April 1, 2020
World Athletics has announced it will take advantage of the opportunity presented by COVID-19 and host the first-ever World Time Trial Championships on May 1, 2020.
“The world needs sports right now and track & field is one of the few sports that can be held in a socially responsible way,” said World Athletics president Seb Coe.
The plan is for fully automatic timing systems and remote streaming to be set up at tracks throughout the world. Athletes will show up at their prescribed time and run a time trial at their favorite distance. The times will be adjusted for wind and altitude and the fastest adjusted time will win. The time trial races will be broadcast worldwide and there will be parimutuel betting on them.
“This is perfect for our sport. We don’t usually have fans, and most people think it’s boring anyway, so the casual sports fan won’t notice the difference,” said Coe.
Athletics Canada announced it would see which way public opinion was going on the World Time Trial Championships before announcing whether it would be the first to attend or withdraw.
Initial discussions centered on whether actual sprint races could be held with athletes racing in every other lane. That would leave eight feet between athletes, but there were concerns that as athletes flailed their arms they might come within six feet of one another, which is the recommended social distance in the United States.
“Even with the next lane empty, there’s just no way Omar McLeod is going to honor social distancing,” said 110m hurdles world champion Grant Holloway.
Multiple World Athletics members from outside the United States were livid every-other-lane racing wasn’t allowed. “Once again we’re catering to the Americans,” said an anonymous World Athletics board member from abroad, noting WHO guidelines recommend a social distance of only one meter (three feet).
A big debate centered on who will perform the altitude and wind adjustments. World Athletics decided it would be socially irresponsible for the top modelers and statisticians working on COVID-19 to devote resources to the World Time Trial Championships. World Athletics thought about instead using “experts” from the WHO who had said things that turned out to be really inaccurate about the coronavirus. Instead it settled on LetsRun poster Bad Wigins, who predicted there would be only 2,600 coronavirus positives in the United States on March 31.
“The guy knows a thing or two about track & field and the socially responsible thing for us to do is to get him to stop making COVID-19 predictions,” said Coe.
LRC Quick Take: This is a win-win for just about everyone. Sports return, track & field benefits, and maybe a few people think our sport is only moderately boring. Belarusian soccer may take a slight hit, but besides that this is a win-win.
LRC Quick Take #2: Many assume this will benefit Jerry Schumacher’s Bowerman Track Club group, which is known for excelling in time trial-type races. However, those races all involve rabbits. How will his women and men do without a rabbit? Tune in May 1 to find out. It will be the last World Championship LetsRun.com covers as we are going out of business on our 20th year anniversary.