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The Decathlon and Ashton Eaton

In case you missed it on Saturday afternoon (as I did), Ashton Eaton became what some say to be the greatest athlete ever and set the world record for the decathlon.  During the second day of events, he ran the 1500m in 4:14 to earn a total score of 9,039 points, beating the previous world record by 13 points.  I had read about Ashton Eaton in this month’s issue of Runner’s World, but I still didn’t know what the 10 events in the decathlon were.  In the spirit of the Olympics, I decided to make this my topic for today.

What exactly did Eaton do to become one of the best in the world?

The decathlon is a track and field event taking place over two days, and the winner is determined by combining the results of all 10 events.  The men’s and the women’s events are not exactly the same so I’ll start with the men’s event first.  Day one consists of five events – 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400 meters.  Day two consists of the other five, – 110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500 meters.  The points earned for each event can be determined with the following formula:

  • Points = INT(A(B — P)C) for track events
  • Points = INT(A(P — B)C) for jumping and throwing events

Click here to learn how to calculate the scores.

It wasn’t until 2001 that the IAAF approved the women’s decathlon scoring tables.  Before then, it was the heptathlon.  The shot put, discus, and javelin weigh less and the hurdles are 100 meters instead of 110 meters.  The order of events is also different than the men’s.  Day one is the 100 meters, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 400 meters.  The last five events on day two are the 100 meters hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400 meters.  The order of the men’s and women’s event is different to avoid scheduling conflicts when both decathlons take place on the same day.

I admire anybody who can compete in all 10 track and field events.  And even more, to be great in all 10 events.  Perhaps one of my favorite moments from the Olympic Trials so far is watching this video of Joe Detmer and Curtis Beach slowing down to let Eaton win the 1500 meters yesterday.  They helped achieve his world record and they gave him his moment of glory.  An emotional moment for sure.

Congratulations to Ashton Eaton.  Personally, I do consider him to be one of the world’s greatest athletes.  He can jump, run, and throw – and he can do it better than anyone else.  You can watch his post interview here on Runner’s World and see just how happy he is.

London Olypmics: 32 days, 17 hours, and 57 minutes.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

This month’s issue of Runner’s World with Ashton Eaton

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