Last Updated on November 28, 2008 by Jimson Lee
Can you imagine taking the reaction time out of the Sprinters’ final FAT time? After all, it is the actual time covered for the entire 100 meter distance.
What would be the outcome if we did this? Especially in the 400 meters where reaction times are poor, or for those sprinters in the outer lanes without the speakers installed behind the blocks?
I’ll present the results at the end of this post, but this method is common for road racing with the use of RFID chips installed on the runners’ ankles or shoes.
Runners are given a “chip time” and a “gun time”. The chip time is the actual time when the runner crosses the start line.
The problem with this method is the Elite section starts anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes ahead of the general mass start.
Of course, there are drawbacks, as we’ve witnessed in the last 2 marathon results.
In the 2008 Chicago Marathon, we saw Wesley Korir of Kenya finish fourth (2:13:53) in the Open race (based on chip time) and was excluded from any prize given to the Elite section, who started 5 minuted earlier.
A similar event occurred at the 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco where Arien O’Connell ran 2:55:11, ahead of the Elite winner in 3:06! The “Elite” group were given a 20-minute head start.
Race officials actually implied she was to blame by not seeding herself as an “elite” runner. Sorry, when your PR is 3:08 for a women, that’s hardly an Elite! Duh!
So why can’t you use the chip time as official times? Can you image starting 10 seconds less on purpose, then catch the leader right away, run side by side for the entire race, and even let them “win” by letting them cross the line slightly ahead of you?
Why the Winter Olympics are not as popular
This is one common fault to the Winter Olympics. Mostly events are judging events and time trials. Short track speed skating is one of the rare events with heats and semis where the winner is the first person to cross the line.
The general public who watches the Olympics every four years (and nothing else!) wants to see the first person to crossing the line as the winner. The 10k long track speed skating takes over 4 hours!
Beijing Olympics Modified Results for 100 meters
Take a look at the differences in results if the reaction time was subtracted from the gun time:
Beijing Olympics Modified Results for 400 meters
The 400 meters yields different results because of poor reaction times: