Monday, May 05, 2008

Want to calculate your real time for Flying Pig Marathon?

Update 5/7/08:
The Flying Pig site has put up a calculator that will let you get your adjusted time. Click here for it. My method below still works as accurately.

Update 5/5/08, 6 p.m.
Just after I wrote this post about how long this race really was, I saw this story on So their word is that the course is .2514 miles longer than planned. Using the real distance for marathon we get (26.21875 + .2514 = 26.47015 miles). The thing is, I was pretty dead on using my two methods below. More on the story, including the fact that they'll never post the marathon time.

Flying Pig Marathon runners who just missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon during Sunday’s race might have their times treated leniently by Boston Marathon officials.

The case with the Flying Pig Marathon centers on a last-minute detour around a fire on the course Sunday morning that added .2514 miles to the original 26.2-mile course. The Flying Pig is one of the qualifying marathons for
the Boston Marathon, and the detour Sunday did not change that status.


Connolly said, however, that the Flying Pig won’t be posting adjusted times. “So the official times, will be the times on the course as it was run,” said Pete Riegel, who certifies courses for USA Track and Field. “Any adjusted time is completely unofficial and tells people how they might have run if it were a standard course. But, Boston tends to be pretty lenient with those situations.”

Original Post 5/5/08, 5 pm.:
I'm obsessing over how long we actually ran the Flying Pig Marathon so with the beauty of Google Maps and also GPS technology, I found two seperate ways of finding out what the extra distance was. I then calculated the total distance . Then I found a way to calculate the real pace that we ran at and therefore, found out my likely marathon time if they ever get around to calculating it. Why did I do it, because like others, I spent a hell of a lot of time training for this marathon so I'd like to know what my actual MARATHON time is, not my Marathon plus a mini victory lap.

First, my best guess (and remember I'm not the official word on this) is that this marathon was 26.47 miles compared with the usual 26.2 miles. That's a difference of .27 miles or 434 metres. That's a chunk of space to cover. I mean, my track repeats at 5K speed would have me cover 400 metres in 1:36 or so. That's a lot of time!

So I'll outline the two methods I came to this conclusion then show you how to calculate:

Method 1: Map it out in Google Maps.
According to this report, this is the route that the race organizers took to avoid the three-alarm fire.

Instead of continuing straight on Riverside Drive, runners turned left onto Strader Avenue, then right onto a Cincinnati Parks bike path, then right onto St. Peter’s Street and finally left back onto Riverside Drive, rejoining the original route.
So, using this direction and looking at my GPS route in SportTracks to get the corners right, I mapped it out in Gmaps Pedometer. See the link here.

The diversion distance shows as 0.745 miles or 1.199 kilometres.

Okay, now lets mark out the intended route, which you can see here.

The original distance shows as .4756 miles or .7655 kilometres

The difference (.745 new route - .4756 original) is .269.

Which means we ran 26.469 miles or 26.47 miles

Method 2: Map it out using GPS and GPS software

I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 and had it on during the race. It's not perfect in all areas but I know this area didn't have surrounding buildings to interfere with the signals.

Using SportTracks, I did the same thing: calculate the original distance and calculate the diversion and find the differnce. You can see my screenshot below

The diversion distance shows as .74 miles

The original distance (see red line) shows as .47 miles

Which also equals .27 miles extra

This method leads me to this same conclusion: We ran 26.47 miles.

Now how to calculate that time. That's easy.
1. Get your chip time
In my case, it was 3:20:25

2. Go to a pace calculator to calculate your true pace.
Here's a link to a really good one by Cool Running.
In the link I provided,
a) Fill out your time
b) Fill out the actual new distance (26.47)
c) And click on calculate pace
This gives you the actual pace you were running because it accounts for your total time and total real distance. In my case, it was 7:34.28.
Keep the screen as is.

3. Calculate your final time
a) In that same screen, you keep the pace as is.
b) In the distance field, select Marathon. It'll fill in the numbers (26.21xxx)
b) Finally, click on Calculate Time.

And you get your final time.

Of course, this is not official and not like you can put this number as your official time, but at least you can figure out what your true marathon time was until they let you know. There are professional course certifiers who will measure or already have measured the entire course again who said the course was, indeed, 26.47 miles. But using my simple logic, it's pretty easy to see the difference in distance and apply it accordingly.

My time went from 3:20:25 to 3:18:20. That's almost a two-minute difference. Huge, man, huge.


Marky Mark said...

Congratulations on the race. You're dealing with a real surprise in that you should be able to count on the distance being accurate. I can't tell if this affected you in particular in terms of a Boston qualifying time or otherwise, but even if not it would drive me crazy.

Your race day post about your mother was very moving.

Joe said...

Well, it looks like with your unadjusted time of 3:20:25 you will have qualified either way. Congrats! My time is borderline as well, but without an adjustment I won't be in, so I've been doing a lot of the same calculations as you to try to figure it out. :) Either way, I'm quite happy with my time and was very satisfied with the course and the weather and the race organization. Congratulations again to you on a great race. Any plans for your next marathon?

yumke said...

Thanks guys, I'm still in the 3:10:59 crowd, so i'll have to age a bit more before a 3:20:59 will apply. I don't think this is just a Boston issue, as if that's the only thing that matters to marathoners. We all strive for our best performance and one way to measure it is through time. We pace accordingly to that time and when that goes out the door, well, that kinda sucks. I'm happy I PRed in this race but I'm left with 'what could have been'. Could you imagine (shudder) if this was my best marathon performance ever? Or Maybe next time I'll do a 3:19:59, will I have had a better run than yesterday when I had a performance that should have been in the 3:18 range?

Anonymous said...

Cool analysis. Thanks for doing the work. I really couldn't figure out where the diversion was, never having run or even seen the course. I didn't realize, somehow, that we were so close to the river bank. But quick work on the course marking people. Imagine the panic among the race directors to learn of the fire! What a fun race. But, it's not a good one for Boston qualifying if you need a PR to do so. Those hills really take their toll.

Jim Kelleher

Arcane said...

Hey great PR! The fact you didn't hit the wall probably means you could have gone a tad faster. I seriously think you could easily BQ if you put the mileage in. I think you already have the speed and LT to do it so it's just a matter of endurance.

Sonia said...

those are some pretty hardcore calculations Kenny! lol Are you sure you're not hiding a mathematician inside of you ?!

That definitely sucks and they should adjust everybodies time...