Run The True Race Distance By Following The Shortest Path

Run The True Race Distance By Following The Shortest Path
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You probably ran more than 5km in your last 5K, and so did most of the runners who were out on the course with you. There’s a trick to running the shortest possible path in a race, and it’s not cheating.

Picture: Peter Mooney

Race distances are measured by the shortest possible path through the race course, plus an extra 0.1 per cent just in case.

How do you make sure you’re running the real race distance? Take the shortest path across any curve in the road — which isn’t the same as running the inside of the curve. As Kelly O’Mara explains at Competitor:

If you’re running down the street in a race and you make a right turn followed by a left turn, then the shortest route from one corner to the next would be a diagonal straight line. However, that’s not the route most people take. Most will run on one side of the road and then cut in at the last second. Or, they will weave all over and still come in for the turn.

You may have to contend with crowds, but as long as the path is clear, “running the tangents” (as the technique is called) can save you a small distance — 800m over the course of a marathon, for example.

Read more at Competitor about why and how to run the tangents, and for extra credit, check out the USATF’s instructions to course measurers, complete with diagrams on how to find the shortest path.

How to Run the Tangents in a Race (and Why You Should!) [Competitor]