Field Events


Track events are closely related to field events. This packet will deal with five traditional

track events: the dash, the steeplechase, the hurdle, the relay race and the distance race.

Running as a sport did not become popular in America until 1871, when the first track

meet was held in New York City. Eventually, track and field events became so popular

that the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletics in America (ICAAAA) and the

National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA) were organized to govern/oversee these

events and the rules that control them.


Early human beings were forced by their environment

to run. They both ran after animals when hunting for

food, and ran from other animals who were themselves

hungry. This running consisted of jumping over

bushes, fallen trees, ditches and other obstacles. Hunting

and gathering techniques were taken into battle as

skirmishes between tribes made survival important.

In between hunting parties and wars, running and

jumping became leisure-time activities that people

chose to do as athletic events. Sometimes the object

was to compete against others; at other times, the athlete

simply wanted to test himself or herself. Running

events were recorded in Greece as early as 776 B.C. They were also part of athletic

competition throughout the Middle Ages and on through the Renaissance and into modern


Over 2,000 years after the earliest Greek track events, in 1912, the International Amateur

Athletic Federation (IAAF) was founded to function as the governing body for track

and field sports all over the world.

Today, as many as 25 events may be included in a track and field meet. The track events

at the championship level include the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 5000 and 10,000-meter

runs, the 3000-meter steeplechase, the 110- and 400-meter hurdles and the 400 and 1500-

meter relays.



Dashes, or short runs, are also called sprints. The athlete must attain maximum speed in

minimum time in order to compete successfully in these races. Like many field events,

dashes are deceptively simple. Almost everyone has run fast at some point in his or her

life. But competition-level runners in the dash must develop superior stamina, flexibility

and muscular strength. The dash is NOT as simple as it looks! Here
s how its done:

1. Getting off to a good start in short

races is crucial. Many races are lost

at the starting line! The rules require

that you start in a crouchposition

with both feet and both hands placed

on the track with the heels placed

against the starting block. These starting

blocks are anchored to the ground

and are adjustable to runners of every

size and height. The block gives

you a solid base from which to push


2. At the command,
On your mark,place your feet on the starting block.3. At the second command, Set,lift your body until your back is almostparallel to the ground, with the hips slightly above the level of the shoul

ders. This is called the ready position.

4. As the starting gun is fired, push off from the starting block with explosive

force, keeping the body forward and the head low at the beginning of the


Both psychological and physical considerations enter into

running the dash. Being aware of the competition

strengths and weaknesses is as critical as being a skilled

and aggressive runner. Patience and determination are also

essential attributes for the competitive runner in this event.


Hurdle competition is not running and leaping, but

making running leaps over the hurdles. You do not

jump over the hurdle. Instead, as you reach the hurdle,

you lift your legs and tuck them up so that they barely

clear the top of the crosspiece.

Traditionally, there are two types of hurdle races

the 120-yard (110 meter) high hurdle and the 440-

yard (403 meter) intermediate hurdle. The hurdles are

42 inches (1.06 meters) high in the 120-yard event

and 36 inches (.91 meters) high in the 440-yard event. The distance from the starting line

to the first hurdle is 49 1/4 yards (45.03 meters). The ten hurdles are placed at 38 1/4-

yard (34.9 meter) intervals across the running lanes. Here
s how to do the hurdles:

1. As you cross a hurdle, your body will be leaning forward. The arm opposite

the lead leg crosses the hurdle first. If the left leg leads, the right arm crosses

the hurdle first.

2. As you cross the hurdle, tuck your legs up so that they barely clear the top

of the hurdle.

3. After you have crossed the hurdle, land so that the

s weight will still be forward, in front of the

lead leg. Landing with the weight so far forward

can throw a careless runner off balance. Thus, it is

often recommended that the left leg become the lead

leg in order to help the runner maintain a better balance upon landing, especially

around curves in the track.

4. Continue running with no interruption of your rhythm to the next hurdle. If

you do this maneuver correctly, your upper body will barely move vertically

as you cross the hurdle.


Relay racing (or teamwork racing) uses a fourperson

team of sprinters, each of whom runs

approximately the same distance. The first person

to run is the
leadoff, and the last to run, usually

the best runner on the team, is called the

anchor.Even a team with four fast runners isnt assured

of victory. Relay racing demands not only speed

but teamwork. The crux of relay racing is the act

of passing a baton or stick to the next team member

without dropping it and without losing speed

during the pass. If the baton is dropped, the runner

who dropped it is disqualified and his/her

team finishes last. If speed is lost in the passing

of the baton, positions can be lost.

The Visual Pass and the Blind Pass are two types of passes used in relay racing. Here

how these two passes are done:

The Visual Pass

1. The receiver of the baton starts running so that his/her speed will match

that of the oncoming runner.

2. As the two runners approach each other, the receiver looks over his/her

shoulder and extends the receiving arm back toward the oncoming runner.

The receiver has his or her palm up as the pass takes place.

3. The oncoming runner passes the baton to the receiver, who then moves

ahead and continues the race.

4. The oncoming runner quickly slows down and leaves the track.

The Blind Pass

1. The receiver starts running as the oncoming runner approaches.

2. As they draw near to each other, the receiver waits for the baton holder to

run about seven inches from him/her and then begins to move forward.

3. The receiver, meanwhile, moves with the receiving arm extended back toward

the passer. As the pass is made, the receiver pulls the baton from the

passers hand and runs faster as the passer slows down.


Distance running refers to races over 800 meters and longer.

Middle distance races are generally designated as those between

800 and 2,000 meters. Long-distance races are those of 3,000

meters or more. Regardless of the actual number of meters involved,

however, distance running requires endurance, stamina,

tremendous concentration and self-pacing to prevent exhaustion.

A runner in a middle-distance race must learn to relax while using

a controlled leg movement. He or she must also master optimum

hip rotation and learn to adjust the stride
a shorter stride if the

race is slow, a longer one for a faster race.

Each mile in a race can be divided into four segments. The

first segment is a brisk run. The second segment is taken at

a comfortable stride. The third segment is run at a stride that

allows the runner to conserve energy, while the fourth segment

starts slowly but ends with a burst of speed. The third

segment is often considered the most critical part of the mile

because it is the point where many runners are tiring, both

physically and mentally.

Long-distance runners need good judgment and a keen eye

for assessing the abilities of other runners on the track. They

also need to develop a game plan for winning each race.


This event requires that the athlete combine the skills of a hurdler

and the endurance of a long-distance runner. The steeplechase

is comprised of running and jumping over 28 hurdles

and 7 water jumps. In the Olympic Games, this race is approximately

3,280 yards long.

Originally, the name
steeplechasereferred to a country horse

race over obstacles. Eventually, English students began to attempt

the race on foot and in 1889, the event was introduced

into the United States.


Track clothing is traditionally light in weight and allows complete freedom of movement.

This usually means tank tops or sleeveless shirts. The bottom hem of track shorts

is well above the knee, and sometimes the shorts have slits up the sides. Shoes are especially

important, since different events require different shoe designs. The soles of the

shoes are cleated.


Below you will see a list of the Gold Medal winners of Track events in the 2000 Olympics

in Sydney, Australia.

Mens Events

Event Contestant Country

MEN 10,000 METERS Haile Gebreselassie Ethiopia

MEN 100 METERS Maurice Greene United States

MEN 110 METER HURDLES Anier Garcia Cuba

MEN 1500 METERS Noah Kiprono Ngenyi Kenya

MEN 20 KM WALK Robert Korzeniowski Poland

MEN 200 METERS Konstantinos Kenteris Greece

3000 METER STEEPLECHASE Ruben Kosgei Kenya

MEN 400 METER HURDLES Angelo Taylor United States

MEN 400 METERS Michael Johnson United States

MEN 4X100 METER RELAY United States

MEN 4X400 METER RELAY United States

MEN 50 KM WALK Robert Korveniowski Poland

MEN 5000 METERS Millon Wolde Ethiopia

MEN 800 METERS Nils Schumann Germany

Womens Events

Event Contestant Country

WOMEN 10,000 METERS Deratu Tulu Ethiopia

WOMEN 100 METER HURDLES Olga Shishigina Kazakhstan

WOMEN 100 METERS Marion Jones United States

WOMEN 20KM WALK Liping Wang China

WOMEN 1500 METERS Nouria Merah-Benida Algeria

WOMEN 200 METERS Marion Jones United States

WOMEN 400 METER HURDLES Irina Privalova Russia

WOMEN 400 METERS Cathy Freeman Australia


WOMEN 4X400 METER RELAY United States

WOMEN 5,000 METERS Gabriela Szabo Romania

WOMEN 800 METERS Maria Mutola Mozambique

The NCAA championships in 2001 saw some fast times and exciting finishes. Some

of the track winners are listed below:


100 meters Anglea Williams, Southern California 11.05

200 meters Brianna Glenn, Arizona 22.92

400 meters Allison Beckford, Rice 52.33

100 meter hurdles Donica Merriman, Ohio State 12.73

400 meter hurdles Brenda Taylor 55.88


100 meters Justin Gatlin, Tennessee 10.08

200 meters Justin Gatlin, Tennessee 20.11

400 meters Avard Moncur, Auburn 44.84

110 meter hurdles Ron Bramlett, Alabama 13.54

400 meter hurdles Bayano Kamani, Baylor 48.99

Stay on top of the latest track events at the college level by visiting the NCAA web site


Remember that there are many exciting events in this sport on the high school level.

Keep your eyes on the standouts at these levels of competition and you may someday

see them again among the international champions. For example, Alan Webb recently

smashed Jim Ryun
s 36 year-old national high school record in the mile. Webb erased a

legend from the record books with his confident running at the Prefontaine Classic with

a time of 3 minutes 53.43 seconds. Webb
s mile was fastest by any US runner since
Richie Boulets 3:53.26 in 1998.


The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding

of track events. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not

enough room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in

complete sentences.

1. What are the physical benefits to be gained from participating in track as a sport?

2. What are the five traditional track events?

3. Describe why the starting position is so crucial to the dash or short run.

4. It is often said that both psychological and physical considerations enter into a

successful dash. What are these factors and why are they so important?

5. What is the hurdle competition and what are the two types of hurdle races?

6. Why is it sometimes recommended that the left leg be used as the lead leg in


7. Why does relay racing depend as much on teamwork as on the speed of the individual


8. What is a visual pass?

9. What is a blind pass?

10. Describe how the receiver should be positioned to receive the baton in the visual pass.

Short Answer Questions:

1. One of the associations that control track events

8. Number of sprinters in a relay race

9. Direction of minimum movement in crossing hurdle

12. Another name for the dash

13. An association of colleges that supervises track events

14. Position with hips slightly above shoulder level

15. Traditional number of hurdle types

16. This is passed in a relay race

17. This race involves water jumps and hurdles

1. Type of relay pass

2. One of the five track events covered in this packet

4. The last runner in a relay race

5. Number of water jumps in a steeplechase

6. Direction of body weight after crossing hurdle

7. Track events held here in 776 BC

8. Height in inches of hurdles

10. Federation that controls track all over the world

11. Name of first sprinter in a relay race

12. Second command when starting the dash

16. The sprinter puts his or her feet here at the start of the race