I think it probably all evens out. Smaller guys have shorter stride but less weight to be dragging along. Look at Tsegaye Kebede. The guy is only 5 foot 2 so his stride is fairly short. But he's only 50kg so he has very little mass to be carrying along.
I know there's probably more of the elite East Africans who are small but look at some of these guys:
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, a four time winner in the Boston marathon and winner of Chicago is 6 foot 3!!! However, he is 70kg in weight versus 52kg for the likes of Wanjiru, Haile, etc who are around 5 foot 5.
Paul Tergat as mentioned is 5 foot 11 and was a world record holder and considered one of the all time greats on the road and the track.
David Rudisha at 6 foot 3 is head and shoulders above most of his fellow 800m competitors.
Sprinting would seem to favour taller athletes in general. Tyson Gay looks tiny on the track but he's actually 5 foot 11 and 75kg. Alongside Bolt and Powell at 6 5 and 6 3, he appears lightweight but again it seems to even out. However, I can't think of any high profile successful sprinter who was less than 5 foot 10, and certainly there are none who were 5 foot 5 or under.
Body Mass Index would seem to be more important than height. All of the long distance guys probably have BMIs of 17 or 18 so they're extremelly light weight for their relative heights. The sprinters BMIs are probably more like 22 or over as their muscle mass is much greater.
Last edited by RunForestRun; 13-04-2011 at 11:00.