Designed to give newcomers (and not so new) to the sport a head start when going to athletics events, click on the headings below to view introduction to the article. If you want to read more, then click on the 'read more' button and full article will appear at the top of the page.

In addition to a general guide, you can now read a discipline by discipline guide in this Olympic year. Each entry gives the background to an event and a brief summary of the rules including those that may cause bafflement to newbies (and to some of us who have followed the sport for a while!).

Written by supporters for supporters!

  • Where are the best seats? +

    For some athletics events you may not get a choice of seat location beyond a price category - for example when there is a ballot as in the 2012 Olympics or the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, or on certain online ticketing services.

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  • How do I keep track of the action? +

    With so much going on at any athletics events it can be difficult to stay on top of the action, but there are some steps you can take to stay ahead of the game.

    Buy a programme - if available these

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  • Alexander Stadium, Birmingham +

    Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium has now become the de facto home of the British Championships - which doubles up as trials for Olympic Games, European and World Championships - and a Diamond League event. It is also the home of Birchfield Harriers . The

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  • Bedford International Athletics Stadium +

    Bedford International Athletics Stadium is the venue for the Bedford International Games, British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) Championships and a plethora of England Athletics championships. Tickets are very reasonably prices and programmes are provided for most events.

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  • 100 metres +

    The 100 metres is the shortest sprint distance commonly run outdoors. It is one of the most popular and prestigious events in the sport of athletics. It has been contested at the Summer Olympics since 1896 (1928 for women). The reigning

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  • 200 metres +

    The 200 metres is a sprint event. On an outdoor 400m track, the race begins at the halfway point taking in the curve and the home straight, so a combination of techniques are needed to successfully run the race. A

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  • 400 metres +

    The 400 metres, (or erroneously the quarter mile), is a sprint event. It has been featured in the athletics programme at the Summer Olympics since 1896 (1964 for women). In many countries, athletes previously competed in the 440 yard dash (402.336 m)

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  • 800 metres +

    The 800 metre race is the shorter pf the two common middle distance track events. The 800 metres is run over two laps of the track (400 metre track) and has always been an Olympic event. It was included in

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  • 1500 metres +

    The 1500 metres or ‘metric mile’ is the blue-riband middle distance track event in athletics. The distance has been contested at the Summer Olympics since 1896 and the World Championships in Athletics since 1983.

    The demands of the race are

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  • 5000 metres +

    The 5000 metres is the shorter of the two long distance track events held on the flat at major championships. It is the same distance as one of the more popular road or cross country events – the 5km. It is

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  • 10,000 metres +

    Introduced in 1912, the 10,000m is the longest standard track event at major championships. Athletes from Finland dominated the event until the 1960s, at which time African athletes began to emerge as favourites. On the track, athletes run 25 laps

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  • 100 metre hurdles +

    The 100m hurdles is run by women (the male counterpart is the 110 metres hurdles). For the race ten hurdles of a height of 83.8 cm (2 feet 9 inches i.e. 23cm lower than for the men’s sprint hurdles) are placed evenly

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  • 110 metre hurdles +

    The 110 metres hurdles or sprint hurdles is a track event for men. The female counterpart is the 100 metres hurdles. As part of a racing event, ten hurdles of 1.067 metres (3.5 ft or 42 inches) in height are evenly spaced along

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  • 400 metre hurdles +

    The 400 metres hurdles is an Olympic athletics event in track and field. On a standard outdoor track 400 metres is one lap of the track. Runners stay in their lane the entire way after starting out of the blocks and

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  • 3000 metre steeplechase +

    The steeplechase is an obstacle race in athletics, which derives its name from the steeplechase in horse racing. The length of the race is usually 3000m; junior and some masters events are 2000m, as women's events formerly were. The circuit

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  • 4 x 100 metre relay +

    The 4 × 100 metres relay or sprint relay is an athletics track event run in lanes over one lap of the track with four runners completing 100 metres each. The first runners begin at the same stagger as for the individual 400 m race.

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  • 4 x 400m relay +

    Traditionally, the 4x400 metre relay finals are the last event of a track meet, and is often met with a very enthusiastic crowd, especially if the last leg is a close race. Each member of the 4-strong team runs one

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  • Marathon +

    The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), that is usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek

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  • Racewalking (20km and 50km) +

    Racewalking, or race walking, is a long-distance athletic event. Although it is a foot race, it is different from running in that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. Stride length is reduced,

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  • Long Jump +

    The long jump combines speed, strength, and agility in an attempt to leap as far as possible from a take-off point. This event has been an Olympic medal event since the first modern Olympics in 1896 and has a history

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  • Triple Jump +

    The triple jump (sometimes referred to as the hop, step and jump or the hop, skip and jump) is similar to the long jump, but involving a “hop, bound and jump” routine, whereby the competitor runs down the track and

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  • High Jump +

    The high jump requires competitors to jump over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights. It has been contested since the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. Over the centuries since, competitors have introduced increasingly more effective techniques to arrive at

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  • Pole Vault +

    Pole vaulting is a  field event in which a person uses a long, flexible pole (which today is usually made either of fibreglass or carbon fibre) as an aid to leap over a bar. Pole jumping competitions were known to

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  • Shot Put +

    The shot put involves "putting" (throwing in a pushing motion) a heavy metal ball—the shot—as far as possible. Competitors take their throw from inside a marked circle, with a stopboard at the front of the circle. The distance thrown is

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  • Discus +

    The discus throw involves athletes throwing a heavy disc—called a discus—to achieve the furthest distance. It is an ancient sport, as evidenced by the 5th century BC Myron statue, Discobolus. The men's competition has been a part of the modern

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  • Hammer +

    The hammer throw involves throwing a heavy metal ball attached to a wire and handle. The name "hammer throw" is derived from older competitions where an actual sledge hammer was thrown. Such competitions are still part of the Scottish Highland

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  • Javelin +

    The javelin involves throwing a ‘spear’ with its size, shape, minimum weight, and centre of gravity defined by IAAF rules. In international competition, men throw a javelin between 2.6 and 2.7 metres in length and (at least) 800 grams in weight,

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  • Heptathlon +

    The heptathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of seven track and field events. The word heptathlon is of Greek origin (from hepta [seven] and athlos [contest]). Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined

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  • Decathlon +

    The decathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of ten track and field events. The word decathlon is of Greek origin (from deka [ten] and athlos [contest]). Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined

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