For sport days or inter school carnivals, one of the most important requirements is a clearly and accurately marked track and field.
When preparing the layout to a track, several points need to be taken into consideration:
- All judges and timekeepers must have a clear view of the starts and the starter.
- Judges and timekeepers should not be looking into the sun approaching the finish line.
- Runners should not have to look into the sun as they approach the finish line.
- All races are in an anti-clockwise direction so that all field events are kept on the left hand side of the runners.
- The jumps and throwing events are placed so that the sun is not in the eyes of the competitors at crucial times.
- The safety of all competitors and officials is always the prime consideration. It is recommended to place the throwing zones for these events so that the athletes throw towards the centre of the field.
The centre of the field becomes a recognised zone from which all persons except relevant officials are excluded. Throwing zones may overlap. However, if zones are overlapped then events must not be held simultaneously.
Where possible, the facility should comply with specifications laid out within the IAAF Track and Field Facilities Manual 2008.
Generally a line-marking machine is used to mark lanes, starts, finishes etc. The standard line width is 5cm.
There are several ways to mark the lines:
- Kerosene—this is the cheapest form of line marking. It leaves a clear line of dead grass and bare soil for a complete season.
- Powdered lime—the lime is mixed with water prior to application. The white line produced does wash away with heavy rain or watering.
- Semi-permanent line—a mixture of water-based white plastic paint and water. This can last for several weeks.
- Kerosene and paint—use kerosene three weeks prior to the event and then line with white plastic paint mixture a couple of days before the event starts.
The following events are conducted entirely in lanes - 70m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m relay and all hurdles races.
For international competitions, the 800 metre event is run from a staggered start and the runners stay in their lanes until the end of the first bend.
For competitions at most other levels, the event is run from a curved start and competitors may change lanes immediately. A curved start gives each competitor an equal distance to run around the first bend and allows more than eight competitors to compete in the same race.
The 1500 and 3000 metre events commence from a curved start, which is produced in the same manner as the 800-metre curve start.
A 400-metre hurdle event is often included for older age groups. For most hurdle events, the 100m track on the main straight is usually used. Further starting lines will be necessary for the conducting of hurdle events over 80m, 90m and 110m.
Shot put and discus
The dimension of the circles used for shot put and discus, and the runway used for javelin conform to the specifications set out in the IAAF Track & Field Facilities Manual.
In most school competitions, these official throwing specifications may be difficult to conform to and a circle with an inside diameter of 2.135m on a hard ground with the above stopboard is acceptable.
The landing sector consists of cinders, grass or a suitable material on which the shot makes an imprint.
The landing sector is marked with lines at an angle of 34.92 degrees such that the lines, if extended, would pass through the centre of the circle. These lines are 5cm wide.
The run up to the high jump is not usually marked, but a 25m fan-shaped radius will provide an adequate space regardless of the style of jump being attempted. Marking a run up area for the high jump will help to prevent non-competitors to remain out of the area. The angle of the fan is not critical and 130-140 degrees is usually adequate.
Behind the bar, a 5m x 3m deeply padded landing area is provided.
Long jump and triple jump
The runway should be at least 1.22 metres wide and at least 40 metres long to the edge of the take-off board. Where conditions permit, this minimum length should be 45 metres. In school competitions this is not often marked, but it is recommended that it be marked to clearly identify the competition area.
The take-off board is 1.22 metres long across the runway and placed between 1m and 3m from the nearest edge of the landing area. The board is 20cm from front to back and about 10 cm deep, sunk so that the top surface is flush with the surface of the surrounding ground. It should be painted white to make it plainly visible to competitors.
The landing area is a sand pit between 2.75m and 3m wide and approximately 10m long, positioned between 1m and 3m from the take-off board. The surface of the sand must be level with the surface of the runway and take-off board. The runway must project centrally to the sand pit. The depth of the sand pit is not subject to official specification, but 50 centimetres could be sufficient to allow safe landings.
Specifications for the triple jump are the same as for the long jump, except that the runway is lengthened between the take-off board and the landing area to ensure that jumpers land in the pit and not through it. It is recommended that the same runway and landing area be used as for the long jump, but with take‑off boards at additional positions of one metre intervals, beginning at 6m from the pit to accommodate different abilities, with a maximum board of 13m.
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.