Yep 800 is wierd. Every other distance has its top athletes attempting both higher and lower events.slcbiker said:The 800 is a really hard event. It's right on the border between aerobic and anaerobic. The sprinters don't do it cause its too long and the distance guys don't do it cause it's too short.
As for why the Africans are better in distance, I think there are a number of reasons. Genetics, early training, barefoot running? Read Born to Run, not specifically about African runners but it does touch on human ancestors running down prey (not running from lions).
African successes in distance running go way back, not just the EPO era. Not to say that they haven't doped, but I don't think they have done it any more than anyone else.
As for record progressions in recent years, all sports have seen record progressions. Technology and better training have had a fair amount to do with that.
200m has 100m and 400m runners. 1500 has 800 and 5000 m (even though thats its a multiple of over 3) runners. 5000 has 1500 and 1000 and marathon runners. But for some reason no 400 m runner will do the 800 or vice versa.