Athletics

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

Sports facilities for track and field athletics are generally used for daily training as well as for staging regional or local competitions. The staging of competitions at higher levels normally entails more extensive requirements for the sports facility, particularly in respect of the infrastructure.

Generally athletics tracks are multi‑­purpose with the interior of the 400m track used as a pitch for soccer, gridiron and rugby. These tracks are also used for non‑sporting events such as concerts and public assemblies.

The IAAF Track and Field Facilities Manual 2008 (the Manual) stipulates dimensions and equipment for international and other high class competition by elite athletes. For club and school competitions, the dimensions of horizontal jumps landing areas, distance to take‑­off boards, the lengths of runways, dimensions of landing areas etc may be reduced. The safety of athletes must be paramount in making such decisions. If you are in doubt as to what is appropriate consult your state sporting association.

Standard competition layout

This diagram below the layout recommended by the IAAF as Standard Competition Area. The field events are evenly distributed over the arena to avoid congestion and to satisfy the needs of the spectators. This layout avoids undue disruption of events by ceremonies and counterbalances the concentration of interest in the finish area.

Standard-competition-athletics-track

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. 

The competition area for track events includes the following:

  • 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.

400m standard track

The 400m Standard Track (the Track) has straight and curved sections of almost equal length and uniform bends which are most suitable to the running rhythm of athletes. Furthermore, the area inside the track is large enough to accommodate all throwing events and also a standard football (soccer) pitch (68m x 105m).

The Track comprises 2 semicircles, each with a radius of 36.50m, which are joined by two straights, each 84.39m in length. 

The Track has 8, 6 or occasionally 4 lanes but the last is not used for international running competition. All lanes have a width of 1.22m ± 0.01m.

Page 35 of the Manual Setting out the 400m standard Track section 2.2.1 shows in detail the setting out plan and dimensions of the 400m standard track.

Marking of the 400m standard track

  • All track markings must be in accordance with the IAAF 400m Standard Track Marking Plan (Figure 2.2.1.6a attached in the Manual).
  • All lanes are marked by white lines. The line on the right hand side of each lane, in the direction of running, is included in the measurement of the width of each lane.
  • All start lines (except for curved start lines) and the finish line are marked at right angles to the lane lines.
  • Immediately before the finish line, the lanes are marked with numbers with 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 farther from the finish.
  • The data for staggered starts for the Track (constant lane width of 1.22m) is shown in the table below.
Data for staggered starts for 400m Standard Track
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 45.485 56.761 68.355 79.965

 

Start lines

The essential requirement for all start lines, straight, staggered or curved, is that the distance for every athlete, when taking the shortest permitted route, is the same, and not less than the stipulated distance with no negative tolerance. 

  • For races of 800m or less, each athlete has 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 0.05m wide line (breakline) across the track to indicate when the athletes can break from their lanes.

To assist athletes to identify the breakline, small cones or prisms (0.05m x 0.05m) and no more than 0.15m high,preferably a different colour from the breakline and the lane lines, are placed on the lane lines immediately before the intersection of each lane and the breakline. 

Races over 800m are run without lanes using a curved start line. 

For the 1000m, 2000m, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m, when there are more than 12 athletes in a race, they are divided into two groups with one group of 65% of the athletes on the regular arced start line and the other group on a separate arced start line marked across the outer half of the track. The other group runs as far as the end of the first bend on the outer half of the track. 

The separate arced start line is marked so that all the athletes run the same distance. A cone or other distinctive mark is placed on the inner line of the outer half of the track at the beginning of the following straight to indicate to the athletes of the outer group where they are permitted to join the athletes using the regular start line. For the 2000m and 10,000m this point is at the intersection of the 800m break line and the inner line.

4 x 400m relay races

For the 4 x 400m relay races, the starting positions for the first athletes in each lane are shown in IAAF 400m Standard Track Marking Plan.

The scratch lines of the first take‑­over zones are the same as the start lines for the 800m.

Each take‑­over zone is 20m long of which the scratch line is the centre. The zones start and finish at the edges of the zone lines nearest the start line in the running direction.

The take‑­over zones for the second and last take‑­overs are marked 10m either side of the start/finish line.

The arc across the track at the entry to the back straight showing the positions at which the second stage athletes are permitted to leave their respective lanes, are identical to the breakline arc for the 800m event.

Hurdles

The standard 400m track and the sprint track with 100m and 110m are used for hurdle races. The hurdle positions are marked on the track by lines 100mm x 50mm so that the distances measured from the start to the edge of the line nearest the approaching athlete are in accordance with the table below.

The hurdles are placed so that the edge of the bar nearest the approaching athlete coincides with the edge of the track marking nearest the athlete.

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

Hurdle number, height and position on track
Race distance Hurdle height Distance start to 1st hurdle Distance between hurdles Last hurdle to finish line
110m Mens 1.067m 13.72m 9.14m 14.02m
110m Junior men 0.991m 13.72m 9.14m 14.02m
110m Youth boys 0.914m 13.72m 13.72m 13.72m
100m Women/junior 0.838m 13.00m 8.50m 10.50m
100m Youth girls 0.762m 13.00m 8.50m 10.50m
400m Men/junior 0.914 45.00 35.00 40.00
400m Youth/boys 0.838 45.00 35.00 40.00
400m Women/junior/youth 0.762  45.00 35.00 40.00

Steeplechase track

Section 2.2.4 of the Manual outlines the integration into the 400m Standard Track and layout of hurdles and water jumps for steeplechase events.

400 metre standard running track

400-metre-standard-running-track

References

IAAF technical regulations. http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/documents/technical

IAAF Track and Field Facilities Manual 2008 Edition updated 12 December 2014. Chapters 1-3 and Chapters 4-8. http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/documents/technical

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

Disclaimer

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.