The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Bring Back the 100

Aug 19th, 2018
3:27 pm PST

Two of the sports most exciting events are the “mile” and the 100. I put the mile in quotation marks because there are two versions of the mile. In addition to the actual mile, there is the 1500 meters, often called the metric mile. That’s actually kinda cool, because it provides some flexibility when meets are being put together. It keeps the event fresh, because it enables promoters to run it on back to back meets without running the exact same event. It also enables promoters to run both events in the same meet and double up on middle distance runners. Taking maximum advantage of the available talent pool. As a matter of fact, the¬†middle distances can actually accommodate it’s talent pool in several ways, because in addition to these two distances, they have the 1000, 3000, and two mile to play with as well.

The sprint world is much more limited. You have the 100, 200, and 400 with the occasional 300. Not much to choose from when putting a meet together. Especially since these days most meets don’t want to run all three for men and women. Though personally I don’t understand why because they’re all exciting.

Several years ago there was a “Bring Back the Mile” campaign. Putting focus on a very traditional event and attempting to get the event into more meets. The campaign was very successful as the mile and 1500 are considered pretty much the same event now. I would like to see the same thing done with the 100!

What an I talking about? Well that’s my point. There are two 100’s, 100 meters AND 100 yards. Unfortunately unless you’re north of 50, you’re probably not familiar with the yards version. That’s because when the sport went “metric only” in 1976, the “100 yard dash” was dropped. So were the 220 and 440, but their metric equivalents were “basically” the same events. The 100 however was/is a different animal – and that is a good thing.

It’s good because in an era that’s looking to add a bit of excitement, the 100 could be just the ticket. For starters it’s the event that brings fans to the stadium and gets them up out of their seats. Secondly the difference between the two 100’s (slightly over 9 meters) makes them different enough that the winner at yds may not be the winner at meters. The biggest difference however, and the most important, is that we really haven’t kept up with the 100 yard record in decades now, and the chase/setting of the 100yard record would being some needed excitement to the sport. And I have to say that there is something magical about the term “Nine Flat”, which is the mark of excellence that everyone would be gunning for! Sorry of like the four minute mile.

In the pre metric era that was THE goal, 9.0. A mark that was never broken. The official record when the world went metric being 9.0 held by two individuals – Ivory Crockett and Houston McTear. Two legendary fast starters. The fastest auto time on record was taken “en route” in a 100 meter race and is Asafa Powell’s 9.07 from Ostrava in 2010. Leaving the 9.00 barrier still up for grabs!

Of course the real question is, just how fast can the record go? Back in ’76 when the record was “9.0”, the fastest auto time was Charlie Greene’s 9.21, and the metric mark was Him Hines’ 9.95 from Mexico City. Things have changed quite a bit since then. The current 100 meter record being 9.58. Mathematically the corresponding 100 yard record should be 8.76! Now that would be something to shoot for.

So bringing back the 100 yard dash could create much excitement. The challenge of breaking the nine flat barrier in any given competition. Along with trying to set a record comparable to the equivalent metric record! And of course the setting of new world records along the way. I think it would be both fun and exciting. Something the sport could use right now. I say the IAAF gives it a try. I mean, what do they have to lose?

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