Check out: http://japanrunningnews.blogspot.com and go down to a (translated) report on how the Aug Hokkaido Marathon was measured on 4/11.

I was particularly struck by the measuring tool used: a 50 meter length of wire. It took 11 hours to complete the measurement. Why-o-why don't they use a Jones counter? I don't know that use of the counter would be more accurate but it sure would be a LOT faster.
Original Post

Maybe it's a case of NIH (Not Invented Here).

Alan
Since they used 50 people and measured the course only once, the real number one should use for comparison with the Jones method is:

(11 hours)x(50 people)x(2 measurements) =

1100 man-hours

Averaging 6mph on the bike and allowing 2 hours for measuring and using a cal course, results in less than 11 man-hours for a Jones measurement.

So the ratio is about 100 to 1.

I'm pretty sure the Japanese invented NIH.
I suspect the measurers may have turned this measurement with wire into something of an over-staffed group celebration activity. As Mark points out the number of man hours used was very high. With a team of 50, there was one person available for every metre of the wire to ensure that it lay accurately along the Shortest Possible Route. It is possible make a measurement with a 50m steel tape or wire, using 1/5 the number of man hours, as I demonstrated in 1999 when I measured the Abindon 4.5k loop with my tape.

It was a solo effort, spread over 7 sessions each of up to about two hours in July 1999. So I estimate that it was less 14 man hours to do the actual taping. There was some more time, which may have been up to about 6 hours, measuring angles with a compass, and measuring and remeasuring a 0.695km calibration straight which was part of the 4.5k loop. There was also a good bit of time putting the data on a spread sheet and examining it but I am not going to count that.

At my rate of 20 man hours for 4.5k. I would have taken 200 man hours for a marathon. That is still about 18 times as long as it would take with a Jones Counter, but there was an important reason for doing it with a steel tape ... to check the absolute accuracy of the calibrated bike method. I had found in 1998 that experienced measurers got results that varied over a range of 6 m (more than the SCPF of 4.5m) so I wanted to find out what was the true length. In my paper published in Measurement News in 1998, I showed that most of this variation was due to the different tyres being used and the variations in surface roughness, which affects the calibration of each tyre.

Perhaps the Japanese do know about the time saving that is obtained when using a Jones Counter, but on this occasion wanted to use the traditional taping method to remove the uncertainties of the calibrated bike method.