For me, one of the high points of Australian television entertainment was The Games, and one of the high points of that series was episode 4, series 1, Robbo and the 100 metres. Even reading the script cracks me up (the particular scene starts around page 5), but at the risk of providing a spoiler to those who haven’t come across it before, the premise of the episode centers around a 100 metre track that is about 100 metres… well, 94 metres to be exact. It’s just too ludicrous to be real, which is why it’s so side-splittingly funny.
JOHN: But what you’re telling me is the 100-metre track is about 100 metres long.
Too ludicrous? well, you would have thought so, that is, until last weekend when they held the Melbourne marathon. Seems like the Marathon and Half Marathon were the prescribed distance, but someone played fast and loose with accuracy when it came to the 5km. and 10km. events, but to quote Dallas O’Brien, the event director: the 5km and 10km courses were not measured to the same exacting standards“, and “perhaps we should have highlighted the fact that they weren’t 100 per cent accurate”.
Not 100% ? How about 84% ?? because that would have been about right, yes the 5km. route was only 4.2km! Now, most runners are pretty aware of how fast and far they’ve run – these things tend to be important. Many carry personal GPS devices and can tell you within a few metres just how far they’ve run. Pity the organisers didn’t apply the same rigour: “The five and 10 were both measured by a bike computer. We got them as close as we could.”. This is, of course, complete rubbish and a totally lame excuse. It took me no more than 5 minutes with Google maps to trace the route and get exactly the same answer as the runners got. The 10km route was not quite so far off – but at 9.4km (exactly the same percentage error as the fictional 100m track), you can bet it got some people excited about personal best times before the true horror dawned on them.
A little message for Mr. O’Brien, either get a new battery for that bike computer, or pump up the tyres, but don’t, in future, take people for idiots… did you think they wouldn’t notice?