800 metres

800 m is a common track running event. It is the short common middle distance. The 800 meters is run over two laps of the track and has always been an Olympic event. It was included in the first women's track programme in 1928, but suspended until 1960 because of shock at the exhaustion it caused the competitors. By contrast, without today's training regimes, male competitors of the day were expected to run themselves to exhaustion in competition.

The race is widely considered to be the most difficult mental challenge in track and field. It requires both sprinting speed as well as the physical endurance to last two laps, and thus combines the most challenging aspects of both into a single race. The closest races to the 800 m are substantially different, with the 400 m being a sprint with almost nonstop speed, while the 1500 m (or 1600/mile) is a more tactical distance event.


In modern 800 m races, runners start from staggered positions on the track and must remain in their respective lanes for the first 100 m of the race. After the first 100 m, competitors may break for the inside, as long as they do not deliberately obstruct or push another competitor. Running flat out for this distance is impossible and tactics can be a factor in reaching the finish line first. Running in the lead is often considered a disadvantage as trailing runners can choose when to accelerate past the leader, and the effect of wind resistance. Runners in lane one but not leading the race must also be careful to avoid becoming boxed in by other runners, as this eliminates the crucial ability to completely control one's own pace. Running in last place is also not recommended, as there may be too much ground to make up when the final sprint for the finish starts. However, it can be sensible for an athlete to remain at the back of the field if the pace at the front is far too fast, provided that the athlete in question does not leave too much ground to make up. This was illustrated by Kelly Holmes at the Athens Olympics, who stayed to the rear of the field until the last 300 m before making a decisive move. A more unorthodox tactical move came from John Woodruff who, in the 1936 Olympics, was boxed in by runners early in the race. He slowed almost to a complete stop, let the runners pass, and then took the third lane to come from behind and take the victory.800 metres

In top class races, the lane start usually ensures a brisk pace for the first 200 m. Occasionally, no one will be happy to lead, and the field will bunch for the remainder of the first lap. This usually leads to an abnormally slow first 400 m, and allows the runners extra energy for a hard sprint on the second lap, favouring the sprint type 800 m runner. More often, one runner will ensure a fast first lap and the winner will be the one who slows least on the second lap, despite the appearance of sprinting at the finish. This favors the endurance or distance type 800 m runner. However, the occasional 800 m runner is able to produce a world-class 800 with even laps, or even negative splits.



800 m runners are often fast enough to run in the 4x400 m relay but only Alberto Juantorena and Jarmila Kratochvilova have won major international titles at 400 m and 800 m. Competing successfully at 800 m and 1500 m is more common.

World Record for men:

World Record for women:

World Junior Record (19 and under) for men:

World Junior Record (19 and under) for women:

  • athletes from 10 different countries have won the men's 800 m title.

Source: Wikipedia