Why is high school track stuck in the past?


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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Daisy » Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:39 am

dj wrote:
kuha wrote:Thank you! I can retire now!

No you can't, as we'll undoubtedly recycle through this another three years from now. In the meantime, we have a full off-season to reinvestigate Jeremy Wariner moving to the 800m, and Wilt Chamberlain having the greatest all-around track potential of anyone!

We really need a FAQ's sticky at the top of each forum with links to the appropriate threads. Even a succinct summary of each debate. I have no doubt that Marlow has time to compile all this information! :twisted:
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Marlow » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:11 am

Daisy wrote:I have no doubt that Marlow has time to compile all this information! :twisted:

Sorry, I'm back at work now, so I'm only available 20 hours a day to discuss T&F.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby posty333 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:34 pm

jhc68 wrote:But lonewolf IS right about the 1500. The initial presumption in this thread is skewed... we ought to be asking why international distances are stuck on multiples of 5 instead of distances which conform to 400 meter tracks that are required for any sanctioned event. 1500 or 3000 meter races are random and make less sense than 1600 and 3200. Might as well split the difference and run 1550 and 3100. Once the distance does not correspond to the oval all races are equally illogical and stuck on nothing more than past practice.
This is my reasoning as well for the 1600 and 3200. I prefer running an exact number of laps. The 3000 and 5000 have 1/2 laps, but that is a little easier to figure than 3 3/4. At least with the 5000, I am running over 3 miles, and could get a 3 mile or 4800 split en route to the finish. With the 1500 and the 3000, it always felt like an unfinished race. Not quite a mile and not quite a 2 mile (or even a 1600 and 3200). There were times in my high school years when I would run the extra distance at the local all comers meets to make 1600 or 3200.

One thing I do like about the 1500 is that I seem to get a psychological boost from the shorter distance. These days I am far from the shape I used to be in, so coming through with 3 laps to go when I haven't even run a full lap makes me feel like the race is a lot more than 100 meters shorter than a 1600.

My high school track was still a 440y track when I graduated in 1988, but I think it was eventually redone as a 400m. However, the only time we ran a non-metric race was when they accidentally started us on the wrong line in an 8th grade 800m, and thus did an 880y. We also ran yards at another school's dirt track my senior year. I think the only time we ran 1500 or 3000 was at an invitational at a school that had a cinder track.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby hc10003 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:11 am

Big fan of the mile for all the historic/legend reasons others noted. But I understand the reality of the 1600 / 3200, much as I dislike it in concept. I live in a major US city with woefully underfunded public schools. Like many such systems, a victim of suburban flight. Minimal sports budgets. Many track coaches coach a fall sport too; few if any officials at meets, instead coaches and volunteer parents usually run the meet. So the simplicity of "every race starts and ends at this line" is paramount. No matter who is bringing the kids to the line, taking splits, etc. in any given week, there's no confusion over where to stand. And the kids don't care about 1600 or mile or 1500, they run to win and to run faster than last week.

So on an international level, love the mile, let's see more, the term still means a lot to the casual US sports fan. But for HS coaches who receive a minimal stipend for hours of work, and who face huge challenges just getting the kids to class each day, let's not complicate their tasks any more than necessary.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby lonewolf » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:20 am

hc10003 wrote: So the simplicity of "every race starts and ends at this line" is paramount. .

Yep, that is the nub of the matter. As much as I would like would like to perpetuate the mile,the fact is, we live in a world of metric tracks. :(
And, even if you start the mile 9.xx meters before the finish line, you screw up the spits, just as in the 1500m. :x
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:07 am

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the 1600. And even splits are, somewhat, important.

The only real big problem--which we have gone over many times here--is the thinking that it is an ENTIRELY new event. And although someone years before ran 1609+ meters faster that is still, somehow, inferior to a 1600 time. Ugh.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Dilan Esper » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:33 pm

cawong wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?


There is an incredibly important reason, though probably not historical, as to why the 1500 metres is superior to the 1600 metres/one mile race, and that is precisely the fact that the race is started on a straight rather than a curve. Until they run one mile races with only a maximum of 8 or 9 competitors, starting in lanes, I would absolutely refuse to run such a race. I've seen way too many mad scrambles at the beginning of such races.


FYI when we ran more miles, we started and finished them in front of the stands with a good run to the turn. The timing equipment of the day (AKA "guys with stopwatches") was portable.

All in all this was actually much better for the fans than the 1500.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby posty333 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:28 pm

kuha wrote:
cawong wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Ok. But, I don't think they are still building 500m tracks in Europe, or anywhere else, why do they still run a race that starts 100 m down the track from the finish line?


There is an incredibly important reason, though probably not historical, as to why the 1500 metres is superior to the 1600 metres/one mile race, and that is precisely the fact that the race is started on a straight rather than a curve. Until they run one mile races with only a maximum of 8 or 9 competitors, starting in lanes, I would absolutely refuse to run such a race. I've seen way too many mad scrambles at the beginning of such races.


:lol: Yes, the history of mile running is pretty much the same as the history of demolition derby: crashes left, right, and center. It's actually rare that all the runners in a mile race actually make it through the first lap. Thank God for the sanity of the 1500!
Indeed. We seem to see more falls in the 1500 nowadays than in any other event. I was never one to make a mad dash at the start. I felt it wasted too much energy. I'd rather spend that energy gradually over the first lap to get up to the front, or to run extra distance on the outside. Also, since the track at our high school was 440y, we started even closer to the curve than other tracks so as to finish the 1600 and 3200 at the same finish line as the other races.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby PDJ551 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:58 pm

In 1980 high schools went from yards to meters. NJ ran the 1500 and the 3000 for two years. Then it was announced that the National Federation mandated that the distance must be 1600 and 3200 so that runners wouldn't get confused. I noticed that some other states continued running 1500 and 3000. In the two years that the 1500 and 3000 were run I never heard any runners complain or any get confused.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby dj » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:15 am

PDJ551 wrote:In 1980 high schools went from yards to meters. NJ ran the 1500 and the 3000 for two years. Then it was announced that the National Federation mandated that the distance must be 1600 and 3200 so that runners wouldn't get confused. I noticed that some other states continued running 1500 and 3000. In the two years that the 1500 and 3000 were run I never heard any runners complain or any get confused.


You're overstating the situation. The NFHS "recommended" the change in distances, the did not "mandate" it.

Thus some states to this day do not run 1600 and/or 3200. Those states chose not to follow the NFHS recommendation, and yet are fully compliant as members in good standing of the NFHS.
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Re: Why is high school track stuck in the past?

Postby Halfmiler2 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:54 pm

aaronk wrote:Peter Snell ran his first sub-4:00 mile and first WR mile (one and the same!) on a 385 yard grass track in NZ!!

1500?
1600?
400/440 tracks?
500 meter tracks?

Explain a 385 yard track!!
Or for that matter, a 146.7 yard indoor track the Millrose used their entire history (until this year!).


Maybe the 385 yard track was meant to be the finish of a marathon course. :lol:

The Millrose track that was 11 laps to 1600 meters was only used the last decade or so. Before that, the track was 160 yards.
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