in the days of Armin Hary. Today's athlete is a man-built, perfectly honed beast compared to those athletes 50 years ago. Two different animals altogether.
mrbowie
 
Posts: 1474
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby aaronk » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:18 pm

One thing's for sure!
Back in the days of dirt tracks, when someone said the winner left all others "in the dust", they were really speaking the truth!!!
:lol:
aaronk
 
Posts: 3364
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 9:39 am

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby basslop » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:28 pm

In my best years, about 30 years ago I ran about 75-80% of the races on synthetic tracks. I ran a lot of 400m then. My all time best was set on a coke dust track, while all my other PBs were sat on synthetic. I recall that the track on that day was perfect + +. There was a perfect mixture of rainy and sunny weather in the days before the race, the staff had done a terrific job with the preparation and I had one of those days where I just floated off.

The latter could imply that I may have ran even faster if that race had been on a synthetic track. However my experience is that a prefect prepared dirt, cinder, coke, ash track can be almost as good as a synthetic. The non-synthetic tracks has way more variation in the condition due to weather and the skills of the ground men. I have ran on that same track in very wet conditions with water over the shoe sole and and soft grounds. It could add 3-4 seconds on a 400m. On a synthetic track the same conditions would probably have added less than a second.

This is a long way of saying: Non-synthetic tracks may be almost as good as synthetic, but their condition is much more variable.
basslop
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:07 am

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby deanouk » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:14 am

I think basslop's explanation is spot on. I've spoken to historical statisticians who begs echoed what he wrote above. You can't compare a wet dirt track on a windy day in London with a hot sunny day in California. Also, the difference between time would also change depending on the distance. Surely someone running a mile on dirt isn't going to affected as much per lap as someone who runs 25 laps? Leading t & f expert Peter Matthews, once told me that a well maintained grass or dirt track would be very similar in speed to that of synthetic one.
1 second per 400m is too generous as a general rule of thumb, although I don't doubt that some distance runners running in poor conditions on a dirt track would have been worth that difference.
deanouk
 
Posts: 448
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 4:15 am
Location: London, UK

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby Daisy » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:49 am

deanouk wrote:Peter Matthews, once told me that a well maintained grass or dirt track would be very similar in speed to that of synthetic one.

We often ran on well maintained grass tracks when I was at school and my times were not that much different. What could change everything were poorly marked tracks. It wasn't that rare to 'break the WR' and then discover you'd used the wrong line to start.
Daisy
 
Posts: 13153
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby nunusguy » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:56 am

I can remember watching sprint events back in the day when the trailing cinder-wake would sometimes spit cinders up higher than the top of the competitor's head and have to think that the difference in traction alone between those old cinder tracks and todays lighting-fast surfaces could be measured in a couple tenths of a second over the length of a 100 yards/meters, certainly that over the 200/220 distance ?
nunusguy
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:29 am
Location: Houston

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby wineturtle » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:20 am

One of the biggest problems we had with crushed cinder/brickdust etc was that no matter how well rolled and compacted the track was at the start of the meet lane one finished up pretty dug up. Add some rain and it got even worse. The starting blocks came with 8 or 10 inch 'spikes' and after a days worth of starting getting the block secure enough not to slip was hard. I used spikes that were even longer than the ones supplied with the blocks allowing me to drive them deeper.
Tangently does anyone remember a light weight alluminum block set that came out in the early 1960s that had jute on the pads so your shoespike sunk into the pad and the sole of your runningshoe was flat on the jute?
wineturtle
 
Posts: 2064
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Astoria Queens New York

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby lonewolf » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:46 am

wineturtle wrote:One of the biggest problems we had with crushed cinder/brickdust etc was that no matter how well rolled and compacted the track was at the start of the meet lane one finished up pretty dug up. Add some rain and it got even worse. The starting blocks came with 8 or 10 inch 'spikes' and after a days worth of starting getting the block secure enough not to slip was hard. I used spikes that were even longer than the ones supplied with the blocks allowing me to drive them deeper.
Tangently does anyone remember a light weight alluminum block set that came out in the early 1960s that had jute on the pads so your shoespike sunk into the pad and the sole of your runningshoe was flat on the jute?

Yep, even the well prepared "good" cinder tracks were only "good" for a few (one?) races. My first exposure to starting blocks was at State HS meet in 1947. The "old fangled" blocks you describe were after my competitive time. I first ran on synthetic when I started running Masters track in 1971-72.
I don't have a percentage but can personally testify that synthetic is definitely faster than the best dirt/cinder tracks. I PBd 100y in 9.7 in 1951. In 1972, Thane Baker outleaned me in 11.0 100m, proving he was still faster than me 20 years later. Similar results followed.I am not impervious to aging. Had to be the track.
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby Athleticsimaging » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:33 am

lonewolf wrote:I am not impervious to aging.


You know that nobody on this board believes that Mr Dorian Gray. :wink:
Athleticsimaging
 
Posts: 360
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:58 pm

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby lonewolf » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:59 am

Athleticsimaging wrote:
lonewolf wrote:I am not impervious to aging.


You know that nobody on this board believes that Mr Dorian Gray. :wink:

Alas, the difference in me and Dorian Gray is, his picture aged due to his debauchery while he stayed forever young, whereas, having lived an irreproachable life, my picture remains unchanged and I get older. :( :)
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Makes Peter Snell look even better now

Postby AlfTupper » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:49 pm

in 1962 Peter Snell set a world record of 1:44.3 for 800 meters on a GRASS track, still the fastest ever on grass. He also ran a sub-4 mile on grass on at least one other occasion. Consider how much faster Snell could have run the 800 on a modern track. Puts Symmonds in his place , doesn't it?
AlfTupper
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:27 pm

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby oldtimer2 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:25 pm

Roger Bannister claimed that the modern tracks were about a second faster per lap than those of his day. Here's a man who became a medical doctor and had a scientific knowledge of running. I realize he has a personal interest in that point of view but knowing that he's basically a modest, honest man I don't have too much of a problem with that--at least for the track that he ran on.
oldtimer2
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:32 pm

oldtimer2 wrote:Roger Bannister claimed that the modern tracks were about a second faster per lap than those of his day. Here's a man who became a medical doctor and had a scientific knowledge of running. I realize he has a personal interest in that point of view but knowing that he's basically a modest, honest man I don't have too much of a problem with that--at least for the track that he ran on.


And Ron Clarke said the same thing. These are very smart guys, BUT one has to realize that such numbers are also an instantaneous way of "devaluing" all times since ca. 1970--that is, Bannister immediately becomes a 3:55.4 guy in 1954, and Clarke is a 27:14 guy in 1965. They "may" be correct, but they can't be taken as completely objective sources.
kuha
 
Posts: 9035
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby lonewolf » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:36 pm

Common sense aside, anyone who has ever run on both cinders/dirt and synthetic knows synthetic is faster.. how much faster impossible to prove.
Maybe we should pose the question to Mythbusters...
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby deanouk » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:34 am

Alf Tupper wrote: -
in 1962 Peter Snell set a world record of 1:44.3 for 800 meters on a GRASS track, still the fastest ever on grass. He also ran a sub-4 mile on grass on at least one other occasion. Consider how much faster Snell could have run the 800 on a modern track. Puts Symmonds in his place , doesn't it?


Snell is on record as having said that a well kept grass track was faster than cinders. This is something that Peter Matthews agreed with; that a well kept grass track in ideal conditions could be as fast as a synthetic one.
I'm sure with a few paced efforts on synthetic Snell could have got down to c. 1:43.5, but to suggest, as some claim, that it was worth a second a lap faster, is far too ambitious. Two further points should be noted.

1) Snell's run was hand timed and part of an 880 yd race that was completed in 1:45.1. Hand times are usually about 0.2 faster than electronic times, so Snell's run was more likely worth 1:44.40-1:44.50 electronically timed. The difference between 880yds and 800m is usually 0.6 (as in Ryun's 1:44.3/1:44.9 performance). I'm not certain whether the timers had a mark for 800m just before the finish line or whether they adjusted by subtracting 0.8!?

2) Snell's splits show that he was slowing down a lot in the closing stages, with a last 200m of outside 28.0 secs. That's 56 400 pace or 1:52 for 800m. This shows that no matter what surface he was running on, he couldn't maintain the pace he had reached 600m in. An athlete with 1:42 potential would not have slowed down as much in the closing stages.
deanouk
 
Posts: 448
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 4:15 am
Location: London, UK

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby deanouk » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:41 am

Oldtimer 2 wrote:
Roger Bannister claimed that the modern tracks were about a second faster per lap than those of his day. Here's a man who became a medical doctor and had a scientific knowledge of running. I realize he has a personal interest in that point of view but knowing that he's basically a modest, honest man I don't have too much of a problem with that--at least for the track that he ran on.


I don't doubt that Bannister would have been faster on a synthetic track, perhaps as much as a second per lap (although I think that is probably the top end of scale), but you can't compare a cinder track of the early 50's on a cold day in May in the UK, with a dirt track on a hot sunny day in late 60's America. There are just too many variables.

Also, surely it must depend on the length of the race. Over 25 laps, the cinders may well slow you down an average of 1 sec per lap, but that cannot be the same for an 800m or Mile, where there will be lass wear and tear of the track.
deanouk
 
Posts: 448
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 4:15 am
Location: London, UK

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby AlfTupper » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:12 am

Deanouk, I'm curious as to where you were able to look up Snell's splits.
AlfTupper
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:27 pm

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby dj » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:43 am

deanouk wrote:1) Snell's run was hand timed and part of an 880 yd race that was completed in 1:45.1. Hand times are usually about 0.2 faster than electronic times, so Snell's run was more likely worth 1:44.40-1:44.50 electronically timed. The difference between 880yds and 800m is usually 0.6 (as in Ryun's 1:44.3/1:44.9 performance). I'm not certain whether the timers had a mark for 800m just before the finish line or whether they adjusted by subtracting 0.8!?


Official times were taken at the 880 finish and at the 800m intermediate point.
dj
 
Posts: 6200
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby kuha » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:44 am

deanouk wrote:Also, surely it must depend on the length of the race. Over 25 laps, the cinders may well slow you down an average of 1 sec per lap, but that cannot be the same for an 800m or Mile, where there will be lass wear and tear of the track.


?? Actually, no--it would depend on where in the overall program that race fell. They're not out there rolling the track smooth after every event.
kuha
 
Posts: 9035
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby CookyMonzta » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:27 pm

If I'm not mistaken, didn't Bob Hayes run a wind-aided 9.9 (I believe it was 9.94) on the Tokyo dirt track in the semis?
CookyMonzta
 
Posts: 2392
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby deanouk » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:47 pm

kuha wrote: -
?? Actually, no--it would depend on where in the overall program that race fell. They're not out there rolling the track smooth after every event.


Yes, but it will still be different for different events. Whether the 10000m is first or last on the program, after 20 + laps of 15 men running around it, the accumulative effect of the dirt is going to be greater than 8 guys running 4 laps, irrespective of when that race is run.

For Clarke the differential per lap may work out at 1.0 sec per lap for a 10k, but that doesn't mean it would be the same differential for an 800 or 1500 per lap.
deanouk
 
Posts: 448
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 4:15 am
Location: London, UK

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby deanouk » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:55 pm

AlfTupper wrote: -
Deanouk, I'm curious as to where you were able to look up Snell's splits.


Yes, sure. I actually have the splits in 2 different reference books; P. 274 of "The Milers" by T&FN and on P.53 of the IAAF book, "Progression of IAAF World Records" (2007 edition).

His 220 splits were: - 24.8, 51.0 (26.2) (to which point he was paced), 1:16.9 (25.9), 1:45.1 (28.2)
This works out at 400m laps of c. 50.7, 53.7, or 200m splits of c. 24.7, 26.0, 25.7, 28.0, give or take 0.1 per 200m.
deanouk
 
Posts: 448
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 4:15 am
Location: London, UK

Re: time difference between old and modern tracks

Postby kuha » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:43 pm

deanouk wrote:kuha wrote: -
?? Actually, no--it would depend on where in the overall program that race fell. They're not out there rolling the track smooth after every event.


Yes, but it will still be different for different events. Whether the 10000m is first or last on the program, after 20 + laps of 15 men running around it, the accumulative effect of the dirt is going to be greater than 8 guys running 4 laps, irrespective of when that race is run.

For Clarke the differential per lap may work out at 1.0 sec per lap for a 10k, but that doesn't mean it would be the same differential for an 800 or 1500 per lap.


I think I see what you're getting at, but honestly I don't think t makes much difference. The biggest issue was simply that a track was pristine at the start of a meet and really chopped up at the end.
kuha
 
Posts: 9035
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 12 guests