# Thread: 440yd or 400m tracks used in 1960's, US and Europe?

1. 440yd or 400m tracks used in 1960's, US and Europe?
I have posted the message below on LetsRun, looking for some advice/information. Someone kindly suggested that I'd be more likely to find that on here, where some posters may have had actual experience of running on tracks in the '60's.

I think I'm right in thinking that pretty much all tracks in the US were 440yds rather than 400m in the '60's and '70's, but not so sure about the top European meets.

"I was looking the other day in a reference book which had Ryun's 100m splits given for his 1500m WR in 67, to the nearest 0.1. Now I haven't seen the entire race (has anyone?) but I think I'm right in thinking that the track in LA was a 440yd one?

IF it was, then I find it doubtful that anyone could have kept accurate split times for each 100m stretch, whether there in person or looking at a video copy of the race.

On a 440yd track, I guess they would have a mark for 110yds, 220yds, 330yds.

Well obviously it's easy enough to run a Mile, it's just 4 laps with the same start and finish lines. 4 x 440yds = 1760yds = 1609.344m
That means that each lap on a 440yds track is = 402.336m. Let's say 402.34m

Therefore, when I looked into the breakdown of a 1500m run on a 440 (402.34m) track, I realised that there could be up to 19 different marks on the track for the duration of a 1500m!

N.B. I am not sure, and I would welcome any info from posters who have had experience of running on 440yd tracks, especially from the 60's, but I presume a 1500m race would finish on the same finish line for all other races!? In other words, the same finish line as a 220yd sprint, Mile, etc.

If this is the case, then a 1500m would be 3 complete laps of the track, plus the initial "3/4 ish" start on 1st lap.
402.34 x 3 = 1207.02m. Let's round it to 1207m
That means a 1500m race would be 3 complete laps (1207m) plus an initial 293m at the start.

So a 1500m would start at 0m, and the line would be 293m from first going through finish line, and 109.34m past the finish line (i.e. they start at a point 109.34m anti-clockwise from the finish at end of home straight).

The first 100m gone mark would therefore be 193m from the finish, which is the same as 209.34m past the finish line.
Around this first 100m into the race, there would also be marks on the track (wouldn't there?) for 220yds (201.17m from the finish). The distance between this line and the first 100m into a 1500m would be 8.17m (201.17 -193m).
It gets even more complicated when you realise that to take 100m splits, there would need to be another mark for 500m into a 1500m race, which would be 195.34m from the finish line and 207m past the finish line on the second lap.
You would also need a mark for 900m ~ 197.68m from finish, 204.66 past the finish line.
And yet another for 1300m, which would be the 200m from home mark and be situated 202.34m past the finish line.
So there would be 5 marks on the track - i) 100m into a 1500m race gone, ii) the 500m into a race, iii) 900m, iv) 1300m (200m from home) and v) the 220yds line. That's 5 marks to take splits from within a distance of 8.17m.

There would be similar problems at the start of the straight, where again 5 different markers would be needed to take accurate splits. You would need ones for 200m into the race, 600m, 1000m, 1400m (100m from the finish) and there would probably be a line for 110yds.

5 lines within a space of 7.58m (110yds = 100.58m from finish line, 200m into a 1500m would be 93m from finish)

Near the finish line, only 4 marks are needed: - The finish line, 300m into a 1500 race (7m past the finish line), 700m gone (4.6m past the finish line) and 1100m into a 1500 race (2.34m past the finish line)

Then we have the start line.
Apart from the 1500 start line, which is 293m from the finish line (109.34m past it), there will also be:-
-a 330yds line , 301.76m from the finish (100.58m past it);
- a 400m line into a 1500m, which will be 295.34m from the finish (107m past it);
-an 800m into a 1500 race line, which would be 297.68m from finish (104.66m past it);
-a 1200m into a 1500m race line, which would be 300m from the finish (102.34m past it).
That's 5 different marks needed to record 100m splits for a 1500m race, all within a stretch of 8.76m. That's about 1.1sec in time terms for someone running a 50 sec lap.

I find it highly unlikely that there was 4 or 5 official timekeepers situated in 4 different points around the track to get all those split times for metres and yards!
Looking at the only (edited) video footage I've seen, here,

there is no onscreen clock and no obvious markings for the split times I've outlined above, on the track. So I think it would be almost impossible to offer 100m splits from footage viewed on a screen.

In addition, it would be quite likely for timekeepers to make the odd mistake, if they have to remember which of the 5 lines is which, and at which one to take each of the 3 or more split times. Choosing just one line wrong at each of the 4 points around the track would seriously skew the overall split times. If a couple of mistakes are made, then the split times start looking ridiculous.

If, on a 440yd track, someone takes the 1200m split time at the start line, which is exactly where it is taken from on a 400m track, then he is actually recording the athlete's time for 1207m, not 1200m. Therefore the last 300m split could be out by 0.9secs. That will then have a knock on effect of making the penultimate 100m (from 400 to 300m from home) look too slow, and the 100m between 300 and 200m from home too quick.

Even if you just use the 110yd, 220yd, 330yd splits, there is a lot of recalculation that needs to take place.

If you use the 220yd mark on a track, then you have to add on 8.17m of time to find the 100m split time, add on 5.83m to find the 500 split, 3.49m to find the 900m split, and then take off 1.17m of time to get the 1300m and last 200m split!

I think this is why there seem to be quite a few anomalies in split times I've seen for metric races run on an imperial 440yd track.

It would be interesting to know whether or not the Dusseldorf track Ryun ran on in 1967 was a 440yd track?"

I then added the following in my second post, after someone suggested you just use the 110yd markers and adjust by 0.1sec to find the 100m splits!!

"The 100m marks in a 1500m race are quite some way out from the 110yd lines, for the reason that the start line is 293m from the finish.
So 100m into a race will be 8.17m beyond the 220yd mark on the track. That's going to be at least 1.0 sec (and probably more depending on how fast the pace is) after a split taken at the 220yd mark.
200m into a 1500m will be 7.58m after the 110yd mark. Again, considerably more than adding or subtracting 0.1. More like 1.0sec.
300m into a 1500m will be 7m beyond the finish line.
400m into a 1500m will be 6.42m beyond the 330 yd mark, and 2.34m before the 1500m start line.
500m is 5.83m after the 220yd line
600m is 5.24 m after the 110yd mark
700m is 4.66 m after the finish line, so that in itself is about 0.63 added on to the time at the finish line for a 55 sec lap.
800m is 4.12m after the 330yd line and 4.68m before the 1500 start line.
900 is 3.49m after the 220yd line.
1000m is 2.90m after the 110yd line.
1100m is 2.34m after the finish line, which is 0.32 sec difference for a 55 sec lap.
1200m is 1.76m after the 330yd line and 7m before the 1500 start line.
1300m is 1.17m after the 220yd line, still more than 0.1 sec difference.
The only 100m split that is 0.1 sec different from a 110yd split is the 1400m one.

Every 100m split requires a different adjustment.

I've seen a split given for the last 210yds, which is 192m! I have no idea how or why they would take that split!?

I just think it is a very complicated and tricky conversion and probably results in mistakes. I mean 440yd splits and 220 yd from home are pretty straight forward, but 15 100m splits on a 440yd track is a pretty hard task."

2.
Will there be a test on the above ? lol

3.
Whew!!! Excellent comprehensive analysis and argument why the 1500 is a bastard distance on any track.... you must be exhausted, I am.

4.
I remember running what I thought was five miles on a track in Paris, France and coming fairly close to my pr only to realize that it wasn't five miles at all. I was running twenty laps on a 400 meter track. Most tracks in the U.S. in the 1960's were 440 yard tracks, but not in Europe.

5.
I don't think I ever ran on a 400m track until I started running Masters in 1971.

6.
Setting aside the curiousity of the '68 OT track (no idea if they converted it to yards when they moved it from Echo Summit to South Lake Tahoe HS), I would be pretty surprised if there were any metric tracks in the U.S. before the late-'70s.

AAU Championships ran yard distances until 1974, NCAA until 1975.

Hayward Field was still a yard track as late as the '80 OT and I'm thinking another 3-4 years after that.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that even to this day there are many yard tracks in use at the HS level (ones that have never been converted to synthtic, which would be the only time that anybody would go to the trouble of recasting an oval.

7.
ps—unless it was in Britain, it would boggle my mind to find that there was a yard track anywhere in Europe at any point in the sport's history.

8.
After reading the long (and I mean loooong) account of the meet in Track Newsletter, I've come to the conclusion that the track was metric, not yards, as bizarre as that might seem.

Although the report doesn't specifically say that, it notes that there had been an auto show in the Coliseum earlier in the week which had rendered the track unusable, so "the arena essentially came up with a brand new track." They tore up the whole thing and re-rolled it (all in the space of 3-4 days). So I'm guessing that given the international nature of the meet to be held they simply did as a 400m oval.

T&FN had a large and demon band of splitters in those days, but no, I don't think they could have come up with 100m splits on a yard track. Sadly, there's no one left alive (that I know of) who was part of that crew.

9.
'Hayward Field was still a yard track as late as the '80 OT and I'm thinking another 3-4 years after that.'

It was in 1988 they converted....and to make wider turns they literally moved the East Grandstand 30 feet toward Agate St. It was because of that it took so long to change over.

Stadium lights came in 1984.

10.
Originally Posted by gh
After reading the long (and I mean loooong) account of the meet in Track Newsletter, I've come to the conclusion that the track was metric, not yards, as bizarre as that might seem.

Although the report doesn't specifically say that, it notes that there had been an auto show in the Coliseum earlier in the week which had rendered the track unusable, so "the arena essentially came up with a brand new track." They tore up the whole thing and re-rolled it (all in the space of 3-4 days). So I'm guessing that given the international nature of the meet to be held they simply did as a 400m oval.

T&FN had a large and demon band of splitters in those days, but no, I don't think they could have come up with 100m splits on a yard track. Sadly, there's no one left alive (that I know of) who was part of that crew.
Very interesting...I was always sort of wondered why Richard Hymans had 100 meter splits in the WR book on that race on an American track. In the only other WR 1500 set in the U.S., Santee's 3:42.8, June 6, 1954, in a mile race, at Compton, the splits are of course yards except for one from 1200 to 1500.

It seems to me if it had been a 440 track the split timers would just have taken 110 splits and reported that. There would be no need to convert. Certainly not here in 1967. But even those would have been difficult on a 440 track.

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