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Amorphous Race

Going nowhere fast.
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We start with a large level field, covered with a surface which allows easy running in any direction. There is no special "track" for this race, although there is a marked starting line.

Equip each athlete with a device that can act as a high accuracy odometer -- an advanced GPS with an odometer mode, or perhaps something like the Nike/Ipod gadget.

All the racers begin on a marked circle, equally spaced around the edge, facing towards the circle's center, and would begin on starting blocks. The starting blocks would be specially designed to retract into the field, once the racers have begun running.

The athletes start running when a gun is fired. They can go in any direction they want, so long as they don't collide with other runners, or leave the field.

The distance each athlete has traveled is continuously displayed for onlookers. The first athlete whose total distance traveled equals the target number of miles, wins.

This sport requires not just speed, but strategy -- whether one will run in a circle or other pattern, clockwise or counterclockwise, whether it's a good idea to try and distract other competitors or just try to run fast, and how to deal with competitors who are trying to distract / slow you down.

This can also be a team sport -- the first team whose total distance traveled equals or exceeds a target distance wins.

As a team sport, team members could be assigned different tasks, such as offense, defense, and scoring. If there are a reasonable number of members on each team, a "race" between as few as two teams could be fun to watch.

goldbb, Feb 22 2010

Similar Sleepwalk-A-Thon
and doesn't even require the contestants to be awake. [swimswim, Feb 24 2010]

[link]






       Sounds like a demolition derby for people.
wagster, Feb 23 2010
  

       I think this would be more interesting on bicycles where forming a peloton is an advantage and cornering/braking is more of an issue.
marklar, Feb 23 2010
  

       I thought this was going to be a eugenics idea.
hippo, Feb 23 2010
  

       Bicycles, yes, but also motor-racing (both F1 and rally), horse-racing, egg-and-spoon race, aeroplane racing, yachting, etc. each with some strategies similar and some unique.
pocmloc, Feb 23 2010
  

       I’ve never read such a racist comment.
Ian Tindale, Feb 23 2010
  

       What's racist about egg-and-spoon, [Ian]?
pocmloc, Feb 23 2010
  

       Watch out for people cheating by attaching the movement sensor to their arms or legs - then their forward & backwards cadence would be counted, rather than the movement of their body.   

       Assuming that running in a curve on is unbalanced so you want the longest amount of straight. You don't want to abruptly change direction, so add on a curve where you turn back into the circle. I can think of two initial categories of strategy:
i) Diametric - some kind of figure-of-8 or a 'sausage' shape where you try and tack advantage of the longest staight within the circle.
ii) Circumferential - you follow a "straightened circle" or polygon like a hexagonal path. Each straight is less and turning more frequent but the turning is less severe.
Jinbish, Feb 23 2010
  

       You could have a pure energy race by putting every contestant into their own calorimeter and measuring the energy output over a given period of time.   

       No, hang on, maybe a calorimeter isn't the thing...
wagster, Feb 23 2010
  

       So, not the Dutch, then?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 23 2010
  

       Circumferential would clearly be the preferable strategy. The fast / slow speed changes and tight turns of a highly-variable velocity would exhaust more energy. If the time factor were taken out of the equation so that it became simply a measure of distance walked before a person collapsed, the race would become a boring walk around a circle at as slow a pace as would be considered efficient, so clearly the fastest time to distance X must be included, as per the idea.   

       Perhaps, just for fun, after some time the circle could grow smalller and smaller until people were crowded into the center, forced out of the ring, or whatnot.
RayfordSteele, Feb 23 2010
  

       I'd be interested in knowing the best strategies for the team version of the sport... run as a pack, and play "chicken" with other runners / packs of runners?
goldbb, Feb 24 2010
  
      
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