Sunday, 10 April 2011

Can you spot a good runner?

I'm often intrigued by the biomechanics that define someone as a good runner. Things like leg strength, cadence and stride length are obvious determinants of speed. So if this is the case, we should be able to tell who are good runners and who are not, simply by looking at their running style.

There are, however, exceptions. I am often overtaken in fell races by someone who looks like they were designed based on a drawing done by a 5-year-old. Conversely, I very occasionally overtake someone who looks like a proper athlete.

So how good are you at spotting who is fast and who is not. Here is a collection of short videos showing club runners in the Kinder Downfall race. From my memory, these runners were not consecutively placed - so you have a fair spread of finishing times. I should also tell you that this is after about 8.5 miles, so the runners are probably quite tired now.

Can you place them in the correct order?

Runner A:

Runner B:

Runner C:

Runner D:

Runner E:

So how did you do? The answers are shown here. I'd be interested to hear how many you got right. Before anyone points it out, I realise it's hard to spot how much training someone has put in (ie, fitness).


  1. I got this totally wrong. Totally. Good to see Runner A up and about, that is the guy that smashed his face up at Edale Skyline.

  2. Yes, it's hard isn't it. And yet the fastest of these five is about 2 minutes a mile faster than the slowest. You'd think that sort of difference would be very obvious. I didn't hear about that - it's good he's back running - I couldn't see any scars from where I was.

  3. Yes, it is hard. I was studying gait, build etc but there was no way of really telling. From what I understand, Runner A ran straight into a temporary ladder stile coming off Lose Hill, but face first. I passed him and there was a lot of blood and swelling. I saw him again at the finish and he couldn't open his eye it was so swollen!