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A lighting system is the newest pacing technology

The new technology lets runners follow a light instead of a body

Sifan Hassan targeted the European 5,000m record on Sunday in Hengelo, Netherlands. For almost all record attempts, there’s a pacer assigned to rabbit the race, but Hassan had a wavelight technology system leading the way.

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The wavelight technology system was used for the first time at the same meet in 2018. The system lights up along the rail as runners attempt to follow the dots, which are flashing at the assigned pace. The system can also flash red for false starts and white for stadium records.

Photo: Maxine Gravina

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An actual pacer is able to block wind and is a more visible marker, especially for those in second or third place, but the great thing about the wavelight techology is that it’s able to go the entire distance, instead of hopping off the track around halfway through the race. Especially at the highest level of track, when athletes are looking to break world records, this system could be very helpful. When you’re trying to go faster than anyone ever has, it’s hard to find someone to come with you.


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Hassan came up short of her goal on Sunday, running a 14:38.54 and finishing second to Margaret Chel Kipkemboi of Kenya, who took the win in 14:37.22. Hassan holds the current European record at 14:22.34.