Relay race

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Runners in the relay race
1979 postage stamp

The relay race is a discipline of athletics .

In a relay, several runners run one after the other in a group of runners called a relay and pass a baton from runner to runner.

Olympic disciplines for men and women are the 4 x 100 meters and the 4 x 400 meters . The 4 x 100 meter relay is run in lanes. In the 4 x 400 meter relay, the first approx. 510 meters are completed in lanes, so that the first change takes place in the respective lanes. Then all runners switch to the inner lane.

In the relay race, each athlete has to cover the distance once and then hand over the baton to the next runner in a 20-meter-long exchange area (since 2018: up to and including 4 x 100 meters 30-meter exchange area) without leaving the exchange area. The position of the staff, not that of the body, is decisive for correct execution. In the event of an error, the relay will be disqualified. A loss of the baton, however, does not lead to disqualification, provided that the athlete himself cancels the baton again. He is only allowed to leave his track for this purpose, provided that he does not hinder any fellow campaigners and does not shorten his running route.

In the world record also relays than 4 × 200 are performed and leaderboards m, 3 x 800 m (women only, female youth and students), 3 x 1000 m (men only, male youth and students), 4 × 800 m (only Men) and 4 × 1500 m (only men) and in the school area 4 × 50 m and 4 × 75 m. Other competitions are also held independently, such as B. at ISTAF Berlin a 16 × 50 m school relay.

In general, short relays are those in which the sections are a sprint route (up to 400 m). Long relays are based on the medium distances 800 to 1500 meters.

In the Swedish relay, four runners run a total of 1000 meters. This total route is divided into four different routes (400, 300, 200 and 100 m), which are run in the order given. Another form of relay race with different partial lengths is the Olympic relay .

Relay races carried out outside of arenas in the long-distance area are called Ekiden . No staff is handed over here, but a cloth (tasuki) or, since the electronic recording of transit times, a transponder . The best-known form and the only one that has official world records is the marathon relay over the distance of 42.195 kilometers, in which six runners run the 5, 10, 5, 10, 5 and 7.195 kilometers. In addition, there are a number of such relay races in the popular sports area, such as the SOLA relay , the Batavier race or the virtually organized Germany relay .

The longest relay race in Germany is the Lauf-KulTour , a project of the Chemnitz-based club of the same name . 12 runners (mainly students from the Technical University of Chemnitz ) run non-stop around 4000 kilometers around Germany within 16 days and have been helping a good cause every year since the first tour in 2007.

In contrast to the relay race, there are some longer distances, e.g. B. in the half marathon, marathon or cross-country run also a team evaluation. The times or placements of three runners on a team are added up. These do not start one after the other as in the relay race, but simultaneously.

Relay competitions are also held in swimming , cross-country skiing , triathlon , biathlon , canoe racing and orienteering, as well as in fire fighting competitions .

Relay races in athletics

Short seasons:

  • 4 times 100 meters
  • 4 times 400 meters
  • 4 x 50 meters (schoolchildren)
  • 4 x 75 meters (schoolchildren)
  • 4 x 200 meters (especially common in the hall)
  • Sweden relay (400 m - 300 m - 200 m - 100 m)
  • Hurdles pendulum relay
  • 16 x 50 meters (students at ISTAF Berlin )
  • In the school area there is a multitude of types of relay, such as the reverse relay, triangular relay, round relay, obstacle relay, transport relay, memory relay, "puzzle or riddle relay".

Long seasons:

  • 3 times 800 meters (only women, female youth and schoolgirls)
  • 3 times 1000 meters (only men, male youth and students)
  • 4 x 800 meters (men only)
  • 4 x 1500 meters (men only)

Ekiden , road and cross country runs:

Mixed relays: For a few years now there have been so-called mixed relays not only in children's athletics, but also for adults. These are relay competitions in which two runners and two female runners compete. The German Athletics Association will for the first time include the mixed relays with the distances 4 × 200 m and 4 × 400 m in the competition program at the relay championship on June 27 and 28, 2020.

Relay collection

The Museum of the History of Yugoslavia has a collection of more than 22,000 relays . These artistically designed relays were dedicated to Josip Broz Tito and his successors and are part of a permanent exhibition.


  • Rule 170: Relay Races. In: International Association of Athletics Federations (Ed.): IAAF Competition Rules 2009. Monaco 2008, pp. 157–160 ( PDF; 1.49 MB )

Individual evidence

  1. Rule 170.14 of the IWR (International Competition Rules ) p. 85
  2. Webpage of the Lauf-KulTour eV association
  3. Preview: Mixed Shuttle Hurdles Relay , at:, May 11, 2019, accessed June 19, 2019
  4. Different scale forms, on:, accessed June 19, 2019

Web links

Commons : Relay race  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files