One of the quirks about Championship meets is when you have 12 runners enter a short sprint, like the 100 meters. Then only 8 runners check in the marshaling area an hour before this “semi-final” race.
MOST meet directors cancel the semi-final race and make it a straight final. This is AFTER you have warmed up and are ready to go, mentally and physically. Running this semi would help “get the kinks out” for most sprinters. Meet directors feel this is a wasted race.
This is bad.
According to the rules, yes, it “should” be a straight final with 8 or less runners on a 8 lane track. How you interpret “check in” and entries is up to you. (I live in Italy, and the laws are all about interpretation!)
But the reason for running heats is lane draws and advancement.
Since we know everyone advances, then it’s important to have proper lane draws. Lanes 3-4-5-6 are based on TIME from the heats. Especially when people enter the meet with bogus seed times.
It’s no fair to give a real seed time, have a straight final, and you end up with Lane 1 in a 200m!
We saw this example at the M50 at the 2011 USATF Masters 100 meters where they actually ran the semi-finals with 8 runners checked in.
Yes, all 8 who ran in the 2 heats (4 per heat) qualified for the finals. Yes, you may think it’s a joke and one could walk the race in 60 seconds and still make the final. But at least the finals had the best 4 times in Lanes 3-4-5-6.
I say, let them run!
No meet is perfect, and I’ll be the first to attest that.
But my BIGGEST pet peeve with the sprints is why meet directors don’t turn the race around on a windy day, especially when it’s over 2.0 m/s. Yes, it means having 2 cameras (or moving them).
But there’s nothing worse in running a race with a –2.9 m/s or –3.4m/s head wind!
Even if you set a PB in a +3.5m/s wind, YOUR BODY still ran that time. Sprints is all about covering ground as fast as possible.
Sometimes that proprioception in running fast is all you really need to mentally get to the next level.