The essential requirement for all start lines, straight, staggered or curved, is that the distance for every athlete, when taking the shortest permitted route, is the same, and not less than the stipulated distance with no negative tolerance.
- For races of 800m or less, each athlete has a separate lane at the start.
- Races of up to, and including 400m are run entirely in lanes.
- Races of 800m start and continue in lanes until the end of the first bend.
The exit from the first bend is marked distinctively with a 0.05m wide line (breakline) across the track to indicate when the athletes can break from their lanes.
To assist athletes to identify the breakline, small cones or prisms (0.05m x
0.05m) and no more than 0.15m high,preferably a different colour from the breakline and the lane lines, are placed on the lane lines immediately before the intersection of each lane and the breakline.
Races over 800m are run without
lanes using a curved start line.
For the 1000m, 2000m, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m, when there are more than 12 athletes in a race, they are divided into two groups with one group of 65% of the athletes on the regular arced start line
and the other group on a separate arced start line marked across the outer half of the track. The other group runs as far as the end of the first bend on the outer half of the track.
The separate arced start line is marked so that
all the athletes run the same distance. A cone or other distinctive mark is placed on the inner line of the outer half of the track at the beginning of the following straight to indicate to the athletes of the outer group where they are permitted
to join the athletes using the regular start line. For the 2000m and 10,000m this point is at the intersection of the 800m break line and the inner line.
4 x 400m relay races
For the 4 x 400m relay races, the starting positions for the first athletes in each lane are shown in IAAF 400m Standard Track Marking Plan.
The scratch lines of the first take‑over zones are the same as the start lines for the 800m.
Each take‑over zone is 20m long of which the scratch line is the centre. The zones start and finish at the edges of the zone lines nearest the start line in the running direction.
The take‑over zones for the second and
last take‑overs are marked 10m either side of the start/finish line.
The arc across the track at the entry to the back straight showing the positions at which the second stage athletes are permitted to leave their respective lanes,
are identical to the breakline arc for the 800m event.
The standard 400m track and the sprint track with 100m and 110m are used for hurdle races. The hurdle positions are marked on the track by lines 100mm x 50mm so that the distances measured from the start to the edge of the line nearest the approaching
athlete are in accordance with the table below.
The hurdles are placed so that the edge of the bar nearest the approaching athlete coincides with the edge of the track marking nearest the athlete.
There are 10 flights of hurdles in each lane, set out in accordance with the following tables:
Hurdle number, height and position on track
|Race distance||Hurdle height||Distance start to 1st hurdle||Distance between hurdles||Last hurdle to finish line|
|110m Mens||1.067m ||13.72m ||9.14m ||14.02m |
|110m Junior men||0.991m||13.72m||9.14m||14.02m|
|110m Youth boys||0.914m||13.72m||13.72m||13.72m|
|100m Women/junior||0.838m ||13.00m ||8.50m ||10.50m |
|100m Youth girls||0.762m ||13.00m||8.50m||10.50m|
|400m Women/junior/youth||0.762 ||45.00||35.00||40.00|