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Olympic Hurdle Rules

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World class athlete Edwin Moses of the USA in action as he clears a hurdle during his qualifying heat in the 400 meter race during the United States Olympic Trials
Tony Duffy/Staff/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Both men and women run a 400-meter hurdle event. Men also run a 110-meter race while women run a 100-meter event. The rules for all hurdle events are the same, but the hurdles themselves are different.

Equipment
All Olympic hurdle races include 10 hurdles. In the 110, the hurdles measure 1.067 meters high. The first hurdle is set 13.72 meters from the starting line. There are 9.14 meters between hurdles and 14.02 meters from the final hurdle to the finish line.

In the 100, the hurdles measure .84 meters high. The first hurdle is set 13 meters from the starting line. There are 8.5 meters between hurdles and 10.5 meters from the final hurdle to the finish line.

In the 400 men’s race the hurdles are .914 meters high. The first hurdle is set 45 meters from the starting line. There are 35 meters between hurdles and 40 meters from the final hurdle to the finish line.

The hurdle setup in the 400 women’s race is the same as the men’s 400 except the hurdles are .762 meters high.

The Competition
All hurdle events include eight runners in the final. Depending on the number of entries, each event includes two or three preliminary rounds before the final. In 2004, the 110-meter event included one round of preliminary heats followed by quarterfinal and semifinal rounds prior to the final. The 100 and 400 both included a round of preliminary heats followed by a semifinal and then the final.

The Start
Runners in all hurdle events begin in starting blocks. The starter will announce, “On your marks,” and then, “Set.” At the “set” command runners must have both hands and at least one knee touching the ground and both feet in the starting blocks. Their hands must be behind the start line. The race begins with the opening gun. Runners are permitted only one false start and are disqualified for a second false start.

The Race
The 100- and 110-meter races are run on straightaways. Runners must remain in their lanes during all hurdle races. As in all races, the event ends when a runner’s torso (not the head, arm or leg) crosses the finish line.

Runners are not disqualified for knocking a hurdle over, unless it’s done intentionally. Hurdlers can be disqualified for failing to jump a hurdle or trailing a foot or leg below the horizontal plane of the top of any hurdle while clearing the hurdle.

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