Running the Tangents
All properly measure road running courses are marked on the shortest possible route a runner could run. This is to ensure that no runner can run shorter than the official distance.
The trick then in a road race is to run the shortest possible distance. This is often referred to as ‘Running the Tangents’. The illustration shows the shortest route in Red and the Black arrows illustrate a line that a runner might take. The diagram is not to scale and the road width is grossly exaggerated but it does demonstrate the difference in distance between running the shortest distance(Red) and taking a line(Black) a lot of runners would. In this illustration the Red line measure 20 cm and the Black arrows measure 25cm.
It is not uncommon for runners to measure on their personal GPS units a distance in excess of 300 m more than course distance in a marathon. 300 m more at an average pace of 6 min per km equates to an additional time of 1:51 and at 7 min per km 2:06
Effectively Running the Tangents will save minutes for those who are simply looking to qualify for 2Oceans or Comrades