The 400, or 400 meter dash, as it is more officially know, is the longest sprint style race in track and field. It is sometimes referred to as the quarter mile, even though it is a few meters from being exactly this distance.
The race is typically run outdoors by completing one lap around a standard 400 meter track. Runners must stay in their lanes throughout the race. However, since the outer lanes would have to run a longer distance to complete a lap, a staggered start is used. This ensures a fair race. It also adds a bit of drama, because you cannot be sure who is in the lead until the final stretch is entered.
Indoors, the race is typically run by completing as many laps as necessary for the given track. A cut-off start is usually used, however, due to the multiple lap circumstances.
Starting blocks are used by most competitors, regardless of venue.
- Michael Johnson - 43.18s (USA) - 8/26/99
- Marita Koch - 47.60 (GDR - East Germany) - 10/6/85