The 800 meter run, or just the 800, is one of the most hybridized events in track and field. It is long enough to make an all-out sprint impossible, like in the 400. However, it is still markedly shorter than the 1500, which requires a significant pick-up in the pace. It is usually referred to as the shortest of the mid-distance races.
The 800 can be run with either a waterfall, barrel, or staggered start, depending on the size of the field. In outdoor track, the race is just 2 laps. In indoors, like the other mid-distance and distance races, the number of laps varies with the length of the track. Though 800's usually have a fast start, it isn't fast enough to warrant the use of starting blocks.
Amongst racers, the 800 is usually loved or hated. It tends to favor a rather select group, as few who excel in it do outstandingly well in anything else. It weeds out the slow from the distance runners, and the weak from the sprinters. Some refer to it as the world's longest sprint, while others call it a short distance race. It is truly a dividing line.
The main thing that makes the 800 so dreadful is that it is both a test of how fast you can run, and how far you can push yourself. The average 400 runner can run at nearly top speed for the entire race, and will probably not feel oxygen debt. This usually occurs for the 800 runner at about 600 meters, so the last 200 meters are really a test of who can push through the lake of lactic acid that is built up in your legs.
- Wilson Kipketer (DEN) - 1:41.11, Köln - 8/24/97
- Jarmila Kratochvílová (TCH) - 1:53.28, München - 7/20/01