The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Haile Gebrselassie's Record

By this time I'm sure you're aware of Geb's lastest world record, 21,285 meters in one hour. How does this match up compared to his other accomplishments?

Not particularly well. While it is true that no other human being has gone further in the one-hour run, several others including Geb himself have gone nearly as far in sginificantly less than an hour. If that's a bit confusing, let me explain.

Road racing and track racing have different sets of records. The one-hour run on a track was once a fairly popular event; former record holders include such legends as Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek and Ron Clarke. But by the late 70s it had become an oddity. Long-distance road running had replaced it.

The road event most equivalent to the one-hour run became the half-marathon, a very popular event these days. The world record for the distance is 58:35 by Samuel Wanjiru.

Geb's splits en route to his one-hour track record suggest a half-marathon time of 59:29. His road PR is 58:55. If Wanjiru went on to the 1-hour mark when he set his half-marathon record, he would have had a minute and 25 seconds to stumble another 188 meters--that's slower than 12-minute pace. So while Geb's new mark is an official World Record because no one has ever done it before, it's hardly what you'd call the best-ever performance at round about an hour.

Using conversions to combine lists of marks made at, for example, 1500m and one mile is a widely-accepted practice. This nifty little calculator allows us to put various efforts at distances near 21.1k on more or less equal footing. Here's our WR progression for the half-marathon using this method.

Mark Athlete (Nat) Year (actual time, distance)
1:14:20 John Levett (GBR) 1850 (1:13:40, 13M)
1:11:09 William Howitt (GBR) 1852 (1:10:31, 13M)
1:10:58 John Levett (GBR) 1854 (1:00:00, 18.022k)
1:09:30 Louis Bennett (USA) 1862 (1:00:00, 18.379k)
1:09:19 Louis Bennett (USA) 1863 (1:00:00, 18.425k)
1:08:59 Louis Bennett (USA) 1863 (1:00:00, 18.507k)
1:08:40 Louis Bennett (USA) 1863 (1:00:00, 18.589k)
1:08:03 Fred Bacon (GBR) 1897 (1:00:00, 18.747k)
1:07:33 Harry Watkins (GBR) 1899 (1:00:00, 18.878k)
1:07:00 Jean Bouin (FRA) 1913 (1:00:00, 19.021k)
1:06:18 Paavo Nurmi (FIN) 1928 (1:00:00, 19.210k)
1:05:50 Viljo Heino (FIN) 1945 (1:00:00, 19.339k)
1:04:51 Emil Zatopek (CZE) 1951 (1:01:15, 20k)
1:03:21 Emil Zatopek (CZE) 1951 (1:00:00, 20.052k)
1:02:53 Bill Baillie (NZL) 1963 (1:00:00, 20.190k)
1:02:45 Ron Clarke (AUS) 1965 (1:00:00, 20.232k)
1:01:25 Gaston Roelants (BEL) 1966 (1:00:00, 20.644k)
1:00:58 Gaston Roelants (BEL) 1972 (1:00:00, 20.784k)
1:00:35 Jos Hermans (NED) 1975 (1:00:00, 20.907k)
1:00:28 Jos Hermans (NED) 1976 (1:00:00, 20.944k)
0:59:59 Arturo Barrios (MEX) 1991 (1:00:00, 21.101k)
0:59:56 Shem Kororia (KEN) 1997 (0:59:56, 1/2 Mar)
0:59:17 Paul Tergat (KEN) 1998 (0:59:17, 1/2 Mar)
0:59:16 Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) 2005 (0:59:16, 1/2 Mar)
0:59:07 Paul Kosgei (KEN) 2006 (0:59:07, 1/2 Mar)
0:58:55 Haile Gebreselasie (ETH) 2006 (0:58:55, 1/2 Mar)
0:58:53 Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) 2007 (0:58:53, 1/2 Mar)
0:58:35 Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) 2007 (0:58:35, 1/2 Mar)

No comments: