Track and Field - Events - Running - Long Distance

Long Distance

There are three common long distance running events in track and field competitions: 3000 metres, 5000 metres and 10,000 metres. The latter two races are both Olympic and World Championship events outdoors, while the 3000 m is held at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. The 5000 m and 10,000 m events have their historical roots in the 3-mile and 6-mile races. The 3000 m was historically used as a women's long distance event, entering the World Championship programme in 1983 and Olympic programme in 1984, but this was abandoned in favour of a women's 5000 m event in 1995.

In terms of competition rules and physical demands, long distance track races have much in common with middle distance races, except that pacing, stamina, and race tactics become much greater factors in performances. However, a number of athletes have achieved success in both middle and long distance events, including Saïd Aouita who set world records from 1500 m to 5000 m. The use of pace-setters in long distance events is very common at the elite level, although they are not present at championship level competitions as all qualified competitors want to win.

The long distance track events gained popularity in the 1920s by the achievements of the "Flying Finns", such as multiple Olympic champion Paavo Nurmi. The successes of Emil Zátopek in the 1950s promoted intense interval training methods, but Ron Clarke's world record-breaking feats established the importance of natural training and even-paced running. The 1990s saw the rise of North and East African runners in long distance events. Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes, in particular, have since remained dominant in these events.

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