The mile has so much tradition compared to the 1500 meters. Let’s see, for celebrities, we have Miles Davis, Robert Miles, Miles Kimball, and Sarah Miles come to mind. There’s even the song “(I would walk) 500 miles”. And, of course, there’s Three Mile Island and the urban legend “Mile High Club”.
How many feet in a mile?
Originally, there was the Mile… 5280 feet or 1760 yards.
Then came the 1500m.
Later, the USA High school system created the 1600m, or “the 4 lap race on a 400 meter track”.
I wish they would standardize that “metric” mile.
The earliest recorded world record for the 1500 meters was 4:24.6 set in France in 1892. The first modern Olympiad in Athens, Greece contested the 1500 meters in 1896. The Paris 1900 Olympics had a 500 meter, or half a kilometer track, as France uses the metric system, otherwise known as System International (SI for short). This made sense at the time with a “3 lap race”, but quarter mile tracks were well known outside of Paris.
The mile is great if you had a 440 yard track. 4 laps. 1 minute per lap. 4 minute mile. Pretty easy?
In 1976, almost all Imperial or 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.
My problem with the 1500 meters is taking splits.
Coaches love taking splits, and rabbits are paid to hit certain split times. In some case, they are NOT paid if they miss their mark. Whether the rest of the field goes with the rabbit is another story.
So, what is the best way to take splits?
- Taking splits from the start line results in 400-800-1200-1500 (last split is for 300m)
- Taking splits from the finish line results in 300-700-1100-1500 (first split is for 300m). The bell lap is at 1100 meters.
With a fancy stopwatch, the ideal method to take splits for a 1500 meters is at 400-800-1100-1200-1500, thus you would have the 400-800-1200 and the last lap (from 1100-1500).
Of course, if you have several athletes in a race, things get confusing.
One thing is certain: When you cross the line first, you really don’t care what your splits are.