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(Redirected from Sprinting)

Sprints are races in athletics. They are roughly classified as events in which top runners will not have to "pace themselves", but can run as fast as possible for the entire distance. These are often the more glamorous events in Olympic Athletics.


Common distances

60 m

  • This is run indoors, on a section inside an indoor athletic track (which is only 200 m long). As the races last between six and seven seconds, having good reflexes and thus getting off to a quick start is more vital in this race than any other.
  • This is roughly the distance required for a human to reach maximum speed and can be run without breathing. It is popular for training and testing in other sports (e.g. speed testing for American football, although 40 yards is more common there).

100 m

  • This is the best-known sprint distance, and alongside the marathon it is arguably athletics' most prestigious event. It takes place on one length of the home straight of a standard outdoor 400 m track. Often, the world-record holder in this race is considered "the world's fastest man/woman".
  • This race distance would be hugely different indoors, as the need to go round a tight bend would slow runners down significantly. Either way, it could be run without breathing.
  • The 4 by 100 m relay is another prestigious event, with an average speed that is quicker than the 100 m, as the runners can start moving before they receive the baton.
  • World Record progression 100 m men

200 m

  • This begins on the curve of a standard track (where the runners are staggered in their starting position, to ensure they all run the same distance), and ends on the homestraight. The ability to "run a good bend" is key at this distance, as a well conditioned runner will be able to run 200 m in an average speed lower than his 100 m speed.
  • This race is run indoors, as one lap of the track, with only slightly slower times than outdoors.
  • Four-person relays at this event are occasionally run at this event.
  • A slightly shorter race (but run on a straight track) was the first recorded event at the Ancient Olympics.

400 m

  • 400 m is exactly once around the track on the inside lane, but of course the runners are staggered in their starting position. While this event is a sprint, there is more scope to use tactics in a race - the fact that 400 m times are considerably more than four times 100 m times demonstrate this.
  • Relays are commonly held at this event.

Uncommon distances

150 m

  • This informal distance can be used to work on a 100 m runner's stamina, or a 200 m runner's speed, and has been used as an exhibition distance. The last famous duel was held between 1996 Olympic Champions Donovan Bailey (Canada) and Michael Johnson (USA).

300 m

  • Another informal distance, which could be used to aid a 200 m runner's stamina, or a 400 m runner's speed.

500 m

  • More common (or less uncommon) than 300 m and 150 m, because this can be seen as the half-kilometre. This obviously could aid 400 m runners' in their stamina, or help a middle-distance runner to gain speed.


Most athletes will not be able to compete exclusively in one sprint event, purely in terms of the practicalities of winning enough money to get by. Many will be competent over 100 m and 200 m (and will run 60 m in the indoor season), for example Frankie Fredericks , or 200 and 400 m, for example Michael Johnson. Runners rarely have problems running relays when they are competitive in the individual event.

Sometimes 100 m and 400 m runners will have competed in their hurdles events at the same distance, and there is an amount of interchangeability about the flat and hurdle events, although it is difficult to be a world class performer in both events.

Biological factors for runners

Some biological factors that can determine a sprinter's potential are:

Other sports

  • The most common distance for rowing races is 2 kilometres. Races may be held at less than 1km, which are known as sprints.
  • Horse Racing has sprint distance events.
  • Cycling features a sprint event, in which two riders compete over a single lap of a velodrome. Time is not recorded, instead there are three runs held, and the cyclist who wins two or three of these events, wins.

See also

fr:Sprint no:Sprintlp ja:短距離走 ru:Спринт zh:短跑


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