I think the difference in time can be attributed to having a running start. Except for the first leg of the 4 x 400m, the athletes have a running start. In the Beijing Olympics, Jeremy Wariner ran a 43.18 split in the 4 x 400m, when he had an off year, and that time was a few tenths better than his personal best.
If coaches time the split from when the runner grabs the baton to when they hand it off, yeah, that would seem pretty worthless (and it'd make for some pretty spectacular anchor splits.) I've got no idea how coaches time splits.
cut in at the start/finish line and that is when the split stops for that runner even if they don't have
the baton. This will give you the most accurate split.
They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time it works, every time.
Roesler = Pac 10 Champion in the 800m (about a 2:05) If you're not impressed, remember that the 800 is a very strategic, technical race.
Good relay teams take advantage of each runner's strengths/weaknesses. If one runner is a strong finisher, they may consider his handoff taking place later in the zone. If the incoming runner tends to be running out of gas, may be better to have him hand off early in the zone. There are other considerations: if the runner is a great starter, that can influence where he wants to take the handoff. Strong finisher and a quick starter may work well to have the handoff late in the exchange zone.
The split is most accurate at the mid-point of the exchange irrespective of which runner is carrying the baton at that point.
Baylor usually shows how to do it in the 4 x 400 as they routinely flirt with 3-flat most seasons.
It is funny to watch a lot of parents -- and some coaches -- screwing up splits by taking the split at the handoff which may or may not be accurate. They may be timing a runner who runs only 395 meters vs one who runs 405 meters.
Laura Roesler helps the Oregon women to the 2013 NCAA indoor national title with a 2nd place finish in the 800! Her time 2:02.32 was a new Oregon school record. She also ran a 52.6 split in the Ducks 4x400 national champion relay team! Nice meet for Laura!