Going to a track meet is an exciting event - there's a lot going on all at the same time. Unlike other sports where players take turns or focus on one event, track and field meets have several things happening simultaneously. How does everyone know where to go and what to do? Going to a track and field event has several areas to take note of, such as overall etiquette and the rules of each game. Let's take a look at Shania as she goes to her first meet.
Overall Etiquette of Track and Field
Shania is very embarrassed; she came to watch her first track meet and support her friend Tanya, who recently started pole vaulting. Shania was a little late and tried to take a shortcut across the field. This caused her to accidentally interrupt a throwing competition. If that wasn't bad enough, as she was hurrying away from that mistake she almost stepped in front of a group of runners coming around the corner!
In her haste Shania had violated the first rule of etiquette for track and field events - don't interfere with any of the events. Her friend Tanya came over to talk to her a few minutes later, 'I should have told you to walk around the track! I'm so sorry.' Tanya goes on to explain that only officials, coaches and the athletes competing are allowed on the track and field during the meet. Cheering is encouraged, but 'trash talking' is not.
Shania has a good time watching the rest of the meet and gets some pointers on the rules of each type of event from Tanya the next day.
'Why was the gun that went off at the start of the running events was so loud?' asked Shania. Tanya explains that was the starting gun, which uses very loud blanks to make sure everyone knows exactly when they can start running. If any of the competitors start too early, they are disqualified.
'I saw something in the lanes when the fast races started. What were those?' Shania asked.
Tanya explains those were for races up to and including the 400 meters and are called starting blocks, or angled platforms that allow them to get a very fast start. Racing these distances also require athletes to stay in the same lane. Even stepping on the line between lanes can result in disqualification, or DQ.
'Why didn't racers always start next to each other?' asked Shania.
'Because running the inside curve of the track is shorter; races that are between 200 meters and 800 meters have racers starting in staggered positions, or at different places along the track.'
The 800 meter starts out with athletes in staggered positions but after the first 100 meters, they are all allowed to run on the inside lane. There are still rules against interfering with another runner with the penalty being DQ. The longer distance races start out along a curved line, all points of which are equidistant from the first turn.
Finally, relay races, which involve the passing of a baton, a hollow metal tube, from one runner to the next also have staggered start. During relays, runners must stay in their assigned lanes.