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    Historical reason for 1500 meters?
    #1
    Figured this would be the place to ask:
    What are the historical reasons for using 1500 meters as an event as opposed to 1600 meters?

    Thanks.
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    #2
    There have been previous threads that have discussed this point. If I recall those threads correctly, a major reason was that some track in France and perhaps elsewhere on the Eurpoean continent were 500 meters in contrast to the 440 yard tracks in the UK. Since 3x500= 1500, the 1500 meters became a popular alternative to the Mile.

    I'd still like to know who was on the track & field committee of NFHS circa 1980 that unfortunately gave us with the 1600 meters.
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    #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halfmiler2
    There have been previous threads that have discussed this point. If I recall those threads correctly, a major reason was that some track in France and perhaps elsewhere on the Eurpoean continent were 500 meters in contrast to the 440 yard tracks in the UK. Since 3x500= 1500, the 1500 meters became a popular alternative to the Mile.
    And I, for what it's worth, have repeatedly stated that there doesn't seem to be much, if any, hard historical evidence for this "explanation." I suppose, by now, it's just become folklore that will live forever...
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by kuha
    Quote Originally Posted by Halfmiler2
    There have been previous threads that have discussed this point. If I recall those threads correctly, a major reason was that some track in France and perhaps elsewhere on the Eurpoean continent were 500 meters in contrast to the 440 yard tracks in the UK. Since 3x500= 1500, the 1500 meters became a popular alternative to the Mile.
    And I, for what it's worth, have repeatedly stated that there doesn't seem to be much, if any, hard historical evidence for this "explanation." I suppose, by now, it's just become folklore that will live forever...
    I'd have to agree. The mile was a nice distance, but the French were not to give up on THEIR metric system. Fifteen hundred was a nice compromise for them.

    It's coincidental that 3x500m = 1500m, in the same way that 4x440y = one mile. The fact that four 440s = one mile isn't the reason we run a mile. We designed a track to fit a fraction of the basic unit.
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    #5
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    Right. The fallacy of the 500m-track theory is that the most logical outcome of this--the popularity of the 500m distance!!!--just never happened.

    As I've stated in the past, track athletics began as an English-language activity--first in Britain, then in the US. On the continent, the sport was late and primitive by the standards set in Britain and the US. The French were never going to give up on their unit of measure (no matter that it was far from a global standard in the 19th century). My take has always been that the 1500 was close enough to the mile to not be a joke (that is, taking more or less the same skills), but far enough away to not be English (far from a trivial thing). I await genuine historical evidence that this was NOT the case.

    And as for the 500m track thing, tracks in the 19th century came in all sizes and shapes. There certainly were some that were 500m around, but no one can pretend that this was a true "standard" at the time--it wasn't.
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    #6
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    I agree with kuha and dj. Before this forum, I had never heard the 3X500 theory.
    "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
    by Thomas Henry Huxley
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    #7
    I suspect that the 1500m was a neat answer to the Mile - 1600m would have been to obviously close to the imperial distance. Quite a few track were indeed 500m in circumference - the 1924 Olympic stadium being a good example (it was finally changed to a 400m oval after WW2)
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    Why we run a 1500
    #8
    Don't know if this helps answer the 500/1500 question but here is a link to an interesting article that was in American Track & Field some time ago.

    hank

    http://www.lhs.fuhsd.org/alumni/NOTEMPLATE/500moval.pdf
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    Re: Why we run a 1500
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanklaw
    Don't know if this helps answer the 500/1500 question but here is a link to an interesting article that was in American Track & Field some time ago.

    hank

    http://www.lhs.fuhsd.org/alumni/NOTEMPLATE/500moval.pdf
    Thanks for the reference, which I don't think I've seen before. (Note that one page is out of sequence, making the narrative a bit choppy on first glance.) This is more speculation than history, but it does have some useful data. One thing he doesn't get into is the fact that at least some of these oversize tracks were constructed for dual uses, for bicycle racing or dog racing, for example, in addition to t&f athletics.

    The most interesting fact is the considerable variation in track sizes in the past. There remains no convincing evidence--that I know of--that the introduction of the 1500m distance was a result of ANY specific track size.
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    #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halfmiler2
    I'd still like to know who was on the track & field committee of NFHS circa 1980 that unfortunately gave us with the 1600 meters.
    If the French hadn't been such obstinate twits, the Olympics would indeed have been run at 1600m - the logical distance, if one insists on a metric track, which, the Brits being the only ones clinging desperately to Imperial units, makes sense to do - and we wouldn't even have to have this discussion. :roll:
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