440 Yard and 400 Meter Racing – Facts and Figures

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!

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • I ran the quarter mile in high school my time was 49.8 and it was the school record at the time. In 1993 someone ran the 400 meters in 49.5. Could you please tell me what the proper conversion would be use my above 440 yard dash time to the 400 meters and possibly convert the 49.5 meters to a 440 yard dash time. I understand Track and Field News uses a book table to convert times but I have not been able to find one

    So my 49.8 was the school record until 1993 and for a while they even converted my quarter mile time to 49.5 in meters, but when someone ran the 49.5 in 1993 they erased all my times as irrelevant. Doesn’t hardly seem fair.

  • @DoubleD – as stated in the article, the conversion is 0.3 seconds.

    Thus, your 49.8 440yd = 49.5 400m
    The other chap’s 49.5 400m = 49.8 440yd.

    Both your times should be listed as the school record (yours with an asterick).

  • Thank you so much for your quick response.

    I’ve been toiling with how to approach the Athletic Director. I hadn’t realize the record been removed all these years until a recent visit back to the school.

    Listing my record with an asterick seems to be very appropriate and fair and it by no means tarnishes the 400 meters run in 1993

  • Because my 440 yard dash was hand timed. Would I have to add 0.14 second to convert to FAT time.

    As a result my 49.8 would really be 49.94
    and my 400 meter conversion would be a 49.64

    And that would result in Tommy Smith would have run a 44.64 sec 400 meter.
    Thanks so much.

  • Ive done some more research and it appears my time does hold as the following:

    49.8y = 49.5’m, nothing more. In a list it would come after 49.64m and before 49.65m


    • 100 yards = 91.44 meters. The WR by 1968 was 9.9 for the 100m and 9.1 for the 100y. So you could add 0.8 seconds (or 0.9 for slower times) to get the 100y -> 100m equivalent.

  • dude don’t worry about old HS records. had a coach tell me , once you set a record it’s yours and something you have forever even when it’s broken.

  • How can you subtract .3 seconds for every time run? Wouldn’t the time difference be relative to the speed the runner is travelling?

  • Hiram Caroll, as a high school junior ran an officially timed 48.0 secs in the 440 yard dash. It was reported to be a new HS American/world HS record. Date 1960, or 61. Albuquerque High School.
    Can any one confirm?