Track and Field Events (2023)

This section will first listthe standard events in the Olympic Games since the events and rulesestablished by the IAAF (International Association of AthleticsFederations), the international governing body for Track & Field,usually trickle down to the national, collegiate, and with somemodifications, to the age-group level. We will then go over thedifferences in events for indoor track & field, as well asdifferences one would see for high school age and younger kids.

There are 44 events in theTrack & Field competition of an Olympic Games making the sport, byfar, the most contested of all Olympic sports. These 44 events can bedivided in to their different event areas beginning by separating trackevents (all of the running and walking events), from field events (allof the throwing and vaulting events). There are also two multi-events,the decathlon and heptathlon, which combine disciplines from both trackand field.

Distance: 3,000 meter Steeplechase, 5,000 meters (5K), 10,000 meters (10K), Marathon (26.2 miles)


Thisevent is essentially an all-out sprint from the gun to the finish line.Perfecting the start is essential as is learning to run at top speedwhile staying relaxed. It is run on the straightaway of the track.


Verysimilar to the 100m, but success in this event requires additionalstrength to enable the athlete to maintain a fast pace over the entire200 meter distance. The majority of short sprinters compete in bothevents. It covers ½ of the oval.

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Thelong sprint. This event requires a combination of speed, strength andtolerance for pain. The fast pace the athletes run usually results inthe formation of lactic acid by the 300 meter mark, which causes asensation of burning and fatigue in the muscles. It is one full lap ofa standard size outdoor track.


A"tweener" event. There are 800m specialists but athletes in this eventusually either are good sprinters who can run both the 400m and 800m,or they have good endurance and can run both the 800m and 1500m well.This event requires excellent natural endurance, as well as good speedfor a strong finish. It is two laps around a standard outdoor track.


The"metric mile." The relationship between the 1500m and the 800m is verysimilar to that between the 200m and 100m. It requires the same basicskill set with some added strength and endurance to cover theadditional distance. Athletes must have the endurance to maintain ademanding pace for nearly a full mile, but must be prepared to sprinthome with a strong finish over the final lap of this 3 ¾ lap race.

3000m Steeplechase

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Thisis one of the most interesting events in track & field- a distancerace with hurdles. While covering this 7 ½ lap distance, the athletesmust traverse four barriers placed on the track. One of the barriers isplaced in front of a water pit that must also be negotiated on eachlap. Unlike the lightweight hurdles used for the hurdling events, theseheavy wooden barriers will not budge if hit. Some steeplechasers hurdlethe barriers cleanly, but most step on them with one foot to clearthem. Steeplechasers are usually also very capable 5000m runners.


This12 1/2 lap race is equivalent to 3.1 miles of running at a hard pace.Exceptional endurance is required, as is a healthy amount of speed forthe intense race to the finish line frequently seen in 5k races.


Thisis the longest event contested solely on the track. It is for those whohave the strongest cardio-pulmonary systems capable of keeping enoughoxygen flowing to the muscles while maintaining a punishing pace for6.2 miles or 25 laps around the track.


Anall out sprint while traversing 10 hurdles placed between the start andthe finish. The men's event is 10 meters longer and the hurdles arehigher. The men's event is sometimes called the high hurdles.

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Alsoknown as the intermediate hurdles, this event requires the speed of asprinter, the strength of an 800 meter runner and the technical skillof a 100 or 110 meter hurdler. This race also involves ten hurdles, butunlike the short hurdle race where runners will use the same lead legand trail leg over each hurdle, in the intermediate hurdles they mustbe able to use either leg as their lead leg.

4 x 100m Relay/
400m Relay

Fourathletes each run approximately 100m or one quarter of the track. It isnot just the speed of the runners, but the precision of their batonpasses that determines how well the team does. Each baton exchange mustbe made within a marked zone on the track. Failure to exchange thebaton in the zone results in disqualification. For the 4 x 100m, thebaton pass is usually "blind" meaning that the outgoing runner does notlook at the baton but extends her hand back to receive it while runningclose to maximum speed and facing forward.

4 x 400m Relay/

RelayTraditionally, this is the last event contested at most track meets.Each athlete runs one full lap and exchanges the baton in a zone nearthe finish line. For this relay the outgoing athlete generally turnshis face and watches the baton exchange. The incoming athlete, who isfinishing the final meters of a tough 400m, is usually quite tired sothe outgoing athlete has to accelerate to racing speed while beingcautious not to go too fast before getting the baton.

20 Kilometer Race Walk

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Bothrace walking events are endurance events and usually contested on aroad course. Race walk requires a complex physical motion involving thefeet, legs, hips, back and arms. A primary rule of race walking is thatat no time can both feet be in the air at the same time. Judges watchfor this running motion and disqualify athletes who accidentally allowone foot to leave the ground before the other has landed. 20 kilometersis 12.4 miles.

50 Kilometer Race Walk

Thisis the longest of all the track & field events, covering more than30 miles of intense racing. This event requires exceptional enduranceand cardiovascular ability, not only for the competitions, but also forthe training involved to be successful in this event.

The Field Events

Horizontal Jumps: Long Jump, Triple Jump
Vertical Jumps: High Jump, Pole Vault
Throws: Discus Throw, Javelin Throw, Hammer Throw, Shot Put

Long Jump

Whocan jump the farthest? That is what the Long Jump boils down to.Jumpers start at one end of the runway and take a flying leap in to apit of sand. A board, 20 cm wide, near the end of the runway, marks thetake off point and the distance jumped is measured from the end of theboard to the spot where the athlete first breaks the sand. If any partof the jumper's feet goes beyond the board during takeoff, the jump isruled a foul and will not be measured or counted.

Triple Jump

Thisevent requires exceptional abdominal strength as the jumper must usethe momentum from her run-up to make three separate jumps beforelanding in the sand pit. The jumper first takes off and lands with thesame foot (the hop phase), takes off again from that same foot andlands on the opposite foot (skip phase), and then takes off from thatlanding foot to leap into the sand. Maintaining correct body positionand alignment in the air during the three phases is a crucial componentto completing a lengthy jump.

High Jump

Whocan jump the highest? (Well, the highest, without a pole). That is thepoint of the high jump. High jumpers run a curved approach, then, at aprecise spot, translate that forward motion in to vertical motion asthey drive their arms, shoulders, hips and opposite leg in to the airto get as much height as possible. They lay first their head, thenshoulders, back, hips and legs over the bar. Having impeccabletechnique to put all of these steps together is crucial, but beingnaturally long and lean is a big plus as well. Athletes have threemisses at each height before being eliminated from the competition.Whoever clears the highest bar wins, although ties are frequent in theHJ.

Pole Vault

Athletessprint down the runway carrying a long pole. At the end of the runwaythey plant the pole in to a box, bend the pole down and catapultthemselves over the bar. An event not suited to those with a fear offlying, but those with a background in gymnastics have done welltransitioning to the vault. The same rules as the high jump apply: eachathlete has three attempts to successfully clear a height in order toremain in the competition.

The Throws

The name of the game in allof the throwing events is distance. The farthest throw wins. Amongstthe throwing events the other similarities that they share is: 1) theathlete's feet must remain within a designated area to launch the throw; and 2)the implement must land within a designated area, the sector, to beconsidered a fair throw that will be measured.

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Discus Throw

Thediscus requires ballet-like footwork as the athlete rotates through aseries of spins to build momentum to hurl the discus nearly the entirelength of the track. The disc is thrown out of a high-sided steel meshcage that protects bystanders from errant throws. In the cage is acircle that designates the throwing area. Stepping out of the circleduring a throw constitutes a foul and the throw will not be measured.Each competitor is allowed three initial throws with the longestdistance determining her place in the standings. After the first threethrows the competition can be narrowed to allow only a set number ofthe top placers in the standings to take an additional three throws todetermine the final order of finish.

Hammer Throw

TheHammer shares many similarities with the discus including the cage, thecircle and the spinning approach to the throw. The major difference isthat the implement being thrown is a steel ball on the end of a wire.Distances achieved are also similar to that of the discus.

Javelin Throw

Thejavelin is a long, spear-like implement with a sharp tip on the end.Athletes take a running approach before launching their javelins, andoften their bodies, in to the air. The trick is to get the maximumforward motion on the approach without stepping over the line. As inthe other throws, if the athlete steps over the designated throwingline, the result is a foul and an unmeasured throw. Another trickything about the Javelin is that it must land tip down to be consideredfair. The small country of Finland is the cradle of this event and hasconsistently produced the most accomplished practitioners.

Shot Put

Theshot is a steel ball, and the competition is to see who can put, orthrow it the farthest. As in the Discus and Hammer a circle delineatesthe fair area from which the put must be launched. There are twotechniques for generating the momentum to get maximum distance on one'sput. The glide involves starting in a crouched position, shot tuckedbetween neck and shoulder under the chin, then taking a large, powerfulstride backwards towards the launching point while turning the body anduncoiling the legs to release the put up and out towards the landingarea. New putters usually master the glide technique before graduatingto the spin. Spinners will do one to 1 ½ rotations before releasing theshot from the edge of the circle and, often, hopping around on tiptoeto keep themselves from over-rotating out of the circle thereby foulingand nullifying their puts.

The Multi-Events


Thewinner of the Olympic title in this event is known as the greatestathlete in the world as it requires showing mastery of ten differentevents across the track & field spectrum to succeed in thedecathlon. The decathlon events are these, in competition order:

Day 1: 100 Meters, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400 Meters
Day 2: 110 Meter Hurdles, Discus Throw, Pole Vault, Javelin, 1500 Meters


Age Group Track & Field Events

Now that you have an understanding of the Olympic Track & Fieldprogram, you have the big picture. This is a good time to point out themyriad modifications that you might encounter in age group, or youthtrack & field. The basic model is that, the younger the age group,the fewer events officially contested. For obvious reasons, there areseveral events that young children, generally pre-adolescent, are notdevelopmentally ready to learn and contest. Obvious examples would bethe hurdles, pole vault and long distance events like the 3000 metersand 5000meters (the longest event for kids 10 and under is 1500meters).

Even in high school there continue to be modifications. Some states have eliminated the javelin and pole vault due to safety concernsAnd some states contest modified distances for common events. Forinstance, the 400 meter hurdles is the official distance for theOlympic Games and collegiate track, but many high schools run the 300meter hurdles instead (even though at the USATF Junior Nationals thekids run 400 meter hurdles in the high school age divisions). They alsorun the 2000 meter Steeplechase instead of the full 3000 meters.For more detailed information about which high school events arecontested in your state, get in touch with your state educationdepartment's athletics division. For more information about the events offered foreach age group by the two major youth track & field organizations,the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) and USA Track & Field (USATF),check their championship meet results online at and


What are examples of track events? ›

Track events include sprint, middle distance, hurdle and steeplechase events. The 400m oval track forms the basis of a multi‑sports arena and its dimensions are dependent on the requirements of other sports.

What is the name of a track and field event? ›

Combined Events

The four track events are the 100 dash, 400 dash, 1,500 run and 110 hurdles. Field events in the decathlon are the long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, pole vault and javelin. Sprinting is a track and field event.

How many events are in track? ›

The Events

There are 44 events in the Track & Field competition of an Olympic Games making the sport, by far, the most contested of all Olympic sports.

How many types of track event are there? ›

Track events are running events on a track for specified distances. These include (i) Sprints (100m, 200m, 400m), (ii) Middle Distance (800m, 1500m), (iii) Long Distance (3000m, 3000m, Steeplechase, 5000m, 10,000m), (iv) Relays (4×100m, 4×400m), and (v) Hurdles (110/100m, 400m).

What are five traditional track 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.

What are track and field games? ›

Track and field is a sport that includes athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing skills. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some of the jumping events.

What are sports track events? ›

A track event is an event in athletics that requires the athlete to run or walk around a track.

What are the 6 type of jumping events? ›

Types of Throwing & Jumping Events
  • Long Jump. The long jump requires jumpers to catapult forward as far as possible into a sand pit. ...
  • High Jump. High jumpers must clear a crossbar that is approximately 13 feet long. ...
  • Triple Jump. ...
  • Pole Vault. ...
  • Javelin. ...
  • Discus. ...
  • Shot Put. ...
  • Hammer Throw.
19 Apr 2011

What is another name for track event? ›

What is another word for track event?
flat racetrack race

What track event is the hardest? ›

The 400m hurdles is considered to be the most demanding of all track events. In addition to the 400m sprint, which in itself demands full muscular activity, the physical strength and skill to jump over 10 hurdles is also required.

What is the shortest track event? ›

Sprints. 60-meter run: The briefest event, over in just a few seconds, this is the short sprint of choice on smaller indoor tracks, as the distance allows for a straight run without any curves.

What are the order of events at a track meet? ›

Order of EventDuration/RaceAverage Total Duration
100m dash2 min/race20 minutes
800m run5 min/race30 minutes
4 x 200m relay5 min/race20 - 25 minutes
400m dash3 min/race25 minutes
8 more rows

What are the three categories of track events? ›

Track events can be divided into three main categories: events that require running on a track over a defined distance, running events with obstacles placed on the track, and relay events.

What are the three types of athletics events? ›

Athletics competitions can be broadly divided into three types: international championships, national championships, and annual meetings and races.

Is high jump a track event? ›

The high jump is a track and field event in which competitors must jump unaided over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without dislodging it. In its modern, most-practiced format, a bar is placed between two standards with a crash mat for landing.

Can you list five events in athletics? ›

There are various types of events in Athletics- Sprints, long jump, triple jump, Relay races, and throwing events are the major ones.

What is field event and example? ›

A field event is an athletics contest such as the high jump or throwing the discus or javelin, rather than a race.

How many sports are in track and field? ›

Events of track and field are divided into three: track events, field events, and combined events. Track events consist of Sprints, middle-distance, long-distance, hurdles and relays; Field events consist of jumps and throws; while combined events consist of pentathlon, heptathlon, and decathlon.

What are the 3 throwing events in track and field? ›

There are four throwing events in athletics; disciplines for men and women – Discus, javelin, shot put, and hammer.

What is a track event? ›

A track event is an event in athletics which involves running or walking around a racetrack, in contrast to events that involve only jumping or throwing.

What are the 5 basic jumps? ›

Intimidating, right? Well, looks can be deceiving. Because all of us only have two feet. In reality, there are only five possible jump combinations that a dancer can do: one foot to the same foot, one foot to the other foot, one foot to two feet, two feet to one foot, and two feet to one foot.

What are the 3 types of high jump? ›

Many styles have evolved, including the now little-used scissors, or Eastern, method, in which the jumper clears the bar in a nearly upright position; the Western roll and straddle, with the jumper's body face-down and parallel to the bar at the height of the jump; and a more recent backward-twisting, diving style ...

What are the 4 stages of jumps? ›

The long jump can be broken down into four phases – the run up, the takeoff, flight and lastly, landing.

What are track athletes called? ›

In fact, there are five different kinds of track and field athletes. These include sprinters, distance runners, hurdlers, jumpers, and throwers. The first three compete in races on the track, while the jumpers and throwers make up the field athletes.

Why is it called track? ›

track (n.)

late 15c., "footprint, mark left by anything," from Old French trac "track of horses, trace" (mid-15c.), possibly from a Germanic source (compare Middle Low German treck, Dutch trek "drawing, pulling;" see trek).

What is a running track called? ›

▲ A course over which any type of races are run. racetrack. circuit. oval.

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Track and Field the Sport › sport › list › track-and-fi... › sport › list › track-and-fi...
Track and Field is a sport, which is includes disciplines of running, jumping, and throwing events. The sport traces back to Ancient Greece. The first recorded ...

Track & Field Events › ... › Track & Field › ... › Track & Field
Explore the events that make up track and field, including sprints, hurdles, relays, distance runs, pole vaults, and jumps, plus find information on techniques,...
«Track event» Track and field is a sport which combines various athletic contests based on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived fro...

What is a track event? ›

A track event is an event in athletics which involves running or walking around a racetrack, in contrast to events that involve only jumping or throwing.

What are sports track events? ›

A track event is an event in athletics that requires the athlete to run or walk around a track.

What is another name for track event? ›

What is another word for track event?
flat racetrack race

What are the three categories of track events? ›

There are three sprint track events in the Modern Olympic Games and the Outdoor World Championships. They are the 100-metre, the 200-metre and the 400-metre sprints. The athlete who runs the 100-metre sprint in the fastest time is known as the fastest in the world.

Is high jump a track event? ›

The high jump is a track and field event in which competitors must jump unaided over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without dislodging it. In its modern, most-practiced format, a bar is placed between two standards with a crash mat for landing.

What is field event and example? ›

A field event is an athletics contest such as the high jump or throwing the discus or javelin, rather than a race.

What are the order of events at a track meet? ›

Order of EventDuration/RaceAverage Total Duration
100m dash2 min/race20 minutes
800m run5 min/race30 minutes
4 x 200m relay5 min/race20 - 25 minutes
400m dash3 min/race25 minutes
8 more rows


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