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The Track and Field

Indoor Track & Field

The major difference between indoor and outdoor is that the track is half the size. A regulation indoor track has a circumference of 200m as opposed to the 400m outdoor track. Due to this, several events are modified and several others are eliminated for the indoor track program. For more information about indoor track & field, click here [link here to Indoor track & Field article which will be forthcoming.]

The Track

At just about any outdoor track you go to, whether it is the Olympic Stadium in Rome or your local high school track, the distance around the track in lane 1 will be 400 meters long. The major differences in an Olympic track and a local track will be in the number of lanes (national and international championship level meets are required to have at least nine lanes), the width of the lanes (wider=better), and the surface.

400 meters is slightly less than a quarter of a mile. While harder tracks produce faster times, they are also harder on the body. A softer track is better for regular training in terms of reducing wear and tear on young bones and joints.

The Field

The configuration of the arena in terms of where the different field events are contested varies immensely from place to place. Runways and pits for the horizontal jumps and pole vault will often be found on the infield of the track along one or both straight-aways. The sectors for the throwing events are often marked out on the infield as well. Space permitting, you might also find them in a separate area next to the track. For the long distance throws like discus, hammer and javelin, they usually have to be held at a separate time when runners aren't using the track. Sometimes they are not and sometimes people get hit. Location and timing of the throwing events is an important consideration in keeping everyone safe.

Look around the corners of the track or at either end for the high jump pit. Sometimes the high jumpers have a dedicated area and sometimes the location of the pit means that their approach area, where they run before they get to the bar, intersects the track. All of this is what makes track & field like a three-ring circus- challenging to stage, but lots of fun to watch.