Relay race

The relay race or post-race, as it is also known in some parts of the world, is the race that is done on foot, usually run by four-member teams, although they can be more, and in which each member of the team is responsible for running certain distance, passing a tube called "witness" to the member who waits ahead, and thus runs successively until you reach the goal and finish the race. It is important to mention that relay is the act and consequence of replacing an athlete, regardless the type of activity being performed. Relay racing can occur in different sports categories such as running, swimming, cross-country skiing, and skating. Within the Olympic Games there are several types of races that fall within the category of athleticism.

Relay race

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Obstacle race

What's the relay race?

The relay race is the race that is carried out in teams made up of four members, although there may be more depending on the sport. It consists of running a number of meters passing a tube called witness, from one runner to another, until they reach the goal.

About relay race

To explain the relay race, it is also important to establish the race concept, which can refer to the competition during which each participant tries to reach the finish line before the rest of the competitors. The objective of the relay race is to travel the previously established route in the shortest possible amount of time: i.e., at the fastest possible speed.

Post-run or relay races are conducted by two or more teams participating on the same court or track. The members of each team, in addition to having to run at full speed, must also pass each other an element known as a witness: otherwise, they could not continue the race. To give an example, we can refer to a 400-meter relay race, carried out by a team of four members per team. Each athlete will have to cover a distance of 100 meters, every 100 meters a colleague of his team will be waiting for him, this colleague to whom he must give the witness to be able to advance in the race. Once the second athlete received the witness, this second runner can start his race and complete his 100 meters.

Following these steps mentioned above, athlete 1 will have to run 100 meters carrying the witness and then, will have to hand it to athlete 2, who will have to run another 100 meters and hand the witness to athlete 3. After another 100 meters, run by athlete number 3, this athlete will have to pass the witness to athlete 4, who is responsible for crossing the finish line at the end of the race. The team that completes the post-race first is the winner. Regardless of the discipline or type of sport being played during the race, the competition will be similar, each participant must run a certain path on the track and then give the possibility to the next athlete to perform the same activity until the end.

Relay race history

In ancient times races were very fashionable, especially during funerary celebrations. The main objective was to bring the sacred flame to a certain place on the hills of the place through torches. With time, the races evolved into a race that went from one altar to another. For example, in the races held in Athens, the torch was lit in the altar of Eros and was taken to Plato’s academy, as these distances were extremely long, the runners who carried the torch passed it from one to another during the course.

In the United States, the New York firefighters were in charge of giving them popularity by doing a charity race with this modality. Relay races gained fame in 1912, at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, during which the United States won the 4 x 400 meter relay and women’s relays were introduced at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Relay race, rules and tests


The race

Race system


Race control


Three main phases occur in a relay race. During the preparation phase, the rider maintains maximum speed and the outgoing rider must assume the starting position.

In the acceleration phase the runners must synchronize their speed by keeping it at the highest level and maximizing the acceleration (outgoing runner).

The last phase of passage consists in the passage of the witness so that, it is exchanged with a very appropriate technique and at the highest possible speed.

Relay race track

The standard track consists of 6 to 8 lanes, each of them with a length of 400 meters and two parallel straight lines and two curves whose radii are equal. The measurement of the track contour is acquired to 30 centimeters to the outside of the inner edge of the same one. Each athlete has a lane of 122 centimeters to 125 and this lane is marked by lines of 5 centimeters high.

What is the witness in a relay race?

Witness is also known by the name of testimony, and is a cylindrical bar made of metal or a similar material that is used in relay races. It has a length of 30 centimeters and a minimum weight of 50 grams.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Relay race. Recovered on 24 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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