At the USATF convention in Reno this past weekend (December 4-6, 2008), I laid out a Measurement Challenge course, with the assistance of Gene Newman (RRTC Chair). We had a dozen participants, made up of measurers and some of their spouses. Unfortunately, someone stole our results box after some worksheets had been submitted. Only one person was unable to re-submit their numbers, so we were able to overcome that obstacle.

The course (map shown below) was inside the host casino, and ran around a large common area, with lots of pedestrian traffic throughout much of the day and evening. One would have thought that the most-accurate measurements were those done in the early-morning hours, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The winner measured at the height of traffic, about 8:30 on Friday evening. Second place measured Saturday morning, before most people were even thinking about getting up. However, another participant wasted his efforts at the same time (early morning), by not paying attention to detail. He wasn’t good at math at that early hour, either. Someone had better carefully check his paperwork on courses he measures for the next few months.

Submissions for course length ran from 320.15504 meters (I asked for 5 decimal points as a tie-breaker, but it turned out it wasn’t needed) to 383.59375 meters. Margin of error ranged up to 34 meters. Wow! (Gene, that is over 10%! Did you drink before you measured? Talk about bike wobble!)

Now for the results: Justin Kuo won, with a length of 354.86726 meters, which was only .86726 meters off. Way to go, Justin! All that traffic didn’t seem to hurt your measuring a bit. Pete Reigel captured second, with an error of only 1.41373 meters. He took advantage of the lack of traffic by getting up before the youngsters got down to the area. For the record, actual course length was 354 meters (measured with a tape). (While my effort was completely legitimate, and resulted in an error of only 1.41373 meters, I excluded myself from the prizes.) Each won a valueless prize commemorating their presence in Reno, and also bragging rights until the next Challenge. (Full list of competitors is shown below with full results.)

Oh, and who was that measurer that didn’t pay attention to detail, and also erred in the math (even though the formula was printed on the worksheet! [By the way, I corrected his math, so his sorry results are not due simply to an error in calculation])? None other than … well, I guess I shouldn’t reveal him, as I want my certification submissions to post on the Website.

Full results (distances are in meters):

Pete Reigel, Runner-up; Justin Kuo, Winner; Duane Russell, administrator

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Original Post

The nameless person who got the huge error was handicapped by early-morning calibration course inattention. He probably used nine of the squares as a calibration course, instead of eight.

His corrected estimate of course length (assuming equal spacing of the square tiles, but disregarding the diagonal of a single tile) would be about 360.225 meters, a pretty good estimate.

Assuming each square was 2 feet on a side, I get an estimate of the wrong cal course as 28.02 m, and the corrected estimate at 358.84 m. Even better.

I understand that the measured length of the calibration course was 2 cm off from the stated 25 meters. One can only wonder at the amazing coincidence of the pacing course being taped at exactly 354 meters.
Last edited by peteriegel
SUMMARY OF RRTC MEASUREMENT-BY-PACING CONTESTS

We’ve been having pacing contests every year since 1987, except for 2003, 2005, 2006. Nineteen contests in all. They have been, for me, the most enjoyable part of the USATF Annual Meeting. No politics at all, no strife, no paranoia. Just take a walk while mumbling to yourself.

Over the years 96 different individuals have entered the contest, and 13 different people have won. Two of the 13 were not associated with RRTC.

Two people – Clain Jones and Floyd Ormsby - demonstrated true supremacy at the contest by winning on their first try and retiring undefeated. Others required multiple tries to achieve victory.

Next year the USATF Annual Meeting will be in Indianapolis. I hope to lay out another course for the enjoyment of all.

Send me an email if you want to have the measurement contest master file in Excel. It's got all the data.

Whoops! Missed Stamford, CT, 2004, Jim Gerweck informs me. Things have been corrected above. At Stamford, course length was defined in "units." The rest are expressed in meters.
Last edited by peteriegel
Okay, Pete. You note the "amazing conicidence" of the measurement course being exactly 354 meters. It was 353.98 meters. Yes, the cal course was 24.98 meters. Negligible impact on results, rounding to the nearest meter in each case. I wanted to make the math easy for all involved, since the rounding is an immaterial amount.

And, since we use SCPF for certifications, I decided a slight rounding would be acceptable.