Last month Scotland’s Beth Potter – who won the SLT Arena Games in London – amazed running and triathlon fans by running 14:41 minutes over 5,000 m at the Podium 5K running event in Barrowford. The time broke the world record, but since it wasn’t an official event, World Athletics (WA) soon declared that it would most likely not be ratified. Race director Chris Barnes learned first-hand why Potter’s 14:41 doesn’t count, and he told Canadian Running Magazine.
“The second Beth had run that race, World Athletics were instantly in touch, asking if there was doping control,” Podium 5K race director Barnes told the publication. It turned out to be one of the main reasons WA wouldn’t confirm the record. Another reason was that the timekeepers didn’t have the necessary certification for any records to be deemed official.
While Barnes understands WA’s reasoning at one level, on the other hand he believes the ratification system needs to be changed. Especially since the arrival of carbon running shoes, that have resulted in faster times at many unofficial and small events. “The rules on ratification need changing, I think,” Barnes said. “Now that we’ve got these super shoes, these records could go down anywhere, not just at races that are designed for world records.”
Nobody expected Potter to be able to run a world record during the Podium 5K last month. It’s worth noting that a year before Britain’s Marc Scott ran a new British record (13:20) at the same event, and that was ratified as an official record without any issues. This year’s race wasn’t any different from the 2020 edition, Barnes said. It’s simply too expensive for some race directors to meet all WA’s rules for official record races: “We’re not a major race, so we can’t afford to have testers and officials come.”