Breaking news, not much to say yet, and sadly, I didn’t even see this race, but David Rudisha has delivered on his exceptional promise and broken the 800m world record in Berlin today!
His time of 1:41.09 took the narrowest 0.02s margin off legend Wilson Kipketer’s previous best, set back in 1997.
The splits from the race had the pacemaker hitting 400m in 48.65s, and then Rudisha led to 600m in 1:14.54.
Rudisha was reportedly about 4m behind the rabbit at the bell, so an estimated time of about 49.1 s at the bell seems reasonable. This was followed by a third 200m that would have taken approximately 25.3s, with a final quarter in 26.64 seconds.
Estimates for Rudisha’s lap times would be around 49.1 seconds followed by 52 seconds.
That’s about the optimal way to run it. Wilson Kipketer, for those who are wondering, set two world records (and equaled Seb Coe’s world record before that), and his halves for all three runs are shown below:
1:41.73 (equal WR): 49.61 s + 52.12 s
1:41.24: 48.3 s + 52.9 s
1:41.11: 49.3 s + 51.8 s
Brief comment on pacing – 49s for the first lap is essential
Difficult to read too much into the times, other than to say that the first lap certainly wasn’t too fast – you have to run the first lap in close to 49 seconds to have a chance. In fact, of interest is that the fastest ever SECOND lap in a World record performance came way back in 1972, when Dave Wottle ran a second lap of 51.4 seconds on route to a 1:44.3s in Eugene, Oregon, to break the record.
The reason this is of interest is because the world record has been improved by over 3 seconds since then, and the improvement has come entirely by running the first lap faster! Therefore, anyone with aspirations of beating 1:41.09 (as of today!) has to accept that it may not be possible to run the second lap in under 51 seconds on route to that kind of performance. So, if you are on the start line contemplating a 1:41, you really need to work backwards from as close to 52s for the second as your physiology will allow, and then you find that you must hit the bell at 49 seconds. Rudisha did just that.
In any event, enough analysis for now, perhaps more can come later. For now, let’s celebrate a rare event – a World Record in a middle distance event! Usain Bolt has given us records in the sprints, but the middle distance record books have been gathering dust for a few years, and so this is a fabulous performance, from a young athlete (still only 21) who may yet go faster.
Video to come as soon as I find it!