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5K distance variation (Read 1825 times)

Bob B.


    I'm training to run my first 5K. I was wondering if there is any general variation in 5K route distances. What I mean is, I doubt all 5K's are 5.00 kilometers. Does anybody have enough experiences with 5K's to give me an idea of what the general variation is? Like generally between 4.8 and 5.2 kilometers. Thanks for any help!


    Idiot

      I'm training to run my first 5K. I was wondering if there is any general variation in 5K route distances. What I mean is, I doubt all 5K's are 5.00 kilometers. Does anybody have enough experiences with 5K's to give me an idea of what the general variation is? Like generally between 4.8 and 5.2 kilometers. Thanks for any help!
      A 5k by definition is 5,000 meters, no more no less. If races are advertised as 5k but turn out to be long or short, it's likely due to measurement error by the organizers, and not intended to be a "non-standard" 5k distance.

      I decided that if I'm going to call myself a runner, I should probably run.

        If you are that concerned about the variation, check the race to make sure it is USATF certified and then it should be an accurate 5 kilometers.
        Bob B.


          ...If races are advertised as 5k but turn out to be long or short, it's likely due to measurement error by the organizers...
          Right, that's exactly what I'm asking. Has anybody found a general measurement error? I've never run one before, so I'm just wondering. Has anybody experienced a general measurement error in distance? Thanks
            I would guess +/- 20% which really is a bummer for a marathon. Race distances are like playing horseshoes; close enough is just fine and anyone who complains about an inaccurate track has to be an elite.
            "Good-looking people have no spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter." - Lester Bangs
            Bob B.


              ... check the race to make sure it is USATF certified...
              OK, I didn't know about USATF certification. That helps. I'm from a very rural area, and doubt that races in my neck of the woods are sophisticated enough to be USATF certified.
                Also, your distance will vary a bit if you don't run the most direct tangents on curves and turns. But this would be pretty minimal in a race as short as 5k. In a marathon, though, it could add up.
                  I would guess +/- 20% which really is a bummer for a marathon. Race distances are like playing horseshoes; close enough is just fine and anyone who complains about an inaccurate track has to be an elite.
                  I'd say you're off by a factor of 10. +/-2% might be more reasonable.
                    The only REAL variation is the course and the hills.....I have run 5ks the seemd short and one a few weeks ago that was so hilly, it seemed like a 10K...but the actual distance should always be precicely the same.

                    Champions are made when no one is watching

                      I'm also from a rural area, and run a few races that are not USATF certified. I asked one race director why his course was not certified, and he said it cost too much. I am not sure what the charge is for certification. The race director went on to say he measured the course to be 5K using a "wheel," which I believe is very accurate. There are two 5K courses I run that are not certified, but would consider them PR worthy: they both were wheel measured, the same course has been used for 10+ years in a row, I have not heard comments that the course is short, and I believe the course to be accurate. A certified 5K course is actually longer than 5K, by some fudge factor. I do not remember what that factor is though.


                      ultramarathon/triathlete

                        I'd say you're off by a factor of 10. +/-2% might be more reasonable.
                        My thoughts exactly. 2% MAYBE. If someone says it's a 5K, it will be 5K unless they mis measure it. This sometimes happens in smaller races, generally not in larger races. Buy a garmin if you're concerned (though that migth be off by 2% also! :rollSmile I've run hundreds of 5Ks, I'd say 95% of them were spot on, which is to say 3.1 miles.

                        HTFU?  Why not!

                        Coach: Empire Tri Club 

                        Speed Coach: Brooklyn Tri Club


                        ultramarathon/triathlete

                          My thoughts exactly. 2% MAYBE. If someone says it's a 5K, it will be 5K unless they mis measure it. This sometimes happens in smaller races, generally not in larger races (larger by number of people I mean, hence better organized). Buy a garmin if you're concerned (though that migth be off by 2% also! :rollSmile I've run hundreds of 5Ks, I'd say 95% of them were spot on, which is to say 3.1 miles.

                          HTFU?  Why not!

                          Coach: Empire Tri Club 

                          Speed Coach: Brooklyn Tri Club

                            I swear the 5K in a triathlon I did this last weekend was long by a good 10%, grrrr. Nobody broke 21 minutes (this is unusual), and I was 4 minutes slower than normal.
                            JimR


                              A certified 5K course is actually longer than 5K, by some fudge factor. I do not remember what that factor is though.
                              'tis true. The requirement is simply that the course cannot be short.
                                'tis true. The requirement is simply that the course cannot be short.
                                That seems silly. The requirement should be that a certified 5k course is exactly 5000 meters. Why go through the cost and the trouble if there is still a fudge factor? Now, as has been pointed out, your route on your Garmin may not equal 3.1 miles for a variety of reasons but that's not because the course is long or short.
                                "Good-looking people have no spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter." - Lester Bangs
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