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Monday, August 03, 2009

When is a PB not a PB???
As most of you know, the Kinsale 5 mile road was last Friday and it is noted as a very fast course. The start is about 55 metres above sea level and the finish line is very close to sea level with nothing really in the way of hills along the way.

Someone left the following comment regarding the race...
The course was so ridiculously fast(so much downhill) that I'm totally disregarding the "new PB" that I set. Sure I'd nearly run a 4 min mile if I ran down the side of a mountain...doesn't count!

Now the thing about personal bests is that they are 'personal'....i.e. they only really matter to the person concerned. It's really up to each individual to decide whether to count them or not or if they really care anyway.

My own personal take on it is that I would be inclined not to count it. If my PB was on the Kinsale course, it would have a certain 'Yes...but' about it. Given the choice, I'd much prefer it to be over a route where the start and finish are more or less at the same altitude....or at least, there was nothing there giving me what I felt to be an unfair advantage.

So, my question is..........
When is a PB not a PB? Would you count a PB if it is over a largely downhill course?

Leave a comment below and vote in the poll on the right hand side. I'll put it up for 2 weeks and we'll see how it goes.


John Dunphy said...

Hi John.

I think no matter what course you race on it's down to how you preform on the day,it's all good and well to say Kinsale is a very fast course but that does not mean that everyone will be guaranteed a pb on it,i was very happy with my own race last Friday night but i was unable to get a Pb, my best race this year over 5 miles was back in May in the Midleton 5 where i recorded a pb of 30.24 and Kinsale my time was 30.56 and i tried hard to do better but it was'nt to be.

ken owens said...

weather,time of the day, how you feel,all are part of getting a pb, when you feel good and have your head in the right place a good race is always on the get a pb is a personal thing as no 2 races are the same.

Anonymous said...

It would be like saying Cork City Marathon is tougher than Dublin City Marathon,and you should get a Pb in Dublin but it's really not a Pb as Dublin is easier than Cork, am i making a point or am i talking a load of rubbish???

Anonymous said...

Although I agree that a PB is purely for one's own interest and benefit, I am in the 'it doesn't really count' camp. I got a PB in Churchtown last week, shaving a minute off my previous best. I felt this time reflected my recent training and I was delighted. I ran yet another minute faster in Kinsale, and while i was thrilled with this, I would, in my next 5 mile race, see my Churchtown time as the one to beat as I would feel that aiming for my Kinsale time will almost certainly end in disappointment! Not sure if that makes sense, but again, it is a personal thing and I think in every race, the more experienced you are, the more you know what you may or may not achieve according to the course, your training and your mood on the day.

Anonymous said...

There was still plenty of drags in Kinsale but its hard to get pbs if you look at ballycotton series with all the hills how can you get a pb in then

Liam said...

I dont care if its down hill ... if someone outside of the running scene asks me how fast can I run five miles I will give my kinsale time... after all I did run 5 miles in that time didnt I?

But its a good point when is a pb a pb? For me I write my time for each race on the back of my race number, date it and keep them all in a drawer in my bedroom. So when I go to race I can check back on my time for that race last year. So for me I have a separate pb for each race.

It was my first time running in Kinsale since I only started in April (UCC 10K) and I knock 3:40min off my fastest 5 mile time.

Loving this blog John!!!

Anonymous said...

hi john
Even though it's an easier course it doesn't guarantee you a pb.Most of the downhill is at the start and in my case i ran this section way too fast and compromised the 3 flat miles which were the same as any other course.Most of the premier road racing events around the world are held on completely flat courses.i have seen the berlin marathon and it is held on pristine road surfaces,with big wide roads and completely flat,does this mean that the marathon world record set on it is a bit bogus?in my opinion if kinsale was completely flat i would probably do better.
Terry higgins.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that PB per race is the way to go. You know yourself if you it went well for you or not. Part of the beauty of road racing is that the distance is only one dimension, each race is a distinct and unique challenge to be taken on its own merits. Kinsale's "net descent" characteristic is a great case in point, the first two miles really screwed up a lot of people (myself included -- I did way better in Churchtown!)

Thomas said...

It's definitely a personal thing. I've just run a short "10k" followed by a long one, and each time had to decide if I'd take the new PB, mathematically adjusted to a (hopefully) correct 10k distance.

As for downhills, I think the official world records demand that there must not be more than 1m drop per km, (1 in thousand, basically), and if you're so inclined you can use this as your own personal threshold.

Then again, as I've learned in Boston that above a certain distance a downhill course is neither easier nor faster.

John Quigley said...

Hi John,
All this hoo-ha re PBs. What's that - haven't had one for nearly 20 years!!

I'm concious that I promised, quite some time ago, to do an article on Course Measurement for you. This particular topic leads into the area, from the point of view of course records.

Under IAAF rules - see rule 260 - ,for a world record, the finish elevation cannot be less than 1:1000m below the start elevation.

In this case, Kinsale being 5 miles, i.e. just over 8k, the finish should not be greater than 8 metres below the start. Looking at MapMyRun, the difference looks to be of the order of 50 metres. Even allowing for 50% error, the difference is a lot more than the 8 metres max. So....Kinsale wouldn't stand as an IAAF record and, it follows, as an Irish record either. I was disappointed to miss Kinsale, a course I particularly like, this year, as it didn't fit into my personal training/racing plan.

However, having loads of ancient PB's under my belt, I still consider my fastest, for any particular distance, as my PB. Some race stand out though, like a John Walshe measured course - you know it's a real PB if you can get one on a course John has measured.

On another note, there's been some discussion on the results. You can print them off in several formats from the CARD database on the Eagle website - just search for Kinsale and select the race/year:
You can also use Detailed Search to look at all your (or someone else's) available records:

Anonymous said...

The downhill section in Kinsale disrupted my race I lost 7 places on that section as it was too steep to run properly down it so I lost time running down it.

Anonymous said...

a race is a race.a pb is a pb...the real challange is to beat your kinsale time on another course that is also 5 miles.......When a tree falls and knowone is around to hear it,does it still make a noise?

"The Runner"

Anonymous said...

Of course Kinsale can not be used as a genuine PB course because of the downhill. Having run it a few times I would estimate that a person running 30 minutes for the course could add 40 seconds to give a true reflection of their performace. However it is a great race, fantastic downhill early miles mean you can really get moving and motivated for a great race but you must ignore it for PB purposes if you are a true runner. Incidentally the world record for the downhill mile is about 3min 30 so that just shows the effect of a downhill advantage.

Anonymous said...

going on from what john quiqley said about the finish being not more than 8metres below the start to be considered under Iaaf rules,then this would also eliminate Ballyandreen as the finish is about 20mts below the start.i have always considered this a fast course maybe that is the reason.i think you have to take the rough with the smooth and accept what you get.5miles is 5miles no matter what the course.terry higgins.