Wind can make or break athletes chasing track records

By: Raymond Hall

Contributing Writer

So close … yet so far away. This is the feeling many athletes in track and field have had in their careers.

For a short-distance sprinter, long or triple jumper, wind can play a huge factor in going down in the record books. Too much wind can mean that a person’s great accomplishment is merely just good practice.

The rules of wind assistance only apply to those track events short enough to be run in only one direction.

  • 60 meters
  • 100 meters
  • 200 meters
  • 100/110-meter hurdles
  • Triple jump
  • Long jump

In races such as the 400m or 800m, the runners go completely around the track and will have the wind facing their fronts as well as backs, nullifying the wind’s effects, according to track and field officials.

The wind gusts in Spartanburg on Friday are forecast to be 18 miles per hour, which converts to +8.04 meters per second. This shows there is no chance for a record to be broken.

The legal amount of wind for a time or jump distance to be considered for a state, collegiate, national, or world record is 2.0 meters per second.

For example, if you break the women’s collegiate 200-meter world record and the wind is 2.1 meters per second, your record does not count.

The positive and negative aspect of the number makes a difference in wind measurements as well. A positive reading means the runner was aided by the wind. However, a negative reading means the runner had to work against the wind.

A reading of +2.2 meters per second would be illegal for a record, however, a reading of -2.2 meters per second would be legal for a record.

Tyson Gay, in 2008, ran 9.68 seconds in the 100-meter dash; however the time did not count as a world record as the wind was measured at +4.1 meters per second.

The next year Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, broke the 100-meter record with a time of 9.58 seconds with a legal wind of +0.9 meters per second.