Skip to main content

RRTC Meeting 2013-12-07

Meeting was called to order at 9:30am. The RRTC Officers were introduced and it was noted that we have a new Education & Training Chair (Toni Youngman). We also noted that we are going to appoint a couple of Members at Large positions. These position will be used for discussions on various topics. Fro anyone interested the officer’s reports can be found online in the Document Library of the USATF web site under 2013 meeting.

Agenda Items discussed:
1.Mike Wickiser showed a vest that he produced and sign. These items will make for better safety when measuring a course. The vests were unique as they had LED flashing lights. The cost for these items is: signs 2 for $5. Vests for $25. Mike said he will get the information to Gene, which will be posted on the site.

2.Certificate font size: The type of font will be changed to Helvetica. This will actually help with more letters on a specific line. A couple of the lines will be adjusted so more information can be placed there.

3.An Award to recognize individual: We will look into this and if it’s done we decided it will be called the “Ted Corbitt award”. This would be a Merit award for outstanding service with the RRTC. There is a question if we can do it technically? Gene will check with Bill Roe to find exactly what has to be done. Hence if it can be done, a committee will be established
4.Should we remove the course description from certificate? We felt there was no harm keeping it. However, it was decided that we will work on simplifying it after looking at the IAAF form.

5.Allowable difference between tapings of calibration courses.
We decided 0.01% of the actual length is what would now be acceptable. This would be sent out to our Certifiers and also placed in the manual with examples.

6.Certifiers as USATF members: We agreed that we represent USATF and all must be members. We now have all our Certifier belonging to USATF.

7.Should we require measurers to be USATF members. This created much discussion and we concluded the following: There is a mechanism in place for measurers to be officials, which would require them to be USATF Members. This will be further investigated by Gene and Justin.

8.Rule 265 change. Simply put we made this change and it was approved by the Rules Committee to match the IAAF for this situation.

9.Units of measure on certificates & database. We will use metric for metric courses for distance, separation and elevations on the certificate. However, when a course is imperial, the distance will be imperial, the separation will be imperial or metric, but the elevations will be metric on the certificate.

10.High & Low elevation on certificate. There was discussion to remove these. However, we decided it best to keep them.

11.How we get new certifiers: People ask this lots of times so it was pointed out that this is an assigned by the Chair. The decision is based on measuring experience, a recommendation from an experienced Certifier and a need in a particular area. It was also explained the new certifier will need expertise for electronic scanning & submission

12.Will there be charge if a change is requested to a posted Certified Course. It was pointed out that this takes a lot of work to change it in all databases, backups. We decided we will issue new certificate with a new number if this happen after a month. The old course would be marked as unusable (U). This will be treated as a new course, hence all that applies there will apply here. The Certifiers will be notified of this change.

13.Modify application for certification to allow the option to enter cert # of cal course instead of mailing cert and map for cal course? All agreed this should be done and Bob Baumel will make the change.

14.Jim Gerweck opened a discussion on Ted Corbitt’s documents/possessions. There are 17 legal cases of certification docs that NYRRC is still storing. Lots of historical importance. Jim Gerweck will do the scanning of these and may find help from other volunteers as needed. This will save some important history.

15.Measurement Contest: Duane Russell did another outstanding job. The final results for all will be posted later, but here are a few.
Ron Pate 1st.
Jane Parks 2nd.
Booby prize (cow w udders) Irene Herman.

16.Olympic Marathon Trials: They will be in either LA or Houston – nothing announced yet.
17.Toni Youngman felt we should make our Application for Certification compatible with IAAF There are only one or 2 extra questions. Bob will take a look at this and make those changes.

Some other items that Happened at the Annual Meeting:

1.Toni Youngman contacted RRCA and the Association Chair to set up Education and Training sessions. These would be held at their Annual meeting in 2014.
2.The USATF web person will fix the search engine for foreign courses that don’t show the expiration date when doing a search.
3.The USATF web person will fix the search engine to show if a measurer is an IAAF “A” or “B’
4.Gene expressed to the Men’s and Women’s LDR, that there must be certified splits at: 25 km and 30 km.
5.All USATF Championship races will be pre-verified.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

The proposed agreement for two measurements of a calibration course is unnecessarily restrictive. All it takes is for a cloud to cover the sun just in time for the second measurement and voila! Disagreement!

I do not understand why we (who?) decided that a limit was necessary at all. We have been doing cal courses for 40 years and I am unaware that a real problem has yet been found. Why then this "solution?"

I would suggest a limit of 0.2 m/ km, if a limit is needed at all. 0.1 is unnecessarily restrictive and adds work to no discernible benefit.
0.01% is about 1.2-in in a 1000-ft calibration course (sorry about imperial units). We've done, maybe 50 calibration courses and never had a difference between tapings of more than about 3/4-in. That said, what does the rule change really do? If the intent is to uncover a mistake, I agree with Pete. This may do it, but it will probably only cause re-taping perfectly good measurements. Like some other popular current events, it's apparently a done deal that we have to live with.
Pete, Guido: while I understand your "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" feelings, here's how I look at all the "rules" that are coming down: (are two colons allowed in one sentence?) there are more and more measurers entering the hobby. As more people participate in an activity, more clarification is needed.

I have found the same as Guido, that my differences in calibration tapings are less than ¾". BUT, when we get emails asking about tolerance for this, that, and the other thing (from new measurers), that is an indication that a clarification is needed.

Ideally, we would have a more-complete manual that answered questions before they are asked. That would enlarge the manual considerably, though, and would require much of someone's time. If we add items as they arise, we are clarifying items that are not clear enough for newbies. Remember, many of us have many courses under our belts (not that I wear a belt while measuring). Newbies don't have the benefit of our experience. If we can help them by putting clarifications in the manual, why not clarify?
Maybe we should consider putting "difference between the best 2 measurements back on the cert form-- then it would be easier to collect facts about this.

I agree that it sounds needlessly restrictive in this way: it may be hard for a "newbie" to achieve that at first, and I wouldn't want to make the job of laying down a cal course too discouraging. But I can accept that it was decided, now I'd be interested in seeing data-- what differences do we ordinarily achieve in practice?
Bob, are you really referring to the Cert form, or the Measurement Data sheet? I don't see a need for the info on a cert, but it would be a better way to phrase it on the data sheet. Better than "difference between shortest and longest" measurements.

When doing cal courses, my taping is usually within ½" for a 1,000' course.

Why is 1.2" over 1,000' needlessly restrictive? That is about ¼-click. Since most people who round Jones clicks do so to the half-click, 1.2" is less than a rounding unit. But, if we allow longer difference in two cal course tapings, it becomes material to the measurement. Granted, half of a click is still only about 1.75", but that is 9" per mile, and 20' per marathon. That becomes material.
No I meant on the certificates because that would provide a good source of information on this question of what is an acceptable difference between two measurements. I think I'll try to dig into some records to find out what my own experience has been. (I tend to mainly remember the times when 2 measurements agree to a remarkable degree, and block out the other times).

Personally if I get 2 measurements that are off by 0.01% I will remeasure (I think this happened to me once), but I am just balking a little about the effect of this rule on a new measurer.

I agree that a cal course measured incorrectly can significantly affect course distance. Also we shouldn't forget that there are other sources of error with this process: accurate and meaningful measurement of temperature is one; and our tapes themselves are not as accurate as we might like (see the "The Great Tape Stretch", Pete Riegel and Mike Wickiser's 2001 study of 33 steel tapes).

Now what I'm wondering is whether it would be feasible to use EDM technology to check our steel tapes or our calibration courses. Maybe someone can answer this.
Folks, The IAAF published a guideline regarding the accuracy of a calibration course. Here's the quote from page 13 of the IAAF " "THE MEASUREMENT OF ROAD RACE COURSES, Second edition, 2004, Updated 2008".

If the second measurement is significantly different to the first measurement, further measurements should be undertaken until reasonable agreement is reached. As a guide, a discrepancy of 5cm on a 500m calibration course would be regarded as a significant difference.

The key point here is the IAAF suggests a remeasurement if the two cal course measurements differ by more than 0.01%. Now, the USATF will suggest the same level of accuracy with our own calibration courses.

Thank you. -- Justin
It might be easier and faster if you are using a total station and following all the necessary procedures for an official surveyor measurement. But if you are using a consumer grade EDM all you have to do is put a target at either end, and then go to the middle and take 4 measurements.
When taping a 300m cal course by yourself you end up walking 900m for each taping. The walking alone takes longer than measuring the course with an EDM.
The way I see this, it is easy to argue the point both ways. One reason for this is the steel tapes we use. How accurate are they? Remember Dave Katz sent his tape to NIST prior to his measurement of the London Olympic Marathon? As I remember, his 300' tape was determined by NIST to be short by slightly more than 1 inch.

As Duane points out, this magnitude of difference (temperature corrected) becomes material over the marathon distance. It could manifest itself in the "slower runner breaking the record" phenomenon. I find myself wondering, like Pete, what we are pursuing here. It seems to me we are in effect making consistency in measuring a higher priority than actual accuracy.

Should we all submit our tapes to NIST to determine how much adjustment to make to each tape, hence to each cal course? What should be our "tape accuracy" standard? I am simply wondering how meaningful this new calibration course standard is when tape lengths apparently vary so much.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.