Women’s Marathon Records Under Scrutitny and Reverted to Times of Decades Past

Are you joking me, IAAF?! In case you haven’t heard, apparently the new rule is that if a woman runs a world best time in a race that has men in it, the time WON’T count as a legitimate World Record. That’s insane! What does this mean for women’s distance running?

That stellar 2:15:25 Paula Radcliffe ran, void. The new ‘World Record’ (and I’m going to continue to use air quotes going forward) is 2:17:42. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great time, but it’s only her third fastest time over the distance. I thought we were supposed to be pushing our sport FORWARD, not taking steps back.

Additionally, shouldn’t the IAAF be more concerned about drug cheats and covering matters there, why are they scrutinizing women’s records when there are far more pressing matters to be discussed. I mean, there are quasi-men running in women’s track races, yet they allow those records to stand.

“To have it stripped from you, when no drugs were involved, when no scandal was involved, is just hard to believe,” was Deena Kastor’s reaction upon learning about the ruling. She is having her name taken completely out of the record books, as her 2:19:36 previous American Record was under mixed race conditions. So, the ‘new record’ is reverted back to the 2:24:52 run by Joan Benoit Samuelson back in 1984.

“I wouldn’t mind if someone would have broken that record because it’s gratifying to see the sport move forward,” Kastor continued. “But to have it taken away? That feels like a little bit of a cheap shot.”

Those are my thoughts; if we are going to go that route, should all track records not done on cinder tracks be null and void too? I mean we are living in a world that is constantly propelling forward in everything; new technology, new strategies, new theories, new thoughts and ideas. Along with that, training has advanced, shoes have advanced, spikes are lighter, tracks are better, heck, we have anti-gravity treadmills to run on!

The IAAF’s argument is that having male pacesetters for women is giving them an unfair advantage and leads to faster times. Now, yes, having a pacer is certainly a luxury, but men have pacesetters available to them for races, should all records done with a rabbit now not count?

True, women are ‘lucky’ in that they have another gender that is genetically able to cover distances faster and thus are able to theoretically pace for the entire distance of a race. Men don’t have the luxury of getting horses to pace them through full distances, but they have other men around them that can race them along after a pacer drops out. In the case of Paula’s 2:15, it is so far ahead of what any other woman could run that there is not even a pack she could work off of.

Now, sometimes just because men are in the race that doesn’t necessarily mean they are there to pace the woman. Sometimes the women blow the men out of the water anyways. Still, Paula Radcliffe herself notes that in setting her record time in 2003, “I was actively racing [the male pacers]…I fully believe that I would have run pretty much the same time that day alone.” Touche.

I just think it’s sad that all of these records are being scrutinized in the first place. First there was the whole Boston Debacle, now this. I don’t understand why instead of being excited over an evolving sport, with records done clean, officials insist on wiping away these times. Again, I’m just going to go out and say that there are way too many dirty racers that they need to be working on busting instead of nitpicking these issues? Is it more a matter of that they have just simply given up on tackling that front and then instead are trying to just shift focus and bring up non-issues instead?

Regardless, I’d like to end with what Kara Goucher had to say, because I think she sums it up perfectly and succinctly, “That’s too bad.”

1) What are your thoughts on this whole record debate?

2) Have you run in a mixed race or had men pace you?
I have, and yes, of course having a pacer does help, but it doesn’t make or break a runner’s performance. If you run it on your own two feet and the distance is accurate, count it! I’ve also had women pacers too, so just because it’s a man shouldn’t even be an issue.

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7 thoughts on “Women’s Marathon Records Under Scrutitny and Reverted to Times of Decades Past

  1. AAARGH don’t even get me STARTED on this one!! I couldn’t believe it when I heard it on the radio!! The rule is stupid enough, but to take away someone’s record that has been standing for what, eight years(?), is SO BAD!!

    My running team is actually men+women, and it makes a HUGE difference speed-wise! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! :)

  2. I’m so happy I refound your blog! For some reason, the link I was following was outdated or something. I’m not a creepy stalker (really!)…I just enjoy your blog. :)
    Oh, and the record thing is STUPID! It’s not like the women are being carried across the finish line or anything…they still did it on their own!

  3. Wow, I can’t even believe they would do that! That is too bad, she ran that race fair and square! And you bring up a good point in all the advancements that have been made with gear and even that tracks that are run on! Should they just revert back because that’s “not fair?” It’s just so crazy!!!

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