How much of track and field is actually running?


Mitch Lebovic

Sam Wehmer, an eleventh grader is running in her 4 x 800 meter relay. Katerina Lomis had just passed her the baton and Sarah McCollum was about to receive the baton from Wehmer.


Here, at Patterson Mill High School we have an amazing track and field team. We have groups of students who are incredible athletes, which makes them phenomenal at track and field. However, most people do not know what these athletes really do. They do not know how many events there are, what the events are like, or even what the events are. Samantha “Sam” Wehmer and Kaia Barr, two eleventh grade track and field athletes, and the high jump and pole vault coach, Ken MacLaughlin, give some insight on what track and field really is.

To start off, track and field is a spring sport that is commonly known just for the running. People believe track and field is like cross country, where the athletes just run. However, there is so much more to track than just running. According to Ken MacLaughlin, “There are 18 total events for both boys and girls. Track has 12-100 meter sprint, 200 m sprint, 400 m sprint, 800 m run, 1,600 m run, 3,200 m run, 110 m high hurdle sprint, 300 intermediate hurdle sprint, 4 x 100 relay, 4 x 200 relay, 4 x 400 relay, and a 4 x 800 relay. There are 6 field events: running long jump, running high jump, running triple jump, running pole vault, discus throw, and shot put.” The sprints are shorter distances than most of the other running events. The participants run faster than all the other athletes in other events because of the shorter distance. Therefore, if they had a long race, they would run out of energy. The runs have more distance to them than the sprinting events. The runners have to run longer, so they want to conserve their energy. If they try to sprint the whole race, they will run out of energy very quickly and then end up being slower than they wanted. The 110 m high hurdle sprint and a 300 intermediate hurdle sprint are races in which the participants sprint the distance given but throughout the distance, there are hurdles that the sprinters have to jump over. The 4 x (100, 200, etc.) competitions are runs/sprints where there are 4 participating athletes who each sprint a certain distance. As an example, in the 4 x 400 relay, there are 4 athletes that each run 400 meters. 400 meters is equivalent to 1 lap, therefore, if one adds up the total number of meters all the athletes ran, it equals one mile because there are 4 laps in one mile.

For the field events, the running long jump is an event in which the runner has to run and jump as far as they can into a sand pile. They sprint a certain distance, to try to get momentum, and then when they reach a mark on the field/track, they have to jump forward. They need to have as much power as they can get to jump forward because the contest is to see how far forward one can jump. For the running high jump contest, the participant must thrust themselves over a bar. The bar is located at a various number of heights, depending on the level. The athlete must have momentum and muscle in order to run and leap head first, over the bar. Running triple jump is very similar to running long jump. The only difference is instead of thrusting himself/herself into a pile of sand, they are just running and jumping onto the track. They are measured to see how far they can jump. They will start at the same location and run to a line. From there, they will jump and the spectators will view how far the runner jumped from the line.

Running pole vault is an activity where the athletes must run and use a pole to bend themselves over a bar. Just like all the other track and field events, they must start at a certain location and run/sprint to a mark on the track/field. From there they must thrust themselves over a bar, using the pole. The pole is bendable, so the participate can get strength after they push of off the pole. Discus throw is an event where the athlete must throw a heavy disc (the discus). The goal is to throw it farther than the competitors. One must have incredible strength, power in their muscles, and momentum in order to throw the disc. The last activity is shot putting. Shot putting is where the participating athletes must throw a heavy circular object (the shot) as far as they can. Same thing for this event, the athletes must have immense strength and muscular power to throw the heavy object.

Kaia Barr, a track and field member who is currently on the team and was on the team last year, “saw how fun and interesting track and field can be and how great the environment is. At first [she] had no interest at all in track and field but the teams are very supportive and everyone has such a great attitude.” Sam Wehmer, who is also a participating athlete and has been doing track for 2 years (this making it her third year), advises beginners to, “be ready to work hard. When you go out for track, people do it to have a good time, but it’s also serious. You have to be willing to dedicate 5 days a week to it and work hard for an entire practice every day.”  Track and field is a very fun sport than anyone can join at any time. It has so many events, that anybody will be able to find an event they enjoy. It just takes hard work and determination, and if one if willing to put that effort into it, they can succeed immensely.