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A Running Team Race Was Once Part of the Olympics

Team race was an event contested as a part of the athletics discipline during the Summer Olympics. It was included in the Olympic program from 1900 to 1924 and was permanently discontinued after that. This event is the precursor to the modern day relay races.

Though the event was billed as a team race, all athletes from all teams contested individually, which involved a direct race among all participating athletes. Each runner was awarded points based on their finish and the aggregate of all runners that were part of a team was used to decide which team won the race. A minimum of three runners were required to participate from each team and a maximum of up to five runners were allowed.

The first team race conducted in 1900 was for a distance of 5000 meters. In 1904, it was changed to a 4-mile race and the distance was again changed to 3 miles for 1908. Though the distance changed again in 1912 to a 3000-meter race, it stayed that way for the next three games until 1924.

Only two teams contested in the event 1900 and 1904. There was a wider participation in the following games though. The United States was the most successful nation in the short history of the event winning three gold medals and five total medals.

1900 (5 km)

In 1990, the race involved covering a distance of 5000 meters. Ten athletes forming two teams contested in the race. One team consisted of all athletes from France, and the second team consisted of four British runner and a fifth runner Stan Rowley from Australia. Two Brits, Charles Bennett and John Rimmer finished the race in the top two positions which provided the mixed team the gold medal. The team from France was awarded the silver medal.

  1. GREAT BRITAIN 26 points
  2. FRANCE 29 points

1904 (4-miles)

Only two teams of five athletes each competed. As there were no international teams involved, this event is not considered an official part of the Olympic Games program.

  1. New York AC 27 points
  2. Chicago AA 28 points

1908 (3 miles)

  1. GREAT BRITAIN 6 points
  2. USA 19 points
  3. FRANCE 32 points

1912 (3km)

1920 (3km)

  1. USA 10 points
  2. GREAT BRITAIN 20 points
  3. SWEDEN 24 points

1924 (3km)

  1. FINLAND 8 points
  2. GREAT BRITAIN 14 points
  3. USA 25 points

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