Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson – step aside…
Why on earth would Kenenisa Bekele and Usain Bolt race each other at 600 meters is beyond me. If anything, it would help promote Bekele as he is not a household name as compared to Bolt, despite his amazing accomplishments. If you don’t believe me, just go to your office and ask around if they know who “Usain Bolt” is. Then ask about Kenenisa Bekele..
To me, Kenenisa Bekele is the modern day Miruts Yifter “the Shifter”. (Google his name if you do not recognize it)
But let’s look at the facts.
Bekele is known to finish the last lap in 52 or 53 seconds in a 5K or 10K race. Bekele even recorded a 200 m segment during the last lap in 24 seconds, so a sub 50 400m PB is possible once he got his legs going.
One thing is certain… Kenenisa Bekele’s PB for 1500m is 3:32.35 (2007), and Usain Bolt’s PB is 19.19 for 200m (2009) and 45.28 (2007) as a 20 year old when main focus was the 200 that year.
I believe these 2 great runners can run as low as 1:16 (don’t worry, the WR is 1:12)
Of course, these are just my theoretical numbers on how they could split:
Kenenisa Bekele: 52 + 24 = 76 (1:16)
Usain Bolt: 24 + 25 + 26 = 75 (1:15)
I once ran a 600m indoor PB of 1:21.91 with splits of 25, 26, 30 when my PB was 23 and 50 indoors for the 200/400 respectively.
According to the study High-speed running performance: a new approach to assessment and prediction by Matthew Bundle, Reed Hoyt, and Peter Weyand, 80 seconds is the approximately the intersection where sprinters and distance runners meet based on a model to predict your performance based on speed reserve.
You can download the PDF file here.
What is Heck is Speed Reserve?
Speed Reserve, or Anaerobic Speed Reserve (ASR), is simply the difference between your maximum speed and your maximum aerobic speed.
The concept is simple:
The faster your top end speed, the faster your sub-max speed (or aerobic speed).
In the study, they were trying to find a correlation between your maximum speed and your maximum aerobic speed.
The basis of the study was to come up with a theoretical framework in predicting performance based on speed reserve using 2 simple tests of 3 second (maximum speed) and up to 240 second run (maximum aerobic speed). In summary, without reading the entire article and falling asleep, or requiring a Masters degree in Statistics, the authors came up with a mathematical model to predict your performance based on speed reserve.
To test their theory, they used known PRs from Michael Johnson and Sebastian Coe. What is interesting is another “what if” scenario: that is, “what if” Johnson ran an 800 meters? If you followed the T&FN forums in the past, there was so much “fantasy league” message boards postings about Jeremy Wariner moving up to the 800 meters, and possibly smashing the 1:40 minute barrier (the magical 100 second barrier for the 800 meters)
The example below shows the lines intersecting at around 80 seconds, with Coe having the slight edge in the 800 meters (at around 100 seconds).
Now, Usain Bolt is no MJ, and Kenenisa Bekele is certainly no Sebastian Coe (in terms of middle distance), but the PB times are relatively “close” given the statistical nature of the plotted results.
And again, all this is just plain theory. Once they lace their spikes and toe the line, only then we will be certain who will win unless one gets injured (** cough cough Michael Johnson cough cough **).
In theory, Bolt (or the sprinter) would have a very slight edge. 650 meters would be a fairer distance.
As far as the winner goes, well, both are going to be winners in their wallets. Bekele will benefit with the extra publicity. And this event will take us one step closer for Track and Field becoming an entertainment rather than a sport.