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There’s More To Measuring An Olympic Course Than Just Measuring It

The Olympics involve the participation of thousands of people whose work is crucial, but who you never see. For example, the lengths of the race courses must be exact, and there are official measurers who do the work to ensure the course is correct, up to international standards, and fair. David Katz is the official marathon and race walk course measurer for the Olympics in Rio. He’s done this work for the Olympics since since 1984.  

He’s a bit of a legend, as far as course measurement nerds go. “He is one of the best in the world,” said Wang Tak Fung of Hong Kong, a 20-year veteran of the course measurement game who came early to the race walk event to watch Katz in action. He seemed very impressed that Katz had lugged his steel measuring tape with him — a necessity only during official measurements (which were done weeks ago) and not for this morning’s slight tweaks and adjustments. The day of the race isn’t for official measuring; it’s for double-checking that the measurement is still accurate even after cones, barricades and water tables have been added to the course.

Katz inspects everything in the courses to make sure they’re just right when the races begin. Read how he does it in a surprisingly interesting article at FiveThirtyEight. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Allison McCann)


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