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# In certain track events, example the 400m, the competitors start at different spots and not side by side like the 100m, why is that?

Question #108150. Asked by ThurstAsh. (Aug 20 09 8:51 AM)

gmackematix

Let's analyse this staggered start...

Imagine an athlete on the inside of lane 1. If the straight part of the track is x feet long and the internal diameter of the semicircular parts are D feet, then the distance run by this athlete, the internal perimeter of the track is 2x+pi.D feet.

Imagine an athlete on the inside of the outermost lane.
An athletics lane is 4 feet wide so this athlete will run a perimeter where the straight, x, is the same, but the radius is bigger by 4 x 7 = 28 feet, so the diameter increases by 56 feet. The perimeter run by an athlete who starts at the same point in lane 8 is therefore:
2x+pi.(D+56)

The difference is pi.56 = 176 feet or 53.6 metres. To make a 400 metre race fair, the starts in the seven pairs of neighbouring lanes must differ by 53.6/7 = 7.66 metres.

 Aug 20 09, 3:23 PM
queproblema

"Staggered start
"Used in races that are run around a curve, a staggered start places runners at different points corresponding to the lane in which they are running. The runner in the outside lane starts at a point ahead of the next lane and so on. The distance between starting points is determined by the length of the race and the size of the track."
http://www.nbcolympics.com/trackandfield/insidethissport/glossary/newsid=112821.html

More details:
http://everything2.com/title/staggered+start

Great details, specially if you click on the visual aids:
http://www.trackinfo.org/marks.html

"Most racetracks are of an oval shape..."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_track

 Aug 20 09, 4:16 PM

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