The relay most commonly consists of 4 x 100 m sprint with four runners each completing one leg of the race. Contestants are allowed to change lanes in relay events, with the exception of the first runner who will be disqualified if they do not stay in lane. Athletic rules stipulate that contestants must pass a baton to the next runner on completion of their own leg within a marked changeover zone.
Once the baton is passed, the runner who passed the baton must stay in lane until all other runners pass, to avoid obstructing another contestant. If the baton is dropped, the runner may pick it up but should not obstruct other runners when doing so. As well as the 4 x 100 m relay, other relay events that are commonly included in Athletics competitions are:
- 4 x 200 m
- 4 x 400 m
- 4 x 800 m
There are also medley relays although these usually only take place at specific relay events. There are two types of medley relays:
- Distance Medley Relay: this consists of a 1200 m leg, a 400 m leg, an 800 m leg and a 1600 m leg to finish.
- Sprint Medley Relay: this consists of a 400 m leg, two 200 m legs and an 800 m leg to finish.