Dimensions for Athletics track

Track and field facilities are usually designed as multi-purpose facilities (tracks with playing fields inside).

This publication uses the IAAF Track and Field Manual 2003 Edition as its source of information. It is the IAAF’s objective to create uniform criteria to provide fair and equitable competition and also to simplify principles of construction, surveying and certification of facilities. The IAAF website is www.iaaf.org.

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. Although there are a number of different layouts for the oval 400m track, this publication uses the IAAF’s criteria as outlined in the IAAF Track and Field Manual 2003 Edition.

The competition area for track events includes:

  • oval track with at least four lanes and safety zones measuring no less than 1m on the inside and outside
  • straight with minimum of six lanes for sprints and hurdles
  • steeplechase track as for oval track with a permanent water jump

There are three basic types of track surface — synthetic, unbound mineral (cinder) and grass.

400 metre track events

The length of a standard running track is 400m (standard track). Orientation of the track should take into account the prevailing winds and sun angles. The 400m track consists of two parallel straights and two bends whose radii are equal. The area inside the track is large enough to accommodate all throwing events and also a standard soccer pitch (68m x 105m).

The 400m Standard Track (as outlined in the IAAF Track and Field Facilities Manual 2003 Edition) comprises two semi-circles, each with a radius of 36.50m, which are joined by two straights, each 84.39m long. The width of the track is a minimum of 72m and unless it is a grass track, the inside of the track is bordered by a kerb of suitable material, 5cm high and a minimum of 5cm wide. The inner edge of the track is 398.12m long (36.5m x 2 x π + 84.39m x 2) where π = 3.1416. This length for the inner edge gives a length of 400 metres (36.8m x 2 x π + 84.39m x 2) for the theoretical line of running (measurement line) at a distance of 0.30m from the kerb.

For a grass track without a kerb the inner edge is marked with lines 5cm wide.


The 400m standard track has eight, six or occasionally four lanes. The distance of the race is measured from the edge of the start line further from the finish to the edge of the finish line nearer to the start. The direction of running is anti-clockwise.

All lanes have a width of 1.22m ± 0.01 and marked by white lines 5cm wide. The line on the right hand of each lane, in the direction of running, is included in the measurement of the width of each lane. All start lines (except for the curved start lines) and the finish line are marked at right angles to the lane lines.

The essential requirement for all start lines ─ straight, narrow, staggered or curved ─ is that the distance for every athlete is the same. For races of 800m or less, each athlete will have a separate lane at the start. Races of up to, and including, 400m are run entirely in lanes. Races of 800m start and continue in lanes until the end of the first bend. The exit from the first bend is marked distinctively with a 5cm wide line across the track and is called the breakline. The breakline is marked at each end by a flag at least 1.5m high, positioned outside the track, 30cm from the nearest lane line. Races over 800m are run without lanes using a curved start line.

Immediately before the finish line, the lanes are marked with numbers a minimum height of 0.50m. All markings are 0.05m wide. All distances are measured in a clockwise direction from the edge of the finish line nearer to the start to the edge of the start line father from the finished.

The data for staggered starts for the 400m Standard Track (constant lane width of 1.22m) is shown on the next page. All track markings are in accordance with ‘IAAF 400m Standard Track Marking Plan’ as shown in the IAAF Track and Field Manual 2003 Edition.

100 metre start

The start of the 100m is run in the ‘straight’ that is integrated into the 400m oval track. It is measured from the edge of the finish line nearest to the start line backwards so the event is not run around a curve. The straight will incorporate a starting area of 3m minimum and a runout of 17m minimum.

Relay zones

The relays involve four runners per team, each member carrying a baton for 25 per cent of the total distance before passing it to the next team runner.

The relay marks for each changeover or take-over zone are provided for the 4 x 100m, 4 x 200m and
4 x 400m relays. The 4 x 200m relay is run in lanes for one lap plus the next bend so that runners can start running out of their lanes at the 800m breakline.

Lines 5cm wide are drawn across the track to mark distances of the stages and to denote the scratch line. Each take-over zone is 20m long of which the scratch line is the centre. The zones shall start and finish at the edge of the zone lines nearest the start line in the running direction.

200 metre start and 4 x 100 metre relay

For the 4 x 100m relay event, the first leg competitors start from the 400m staggered start positions. The first take-over marks are 100m in advance of each relevant 400m stagger. The second take-over marks are the prescribed 200m staggered starting positions. The third take-over marks are 100m from the finish line. At each stage the take-over zone is within two lines set out 10m either side of the actual take-over mark in each lane.

4 x 200 metre and 4 x 400 metre relays

The scratch lines of the first take-over zones for the 4 x 400m (or the second zones for the 4 x 200m) are the same as the start line for the 800m. The take-over zones for the second and last take-overs (4 x 400m) are the 10m lines either side of the start/finish line.

In the 4 x 200m and the 4 x 400m relays, competitors run the first full lap in lanes. The second stage runners in the 4 x 400m relay and the third stage runners in the 200m relay remain in their respective lanes until they enter the back straight. The arc across the track at the entry to the back straight showing the positions at which the second stage runners (4 x 400m) and third stage (4 x 200m) are permitted to leave their respective lanes, is the same arc for the 800m event.

1000, 2000, 3000, 5000 and 10,000 metre events

Where there are more than 12 competitors in a race, they may be divided into two groups with one group of approximately 65 per cent of competitors on the regular arced start line and the second group on a separate arced start line marked across the outer half of the track. The second group shall run as far as the end of the first bend on the outer half of the track.

The separate arced line is marked so that all competitors run the same distance.

Lane staggers in metres - measurement line distance 0.20m

All distances are measured in a clockwise direction from the edge of the finish line nearer to the start to the edge of the appropriate line farther from the finish. With the exception of Lane 1, all lanes are measured 20cm out from the outer edge of the inner line.

Lane staggers in metres
Distance Bend Lane 2 Lane 3 Lane 4 Lane 5 Lane 6 Lane 7 Lane 8
200m 1 3.519 7.352 11.185 15.017 18.850 22.683 26.516
400m 2 7.038 14.704 22.370 30.034 37.700 45.366 53.032
800m 1 3.526 7.384 11.260 15.151 19.061 22.989 26.933
4 x 400 3 10.564 22.088 33.630 45.185 56.761 68.355 79.965
Construction measurements of a 400 metre standard running track
Description Measurement

Length of each straight section


Construction of radium of curve (including raised kerb on inside of track)


Construction length of curve (semi-circle)


Radius of measurement line in Lane 1 (30cm outside raised kerb)


Length of curve along measurement line


Length of track along measurement line


Length of track on construction line (kerb)


Lane width (including 5cm on outside)


Steeplechase lap where the water jump is inside the 400m track



Hurdles is a race over a series of obstacles called hurdles. Runners must remain in assigned lanes throughout a race, and though they may knock hurdles down while running over them, they may do so only with a leg or foot, not a hand. 

The standard 400m track, sprint track with 100m and 110m are used for hurdle races. Each hurdle is placed on the track so that the feet are on the side of the approach by the athlete. The hurdle is placed so that the edge of the bar nearest the approaching hurdler coincides with the track marking nearest the athlete (see table below).

The following are standard distances:

  • men, junior men, youth boys ─ 110m, 400m
  • women, junior women, youth girls ─ 100m, 400m

There are 10 flights of hurdles in each lane, set out in accordance with the following tables:

Hurdle distances
Race distance Hurdle height Distance start to 1st hurdle Distance between hurdles Last hurdle to finish line
Mens 110m 1.067m 13.72m 9.14m 14.02m
Mens 400m 0.914m 45m 35m 40m
Womens 100m 0.838m 13m 8.50m 10.50m
Womens 400m 0.762m 45m 35m 40m

The start and finish is marked by a 50mm wide line at right angles to the inner edge of the track. The distance of a selected race is measured from the edge of the starting line further from the finish, to the edge of the finish line nearer to the start.

Steeplechase races

Steeplechase is a race over an obstacle course that includes water ditches, open ditches and fences.

The steeplechase track is integrated into the 400m standard track. The standard distances are 2000m (juniors) and 3000m. There are 18 hurdle jumps and five water jumps in the 2000m event and 28 hurdle jumps and seven water jumps in the 3000m event. There are five jumps in each lap after the finish line has been passed for the first time, with the water jump the fourth. The jumps are evenly distributed so that the distance between the jumps is approximately one-fifth of the nominal length of the lap.Steeplechase hurdle

The hurdles are 91.4cm high for men’s events and 76.2cm for women’s events (± 3cm both) and are at least 3.94m wide. The section of the top bar of the hurdles and the hurdle at the water jump is 12.7cm.

The water jump, including the hurdle, is 3.66m ± 2cm in length and the water pit 3.66m ± 2cm in width. The bottom of the water pit is a synthetic surface or matting, thick enough to ensure a safe landing and to allow for spikes to grip satisfactorily (maximum 20-25mm). At the start of a race, the water is level with the surface of the track within a margin of 2cm. The water depth closest to the hurdle is 70cm for approximately 30cm.Water jump

From there, the bottom has a uniform slope upwards to the level of the track at the farther end of the water pit. It is usual to locate the water jump on the outside of the track so that steeple hurdles do not have to be moved onto the track during the event. 

400 metre standard running track

400 metre standard running track


Floodlighting of athletics venues is generally required to maximise the use of tracks and training areas. Where athletics facilities are to be used for non-televised activities, it is only necessary to provide a horizontal illuminance suitable for the required level of activity. An illuminance level of 100 lux is sufficient for an athletics training area. For club competition and regional events, 200 lux is sufficient and for national and international levels, 500 lux.

Sport association details

Athletics Western Australia

Wayne Loxley
Chief Executive Officer
PO Box 157, Floreat WA 6014
Telephone 08 6272 0480
Facsimile 08 9387 5697 
Email info@waathletics.org.au
Website www.waathletics.org.au


The information in this guide is general in nature and cannot be relied upon as professional advice concerning the design of, or marking out for, sporting facilities and playing areas. No assurance is given as to the accuracy of any information contained in this guide and readers should not rely on its accuracy. Readers should obtain their own independent and professional advice in relation to their proposed sporting activity.