How Fast can Usain Bolt run 100 Yards?

This article is aimed for readers born before 1960 when running 100 yards was the norm, especially in the USA.

There has been a lot of buzz on how fast Usain Bolt could run a 40 yard dash, which were fuelled by the Chris Johnson’s recent 40 yard challenge to determine the World’s Fastest Man.  (Shades of Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson circa 1997 come to mind.  You can’t compare a 100m to 200m, let alone a 40 yard to a 100m)

The 100 yard dash is exactly 91.44 meters

In 1964, Bob Hayes set the WR of 9.1 seconds for 100 yards which was equaled by John Carlos in 1969.  There were even some reports of 9.0 performances.

At that time, the 100 meter World Record was 9.9 hand timed.

Based on these results, in theory, you could extrapolate your 100 yard dash time by adding 0.8 seconds if you were an elite sprinter.  Then again, some 100 meter races are won and lost during those last 8.5 meters!

Of course, a slower 100 yard dash time would require a larger extrapolation (0.9?) due to the drop in top end speed.  There is no fixed rule.

If you want to see some sample elite times for the 100 yards, Track and Field News has a nice compilation of the History of US National Championships results for the 100 yards and meters.  Note they ran the 100 yards up until the early 1970’s but on the Olympic year, they ran the Nationals (which doubled as the Trials) in meters.

Usain Bolt and the 100 Yard dash

100_yards Taking his 9.58 splits from 2009 WC in Berlin, Usain Bolt split 90 meters in 8.75.

You can take his last 10m segment (0.83 sec) and multiply that by 0.144 to get 0.1195 seconds. 

That makes a grand total of 8.75 + 0.12 = 8.87 seconds for an approximate 100 yard dash.  Subtract 0.24 from FAT to HT, and you are looking at 8.6 or 8.7 hand time.

You can argue how fast John Carlos’ 9.1 would be if he had better spikes, better training, and faster tracks, but I’ll save that for the documentary.

On the next WC, I would like to see the IAAF setup 2 finish lines with the first one at 91.44 meters.

Why not?  Usain is credited for the 150 meter World Record.

Maybe one day Usian can hold 11 world records concurrently?  He’s currently at 4.  And counting.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
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
  • It really comes down to faster tracks, not better training. The tracks now are rubber and lively. That’s all. Any person runs faster on a rubbery track than they do on sand, or without firm blocks, or blocks at all.

    • The track at Seoul 1988 was nowhere near as fast as today’s hard tracks favoring sprinters. Ben Johnson’s 9.79 could easily have been under 9.70 if he ran through with today’s track. Maybe not 9.58, but certainly 9.6X range.