The men's retreat I was at this weekend is on a small lake -
Let me note in passing that the last men's retreat I went to was in the early 1990s and I will not be going again -
- a runner asked how far around it was. I was about to answer "2.7 miles" when the director answered from across the room: "It is 2.58 miles on the inside of the road and 2.74 miles on the outside." That seemed an unusual level of precision until I remembered that they have short triathlons for the youth campers every summer, swimming something around 0.3 mile, then circling the lake running once and bicycling it twice. For that, one does need some precision. I had reached my total by pacing it of in OCD fashion in a previous year, walking counterclockwise and thus on the outside of the road. So it seemed about right.
Because we are usually looking at a 440 yd/400m track for measured events most of the time, and moving to the outside lane is usually brief, the difference is usually disregarded except for the sprints or the first lap at most. We know that passing on the curve means running a little farther, but it is negligible. But it adds up quickly, doesn't it? 0.16 mile is a big deal in a timed event.