Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Follow up to the 1984 Cork City Marathon post & Course measurement back in the 1980's

Friday, October 14, 2016

Follow up to the 1984 Cork City Marathon post & Course measurement back in the 1980's

Last week, I had a guest post up by John Walshe on the 1984 Cork City Marathon. Included in the post were the results for the marathon itself which showed just how fast the times were back then.

Some of the questions raised were why the times were so fast and how were the courses measured back then?

As for the times, the running boom of the early to mid 80's was largely due to young adult men running. i.e. men in their mid 20's to early 30's. That's in contrast to the latest running boom which is largely a mix of men and women in their early 30's to mid 40's. As such, it's probably no great surprise that times are slower now.

As for course measurements, John Walshe has written a short follow up article and you can see it below...

As that Cork Marathon of 1984 was the BLE National Marathon, in all probability it was measured by a surveyor’s wheel. This necessitated walking the full course (probably in stages) pushing a small wheel on a handle. It would not be as accurate as measurements nowadays, but if done diligently and correctly there wouldn’t be a significant difference.

The calibrated cycle method was pioneered in the UK over 50 years ago by a man named John Jewell of the Road Runners Club. It was then adopted by the RRC of America and later by the governing world federation, the IAAF. This consisted of riding a bicycle fitted with a counter which had been calibrated over a short distance measured on the road with a steel tape.

Although the Ballycotton ‘10’ and associated races had been using the method here in Cork since the late 1970s, BLE (now Athletics Ireland) were slow off the mark and did not officially introduce it throughout the country until more than a decade later.

The first calibration course in Ireland was laid down prior to the inaugural Ballycotton ‘10’ in 1978. It was measured on the long straight just before the six-mile mark which would be familiar to many runners. The distance was a half mile long and the device used to measure the full course was a Veeder Rootes counter, supplied by John Jewell of the RRC.

This was the forerunner to the Jones Counter which was invented by an American named Alan Jones and his son Clain – the principle was exactly the same but the new counter was easier to use and slightly more sophisticated!

In 1988, Ballycotton Running Promotions purchased a Jones Counter from the New York Road Runners (NYRR), at a cost of $35 (around €30 in today's money). This – the first one in Ireland - was used (still in use today!) to measure many of the races in the Cork area before Athletics Ireland, mainly through Tom McCormack, took an interest in the late 1990s and then started to train and appoint a number of measurers throughout the country.

*Just as a footnote, with regard to the times of the first three in that Cork Marathon of 1984, it should be noted that these were class athletes. As mentioned in the article, Kiernan would go on to finish ninth that summer in the Olympic marathon, his time of 2:12:20 over two minutes faster than he ran in Cork. He had run 47:04 for 10 miles in Ballycotton the previous year and was also a sub-four-minute miler.

Although Dick Hooper was primarily a marathon runner, he would run 48:12 the following year in Ballycotton while Gerry Deegan – who finished well back in third – had personal bests of 13:35/28:48 for 5000m and 10,000m on the track.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the follow up John and John..