Track competitions date back to the seventh century B.C. Today’s rules are derived from 19th century university competitions held in England. People compete in running events such as the 400-meter dash worldwide, with such events considered headliners at the Olympic Games. The standard track that athletes compete on is a 400-meter oval, according to Tom Hanlon in the “The Sports Rules Book.”
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Runners go through heats, or preliminary races, to eliminate the slower competitors. This means the final race is run by the fastest competitors.
The 400-meter dash utilizes a staggered start to equalize the distance for all of the competitors. Runners must stay in their own lanes. Starting blocks are allowed in the 400-meter race. All races begin with a report from the starter’s gun after “on your marks” and “set” commands.
An athlete who makes a false start gets one warning. After that, the runner is disqualified from the race. A runner also can be disqualified for jostling or obstructing another athlete to impede her progress. A competitor who is not fouled and achieves an advantage via stepping on or over an inside lane line also may be disqualified.