“When the goal is to break an athletic barrier of mythical status it pays to make sure the finish line is in the right place. No one would want to miss out on making history because the run was 84m longer than required - the distance run should be exactly 26.2miles and not a centimetre more on the best course possible.” - Sir Dave Brailsford

No one would want to miss out on making history because the run was 84m longer than required

“When the goal is to break an athletic barrier of mythical status it pays to make sure the finish line is in the right place. No one would want to miss out on making history because the run was 84m longer than required - the distance run should be exactly 26.2miles and not a centimetre more on the best course possible.” - Sir Dave Brailsford

No one would want to miss out on making history because the run was 84m longer than required

The INEOS 1:59 Performance Team set to work looking at the race track they had chosen; Vienna’s Hauptallee.

It’s a tree-lined road that runs straight through the centre of the Prater, a famous Viennese Park. There’s a roundabout at each end (the Praterstern and the Lusthaus) and these would be used as turning points that would create a lap of just under 10KM. The total marathon course would run over 4.4 laps.

The INEOS 1:59 Performance Team set to work looking at the race track they had chosen; Vienna’s Hauptallee.

It’s a tree-lined road that runs straight through the centre of the Prater, a famous Viennese Park. There’s a roundabout at each end (the Praterstern and the Lusthaus) and these would be used as turning points that would create a lap of just under 10KM. The total marathon course would run over 4.4 laps.

Severn Partnership, a British firm of land surveyors, drove their truck all the way from the UK with its LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) measurement system.

Once in Vienna, they drove around the whole course with the LIDAR scanning the three dimensional environment to create a ‘point cloud’.

The point cloud had millimetre accuracy of all the elevation changes over the course.

Severn Partnership, a British firm of land surveyors, drove their truck all the way from the UK with its LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) measurement system.

Once in Vienna, they drove around the whole course with the LIDAR scanning the three dimensional environment to create a ‘point cloud’.

The point cloud had millimetre accuracy of all the elevation changes over the course.

Around the Praterstern there was an elevation change from the left to the right of the course. There were also two sections that drop 1.6 meters and then rose 1.6 meters back up because of a train that goes through the roundabout.

Through careful measurement and utilisation of all these tiny elevation changes — indistinguishable by eye — the team saved over a second a lap.

The idea was having a course with a minimum number of corners so the ratio of straightaway to corners would be very high. We certainly found that in Vienna.

Around the Praterstern there was an elevation change from the left to the right of the course. There were also two sections that drop 1.6 meters and then rose 1.6 meters back up because of a train that goes through the roundabout.

Through careful measurement and utilisation of all these tiny elevation changes — indistinguishable by eye — the team saved over a second a lap.

The idea was having a course with a minimum number of corners so the ratio of straightaway to corners would be very high. We certainly found that in Vienna.

As explained by Peter Vint: “Any time a runner or a cyclist goes around a corner they ultimately have to put energy into changing direction. That means some of the finite source of energy the body has, has to be used for something that isn’t actually propulsion. The idea was having a course with a minimum number of corners so the ratio of straightaway to corners would be very high. We certainly found that in Vienna.”

As explained by Peter Vint: “Any time a runner or a cyclist goes around a corner they ultimately have to put energy into changing direction. That means some of the finite source of energy the body has, has to be used for something that isn’t actually propulsion. The idea was having a course with a minimum number of corners so the ratio of straightaway to corners would be very high. We certainly found that in Vienna.”

Once the precise line of the course had been chosen it needed to be marked on the road for the pace car and runners to follow.

Meixner Vermessung helped the team do just that with precision GPS, particularly on the turns.

THE FINAL POINT THAT WE PUT DOWN WAS 42.195 KILOMETRES PLUS AT MOST TWO CENTIMETRES.

As Robby Ketchell explains: “We literally walked the course and extracted reference points from the digital file, the point cloud, that we could then position on the actual course. The final point that we put down was 42.195 kilometres plus at most two centimetres. We knew that our course, the shortest distance through that course, was accurately that distance.”

Once the precise line of the course had been chosen it needed to be marked on the road for the pace car and runners to follow.

Meixner Vermessung helped the team do just that with precision GPS, particularly on the turns.

THE FINAL POINT THAT WE PUT DOWN WAS 42.195 KILOMETRES PLUS AT MOST TWO CENTIMETRES.

As Robby Ketchell explains: “We literally walked the course and extracted reference points from the digital file, the point cloud, that we could then position on the actual course. The final point that we put down was 42.195 kilometres plus at most two centimetres. We knew that our course, the shortest distance through that course, was accurately that distance.”

“What that means is that when you measure a marathon course with the Jones Counter, you have an error of about 42 meters. So if you measure 42.195 kilometres with your measurement -- after you calibrate the system -- that means you're 42.195 plus or minus 42 meters. The way that they typically deal with this is to add 42 meters to every measurement that they do for any other marathon.”

with the Jones Counter, you have an error of about 42 meters

If the team had just used the standard Jones counter and nothing else, worst case scenario they could have ended up with a course that was as much as 84 metres too long. At the pace Eliud Kipchoge was running this distance would have taken more than 14 seconds to cover — and it could have been the difference between success and failure.

Nevertheless, once the course had been measured using the best that modern technology could offer, the team wanted to corroborate it with a Jones Counter.

Therefore, the team had one measurer and one validator, they both measured the course to be 42.195 or longer, using the Jones Counter. One of them measured it to that distance and one measured it to be 10 meters longer.

Eliud Kipchoge ran no less than 26.2 miles and not more than a couple of centimetres more

Sir Dave Brailsford expands: “Whatever the Jones Counter said, in one hour, fifty nine minutes and 40.2 seconds Eliud Kipchoge ran no less than 26.2 miles and not more than a couple of centimetres more on a perfect road surface and optimal line precisely as planned.”

“What that means is that when you measure a marathon course with the Jones Counter, you have an error of about 42 meters. So if you measure 42.195 kilometres with your measurement -- after you calibrate the system -- that means you're 42.195 plus or minus 42 meters. The way that they typically deal with this is to add 42 meters to every measurement that they do for any other marathon.”

with the Jones Counter, you have an error of about 42 meters

If the team had just used the standard Jones counter and nothing else, worst case scenario they could have ended up with a course that was as much as 84 metres too long. At the pace Eliud Kipchoge was running this distance would have taken more than 14 seconds to cover — and it could have been the difference between success and failure.

Nevertheless, once the course had been measured using the best that modern technology could offer, the team wanted to corroborate it with a Jones Counter.

Therefore, the team had one measurer and one validator, they both measured the course to be 42.195 or longer, using the Jones Counter. One of them measured it to that distance and one measured it to be 10 meters longer.

Eliud Kipchoge ran no less than 26.2 miles and not more than a couple of centimetres more

Sir Dave Brailsford expands: “Whatever the Jones Counter said, in one hour, fifty nine minutes and 40.2 seconds Eliud Kipchoge ran no less than 26.2 miles and not more than a couple of centimetres more on a perfect road surface and optimal line precisely as planned.”

Feeling inspired? We’ve picked a few of our favourite moments from the INEOS 1:59 Challenge for you to relive the best bits from this historic achievement.

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