Martin Vlietstra, a frequent contributor to MetricViews, passes on some misgivings about on the 2010 London Marathon.
The countdown to the 2010 Virgin London Marathon has already begun – anybody who is planning to enter should have started their training by now. After the marathon was given some publicity at my workplace, I visited the website. The irrational way in which miles and kilometres were mixed up makes sorry reading.
This event is a world-class event so if any world records are to be set, the course must comply with IAAF regulations. In particular, these regulations require that intermediate course distances be given in kilometres (with miles as an optional extra). The map on the website only gives miles.
A list of timings that runners should aim for on a mile-by-mile basis can be found on the website, yet if a runner looks at their results, they will find timings at 5 kilometre intervals! How should a runner reconcile these outputs to what their planned schedule?
When top marathon runners are interviewed in the press, they invariably talk in kilometres – after all when they are running outside the UK or the US they do not come across miles. Yet the marathon publicity machinery in the United Kingdom is totally mile-oriented. Is this a case of one system of units for the top runners and another for the not-so-good runners – a kind of cultural Apartheid?