I am going to put a few arguments to rest.
When did they stop running the 440 yard dash?
In 1976, almost all Imperial (English) distances were abolished for track record purposes. The only exception was the Mile run because of its tradition and popularity. The mile (or 1609 meters) starting line is 9 meters back from a 400 meter track.
UPDATE: The NCAA is proposing some amendments to the 2007 Rules Book that would reject the metric system in favor of the imperial system. Read the article here on The Finish Line Pundit Blog.
POP QUIZ: Who holds the current 440 yard world record?
Which is longer, 400 meters ot 440 yards?
The 400 meters is shorter than the 440 yards. Since 1 meter = 1.093 yards or 1 yard = 0.9144 meters:
400 meter dash = 437.445 yards (Edited – thanks everyone!)
440 yard dash = 402.336 meters
You can however, set up 2 timing systems in a 440 yard dash, with the shorter distance for 400 meters. Tommie Smith did that in 1967 with a 44.5 400 meters and 44.8 for 440 yards, as seen with the 2 finish line tapes in the photo below:
Converting 440 yard dash to a 400 meter dash
To convert a 440 yard dash to a 400 meter dash, subtract 0.3 seconds.
In the above example, Tommie Smith’s 440 yard time is 44.8. That is equivalent to a 44.5, the exact time he ran en route to the 440 yard dash. Imagine that time with today’s faster synthetic tracks!
Converting 400 meters from hand time to FAT (fully automatic timing)
To convert a 400 meters hand time to FAT, add 0.14 seconds.
i.e. a 49.9HT is equivalent to 50.04FAT
This is different than converting hand times 100 meters and 200 meters to FAT, where you add 0.24 seconds. a 10.0HT is 10.24FAT
The reason is your distance to the starting gun smoke (not sound!) is relatively closer to you from the finish line, than the 100 meter or 200 meter starting gun.
POP QUIZ ANSWER: In 1971 John Smith clocked 44.5 seconds in the 440 yard dash as a member of the UCLA track team. This is equivalent to a 44.2 400 meters.
A Book Review
World History of the One Lap Race 1850-2005 by Roberto Quercetani.
This book covers both Men’s and Women’s 400m and 4 x 400m relay, from Robert Philpot’s 49.5 in 1871, to Michael Johnson’s 43.18 in 1999, up to Jeremy Wariner’s 2004 Olympic victory.
Notice how the title is called “one lap race” instead of the 400 or 440!
A must read for any quarter-miler!