Track for Race

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With the Olympics rolling along I realized that there are many terms and abbreviations that the “running world” uses. Many everyday runners do not know these let alone the general populace watching track and field for the first time in four years.

So I thought I’d list some key terms and definitions that everyone should know.

I’m sure there are more that you may come across. If so, drop a comment and I’ll add to the list.

Organizations Related:

IOC – International Olympic Committee; these guys run the Olympics (all sports not just track and field) and they own the Olympic rings symbol. Yes it is a trademark and you cannot just go using it when you like.

USOC – United States Olympic Committee; the national governing body in the USA for all Olympic sports. They have to abide by rules set down by the IOC but also can apply more for the USA athletes.

USATF – United States of America Track and Field; this is the USA national governing body for the sport of track and field (“Athletics” to most of the rest of the world). They have their own rules too – separate from the USOC and IOC.

Race Related:

Rounds – (aka Preliminary Rounds) These are the preliminary races in which the best performances move on and those that don’t are eliminated from competition.

Quarterfinals – After the “rounds” are done the qualifiers (both Q and q) move on to this next race. The top Qs and qs move on to the Semifinals.

Semifinals – This race follows the Quarterfinals. Only the top Qs and qs move on to the Finals from this race.

Finals – The best of the best arrive at the finals. It is from this “final” race for this event that the medalists are determined.

Heat – A heat is a single race within an event. For instance there may be 8 heats of Preliminary Rounds of the 100 meters race; then 4 heats in the quarterfinals; then 2 heats in the semifinals. There is always one heat of finals in major events like the Olympics. However, many high school invitationals may have “timed finals” from several heats. They run several heats due to large numbers of entrants and no qualifying rounds. After all have run they line up results as if they were in just one race together. (Yes, you can be beaten by someone you didn’t even race against.)

By the way, as I’m sure you have noticed all measurements are metric. Also, in track we call it the “5000” (five-thousand) and “10000” (ten-thousand) not the 5k and 10k. (These are 3.1 and 6.2 miles approximately or 12.5 and 25 laps of a traditional 400 meter track). Though they mean the same; generally track prefers the former terms. The latter terms are reserved more for road races.

 

 

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