What is Long Distance?

So, you've chosen to learn about the sport of long distance racing in track and field, widely regarded as the ultimate test of human endurance. Awesome choice! Let's take a closer look at perhaps one of the strenuous events that track and field has to offer.

The Track

Before we dive into the various events of the long distance, take a look at the picture of the track below. This is the surface on which all the long distance events in track and field take place. The track is where the sprints and the middle distance races are held as well.

What We'll Be Learning

We'll first discuss the three events that make up the category of long distance racing. Afterwards, we'll examine the dimensions and the lines of the track, the surface upon which the long distance races take place. Finally, we'll jump into the boundaries and the rules associated with each of the three long distance events.

Glossary Terms

Here are all the terms we will be covering related to the sport of long distance racing:

  • Long Distance
  • Standard Competition Area
  • Arena
  • Track
  • Straight
  • Field
  • Infield
  • Start Line
  • Finish Line
  • Waterfall Start
  • Dual Alley Start
  • Break Line
  • Home Straight
  • Back Straight
  • Lane
  • Inside Lane
  • Heat
  • Break Line
  • Lap
  • Bell Lap
  • The Kick
  • Finishing Kick
  • Sit and Kick
  • Sprint Finish
  • Split
  • Even Split
  • Positive Split
  • Negative Split
  • Standing Start
  • Starter's Gun
  • Starter
  • False Start
  • Straightaway
  • Fully Automatic Timing System
  • Photo Finish
  • Chief Photo Finish Judge

Long Distance Events

There are three main events for long distance racing in track and field:

1. The 3000 m

2. The 5000 m

3. The 10 000 m

The 3000 Meter

The 3000 m is the shortest long distance race held at the international level, and consists of 7.5 laps around the standard track. Skilled competitors of this event are able to run at speeds near rVO2max (about 24 km/h), after which point any additional power is delivered entirely by anaerobic processes.

Today, the 3000 m is only held at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. In addition, the men's 3000 m event was only featured in the summer Olympics three times, in 1912, 1920, and 1924, and the women's 3000 m was only featured from 1984 to 1992.

The 5,000 Meter

The 5000 m is the second shortest long distance race held at the international level, and is run over 12.5 laps of the standard track. It is a relatively recent competition to join the world stage, with the first Olympic 5000 m being held in 1912 for men, and in 1996 for women. In addition, although the men's 5000 m was present at the IAAF World Championships since they were founded in 1983, the women's 5000 m was only included in 1995, as a replacement for the 3000 m.

The 10,000 Meter

The 10 000 m is the longest foot race in the sport of track and field, consisting of 25 laps around the standard track. It demands extreme levels of endurance and stamina, and as such, many competitors of the 10 000 m typically also participate in cross country and road races as well. Currently, the world record for the fastest 10 000 m time is held by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, at 26 minutes and 17.53 seconds.