"normal improvement over time" & "guys like Shorter and Rodgers would be right in the thick of it today" are contradictory statements, steve. No, Shorter and Rodgers, on the world scene, would NOT be in the "thick of it" today. What was Shorters PR's? Oh, about 5 minutes off the world best?
Hall would have spanked Shorter by damn near 2 minutes!
Do you think Rodgers could beat Tergat heads-up? Do you think those two marathoners are comprable?
Shorter and Rodgers would be in the thick of it ON THE US SCENE. Not on the world scene.
I love how you say: "today's competition is soooomuch tougher, blah, blah, blah..." You disagree? You think it's not?
Shorter and Rodgers (in 1970s shape, of course!), would be in the thick of the U.S. TRIALS heads up, not even figuring the 30+ years difference when they ran. On the world scene, no, they probably would not beat todays elite. You can not discount the difference 30 years make in what I call the normal improvement in time that MUST BE FACTORED IN. (E.g: A very good D1 10,000m runner today probably can run faster than Emil Zatopek or Gerry Lindgren; does that mean he is a greater runner than Zatopek or Lindgren? I don't think so. I once ran Boston in 2:11:54, faster than Abebe Bikila ever did. Does that make me a greater runner than Bikila? I definitely don't think so.) You simply can not compare times in an absolute manner. Of course 2:04 is better than
2:09, but you must compare the normal progression of times to determine who was better in their eras. I would say that the way marathon times have progressed in my lifetime 2:09 in 1977 is probably as good as 2:06 or so today. Look at times in all track events over the last 30+ years. Doesn't mean the older era athletes would win, but you have to respect the eras that they ran in.
Today's competition is extremely tough. It was extremely tough (relatively) in the marathon in the 1960s-80s, as the Japanese, Finns, Mexicans were dominant at different times. You can't say that the competition wasn't there in those days. It was extremely competitive. Not as fast, perhaps, but just as competitive.
I think that this years' Olympic Trials will be very talented and competetive, but no more so than 1976, 1980,and 1984.
Regarding short courses, there may have been a few, JUST AS THERE ARE A FEW TODAY. Trust me, courses like Boston, Fukuoka, etc. (the major marathons) were very accurate. They were too important not to be. Your accusation of "short courses in the '80s" is flat out ridiculous.
And yes, the courses were short. Like I said, the 80'shad talent, but not the depth you may have thought...
I don't understand this theory of "normal improvement over time" theory. I'd like to hear your or anyone else's argument as to why a 2:09 in 1984 was comparitively faster than a 2:09 today, since it occured in 1984: hence the "normal improvement over time theory" or NIOTT, if you will.
Was the gravitational pull in the atmosphere more strenous then as opposed to now? Were the pollutants in the air more dense then from today? Were the shoes less substantial (that might be it...it could be the shoes. shoes today are better)? Was it uphill both ways? Were the winds always against guys training in the 80's? Or was the road, the road. And miles were miles, just like today?
The argument resides in your definition of greatness. Is Matt Tegenkamp greater than Steve Prefontaine? Is Matt Tegenkamp a better runner than Steve Prefontaine? Those are two different questions. But in my opinion they are the same answers. Running is an empirical sport with empirical data; the track is the same distance today as it was in 1984. Haile G. is a greater runner than anyone in the 80's. So is Tergat, etc. Haile G. is greater than Emil Zatopek. Do you agree? Or was Zatopek's greatness, as a result of his social/historical circumstance, a "greater" distance runner than Geb? These are two giants of their era: who was greater? If you believe in your NIOTT then you would have to remarkably say Zatopek was the greater distance athlete...
It's probably true that American distance running was at it's relative peak through the late 70s till the mid to late 80's, but that time is over, and American distance running has experienced a tremendous resurgence - and this is a fact that, quite frankly, scares the guys who were apart of that 80's dominance. they don't want to let go of the fact that Americans today are simply.................faster.
i was in the 1980 "boycott" trials.
curiousity plus wrote:
Im sure there are some old guys who would argue that there are some other good candidates for that title.