Tripping in track and field - solution seems simple to me

Why not require all track and field contestants to stay in their own lanes? That would pretty much eliminate any possibility of tripping or collisions. All you would have to do is adjust the starting point for each contestant, and nothing could be easier than that.

Extremely unwieldy for races of 800 and above. Multiple heats( think 3 or 4 heats for the 5k and 10k each) and the need for a separate official per runner to track laps.

Those races usually have more than 10 people running in them, and there just aren’t enough lanes.

You can’t adjust the starting points, either, since those who start on the curve will have to run a longer distance. Plus, you’d have to have multiple finish lines, which would create confusion and would require more officials. The chances of a mistake are high.

What, the Olympics can’t do simple math? Just choose a common finish point and measure back from there. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting on a curve or a straightaway. Linear distance is linear distance. And I can’t believe that having a lap counter for each runner is going to be such a great hardship.

The runners wouldn’t be able to gauge how well they are doing until the very end when it would be too late in a longer race. There would be no tactics, just trying for a personal best. Maybe they could look at split times on a big screen in a major competition.

Tripping has always been a problem in middle distance running, even at the international level. At the Olympics, you often get runners who are used to running out in front now finding themselves in a pack and not knowing how to handle it. (See Mary Decker and Zola Budd.)

What are the “tactics” in hurdling or sprinting? I don’t see why it should be any different. Yes, do your best to finish as fast as possible.

I think the same should be true of bicycle events. They should be prevented from using “tactics” like riding in another rider’s draft. It should simply be about racing, being the fastest.

And yes I had the Decker-Budd incident in mind. It happened long enough ago that they should have done something about it by now.

If a race is shorter than 800m, you’re supposed to stay in your lane+ they stagger the 200 and 400.

There is no tripping - just dumb athletes running too close to others in tight groups. Don’t see why the event should be changed. The athletes should Just be more careful.

Here are the distances that would be run for one lap if everyone stayed in their lanes:

1 400m (inside)
2 407.67m
3 415.33m
4 423m
5 430.66m
6 433.38m
7 446m
8 453.66m (outside)

Once that is multiplied out for the 3+ laps of the 1500 and converted to a staggered start the runners would be at such differences to each other for most of the race that they wouldn’t be even with their main competition. They might as well run individually for their best time and then email their times in. It also would be unsatisfying for the spectators. It would just look like people randomly running around the track until near the end.


I know that Acsenray addressed this, but please do come back and explain, it doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface.

And for the 10,000m, lane 8 would run 22.04 laps while lane 1 would run the full 25.

ETA: And the steeplechase would be totally unworkable with the barriers and water jump.

I wonder if anyone who would promote this idea has ever been in a foot race. When running in a tight pack, it’s necessary to be hyper-aware of your surroundings, and to gently nudge your competitor in the back if they begin to drift into your space.

Zulema Makes the same point I did: if you have people in lanes, the distances would be different. To run the same distance, the finish line would have to be adjusted for each runner. A person who starts 10 meters behind the first runner would need to have a finish line ten meters behind the first runner.

No, same finish line. The starts would be adjusted the same as the staggered starts for the 4x100 relay, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400 relay. The problem with longer distances, besides running multiple heats, is that the stagger is not made up for many laps plus needing extra officials to track each runner.

ETA: runners rely on either called lap times or the clock at trackside. You would need multiple clocks plus athletes would need to calculate each lap time for the lane they’re in.

It’s not only a matter of simple math but one that also involves advantages. The inside lanes (3 to 5) – used up to the 400 meters – have a slight advantage in term of both, turning and overall peripheral view. Which is why runners with the best qualifying marks are given those lanes…and most often win the races. And of course, as has been already mentioned, the sheer number of athletes in mid-long distance events would make it next to impossible to implement lane assignments in races with over 10 runners in them. Virtually all mid to long distance races.

As for indoor cycling, you’d have to come up with a different sport if one was to apply your “rules.” Half the battle in sprint events comes to exactly that: when to draft and when to attack. Not all the different from road cycling either, where teams normally protect their top riders on windy days by using a “fan” formation. Besides, no “lanes” to speak of there.

Point being, both sports rely heavily on tactics that are heavily predicated on positioning and running within a pack. Just the nature of those particular sports.

I don’t think you understood Zulema’s post and I’m confused by this post.

Zulema’s point was that the people would not be near each other for most of the race, thus changing the psychological aspects of the race. A valid point.

It is possible to create a single finish line and staggered start lines such that each person in the race runs the same distance.

Again, how do you do that in a race with say, 20 runners starting and a max of 9 lanes? Further, what about the marathon? Should that be run in lanes as well? After all cleats to calves are not uncommon there either.

This short article discusses the differences in lanes & their relative advantages according to race distance: Olympic Track and Field Lanes: A Breakdown of Lanes 1-9

Yeah, the disappearance of some tactics would be nothing to mourn. But, what about the decision about whether to try to keep up with someone who is breaking away? In a race as long as the 10 000 m, the competitors wouldn’t know where they stood until the very end when it might be too late. Is it not important for the competitors to know where they stand in the race? I was also including this in the concept of “tactics”.