The 800 metres, or 800 meters (US spelling), is a common track running event. It is the shortest common middle-distance running event. The 800 metres is run over two laps of the track (400 metre track) and has been an Olympic event since the first games in 1896. During indoor track season the event is usually run on a 200-metre track, therefore requiring four laps.
Men's 800 metres final in Daegu 2011.
The event was derived from the imperial measurement of a half a mile (880 yards), a traditional English racing distance. Imperial racing distances were common in the United States. American high schools (in the name of the NFHS) were the last to convert to metric distances in 1980, following the NCAA's conversion in 1976. Countries associated to the English system converted to metric distances after the 1966 Commonwealth Games. 800 m is 4.67 m less than half a mile.
The event combines aerobic endurance with anaerobic conditioning and sprint speed. Both the aerobic and anaerobic systems are being taxed to a high extent, thus the 800 metre athlete is required to combine training between both systems.
Runners in this event are often fast enough to compete in the 400 metres or the 4 × 400 metres relay but only Alberto Juantorena and Jarmila Kratochvílová have won major international titles at 400 m and 800 m. If they are so inclined, 400 m runners are usually encouraged to run the 200 metres while 800 m runners are encouraged to run the 1500 metres or long distance events.
800m runners have training plans that include both speed and endurance work, in order to improve both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, as both of these are used in the race. Almost all 800m athletes’ training will be on the track during the outdoor season (Summer), and will mostly consist of repetitions of distances between 200m and 1000m. Coaches have varying opinions on training during Winter; some argue the athlete should continue to do 800m training and racing on indoor tracks, whereas others argue that cross-country running is more beneficial as it develops strength and endurance. 800 metre runners tend to include at least one longer run per week in their training schedule, but this may be more depending on their standard. For junior athletes these may be 2–4 miles (3–6 km), however for senior athletes these may be 5–7 miles (8–11 km). Sebastian Coe ran around 60-70 (95–110 km) miles per week at his peak, whereas Steve Ovett ran 100–120 miles (160–190 km). It is worth noting that the training of these two athletes was aimed at the 1500m and mile as well as the 800m. The higher an athlete's standard, the more likely they are to do “strength and conditioning” training, which may include weight training, circuit training, or plyometrics.
The 800 m event is also known for its tactical racing techniques. Because the 800 m event is the shortest middle distance event that has all the runners converge on lane one, positioning on the cut-in and the position of the pack is critical to the outcome of the race. It is commonly believed that getting the first or second position early in the race is advantageous as these positions are not usually caught up in the pack. Olympic champions Dave Wottle, Yuriy Borzakovskiy and others have defied that logic by running a more evenly paced race, lagging behind the pack and kicking past the slowing early leaders. Often the winner of 800 m races at high levels are not determined by the strongest runner but instead by the athlete with the best positioning near the end of the race. This can lead to the most exciting aspect of the 800 m which is its high probability of an upset. Competitive races tend to put the athletes in different lanes. Sometimes they start the race with the runners all bunch in the starting line making it very difficult to have a good start. This is common in youth running, but unlikely anywhere else.
Two common tactics for the 800 metres are running a negative split or a positive split between laps. The positive split is widely considered to be the more effective strategy, but on occasion experienced runners have been known to use a negative split to their advantage. A positive split is achieved by running the first lap faster than the second lap, and a negative split is achieved by the opposite, running the second lap faster than the first could help. The current world record holder, David Rudisha, runs using a positive split strategy. In his 2012 Olympic race, he ran his first lap in 49.28 seconds and his second lap in 51.63 seconds. Theoretically, an even split is the most effective strategy, but it is nearly impossible to achieve due to the race's length.
|Time (s)||Athlete||Nation||Time (s)||Athlete||Nation|
|Africa (records)||1:40.91 WR||David Rudisha||1:54.01||Pamela Jelimo|
|Asia (records)||1:42.79||Yusuf Saad Kamel||1:55.54||Dong Liu|
|Europe (records)||1:41.11||Wilson Kipketer||1:53.28 WR||Jarmila Kratochvílová|
|North, Central America|
and Caribbean (records)
|1:42.34||Donavan Brazier||1:54.44||Ana Fidelia Quirot|
|Oceania (records)||1.44.21||Joseph Deng||1:58.25||Toni Hodgkinson|
|South America (records)||1:41.77||Joaquim Cruz||1:56.58||Letitia Vriesde|
All-time top 25 middle-distance runners
|1||1:40.91||David Rudisha||9 August 2012||London|
|2||1:41.11||Wilson Kipketer||24 August 1997||Cologne|
|3||1:41.73||Sebastian Coe||10 June 1981||Florence|
|1:41.73||Nijel Amos||9 August 2012||London|
|5||1:41.77||Joaquim Cruz||26 August 1984||Cologne|
|6||1:42.05||Emmanuel Korir||22 July 2018||London|
|7||1:42.23||Abubaker Kaki Khamis||4 June 2010||Oslo|
|8||1:42.28||Sammy Koskei||26 August 1984||Cologne|
|9||1:42.34||Wilfred Bungei||8 September 2002||Rieti|
|Donavan Brazier||1 October 2019||Doha|
|11||1:42.37||Mohammed Aman||6 September 2013||Brussels|
|12||1:42.47||Yuriy Borzakovskiy||24 August 2001||Brussels|
|13||1:42.51||Amel Tuka||17 July 2015||Fontvieille|
|14||1:42.53||Timothy Kitum||9 August 2012||London|
|Pierre-Ambroise Bosse||18 July 2014||Fontvieille|
|16||1:42.54||Ferguson Rotich||12 July 2019||Monaco|
|17||1:42.55||André Bucher||17 August 2001||Zürich|
|18||1:42.58||Vebjørn Rodal||31 July 1996||Atlanta|
|19||1:42.60||Johnny Gray||28 August 1985||Koblenz|
|20||1:42.61||Taoufik Makhloufi||15 August 2016||Rio de Janeiro|
|21||1:42.62||Patrick Ndururi||17 August 2001||Zurich|
|22||1:42.67||Alfred Kirwa Yego||6 September 2009||Rieti|
|23||1:42.69||Hezekiél Sepeng||3 September 2009||Brussels|
|Japheth Kimutai||3 September 2009||Brussels|
|25||1:42.79||Frederick Onyancha||31 July 1996||Atlanta|
|Yusuf Saad Kamel||29 July 2008||Fontvieille|
Below is a list of other times equal or superior to 1:42.32:
- David Rudisha also ran 1:41.01 (2010), 1:41.09 (2010), 1:41.33 (2011), 1:41.51 (2010), 1:41.54 (2012), 1:41.74 (2012), 1:42.01 (2009), 1:42.04 (2010), 1:42.12A (2012), 1:42.15 (2016).
- Wilson Kipketer also ran 1:41.24 (1997), 1:41.73 (1997), 1:41.83 (1996), 1:42.17 (1996), 1:42.20 (1997), 1:42.27 (1999), 1:42.32 (2002).
- Nijel Amos also ran 1:41.89 (2019), 1:42.14 (2018).
Below is a list of other times equal or superior to 1:55.28:
- Caster Semenya also ran 1:54.60 (2018), 1:54.98 (2019), 1:55.16 (2017), 1:55.27 (2017, 2018), 1:55.28 (2016).
- Jarmila Kratochvílová also ran 1:54.68 (1983), 1:55.04 (1983).
- Ana Fidelia Quirot also ran 1:54.82 (1997).
- Nadezhda Olizarenko also ran 1:54.85 (1980).
- Pamela Jelimo also ran 1:54.87 (2008), 1:54.97 (2008), 1:54.99 (2008), 1:55.16 (2008).
- Olga Mineyeva also ran hand-timed 1:55.1 (1980).
World Championships medalists
World Indoor Championships medalists
- A Known as the World Indoor Games
- While 1500m runners are usually encouraged to run 5000 metres and/or 3000m steeplechase.
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- Mike Rowbottom (12 July 2019). "Hassan breaks world mile record in Monaco with 4:12.33 - IAAF Diamond League". IAAF. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
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- "All-time women's best 800m". alltime-athletics.com. 16 July 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
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