How Long Is A Track Lap?

How long should a track lap take? The answer depends on several factors, such as the type of race (e.g., sprint or endurance) and whether you’re racing alone or with other competitors.

Track racing is a sport where athletes compete against each other over distances ranging from 100 meters to 2 miles. Track races are usually held indoors at stadiums, arenas, or outdoor tracks.

How Long Is A Track Lap?

A track lap is most often 400 meters long.

This is the standard length for outdoor athletics tracks, though some indoor venues don’t have the space for a full 400-meter track and have one that is 200 or 300 meters long.

A typical track lap takes between 3 and 4 minutes. This time varies depending on the distance covered, the weather conditions, and the number of laps completed.

As you might expect, it’s a lot easier to run a single 400-meter race with a good lap time than it is to record a good lap time after running 1200 meters before it!

In North America, the track length is sometimes referred to as being a ‘quarter-mile’. A mile is around 1609 meters long, so a 400-meter track is certainly very close to a quarter of a mile.

However, in athletics and running circles, most measurements are discussed in meters, regardless of whether people are from Europe, North America, or anywhere else in the world.

Anatomy Of The Running Track

So, we now know that the standard athletics track is 400 meters long, but if you’ve ever seen one, you will have noticed that there are plenty of strange markings and sections set aside for different events.

So what do they all mean, and what are they there for?


The first thing most people notice about the athletics track is that it’s usually split into 8 equally proportioned lanes.

According to most regulations, the lanes on a standard running track should not be more than 1.25 meters and no less than 1.22 meters in width. The lines themselves should also be only 50 millimeters wide.

It’s important for high-level competitions that these regulations are adhered to carefully to ensure that each athlete has completely identical conditions and nobody has an unfair advantage over their opponents.

Common Finish Line

The common finish line is often indicated with a bold white line that runs horizontally across the track just before one of the curved sections of the track.

This is the finishing point for all races on the track, regardless of the distance for that race.

200 m Start Line

This is where the 200-meter races are started from. To ensure every athlete runs the same distance, these start lines are staggered across each lane, with the runner on the outermost lane starting further forward.

The start line in the first lane is typically at the point where the curve starts at the opposite end of the track to the common finish line.

400 m Start Line

Just like the 200 m start line, this marking involves a series of staggered starting lines to indicate where the 400-meter races should be started from.

You’ll see that the lines are staggered further apart across the lanes than the 200 m start line.

This is because the distance the athletes will cover is further, thus the runners in the outside lanes would have even more of a disadvantage with no stagger.

Because the entire track is 400 meters long, the first lane’s 400 m start line will be on the common finish line.

1500 m Start Line

1500 m Start Line

This marking serves exactly the same purpose as all the other start lines we’ve looked at already.

The only difference with this one is that it is not a series of staggered lines across the lanes, rather a single curved line.

In 1500-meter races, athletes don’t have to stay in a single lane for the whole distance and will file into the inside lane as the race progresses.

Therefore, staggered starting lines are not necessary.

100 m Start Line

This is the only starting line that doesn’t fall completely on the standard oval of the running track.

Instead, a straight run-off section exists so that athletes running the 100-meter sprint do not have to run on a curve at all.

As you’d expect, the start line is completely flat and lies exactly 100 meters from the common finish line.

110 m Hurdles Start Line

This line also exists on the straight run-off section and is used exclusively for hurdles events.

It also uses a straight starting line with no stagger and is 110 meters away from the common finish line.

Other Markings

Of course, some running tracks will be different from others and will have some different sets of markings depending on what the venue might also be used for.

For example, some tracks have markings on the track for relay events where 4 runners may race in teams against others.

Similarly, some tracks might have markings in place to show where hurdles should be placed for various distances of hurdle races.

How Long Does It Take To Run A Track Lap?

The time it takes to complete a track lap will depend on the number of laps you are completing.

For a single lap of the 400-meter track, the world record is currently set at 43.03 seconds and was achieved by Wayde van Niekerk in 2016.

Naturally, most people won’t be able to run it as quickly as this, but the average healthy adult could expect to do it in 60-70 seconds.

However, this time differs as the number of laps increases. For example, a 2000-meter race requires athletes to complete 5 laps of the circuit.

The world record was achieved by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999 and is set at 4:44:79.

If we divide the number of seconds in this record (284.79) and divide it by the number of laps completed (5), we get an average 400-meter lap time of 56.958 seconds.

While this is still quicker than the average person could still achieve, it does demonstrate how much of an impact the number of laps in a race has on single lap times.


So, there you have it! We hope that this guide helps you understand the basics of track racing and gives you a better idea of how long each lap takes.

Now you can get back to having fun training at your local running track!

Megan Rinzel
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