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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/390

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386
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

the race, as did our predecessors in ante-chronometer days. Medals are given for races won and not for records beaten.

It is, perhaps, our attachment to the interest of the momentary race, and our ordinary indifference to the record, that accounts for the absence of enquiry into the laws of racing speeds. If we ask either an athlete, or a non-athlete who is athletically informed, what is the relation of a runner's speed over a long course to that over a short course, he will immediately reply that a racer over a short course, like 100 meters, runs at a higher speed than over a long course, like 3 kilometers. But if he is pressed for an estimate as to how much faster the racer runs as the course is shortened, he will either be likely to express indifference, or to intimate the opinion that a precise answer is impossible. Nevertheless, it is self-evident that the long list of records which have been established up to this date for runners on courses varying from 20 yards up to more than 600 miles, determine the average speed which the makers of those records severally adopted.

The records reported in the New York Times as having been made by the winners of the flat races in the London Olympiad last July are collected in the following table:

Length of
Course.
Meters
Winner's
Actual Time.
Seconds
Average
Speed over
Course
Meters per
Second
Winners Time Esti-
mated ac-
cording to
the Logarith-
mic Straight
Line. Sees.
Discrepancy.
Seconds
Percentage
Discrepancy
100 10 .8 9 .26 Walker 10 .45 -0 .35 -3 .2
200 22 .4 8 93 Kerr 22 .8 +0 .4 +1 .8
400 48 .4 8 .26 [1] 49 .7 +1 .3 +2 .7
800 112 .8 7 .09 Sheppard 108 .4 -4 .4 -3 .9
1,500 243 .4 6 .16 Sheppard 220 .0 -23 .4 -9 .6
42,190 10,518 4 .01 Hayes 9,390 -1,128 -10 .7

In the accompanying illustration, these records are plotted on a specially ruled paper known to engineers as "logarithm-paper" or "log-paper," in which equal multiples scale equal distances, both vertically and horizontally. The horizontal scale represents course-distances in meters. The vertical scale represents running times in seconds. The stars near the numerals 1, 2, 4, 8, 15 and 420, locate the Olympian records for 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,500 and 42,190 meters, respectively, according to the table already considered. The various circular dots indicate world's records for running, taking the best from professional and amateur lists published in the New York "World" Almanac. The straight line is drawn through the record for 500 yards (457. meters), and also through the record for 7 1 /2 miles (12,070 meters).


  1. This contest was reported "no race" in the New York Times of July 24. The time, however, is here taken as that of the best preceding trial heat, won by Haswelle.