Track and field events allow athletes to use their running, jumping and throwing skills to win competitions. Track meets take place on an athletic track that may be located indoors or outdoors. Track and field events can be performed as individual sports or as a team sport. These sports don't require the amount of skill building that some other sports do, which makes it easier for kids or adults of any age to begin participating in the events.
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The shortest and quickest track events are the dashes or sprints. The lengths of sprinting events in track and field are 100, 200 and 400 meters. Runners begin the race at the sound of the starter pistol, reach their full stride immediately and maintain their fastest speed until they cross the finish line.
Middle-distance races are the 800 meter, 1,600 meter and the 3,200 meter. Some track and field meets also include a 1,000 and 2,000 meter in their middle-length runs. Middle-distance runners have to learn how to pace themselves during their races; they must maintain a consistent speed without wearing themselves out during the event.
Long-distance races include runs that range from 5,000 to 10,000 meters to 26-mile marathons. Endurance is the primary requirement for those who wish to run long-distance races. Long-distance marathons are normally run on preset, paved routes with hills and twists and turns. Cross-country races are normally under 15 kilometers and are run on both level and rolling, hill-filled courses.
For those athletes who prefer jumping to running, track and field offers a variety of jumping events. The long jump requires athletes to race down the track and then jump from a takeoff board to propel their body through the air as they try to cover the greatest distance possible. The triple jump is a series of three fast jumps done in a continuous motion.The high jump requires competitors to sprint and leap over a bar, which is raised after each jump until a winner is established. Athletes perform the pole vault using a long fiberglass pole to propel themselves over a raised bar.
Throwing events allow athletes to throw an object a distance to achieve a victory over the competition. The javelin is a long steel-tipped spear that the athlete throws while running. Hammer throwers toss a heavy ball that's attached to a handle by a wire. The shot put requires athletes to toss a heavy metal ball by tucking it under their chin and spinning to gain speed before they release the ball. The discus is a metal disc that is thrown by using a swinging, spinning action.
The decathlon is composed of 10 events that take place over two days. The steeplechase is filled with obstacles, including hurdles and water jumps throughout the 3,000-meter course. Hurdling is a challenging event that requires competitors to sprint while leaping over hurdles. Walking races are also included in track and field events. Relays are a team event.