I have several Facebook “Friends” who have dry wits and whose postings I always enjoy. One is Margot (Julie‘s another). A few days back, Margot identified a CPTC (or as they now insist on calling themselves Nike CPTC) runner on a photo. Something struck me as peculiar about the photo.

Then it hit me. It was a race in Central Park. Looked to be the bottom of Cat Hill.
(I can’t find the photo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.) Yet none of the runners was running the tangent. They were all in the inside lane, hugging the curve. This is something I have observed in NYRR races. I cut the tangents like a thief in the night. It’s especially useful now that the lane has been expanded. (The rule, as I understand it, is that if there are no barriers, a course is measured via the shortest distance. In Central Park, they used to put cones and now they have more substantial barriers.)

I ran a race in Prospect Park back in the 80s. Five miles. I was ninth in the race but figure I was about 14th over 5 miles because everyone else just stayed in the inside lane. During the race, someone came up to me and said, “I’m glad someone else took geometry in high school.” In race after race, including the Marathon, it seems that few runners use the whole course. I just don’t get it. I mean, isn’t the shortest distance between two points a straight line?

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