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The conversion between metric and English units is easy to remember.

One inch equals 2.54 centimeters exactly.

By calculation you can make up your own conversion tables to however many decimal places you wish.

For example,
5km x 1000 = 5000m
5000m x 100 - 500000cm
500000cm /2.54 = 196850.39 inches
196850.39 inches = 16404.20 feet
16404.20 /5280 = 3.106856 miles

Put your computer to work using 1 inch = 2.54 cm. It works.

I work with at least 6 significant figures, and only round off the final answer. You are right - intermediate rounding is a bad idea.

Here it is worked out:

Last edited by peteriegel
Another thing: if the course distance is metric, work all metric until the end, exc. for mile splits. Hell, if the course is Imperial (miles), use 1609.344m to figure it out. As a Vice Chair I HATE Mad getting a marathon listed as 26.2xxx miles. That's NOT the official distance, just some American bastardization of same. Ditto for half marathons.
I have tried to convince race directors to use kilometers, even though it's a little more work for a measurer. Once in a while I succeed and they go for kilometers, but guess what usually happens the next year? You got it, they request mile marks because that's what the runners complained about. Where I've had better luck is with hardcore runners, like DCRRC, who understand that with kilometer splits they get helpful information a little more often.
If anyone can think of a good strategy to address this I am all ears.
Thanks to Bob Baumel, almost all the race courses in Oklahoma are done with kilometer splits only. For the marathon/half-marathon, the measurers usually provide mile splits and 5km splits.
The kilometer splits instead mile splits have been done for so long, the runners are use to it. I don't recall hearing any negative feedback.
It would be interesting to hear from Bob on the issues/problems/feedback as Oklahoma converted from mile splits to km splits !!
Last edited by kenhardwick
At some point we need to acknowledge that this is a service activity and that unless the course is ours, we need to be doing that which is "optional" (such as marking intermediate splits) the way the course "owner" wants them done.

Personally I don't see why we mark miles in a 5K. By the time you get to the mile mark, if you're not on your pace, you're probably not going to be. I can also remember running a 15K many years ago with the goal of finishing in less than an hour. It's a lot easier to remember 4 minutes a km then do the math to add 6:26 miles.

One last note: the organizers of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon have asked for the last few years that all of the intermediate mile and kilometer splits be marked and documented. when you add the halfway point and the one mile to go mark, that's SEVENTY intermediate splits.
The last men’s and women’s trials courses were both multiple-loop (criterium) courses.

The men’s course, in New York’s Central Park, was certified as NY07004DK. You can get a map online.

The women’s course, In central Boston, was certified as MA07005 RN. Map is also available online.

Both courses have all the miles marked, and also the 5 km points and the half-marathon.

The London Marathon is also marked this way. The next Olympic marathon, to be held in London, will be four loops, and I don’t know what splits will be used.

All of the courses I’ve seen in non-English-speaking countries have only the kilometers marked, and sometimes the Half.
I'll take credit for that idea Wink

It just happened to work out that the loop was close to 6 miles, so by moving the turnaround points could be made exact.

In NY, the loop in Central Park was fixed, and while it was close to 5 miles was not exact, so the splits were off from one another by several meters. I believe the organizers just used one clock at each set, and moved it down the road after the runners passed by. A similar situation occurred in St. Louis in 2004. In Helsinki 2005 the World Championships course used a loop that was exactly 10 km. Hugh Jones measured that course.

I think you'd have to be damn lucky to have a fixed loop come out to an even metric or Imperial distance, though.
Last edited by jimgerweck
I know this thread veered off topic but just coming back to "Official Distance", I've just reviewed an application for a 10 nautical miler. All the splits are nautical miles. A nautical mile is exactly 1852 m (about 6076 feet). I certified this 10 nautical miler at 18.52 km. It's interesting to note that the official length of a nautical mile is expressed in meters and not feet.

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