Encyclopedia of Sport: Every sport from around the world

Relay Running (Athletics)

Relay running is a type of running race in which athletes compete as a team, rather than as individuals. The two most common relay races in track and field are the 4 x 100m and the 4 x 400m races, in which four athletes run 100m and 400m each respectively. A less common relay is the sprint medley relay, usually consisting of four legs run at distances of 400, 200, 200, and 800 metres.

The major aspect of a relay race is the baton. The first runner of each team starts the race with a baton. After the first runner completes their part of the run, the baton has to be passed on to the next runner in the team. This continues until the final runner finishes the race with the baton in hand.

During each exchange the athlete receiving the baton is allowed to be in motion before receiving the baton, but cannot go beyond 10m without the baton. If any of the athlete drops the baton, or the runner exceeds the 10m limit, the team will be disqualified.

relays relay changeover

For the 100m each relay, runners have to stay in their lane for the entire race, whereas for the 400m race, the runners are free to choose any lane after the first exchange.

Relay running is a part of the track and field events, and is contested during the Olympic Games and the World Championships.

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