That Cruel Clock (Updated)

So I was digging out the front steps from the 34.3 inches of snow Mother Nature decided to drop on New Haven and I was thinking, “Hell, this isn’t fair.”

But then I got a tweet from Cornell senior Nick Wade that read, “Odds of breaking 4 min? 1:20,000. Odds of running 4:00.00? 1:99,999,999,999,999.”

Yes, at the SPIRE NCAA Division I Team Invitational in Geneva, Ohio, Wade ran 4:00.00. But he didn’t curse Roger Bannister. He didn’t curse the heartless timer who decided that sub-four doesn’t happen under his watch. No, Nick just sent out a tweet and was ever so polite. Talk about unfair.

Didn’t exactly know what to tell Nick. Fact is there are nearly 400 Americans who have gone sub-four, but how many have ever run 4:00.00?

So I mentioned it to Ray Flynn, the Irishman who ran 89 sub-4s in his career, and he hadn’t heard of such a time to the hundredth. But he also took a positive approach. “He should be encouraged,” Flynn said. “If you can do four-flat, you can do 3:59.”

After all, Wade has definitely beaten long odds before.

UPDATE: There is a lot of attention being paid to the time relative to the thousandths as the photo above from Chris Lotsbom of Racing Results Weekly shows 3:59.998. I consulted some of the best-known track statisticians in the field tonight and the unanimous response has been that Wade ran 4:00.00. Track times always round up to the next hundredth (you can never round down) and official track & field times are measured in hundredths. And Wade is not the first person to feel this pain. South African Pharson Magagane ran 4:00.00 for his PR in 2011.

4 Responses to “That Cruel Clock (Updated)”

  1. Dave says:

    Didn’t Harry McCalla run a 4:00.0 (hand timed) many years ago, as his best ever?

  2. It is easier to live with 4:00.00 than 4:00.01

  3. Bob says:

    Whether or not the sport’s convention is to round up to the nearest hundredth (and thus the “official” time is 4:00.00, it is nevertheless factually true that Mr. Wade broke the 4 minute barrier in the mile. Congrats to him!