Friday, February 13, 2015
There is a race in track and field that is almost two miles length, barriers are jumped over and there is a water jump to clear. If you’re not familiar with this race, it is called the steeplechase. The steeplechase originated in Britain, where runners would race from one town’s steeple to the next town’s steeple, jumping over low walls, streams and other obstacles.1 Now, steeplechase is run over a distance of 3000m (7 laps) on a track. Barriers are set up on the track that are 36 inches high for men and 30 inches high for women. Barriers are 13 feet wide and can weigh up to 220 pounds. If a competitor were to accidentally hit the barrier, the barrier would not be likely to move because it is so heavy. A barrier that is 12 feet long is placed at one end of the track, either inside of lane one or just outside of lane eight. There is a water-filled depression that is roughly two feet deep closest to the barrier and slopes up back to regular running surface after 12 feet. Because the water jump may be placed on the inside or outside of the track, the starting point is different for almost every track.
There are no special rules about how to clear the barriers other than your whole body has to go over it. Races will have some athletes that step on the barrier as they clear it, while most runners hurdle the barrier. Athletes that practice and execute proper hurdle technique are likely to be more efficient than athletes that do not focus on hurdle technique. As the race goes on, the athlete becomes more fatigued, which makes it harder and harder to clear the barriers. It is not uncommon to see an athlete hit a barrier and fall onto the track or not clear the water jump and fall into the water.
Not only is the steeplechase a distance event, it is also a technique event. Click here to watch Evan Jager break the American Record for a great example of what it takes to be a great steeplechase competitor.
1. IAAF: Athletics Discipline - 3000m Steeple chase - Disciplines - iaaf.org. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.iaaf.org/disciplines/middlelong/3000-metres-steeplechase
2. Martin, D., & Coe, P. (1997). Better training for distance runners (2nd ed., pp. 336-342). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Posted by Bryan at 7:33 PM