Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Track & Field'

Beer and sport, a match made in a pub

November 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Track & Field

The Beer Mile

It is common for athletes to consume beer after sporting events, and spectators to drink beer during events, but in the case of the beer mile, it is the athletes who drink beer during the event. The beer mile participants are required to run a mile, and also drink a can of beer prior to each lap.

Races similar to the beer mile run have been around for quite a while on University campuses, but it becoming mainstream with the inaugural Beer Mile World Championship to be held in Texas next month.

The current world record holder is James Nielsen, who recently became the first person in the world to break the five-minute beer mile. See the video below, showing not only his quick mile running speed, but a phenomenal beer swilling speed too. The all-round athlete.

The beer mile is not the only sport with close beer links. I found that I already had a few beer sports on my list of unusual sports.

  • Beer Pong – this is a staple game of US college parties, in which players throw a ping-pong ball across a table and try to land the ball in a cup of beer at the other end. If you can land the ball in the cup, you opponent has to drink it up.
  • Speed Beer Drinking – another popular beer related sport popular at University is beer sculling or chugging races.
  • Kastenlauf  – which translates as beer crate running. In this German sport you and a friend have to carry a crate of beer over a 10km course, and consume all of its contents along the way.
  • Real Ale Wobble & Real Ale Ramble – a fun walk or cycle around the Welsh countryside, with free beer provided at checkpoints.
  • Beer Can Regatta – this one requires you to drink the beer before the race, so you have plenty of empty cans to make the boats with.
  • Wife Carrying Competition – there is no beer involved during this race, though the winner’s prize includes the wife’s weight in beer.

Do you know of any more?

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Review of the Dirtiest Race in History

March 25th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine, Track & Field

Book: The Dirtiest Race in HistoryThe title of this book (The Dirtiest Race in History, By Richard Moore) refers to the 1988 Olympic Games 100 m sprint final (see a video of the race). This was perhaps the most thrilling sprint in Olympic history, but within 48 hours the gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids and the scandal and stories had begun. However, the full story did not begin with this race, but many years earlier.

The book follows the development of the two main combatants, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, from when they started sprinting; building a deep rivalry between them that fascinated the athletics world, culminating in the infamous race referred to in the title. The author Richard Moore was able to interview Johnson who gave some interesting insights into that period, but unfortunately Lewis was not available.

In the concluding pages of this book, we are given details of each of the competitors in this infamous race. It may be no surprise that ultimately most of them were tainted by drugs at some point in their career, possibly this is the message the book is trying to make. This may be the story about Ben and Carl, but it also defines the period in athletics history where drug use was widespread, and the fledgling anti-doping program had only started the game of catch-up.

More Info

  • The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore.
  • Inside Track: My Professional Life in Amateur Track and Field, by Carl Lewis and Jeffrey Marx.
  • Speed Trap: The Inside Story of Ben Johnson and the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History, by Charlie Francis and Jeff Coplan.

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Oscar Pistorius the Anti-Hero

February 15th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Track & Field

It is with no surprise that we hear the news that another sporting hero has fallen foul of the law. Although the full details are yet to emerge, it seems like the 2012 Olympian and multiple-paralympian Oscar Pistorius, also known as the ‘Blade Runner’, may have murdered his girlfriend.  I posted about him recently, saying he was not the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympics. Not only that, now he may also not be the first sporting hero to cross to the dark side. Is Oscar Pistorius our next anti-hero?  I have complied just a short list of athletes who have done something bad, labeling them anti-heroes (my title). I don’t think there are more bad people in sports, probably the opposite. There maybe a higher level of arrogance in some sports stars, but generally being the focus of public attention keeps them on the straight and narrow. When one slips up, it is big news, as it is now with Pistorius.

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How Low Can the Marathon Go?

September 26th, 2011 · No Comments · Track & Field

The sub-2 hour marathon is a track and field barrier as talked about as the 4-minute mile. The world record in the marathon was broken this week, with Kenya’s Patrick Makau setting a new mark of 2:03:38, beating the old record of Haile Gebrselassie by 21 seconds. Even assuming improvements at the same rate, there has been a drop of  21 seconds in three years meaning it will take another 30 years to break the two hour mark. See the progression of marathon world best times, where you can see that reducing the record from 2:16 to 2:12 took seven years, 2:12 to 2:08 took 19 years, and from 2:08 to the current mark  took another 27 years. Actually using scientific analysis of the trend of actual performances, Professor Francois Peronnet at the University of Montreal has calculated that the first sub two-hour marathon will be run in the year 2028. We have had a poll online asking which world athletics benchmark will be broken next, the 100m in 9.5 seconds or a marathon in 2 hours? The marathon is currently leading the race, though 7 percent of respondents think neither will reach those marks. It may be true that many of us will not live to see those times beaten, though I think one day they will. These records tend to have significant and unexpected jumps in improvement, we just have to wait for the time a sporting freak chances upon the right training and nutrition, prepares for the event perfectly and runs under ideal conditions on a flat and fast course with good pacemakers. That wont happen very often.

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Starting Early

August 29th, 2011 · No Comments · Track & Field, Umpires & Referees

Athletics fans were not able to watch their star Usain Bolt in the final of the World Athletics Championships 100m sprint. The Olympic gold medalist and world record holder was disqualified after false starting. In new rules which came into play in January 1 2010, a false start means automatic disqualification. Previous to that, after one false start a warning was given to all runners, then the next person to break was out. And before that, the long standing rule was that each runner was allowed to break early once. The false start rules needed to be changed as the athletes began to purposely break to put off other runners, and watching a 100m sprint final became a joke with ongoing restarts.

cathy freeman sportsworks at scienceworks

There are calls for the rules to be changed – but to what? Return to what did not work before? I have been to many track meets and had to sit around watching the sprinters (I was one myself) ply their gamesmanship. Bolt actually backed the rule introduction last year, so he can’t complain. Athletics meets will be better to watch under the current rules, and maybe we just have to put up with occasionally missing seeing a champion race. Rules don’t suddenly need revision just because a high-profile athlete has fallen foul. The rule makers need to be consistent, and the athletes need to play by the rules and accept them.

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Perth City2Surf 2010

September 6th, 2010 · No Comments · Fitness, Track & Field

Last weekend I joined a record number of 40,468 people in the Perth city to surf event, from the city centre to City Beach, a distance of 12 km. As a sign of my increasing age, I had opted to join the walkers of the 12 km event, pushing my 3 year old and 9 mth old in a stroller. It was still a  brisk walk to complete the course in 2 hrs 10 minutes, with plenty of people still behind us, and the sore feet to show for it.I would have just beaten the marathon runners!

I’m glad I was not in the half marathon event, as the lead out cyclist took the runners the wrong way, requiring the leaders to backtrack quite a bit. I cannot imagine they would be too happy about that.

As usual there were plenty of characters, people dressed up like the one pictured. It was a fairly warm day, so he would have been feeling the heat. As would have the two dressed in Storm Trooper outfits. All done to raise funds for a worthy charity.

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Unusual Olympic Fuels

October 2nd, 2008 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Nutrition, Track & Field

Does fast food make you fast? Usian Bolt (which has to be one of the greatest names for a sprinter – like he was born to run fast) was quoted as saying he eats McDonalds nuggets before his events, as if it was some kind of wonder pill. Similarly, Australian race walker Jarred Tallent (winner of silver in the 50 km walk) was also in the local press revealing that he fuelled himself on pizza on the eve of his race and coke during the final stages of his race. Pizza is his favorite food and he finally gave in after two weeks at the food hall night before race. After his 20 km race he threw up during the final stages and afterwards, and after his pizza binge, he was afraid it would happen again. Where are the sports dietitians advising these athletes? Why would they risk one of the most important events in their sporting careers? They were obviously good enough to still win their races despite having junk food, but please don’t brag about it as if it helped you. There is too much fast food eaten in this world already, we don’t want our elite athletes promoting it too.

Related Pages: sports nutrition

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Fast Dollars for Fast Food

October 2nd, 2008 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Nutrition, Track & Field

Nathan Deeks, an Australian Champion race walker, appeared in a full page color advertisement for the fast food restaurant McDonalds, saying that he eats ‘Maccas’ after his events, including at the Olympic Games. I know that he was probably only trying to earn a few sponsorship bucks in return from all the effort he puts into his training, but as a sporting role model it was such a disgusting thing to promote eating undoubtedly unhealthy food. I don’t mind that he had the occasional fast food snack, but it is not right for an athlete representing Australia to say it so publicly. It does not say much about the dietitians at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) if one of their athletes comes out of there with this attitude that this is OK to do. A few days later, a very similar looking ad was published (obviously on purpose), with an ex- Australian Olympian and NBA star Luc Longley, promoting healthy eating, saying that he never considered eating junk food before or after competing. The ad was a welcome response to the McDonalds one, which needed to be done, but I don’t think enough ho-ha was made of it. The government spends millions of dollars trying to address the problem of childhood obesity, including trying to get more people active and into sports, and also millions are spent on the AIS getting athletes including Nathan Deeks properly prepared for the Olympic Games. I don’t think he has done his long time supporter (AIS) any good and hopefully he got into trouble, all for a small financial reward.

Related Pages: Summer Olympic Games
see more about sports nutrition

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Marion Jones – Catch me if you can

October 7th, 2007 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine, Track & Field

Marion Jones has found out that no matter how fast you are, you cannot run away from the truth. In hardly a surprise for many people, USA Sprinter Marion Jones admitted yesterday that she was a drug cheat. She had taken the designer steroid THG, which was also known as “the clear” by the BALCO laboratory. She had vehemently denied any wrong doing for a long time, under mounting evidence. I don’t know how she had remained clear for so long. Even the head of Balco, Victor Conte, who has repeatedly and publicly accused Jones of using drugs, was her personal “nutritionist” at the Sydney Olympics. Now and rightly so her reputation is in tatters, and she is apparently broke. She will lose many of her records and the medals she won at the Sydney Olympic Games. I have no sympathy for her. It makes me angry that I have to give these athletes the benefit of the doubt, when all the anecdotal evidence and rumours paint a dirty picture, but unfortunately the drug tests have failed to find any evidence, and they deny all the allegations. It make me think of the saying that “When something is too good to be true, it probably is”. When I watched her sprint away from the rest of the field in the 2000 Sydney Olympics 100 metre sprint, my first thought was that in such a competitive event that someone cannot be that much better than the next best sprinter in the world. And now it is shown that no one was, naturally. Even the second placegetter has subsequently been done for drugs, and who knows which other athletes in that field also had artificial enhancement. As I have said before, it is hard to enjoy watching some sports when my first thought is always whether the winner had taken drugs to get there. This applies at the least to cycling, track and field, and weight lifting.

Related Pages: Doping in Sports, Track & Field, Marion Jones profile, 2000 Olympic Games

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Lance Struggles in New York Marathon

November 6th, 2006 · No Comments · Cycling, Tour de France, Track & Field

Lance Armstrong competed in the New York Marathon on the weekend. He finished in a credible time for a non-runner at just under 3 hours. With his huge aerobic fitness level that he has shown on the bike in winning the Tour de France seven times, you would think it would be a walk in the park for him. He struggled, and said afterwards that it was the hardest physical thing he has ever done. This will bring joy to all the distance runners out there to get the credit for the hard work that they regularly go though. Maybe it was so tough for him as he is not with a cycling team anymore, and therefore does not have the team resources to ‘aid’ his performance.

Related Pages: marathons, track and field, Tour de France, cycling, Lance Armstrong profile

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