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  #31  
Old 10-04-17, 07:42 AM
Rohbino Rohbino is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathking View Post
God sometimes I feel like Sisyphus. OK, the problem most people have with MMOC (and Galion, and Trinity, and ...) is not really that they believe they are the wrong distance but that they are too fast.
mathking, I agree with most everything that you wrote. That being said, I don't have a problem with MMOC being too fast. I don't have a problem with any course being too fast. My problem is that in all probability the distance of the course is wrong yet it is billed as 5,000.

There is now too much emphasis on times in cross country. Everyone is concerned about time rather than place. It's just not the athletes that are concerned about times. A lot of coaches are as well. Additionally, publications/online sites such as Milesplit, fuel the fascination with times. FOr example:

Here are some recent Tweets from MileSplit US:

"HUGE jumps across the board in our NEW rankings."

"Zach Kreft ran 14:29.95 for 5k and a NEW U.S. #1 at the Midwest Meet of Champions."

"Lakota East's Dustin Horter @DustinHorter recorded a U.S. #2 time of 14:36.77 at the Midwest Meet of Champions!"

All based on times. Times of what? A race that in all probability was recorded on a course that was short.

The problem with the fascination with times is that it tends to distract from the fact that it was a great race. The general distance of how short the course was, that I have heard most often, is around 90 meters. If that is true, and we were to extrapolate Kreft's and Horter's times out to the full 5,000, we get times of approximately 14:46 for Kreft and 14:53 for Horter. If we really need to perseverate on time, those are still probable PRs for both. Many other runners would have also had PRs. MileSplit and the incessant pimping of runners' times should go away. The sport is cross country. In the end it doesn't matter what the distance is. Place is all that matters. The fascination with time demeans the importance of place. The last time I checked XC was still a team sport.

The other issue that I have, and I believe this stems from and is a byproduct of the focus on times, is that the sport is getting away from challenging courses. I already alluded to this but am stating it again. It is probably good to run a few of the "MMOC type/track on grass" courses throughout the season but mix it up a bit. Seek out some challenging courses. I honestly think that some coaches are afraid to run more challenging courses because of the slower times that will result.

BTW, mathking, CVNP would only take you a little bit longer to get to than Mason does. I'm not suggesting that you don't attend the Mason meet. It's a good course with some good challenges. I'm only mentioning because you stated that you wished you were closer to CVNP. It's maybe only 30ish miles farther for you than Mason is.
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  #32  
Old 10-04-17, 08:27 AM
mathking mathking is offline
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We have thought seriously about CVNP. I drive to Walton Hills about 15ish times a year (my in-laws home is there) and have run in the park many times. It might be worth it even with the extra time, but we are in a semi-official "one far away meet" policy, so it would mean giving up Mason. But it is possible we will do that in the future.

The thing for me about the Darby course is that I have measured it now four different times, with surveyor grade range finding tools. The measurements I have gotten were between 4949 and 4979 every time. Honestly, they lay the course out around the outside edges of a couple of fields, and there are some fixed points (trees and tennis courts on one side, goal posts and baseball field fence on the other) that means there just isn't a ton of wiggle room for changing the distance of the course a lot. But the discussion has probably reached a point of pointlessness by now, so how about we stipulate that it's short and just comment on how much faster Kreft and Horter are than Zach Wills?

If anyone is interested, the last time I measured it with both a wheel and and the rangefinder and the wheel was about 25 meters shorter than the rangefinder. Because it was really dry. The time before that the course was very soft and the wheel generated a distance 21 meters longer than the range finder. All of that is pretty typical with a wheel unless you make sure to walk slowly. Before being a teacher I wrote code for a consulting company. One of the things I did was test early GPS mapping software. So I had to learn how to do precision distance measurement. When I measured the course it took me almost an hour, and it should take more than that to properly measure with a wheel. Rule of thumb, if you feel your wheel bouncing then you are inaccurate. On pavement a wheel is fairly accurate as long as you walk straight paths. But in general a wheel will over estimate because paths wobble. The same is largely true to grass if it is soft. If the ground is hard, grass tends to generate a lot of bouncing, which leads to the wheel advancing more than it rolls. (Unless you wheel from a vehicle, then it spins and you greatly overestimate distance.)

But back to the general point. (Yeah I know I said we had reacher the point of pointlessness, but who doesn't love a good pointless argument? They are so much less stressful than the important ones, like all of the political arguments going on right now.) When I was younger and coaching in Cincinnati I measured courses more often. I was single and had way too much free time. There were a number of courses that were short. Some pretty well known that I know were definitely shorter than Darby's course. But if they were more physically challenging then no one cared whether they were short. Most courses end up being "short" if I measure them with the laser because I am measuring a collection of straight line segments, straighter than anyone could run. One last thought: Think about the recent attempt at the sub 2 hour marathon. It was correctly ruled as not sanctioned for a world best because they had pace setters, and the course was clear, flat and looping in order to make conditions as favorable as possible. Those were pretty much the conditions on Saturday.
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  #33  
Old 10-04-17, 08:43 AM
mathking mathking is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rohbino View Post
The other issue that I have, and I believe this stems from and is a byproduct of the focus on times, is that the sport is getting away from challenging courses. I already alluded to this but am stating it again. It is probably good to run a few of the "MMOC type/track on grass" courses throughout the season but mix it up a bit. Seek out some challenging courses. I honestly think that some coaches are afraid to run more challenging courses because of the slower times that will result.
I am COMPLETELY in agreement. I think a mix of more and less physically challenging courses is good. We try to teach kids that the first two miles of their race is to set up the last mile. We decided to attend the Dual at the DeWines because it makes racing the other team explicit, and reminds kids that in cross-country you need to race people. As a bonus, it is a very nice course. We have run at Otterbein a couple of times after storms, when the kids had to race through some pretty deep water. In a race like that we tell them your goal is about beating specific athletes and runners from specific teams. Our kids love Mason even though they don't tend to have particularly fast times there. They enjoy the challenge. If they ran such a course every week that would probably not be the case.

On the other hand, when we go to Darby we have enough data that I can tell kids "I want you to be at this point in about this time" and get them to work on running the first half of the race in the way that brings into the last mile in position to beat the people they should be able to beat. Some kids don't get that if you run 5:30-5:30 you might be even with the kid who runs 5:10-5:50, but you are likely going faster at that point. Darby is a good place to work on that. The fast times can be confidence boost, but you have to be careful or the very next week can break that. We stress how much faster (or not) they were than the last time they ran a course, rather than the overall time.
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  #34  
Old 10-05-17, 10:02 AM
LoveCrossCountry LoveCrossCountry is offline
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Regarding times, athletes have ALWAYS been concerned with their times, even in cross country. Just the nature of the sport. Also, regarding Milesplit and hyping the times (US #1) and so on, that might be a tad silly, but overall I'm glad they are there. Milesplit has given great visibility to track and cross country, and that helps raise the bar for those athletes who want to strive to get better and better...back in my HS days, we had to wait for the newspaper to come out with results, and in many cases they never reported race results.
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  #35  
Old 10-05-17, 10:52 AM
mathking mathking is offline
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I was just thinking of something else related to this topic. Eisenhart is generally considered a very fast course. I have had several people tell me it has to be short. I have measured it and not found it to be short. Our boys head coach has tended to feel that if the weather conditions were good for Eisenhart and Scioto Downs, that Eisenhart was a reasonably good predictor for how fast an athlete could run at the state meet at Scioto Downs. Our data tend to back that up. That's not saying the two courses are equally fast, but that on the average our kids who had good races at Eisenhart and good races at SD tended run similar times at the two. Even if the Eisenhart course were short (it's not) it wouldn't have mattered.
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  #36  
Old 10-05-17, 12:23 PM
Running Man 101 Running Man 101 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathking View Post
I was just thinking of something else related to this topic. Eisenhart is generally considered a very fast course. I have had several people tell me it has to be short. I have measured it and not found it to be short. Our boys head coach has tended to feel that if the weather conditions were good for Eisenhart and Scioto Downs, that Eisenhart was a reasonably good predictor for how fast an athlete could run at the state meet at Scioto Downs. Our data tend to back that up. That's not saying the two courses are equally fast, but that on the average our kids who had good races at Eisenhart and good races at SD tended run similar times at the two. Even if the Eisenhart course were short (it's not) it wouldn't have mattered.
Measured Eisenhart course twice and if you stay on the marked course it is really close to 5k. If you wanted to cut the corners, a few years ago you might have been able to cut off 50-60m, but last year they fenced it better.

The path is smooth and there are many people to cheer, plus the weather is usually cooler. Will be warm this weekend and maybe slightly softer with the rain, so we'll how much of a difference that makes.
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