Butch Reynolds 43.29


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Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby johnclark » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:17 am

Butch Reynolds broke the 400m world record in Zurich in 1988, with a time of 43.29.

Reynold's career second-best time was 43.91, which was 0.62 seconds slower.

What is interesting about that is that no other elite 400m runner has such a big difference between his best and second-best times (excluding altitude times).

I've looked at times for 144 men with at least five recorded FAT times. Here are the biggest differences:

best next best diff
43.29 43.91 -0.62 Harry Reynolds
44.40 44.89 -0.49 Fred Newhouse
44.27 44.74 -0.47 Alonzo Babers
43.94 44.36 -0.42 Kirani James
44.16 44.57 -0.41 Otis Harris
44.51 44.91 -0.40 Jerome Davis
44.61 44.98 -0.37 Greg Nixon
44.45 44.80 -0.35 Leonard Byrd
44.13 44.47 -0.34 Derek Mills
44.70 45.04 -0.34 Karl Honz

I don't really know what to make of this. I am certainly not suggesting that the times are wrong or to open up the question of drugs. Looking at the other men who ran on that day (17 August 1988) in Zurich, some ran good times compared to their best, some not so good. Eleven top runners (PB of 45.20 or better) competed that day and none except Reynolds ran their best time.

My guess is that Reynolds benefited from a 'perfect storm' of a good track, some elevation (but not enough to be 'at altitude'), a very fast pace set by another runner (Innocent Egbunike) and Reynolds being fit and uninjured (which was not always the case). In other words, it was a freak race by Reynolds.

Reynolds was widely expected to break the record sometime around then (Evan's 43.86A in 1968), but consider that the non-altitude record at the time was 44.10 (Reynolds in 1987), so Reynolds broke the record by about 0.8 seconds, which is proportionally a larger decrease in the WR than Johnson's 19.32 (broke his own 19.66) and Bolt's 9.58 (broke his own 9.69).

Sometimes an athlete pulls out a freakish performance which not even they can get close to again.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Marlow » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:52 am

johnclark wrote:Butch Reynolds broke the 400m world record in Zurich in 1988, with a time of 43.29. Reynold's career second-best time was 43.91, which was 0.62 seconds slower.
Sometimes an athlete pulls out a freakish performance which not even they can get close to again.

From my perspective, to run a 400 'correctly' requires an enormous dedication of will. No one wants to go out fully in the first 200, and then blast the third 100, knowing the price that must be paid in the last 100. At the time, I remember thinking that Butch fully committed himself in that one race. Michael Johnson was the poster boy of will power. He did what he had to in the 200 and 400 many times.

It seems as though one could just tell oneself, 'hey, it's less than a minute of pain - you can do this!', but as someone who had to run 400Hs, it's a lot easier said than done.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Bruce Kritzler » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:15 pm

Reynold missed some of his prime years (when he could have run around his pr) when suspended.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby gh » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:16 pm

It doesn't help that he loses all of '91 (a year in which he turned 27 in June) and has no summer season in '92. Losing that kind of chunk out of your prime certainly wouldn't help a "normal" progression.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby rhymans » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:57 am

Reynolds second best mentioned in the first post was 43.91, and that rather than 44.10 (also in 1st post) was the low altitude best at the time.

Zürich is always highly atmospheric, but it was quite exceptional that evening - the 100 with Lewis and Johnson (won by Lewis in 9.93) was expected to be the highlight, but it was of course that 400. Egunike was out like a rocket and went through 200 in 21.0. Reynolds (21.4) was one lane inside and working harder than usual to stay in touch. At 300 there was a meter covering Reynolds, Lewis and Egbunike, with Everett a couple of meters back, and Reynolds came home with a last 100 of 11.1, some 4/10ths quicker than Johnson in his 43.18
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby johnclark » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:08 am

rhymans wrote:Reynolds second best mentioned in the first post was 43.91, and that rather than 44.10 (also in 1st post) was the low altitude best at the time.


Actually, Reynolds' 43.91 was in Atlanta in 1996, but he had run 43.93 in Indianapolis about a month before Zurich, so I am wrong regardless :oops:
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby nunusguy » Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:26 pm

gh wrote:It doesn't help that he loses all of '91 (a year in which he turned 27 in June) and has no summer season in '92. Losing that kind of chunk out of your prime certainly wouldn't help a "normal" progression.

You believe that quartermilers don't hit their prime until their late 20s ?
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Powell » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:55 am

gh wrote:It doesn't help that he loses all of '91 (a year in which he turned 27 in June) and has no summer season in '92. Losing that kind of chunk out of your prime certainly wouldn't help a "normal" progression.


But you would expect him to at least get close to his PR at the OG or the OT in '88. Everyone else of note did. Or he could have done it in 1989 or 1990.

Speaking of outlier performances in the 400, Marita Koch's WR is 0.56 better than her second fastest time ever. That's nearly as big a differential as Reynolds's.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby tandfman » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:21 am

Powell wrote:Speaking of outlier performances in the 400, Marita Koch's WR is 0.56 better than her second fastest time ever. That's nearly as big a differential as Reynolds's.

Canberra's altitude could have accounted for some of that.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Rog » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:27 am

Marita didn't always enjoy the best conditions for her big runs, though. In 84 lack of motivation affected her training but she still ran 48.16 (on the same day as a qualifying round) and 48.26 in bad conditions, a run she reckoned was worth half a second faster. In 86 at the Euros she ran 48.22 in cold, pouring rain. That 47.60 wasn't such an outlier, then, but it was one of the all-time great performances in the history of the sport.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Powell » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:33 am

tandfman wrote:
Powell wrote:Speaking of outlier performances in the 400, Marita Koch's WR is 0.56 better than her second fastest time ever. That's nearly as big a differential as Reynolds's.

Canberra's altitude could have accounted for some of that.


And, supposedly, the wind :)
Having said that, Koch ran 48.22 in miserable conditions at the 1986 Euros, beating Vladykina by 1.45! I have no doubt she was in sub-48 shape at this point. And it is a shame that season was her last... she would have easily taken the 1987 world title, and could have possibly held on to win another Olympic gold in 88.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Rog » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:06 am

By a strange quirk of fate I was actually browsing through an old Athletics Weekly last night (during the course of a diligent clearout :D) and read an interview with Marita. It was dated about ten years after she retired. She was quoted as saying that her Coach had predicted a time of between 47.55 and 47.65 for her (very accurate!) but she felt she could improve the record as she felt a headwind in the straight and would have preferred to have her strongest opposition outside her.

She then went on to say that as well as injury problems (which were a feature of her career) her retirement stemmed from a promise of warm weather winter training in Cuba that wasn't fulfilled. When she got back to Manfred Ewald he couldn't remember his promise, she felt disillusioned and then called it a day in January 87 after pulling a tyre though the snow.

Considering she was improving at both 200 and 400 into her late 20s, and that her 48.22 in 86 may have been the second greatest 400 ever in light of the conditions, times of 49.38 (87 Worlds) and 48.65 (88 OG) wouldn't appear to be insurmountable obstacles to further success, if she had continued.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby gh » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:04 am

nunusguy wrote:
gh wrote:It doesn't help that he loses all of '91 (a year in which he turned 27 in June) and has no summer season in '92. Losing that kind of chunk out of your prime certainly wouldn't help a "normal" progression.

You believe that quartermilers don't hit their prime until their late 20s ?


There's a difference between "prime" and "peak"; I wasn't remotely suggesting that he would have been at his best, merely that those were years in which he might have been expected to have put up more high-quality times, thus reducing the gap between his best and next-best times, which was the whole premise to begin with.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Tuariki » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:58 pm

tandfman wrote:
Powell wrote:Speaking of outlier performances in the 400, Marita Koch's WR is 0.56 better than her second fastest time ever. That's nearly as big a differential as Reynolds's.

Canberra's altitude could have accounted for some of that.

At 1900 feet I would have thought the effect wouldn't have been all that much.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby JumboElliott » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:47 pm

The air is still significantly thinner at 1900 feet than it is at sea level. It's probably around a tenth of a second difference from a performance at sea level over 400m.
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Re: Butch Reynolds 43.29

Postby Pierre-Jean » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:03 am

Maybe that day in Zürich he had the perfect pace, not too fast (like at OT), not too slow (like at OG)

10.6 21.2 32.0 43.93 (10.6+10.6+10.8+11.9) 20 Jul OT Indianapolis (1)
11.3 21.4 32.1 43.29 (11.3+10.1+10.7+11.2) 17 Aug Zürich (2)
11.3 21.7 32.6 43.93 (11.3+10.4+10.9+11.3) 29 Sep OG Seoul (3)

(1) The History of US OT R.Hymans
(2) My video analysis
(3) IAAF biomec report - Note Omega gives 32.53 in its official results v 32.58 in the IAAF biomec report
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