Track and Field - Events - Running - Middle Distance

Middle Distance

Further information: Middle distance track event

The most common middle distance track events are the 800 metres, 1500 metres and mile run, although the 3000 metres may also be classified as a middle distance event. The 880 yard run, or half mile, was the forebear of the 800 m distance and it has its roots in competitions in the United Kingdom in the 1830s. The 1500 m came about as a result of running three laps of a 500 m track, which was commonplace in continental Europe in the 20th century.

Runners start the race from a standing position along a curved starting line and after hearing the starter's pistol they head towards the innermost track to follow the quickest route to the finish. In 800 m races athletes begin at a staggered starting point before the turn in the track and they must remain in their lanes for the first 100 m of the race. This rule was introduced to reduce the amount of physical jostling between runners in the early stages of the race. In the 800 m race, runners have the option of starting in blocks; doing so may reduce time spent accelerating off the starting line. Physiologically, these middle distance events demand that athletes have good aerobic and anaerobic energy producing systems, and also that they have strong speed endurance.

The 1500 m and mile run events have historically been some of the most prestigious track and field events. Swedish rivals Gunder Hägg and Arne Andersson broke each other's 1500 m and mile world records on a number of occasions in the 1940s. The prominence of the distances were maintained by Roger Bannister, who (in 1954) was the first to run the long-elusive four-minute mile, and Jim Ryun's exploits served to popularise interval training. Races between British rivals Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram characterised middle distance running in 1980s. From the 1990s onwards, North Africans such as Noureddine Morceli of Algeria and Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco came to dominate the 1500 and mile events.

Beyond the short distances of sprinting events, factors such as an athlete's reactions and top speed becomes less important, while qualities such as pace, race tactics and endurance become more so.

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Famous quotes containing the words distance and/or middle:

    For time is the longest distance between two places.
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