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winning races vs. running fastest

Mostly as an exercise in problem-solving, I ask my first-year physics
students to suggest ways in which the runner who runs the fastest over
the race distance could still fail to win the race. A runner might
start too late, run the wrong course, or run on the outside of the track.

The last example is the most relevant--a 'mile race' on a track requires
the racers to complete four laps of a quarter-mile track. As the
distance is measured along the inside of the track, anyone who runs
along the outside must cover extra distance in order to complete the
'mile race'. Thus arises my admonition to the athletes that I coach:
the winner is the runner who reaches the finish first, not necessarily
the fastest runner.