Friday 4 November 2011

Cheetah Sets Speed Record

Sarah at the finish - see video.
This is my comment on "cheetah sets speed record". If you Google this phrase, Google shows you a cheetah in a video running the 100 meters in 6.13 seconds.  The cheetah is a 9 year old female, Sarah, who sets off from the back of a vehicle and chases a fake prey item. The picture is a still from the video.

Is this a speed record? What was measured was acceleration and absolute speed. From a standing start over 100 meters you do not measure absolute top speed or average maximum speed. That is evident in the human world 100 and 200 meters world records. Usain Bolt has them both but the 200 meters record (19.19) is less than twice the 100 meters record (9.58), which means that he reached a higher terminal cruising speed in the longer race.

My guess is that the cheetah did not reach terminal velocity (maximum speed) in this video and so called world record. It is not therefore a good test of the speed of a cheetah. A speed test should discover the speed over a fixed distance as is the case for the human world land speed record (car) and it should be a flying start.

I have a page on cheetah speed which tells the story of a true speed test. The cheetah was assessed as running at 64 mph. This is a little less than much quoted 70 mph but people tend to exaggerate.

Sarah did the 100 meters in 6.13 seconds; an average speed, over the distance, of about 37 mph.

Conclusion: the wrong method was employed. The cheetah should have been timed over a 200 or 400 meter course with a flying start. Normally, the cheetah can only run at maximum speed over 400 meters. She is a sprinter. The cheetah gets too hot over longer distances.

Associated page: Usain Bolt versus Cheetah

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