With the IAAF Youth Championships around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the Swedish Relay.
Everyone knows Usain Bolt has 3 World Records (100m, 200m, and 4x100m) but he also has World Bests in the 60m outdoors (6.31, en route to 9.58 in Berlin), 150m curve (14.44 en route to 19.19 in Berlin) and straightway (14.35 Manchester), and the Swedish Relay.
He set the Swedish Relay record back in 2006 at the DN Galan, 2 years before he made his “breakthrough” in 2008. The Puma Reggae Team ran 1:46.59 with a team of Christopher Williams (100m), Usain Bolt (200m), Davian Clarke (300m), and Jermaine Gonzales (400m) [SORRY, no splits but you can estimate splits roughly at 10-20-32-44.6]
Asafa Powell has the 100 yard world best in 9.07.
Usain Bolt 2005, Photo Credits: Trackshark.com
The Swedish Relay is 1000 meters in length (two and a half laps), comprising 4 legs in order of 100m, 200m, 300m, & 400m. It is also called the medley relay and mostly used in youth competitions.
This is more common in International meets, where the 200m legs run in their lanes the entire distance. (Note you run the 200 as a straight-curve, and not curve-straight (See How to Race the 200 meters). Only the 300m legs break for the pole.
The Swedish Relay is a great event as it combines both 4x100m and 4x400m runners. I wish Masters races had this. Sigh.
The first exchange is critical as it is occurring at near top speed (100 to 200) using the push pass exchange unless you are France.
The 2nd exchange (200 to 300) uses a visual upsweep pass, which is safe and conservative when you consider the incoming runner is tiring.
The last exchange (300 to 400) is a high visual pass (see Baton Exchanges: How to Run the 4×200m & 4×400m)
Remembering Michael Johnson
Thanks to Jason Stayanchi for pointing this out.
In 2001, Michael Johnson was doing his farewell tour by only running relays. Why not? With your teammates giving you a lead, it would be very hard to beat as you would have to make up the gap, and then deal with the speed of MJ.
He wanted to set a World Record in the process, but he insisted on running anchor in a 400m where he crossed the line in a WR.
The traditional 400-200-200-800 medley relay would not be good enough.
So he needed a “soft” WR from an unusual race distance. The 4x400m would be impossible.
The Swedish Relay. The team with Michael Johnson in 2001 set the WR at 1:49.09, which stood until 2006. Prior to this race, the World Best was 1:49.54 by an Italian team at the 1992 European Relays in Portsmouth.
But in 2006 at the DN Galan meet, the Puma Reggae Team ran 1:46.59 demolishing the record.
Can you imagine that team now with a healthy Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Warren Weir and Jermaine Gonzales? What could they run? 1:45?