The 1600m and 3200m Are Insane Nonsense
The 1600m and 3200m are the worst of both worlds. If you were to have a glass of lemonade and
a plate of fried mealworms (which, I am informed, are eaten by people in other parts of the
world,) the 1600m and 3200m would be you dumping the mealworms into the glass of lemonade
and then drinking it. You wouldn't do that. Do not be blinded by the lies of the MPA*: the
existence of the 1600m and 3200m is an assault no less egregious on any notion of taste and
The first problem with the 1600m and 3200m is that they are measured using the units of the
metric system,** which should be left to scientists and other nerds, while normal people going
about normal lives can use the superior imperial measurements. (I am going to high-handedly
assume this to cut down on the word count. Suffice it to note that feet and inches are excellently
suited for human height, and Fahrenheit is excellent suited for temperatures actually experienced
by human beings.) Now, the 1600m and 3200m are clearly intended to resemble the mile and two
mile; this is confirmed by that no one ever refers to "the 1600m" or "the 3200m" except as the
result of an impulse towards pedantry. If everyone's going to call it "the mile" either way, you
might as well run the mile. Just draw two waterfall marks the appropriate distance back on the
"But Stevie," you say, "your dream of the American military invading other countries and
forcing them to use imperial units will never happen. Why, then, should we not run the 1600m
and 3200m?" Well, no one runs them besides American kids. If we're going to be like the rest of
the world and use the metric system, we should be like the rest of the world and run the 1500m
and (since I assume no one wants the 5000m at a track meet) the 3000m. There is no need for the
awkwardly-in-between 1600m and 3200m.
And that's really what it comes down to: it's awkwardly in between. The mile, the two mile -
there's a mystique there. But does anyone really care if you run a 3:59.55 1600m? It's not a sub-
four mile. There's nothing special about it that way. Just like there's nothing special about a
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to cry myself to sleep now.
*Is the MPA responsible for determining which track events take place? I have no idea. I assume
they are, but I can't be bothered to do research. If you'd like to give me a stipend so that I can
hire an assistant to do research, please get in touch with me.
**Your correspondent thinks that all track events should be measured in yards. Your
correspondent also realizes that this position might lead some readers to consider him a "crank."
To avoid this unfortunate occurrence, he has decided to only discuss the two events whose
distances are most offensive.
***Why this can be done during the indoor season but not the outdoor is extremely confusing to me. Also, if you replaced the 400m tracks with 440yd tracks you wouldn't even have to draw the waterfall marks. Just saying.