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In June 1961, John Jewell wrote a seminal paper describing the process of road race course measurement in England. John reviewed the accuracy of the different methods of measurement then being used. He elaborated and refined in considerable detail the calibrated bicycle method, which was used by the Road Time Trial Council of British cyclists. Today's measurers will find that the procedures described by John in 1961 remain essentially unchanged today.
Because of its historical importance, John's paper, "Notes on the Measurement of Roads for Athletic Events", has been reproduced here (with his permission) as an .htm file. Alternatively for easy viewing and printing you can download this .pdf file (125 kB) which has book marks to aid navigation. (Use the show navigation pane option in Adobe Acrobat Reader 4 to display these book marks.)
The paper not only guided the development of current methods in the UK, but the methods which he described were to be adopted internationally. An important factor in this dissemination was John's friendship with the American ultra distance runner, Ted Corbitt. Around 1961, Ted had visited the UK to compete in the London to Brighton (which John had measured with great precision). In the 1960's Ted led the introduction of John's methods in the USA. In 1964 Ted published a monograph entitled "Measuring Road Running Courses" under the auspices of the Road Runners Club,USA. This contained a survey of measurement methods around the world. It quoted in detail from John's paper, and helped bring about world-wide acceptance of the calibrated bicycle method as the standard for road races. Ted's work helped inspire Alan Jones to invent the "Jones Counter" in 1970. This counter removed the need for spoke counting described by John in his paper. Today all measurers use the Jones counter or its current version, the Jones-Oerth counter.
John, a long standing member of the Road Running Club in Britain, was responsible for its programme of course measurement for many years. John was a member of the South London Harriers and he worked very closely with the Southern section of the Amateur Athletic Association. John's paper acknowledges the work done by A.J.C. Kendall, Hon. Secretary of the Southern AAA, who had recently made a survey of the methods being used to measure road courses in the South of England. In 1986 the RRC measurers became formally administered by the Amateur Athletic Association. John continued to handle RRC course difficulty adjustments (based on the measurer's reports) until he retired in 1992. He wrote to new measurers submitting reports to welcome them on their appointment, and I was honoured to receive such a letter when I qualified in 1991.
John, now age 89, lives in retirement in Berkshire with his wife Joan. When I spoke to John tonight he remembered the two years of work he did on getting measurement set up and the work to get the IAAF to accept the calibrated bicycle method as the standard. John gave approval for the electronic publication of his work, and Joan asked me to correct some spelling errors she had spotted. This was a task she had performed for John during his many years of responsibility for the RRC Newsletter. Joan recalled that she had not had the opportunity to check this paper which had been written before they were married in 1962.
I would be very happy to convey to John and Joan any brief messages of appreciation for John's Paper, as I am sure would any of his many friends in the road running community.
40 years on, John's work guides us today.
Mike Sandford, SEAA Measurement Secretary, 14 March 2001
John Jewell using Arthur Newton's bicycle for course measuring. Arthur Newton was a famous ultramarathon runner based in South Africa.