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Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen won gold in the men’s 10,000m (for speed skating) on Thursday at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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Long track speed skating at the Olympics is contested over identical distances as athletics (track and field), at least in the longer events. The events identical in both long track include the 1,500m, 3,000m (women), 5,000m and 10,000m (men), though the 3,000m is only an indoor event in senior championship track and field.

Bloemen won the 10,000m in Pyeongchang in Olympic record-time, 12:39.77 (the Dutch-born skater holds the WR at 12:36.30), which is roughly the men’s world record for a distance, in track and field, exactly, half of that. Kenenisa Bekele is the world’s fastest 5,000m runner with his 12:37.35 clocking.

Both long track speed skating and athletics are contested on a 400m surface. (The Olympics also has short track speed skating events.) The configuration of the oval, however, is not the same.

Looking at other events on the track, in both speed skating and running, the rule of thumb seems to be that skating is, very roughly, twice as fast as running.

Looking at the women’s long track speed skating medal events completed so far at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the winning time in the 1,500m was 1:54.35 and 3:59.21 for 3,000m. Half, or roughly half, of those distances, the 800m and 1,500m, have similar women’s world record times in running, 1:53.28 and 3:50.07, to be exact. (Note that the comparison is winning times in speed skating at the Olympics versus world record times in running. Championship races in athletics are often won in slower times because of tactics.)

Long track speed skaters can reach speeds of upwards of 59 km/h over shorter distances. Meanwhile, the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt, clocked 44.72 km/h during his world record performance over 100m at the 2009 IAAF World Championships. He covered 100m in 9.58 from starting blocks. (Speed skaters do not use starting blocks.)

Is speed skating faster or slower than you thought in relation to running?

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