Was it a False Start? Marvin Bracy 55m 6.08 Video

Let’s face it, 55 meters is an odd distance.

So when high school sprinter/football player Marvin Bracy ran 6.08 for 55 meters, a lot of people just took it as a new High School National Record.  And they should!

How fast is that?

“Rocket” Raghib Ismail (another sprinter/football) of Notre Dame University ran 6.07 for 55 meters in Jan 1991, while Lee McRae (a true sprinter) of Pittsburgh holds the world record at 6.00 seconds set in 1986.

So 6.08 is damned fast.


Was it a False Start?

But was it a false start?

Was it a true “IAAF 0.100 reaction time” false start? For more information starting blocks and reaction times, read The Rocket Sprint Start.

We don’t know for sure, and we’ll never know, as electronic sensors were not used in this race.

Here is the video on YouTube.

Take a look at the video below. After the race in real time, the video is slowed at 50% speed.

Take a close look at the smoke from the gun, and see who reacts (or anticipates) to the gun.  A frame by frame analysis (using NTSC at 29.97 frames per second) showed Marvin Bracy moved 0.06 seconds from the visual smoke, which means he heard it a fraction slower.  (sound takes longer to travel than light) 

So if electronic sensors were installed, it would have triggered a false start being less than 0.100 seconds.

I’m not taking anything away from Marvin Bracy, as he would have demolished the field no matter how good or bad his start.

Instant replay for Track and Field, anyone?

Or just better Officials?


  1. FRANK says

    Im not sure neither but perhaps he got around 0.100 reaction time like Vicaut in his recent 60m 6.53(0.103 reaction time, so he tried repeat it and false started hehe)
    The other runners in HS probably had reaction time type 0.160 or worst i dont know.
    I can not tell 100% that Bracy had false start.
    But im sure that he can not repeat this start hehe, probably the next time that he tries same he get false start hehe.

    • Jimson Lee says

      I remember Ben Johnson had a “legal” start of 0.095 seconds that was called back by the computers. In fact, more and more officials are getting lazy and relying on the computers to call back false starts. They should also be checking “motion”. I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post with VCB. Just like Blake twitching can cause another runner (i.e. Bolt) to trigger the sensors)

  2. Fred B says

    Watching this the first time in real time it appeared to be a clear false start. Watching it in reply….it appears to be a false start and I have to blame the officials. However IF he was disqualified it might have fueled him to setting the National record anyway, briefly looking at last years HS rankings he ran a 6.24/55m and a 10.28/100m outdoors. Understandably going from a 6.24 to a 6.08 in one year is something but its not unbelievable it would only take some hard work. I’m no expert like Jimson but he looks to have a great drive phase with nice arm/leg extention and power. Hopefully he can at least replicate this time this year and take away the debate from this particular race because he is definately a talented sprinter…..Lets see how his 100m is this year as well, if he challenges the 10.01 HS record that would be something!

  3. Dylan says

    My bet is that he will break that record he ran 10.05 U.S. junior championships even though it was wind aided, but never the less still very impressive.

  4. says

    I’m not knowledgeable about track. However, my back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests it took sound just a bit less than 0.04 seconds to reach the athlete (13 m / 330 m/s = 0.04 s).

    I have no idea what the delay between the sound and the smoke is, but that may be in his favor too, because you see the smoke a little bit later than the initial propagation of sound (i.e. the smoke travels slower than the sound, so it takes a little longer to be able to see significant smoke). I’m not sure whether I hear it correctly in the video, but I noticed sizable delay between the frame in which I hear the sound and the frame in which I hear the smoke. But to take this into account we would have to know where the microphones of the TV crew were placed.

    Regarding the speed of the slow motion video, it’s 25% of the original (24 sec from start to end).

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