There is a great article in today's Wall Street Journal by Scott Cacciola that everyone should read that basically praises New York for ditching pace-makers.
I think you can read it if you aren't a subscriber but if not, let me provide you with a few highlights.
The article starts off with two great paragraphs about the Berlin marathon.
At the Berlin Marathon Sept. 25, up at the front of the pack, six paid mercenaries set a blistering tempo for much of the race. At about the 20-mile mark, the last of them peeled away, ceding the stage to the actual competitors.
Kenya's Patrick Makau proceeded to smash the men's world record by completing the course in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds. Berlin got what it wanted: For the fourth time since 2003, the race produced a men's world record to drum up coverage. The only problem: The race itself was a snooze-fest. Makau won by more than four minutes.
It then has a great quote from 2007 WC bronze medallist Viktor Röthlin :
Viktor Röthlin said:
"There's nothing wrong with going for world records. But if I had the choice of watching a marathon that's designed to chase a world record or one where maybe 10 athletes are challenging each other and the stories are being written on the road, I'd choose the second option."
And then NYRR head Mary W. nails it on the head perfectly.
Mary W. said:
"The more you move away from time as the steward of the sport, the better. If it becomes a time chase, there's no personality. You're taking a personality and matching him or her against a clock. How exciting can that really be?"
The best quote may come ironically from Ken Young, the man who co-founded of the Association of Road Running Statisticians, as even he admits the focus on times is absurd.
Ken Young said:
"Back when racing started, they didn't even time it. You hold a race, you run it from here to there, and whoever came in first, that's the winner."
We at LetsRun.com have always thought that track's focus on time is normally a detriment to building fan's interest. Races chase times as they are in a pointless bragging contest with each other. Watching rabbitted Diamond League week after week is incredibly boring.
Instead of focusing on producing compelling drama, races/meets focus on producing times so they can say they are better than a competing marathon or race (In that light, we thought the Boston marathon's bragging about their time last spring was the ultimate embarrassment).
In our minds, marathons even flat ones should not be obsessed with times. The WMM could say, "OK this year, London is the rabbitted race. Next year it's Chicago." Even have one in New York - but only once every four or five years.
Or maybe split it up by sex at an individual marathon. Chicago has rabbitted men one year but not the women. That same year, London has rabbited women but not the men.
Something to spice it up.