Friday, February 23, 2007

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

How far will you run at the Boston Marathon?
The distance could be more than you think.

This piece is from a 1997 article by UltraRUNNING Magazine publisher and editor Don Allison. For the complete article, click here.


Although the marathon distance is only 26 miles and 385 yards, most people run a longer distance than this on race day.

These folks are not looking for extra credit, rather they are following a more circuitous route than race officials have determined to be the actual distance. Course measures assume a runner will run the shortest possible distance between two points, in this case being the Hopkinton town green and the Boston Public Library. To run the shortest route, one would have to "cut the tangents," basic geometry that results in running directly across the street where the road curves. Needless to say, most runners in the pack are simply concerned with moving forward, paying little attention to the tangents. Running the short route necessitates paying attention to the road ahead and having enough available space to move across the road unimpeded. Route 135 through Ashland, Framingham, and Natick curves considerably, allowing an alert marathoner to save precious distance.