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Author Topic: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?  (Read 2337 times)

Offline thedoc

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Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« on: 17/01/2014 03:30:01 »
Andre du Plooy asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 17/01/2014 03:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #1 on: 17/01/2014 07:43:36 »
I wonder if when driving stock cars, with a left hand seat position, it is easier, and perhaps safer to do left hand turns (more space between the driver and the outer fence).  It also puts the driver in the best place for optimal weight distribution.  Is engine rotation standardized?  What about torque steering?

There would be less benefit for vehicles with a central driver position, or a right hand drive position.  However, there would be a benefit of standardization across a country, as well as international standardization.

I can't think of similar benefits for running sports or equestrian events, although, of course there are benefits of standardization. 
 

Offline TerOFla

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #2 on: 20/01/2014 07:43:32 »
I know nothing about race-cars, but as a dance teacher, I have noticed over the years how children, teens and adults, if told to "walk /run in a circle" will invariably run counter-clockwise. There are always a few exceptions, but they are very few. This has led me to wonder if humans all sport a slightly longer right leg.  :P  (but that would make no difference to the drivers of race-cars)

 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #3 on: 20/01/2014 08:13:12 »
A majority of people are right-handed.
Is it possible that most people also have a dominant right foot?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #4 on: 21/01/2014 02:53:56 »
I'm trying to think of loop-like paths that I take. 

When walking from my house to my spring, I invariably take a path in a counter-clockwise direction that takes me out of the house, through an upper gate, to the spring, then back through a lower gate and up to my house. 

On the other hand, taking a day-hike to a place called Horsetail falls, I would hike from the parking lot up to the water falls, then parallel to the road, down to the road, and back along the road in a clockwise course. 

I suppose I can think of both clockwise and counter-clockwise routes I've taken, often because I'll head directly towards my destination, then wander on the way back, so perhaps it doesn't help.
 

Offline TerOFla

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #5 on: 21/01/2014 08:28:24 »
The plot thickens.  :D

I also found this, which seems to contradict what I have observed, and have often heard anecdotally: newbielink:http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00207458808985708 [nonactive]

 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #6 on: 21/01/2014 09:37:33 »
Difference between spin and orbit.

In ballroom dancing the "natural turn" figure is a clockwise rotation on the spot but the "line of dance" progresses anticlockwise round the room. This may be due to (1) the man leading the turn with a push on the outstretched (left) arm and (2) the tendency to drift to the centre of the room if all turns are made clockwise as the man takes longer steps - it's difficult to lead, but very easy to spin, in high heels! As I recall, learning the reverse turn was quite a challenge for a male beginner, and even more so for my partners.

When learning to fly, most ab-initios find it easier to coordinate the left turn, even in a tandem glider with no torque or slipstream component, and the rule in gliding competitions is to make all turns to the left when close to the start point, even if this isn't the quickest entry to the maximum lift. This is probably due to flying righthanded - you have better control of the stick when pushing than pulling.

IMHO there is no obvious reason for athletes to run in either direction but once you have made a decision on staggered starts it would be disturbing to have to run in different directions at different tracks, so I suspect someone like the IAAF or IOC has deemed anticlockwise as standard. 
 

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Re: Why are races traditionally run anti-clockwise?
« Reply #6 on: 21/01/2014 09:37:33 »

 

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