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How do you predict a 4×100 meter Relay time?
My calculations uses the best 4 times of each athlete from their season best (not personal best), subtract 1 second due to acceleration out of the blocks for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th leg, and add 0.1 sec for each of the 3 exchanges.
That’s the lead-off leg, 3 x 100m fly times, and 3 perfect exchanges.
So add the 4 open SB 100 meter times and subtract 2.7 seconds.
All this assumes one thing: perfect passes and the baton makes it all around the track! Don’t forget that for each exchange you can gain up to 5 feet (or 2 arms length) in “free distance” with your outstretched arms.
I’ll use the example of GDR’s 41.37 set in 1985 WC in Canberra. Drugs or no drugs, it’s the time I am calculating.
In 1985, the same team ran individual 100 meters in late September in East Berlin, just a few days before Canberra, and they all ran personal bests or season best in that race (NOTE: the wind was +2.0m/s)
Here were the individual results:
- Gladisch 10.99 PB (who would later run lead-off in the WC relay)
- Gohr 10.86 (PB 10.81)
- Auerswald 11.12 (PB 11.04)
- Reiger 11.19 PB
If you use those race times, you get:
10.99 + 9.86 + 10.12 + 10.19 + 0.1 + 0.1 + 0.1 = 41.46
If you take their PB’s, you get:
So 10.99 + 9.81 + 10.04 + 10.19 + 0.1 + 0.1 + 0.1 = 41.33
Both of these are fairly close to the 41.37 WR.
Example 2: Jamaica’s 37.04 WR at Daegu 2011
When you add up the season bests for Nesta Carter (9.90), Michael Frater (9.88), Yohan Blake (9.92) and Usain Bolt (9.88), you get 39.58 – 2.7 = 36.88.
- the last handoff with Blake and Bolt was less to be desired
- Usain Bolt could have run a 9.70 or faster season best if it weren’t for the DQ
- Asafa Powell (9.78) did not run citing a groin injury for the open 100m
- Steve Mullings (9.80) did not run due to a drug suspension
It’s clear that Jamaica can run 36-mid if they used the top 4 fastest men plus 3 clean crisp exchanges.
Push Pass or Upsweep?
Personally, I don’t care what relay passing technique you use, whether it’s the Push Pass or Upsweep pass. As long as both runners (incoming and outgoing) are near full speed, and you can maximize the free distance with outstretched arms, then either one will work. France is known for keeping the Upsweep pass, despite the rest of the world using the Push Pass.
Coaches, take your best four 100 meter sprinters, and see how this formula works for you, assuming perfect exchanges. Theory is good, but you have to get the baton around the track!
Here are 10 previous articles from technique, strategy and history over the past 3 years:
- Exploiting your 4×100 meter Relay Personnel
- 4×100m Relay: Thoughts on the European Athletics Championships
- 4×100 Relay Baton Passing – Upsweep, Downsweep or Push Pass?
- 4×100 Meter and 4×110 Yard Relay Trivia
- Baton Exchanges: How to Run the 4×200m & 4×400m
- The Last 4×100m Mixed Team to Hold a World Record
- Remember when France had the 4×100m WR?
- Jamaica 4×100m Relay Potential – A Sub 37 Second WR?
- More History of the 4×100m Relay
- Track and Field 4×100 meter Relay and Exchanges