Whilst most athletic events take place on the track or field within an indoor or outdoor stadium, the races which cover longer distances take place on the road.
The marathon is a race covering the distance of 42.195 km, which was first run by a Greek messenger in 490 BC. Whilst marathons usually take place independently from other athletics events, the marathon is included as an athletics event in the summer Olympic Games. The marathon is the ultimate challenge in endurance and strength, requiring the athlete to pace themselves from the beginning to avoid running out of energy and postponing the ‘wall’ stage, where athletes suffer extreme fatigue as glycogen levels run low.
Record Breakers: Men: Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) – 2:04:26, 30/09/2007 Women: Paula Radcliffe (GBR) – 2:15:25, 13/04/2003
Racewalking is a popular event world wide but it is usually only included in the major competitions, including the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the IAAF Athletics World Championships. Racewalking requires the athlete to cover a set distance as quickly as possible but unlike the running technique, the toe of the back foot is not permitted to leave the ground until the heel of the front foot makes contact with the ground, thus distinguishing the movement as a walk, despite the speed racewalkers use.
The athlete is also required to keep their supporting leg straight until the body passes over it, a rule that if violated is known as ‘lifting.’ In order to walk as quickly as possible, athletes move the pelvis as far forward as possible in order to propel the body along the ground at maximum speed. Racewalking events take place over 20 km for both male and female athletes and 50 km for male athletes only.
Record Breakers (20 km): – Men: Vladimir Kanaykin (RUS) – 1:17:16, 29/09/2007 Women: Olimpiada Ivanova (RUS) – 1:24:50, 04/03/2001
Record Breaker (50 km): – Denis Nizhegorodov (RUS) – 3:35:29, 13/06/2004