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Abolition of 220 yd/200m straightaway

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  • Abolition of 220 yd/200m straightaway

    Discussing the above with a friend close to my age, he wondered when these events disappeared at the small college level. They were certainly held in the early 60's, at least in dual meets, and we both remembered Tommie Smith's record on the straightaway a few years later. But I can't remember any more details.

    Does anyone know when they disappeared from the championship meets?

    A related question: I remember 440 yds races sometimes starting from the same place as the 220 straightaway. There was no stagger. But, I can't remember how it was done. Did they cut in at the first curve?

    Not being a sprinter, I didn't pay a lot of attention at the time. But, I do remember that the once or twice I ran the 220 yd straightaway, from the start, the finishline looked incredibly far away.

    Pat Palmer

  • #2
    You are right, ppalmer, straightaway 220s did look a lonnngg way away, like a receding mirage.
    Yep, we ran 440s out of the chute but with a stagger

    I don't remember when straightaway 220s disappeared, except with the advent of removal from and reconfiguration of football stadiums.

    I sometimes cruise Google Earth. There are a surprising number of stadiums extant with 220 straightaways, some on both sides of the track, in both US, Europe and places I am surprised there is a track. Another thing I noticed is some tracks are almost rectangular with sharply rounded corners rather than an arc..

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    • #3
      last NCAA on the straight was 1954 (previous two years were curves).

      last AAU was 1951....

      I'm guessing the abolition thereof had far more to do with schools maximizing their athletic fields (read football stadia) than any track-related concern.

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      • #4
        When I was in high school, I worked a few junior high meets as the clerk of course. This was the late 70s, and we ran the straight 220 yd. Since it was, of course, hand timed, it was fairly humorous. The timers would look for a puff of smoke an eighth of a mile away, and I would hear a series of clicks of stopwatches, followed a short time later by a couple of other clicks. I would just roll my eyes and figure that putting the times to the places was going to be fun. The toughest parts of those meets was trying to get the names out of breathless kids and figuring out how to spell them.

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        • #5
          I used to love watching the 220 yard dash run on a straight at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Runners began hidden from view inside the tunnel. When the gun was fired, it made the most unforgettable sound, some phonetically like this: boink-ee-OWWW. There was a lag in time before the runners appears coming out the tunnel. It was dramatic, it had its own sound effects and it was exciting as hell.
          "Who's Kidding Who?"

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          • #6
            Out of the Chute

            The colleges did away with the long straightaway which was used in not only the 220 and 440, but other races as well in the early 60s. But in the midwest, my small college ran at many sites that used the chute. As far as high schools go, it was mandated in the rule book to use the olympic start and not use the chute any longer. In our state sectionals in 1969 we followed the new rule. However, when we went to Rutgers to run the state meet, meet management decided to use the chute. Now the funny thing about that was that at Rutgers they had put in a new track in 1964, which was crushed brick. The chutes on both sides remained, but those were not redone. So, you had a red brick oval with an old cinder chute. We had a kid who won the 100. In the 220, which was his best race,as he had broken 22 the previous week around the turn, they decided to run the race on the straightaway. He broke out well, as one would expect a 100 champ to do. However, he stepped in a hole and ripped his hamstring. The injury was not resolved and his college career was up and down because he kept reinjuring the same hammy. I guess that is why I remember the dates so well. It was interesting running out the chute. You looked down the track and realized that you had to run all the way down to end and around the turn and up the other side. It made the 440 look long. However, once the gun went off, you sprinted out and before you knew you were on the turn. After the turn the last straight was never as long as the first one. If you got out well and were competitive your time was often much faster than running around the oval. Of course there were some races were that last straight seemed endless! The 220 was great. You just got your knees up and rolled.

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            • #7
              Any estimates on what Bolt and MJ would have ran on a straightaway??

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              • #8
                I recall competing in the 1970 NJ State High School Championships on a cinder track at Highland Park, NJ. Every event of one lap or more, came out of a chute eliminating the first turn from the race. I do not recall specifically but assume the 220 was on a straight.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lonewolf
                  ....
                  I sometimes cruise Google Earth. There are a surprising number of stadiums extant with 220 straightaways, some on both sides of the track, in both US, Europe and places I am surprised there is a track. Another thing I noticed is some tracks are almost rectangular with sharply rounded corners rather than an arc..
                  You mean the Great Wall isn't the only thing you can see from the moon?!

                  Seriously, I know Washington State's track was originally an 880; when I got there the 220 straight was still in place (even though it had a cement sidewalk across it at about the 80m mark!), and you could see the impression of the other straightaway as well, even though the curve had long since been swallowed up.

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                  • #10
                    The Georgia Parks and Recreation State Meet 220s were run on a straight track in Dalton, GA in 1976. Other years that I remember, as well as the Region Meets that year were run on the turn,

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                    • #11
                      Ohio trotted out the 1-turn 440 yd at the State H. S. Championships at Ohio State for Dave Mills in 1960(?) after not having used it for years. He set a National H.S. record that lasted for many years (low 46s?). He went to college at Purdue, probably much to the consternation of Larry Snyder, but never really improved on his H. S. time.

                      For many years at Ohio Stadium, even after a rubberized asphalt track was installed in the early-mid 60s, you could still see the remnants of the old 220 yard cinder straightaway that Jesse Owens undoubtedly ran on. The start was outside the southeast corner of the stadium; the gates had to be opened to let the runners through. Old railroad rails were used as curbing.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wayne T. Armbrust
                        Ohio trotted out the 1-turn 440 yd at the State H. S. Championships at Ohio State for Dave Mills in 1960(?) after not having used it for years. He set a National H.S. record that lasted for many years (low 46s?). He went to college at Purdue, probably much to the consternation of Larry Snyder, but never really improved on his H. S. time.

                        For many years at Ohio Stadium, even after a rubberized asphalt track was installed in the early-mid 60s, you could still see the remnants of the old 220 yard cinder straightaway that Jesse Owens undoubtedly ran on. The start was outside the southeast corner of the stadium; the gates had to be opened to let the runners through. Old railroad rails were used as curbing.
                        I believe the year was 1958? My father has the State meet program from '66 when Dave Rimmer vaulted 15'1" for Mt. Healthy, and I thought I remember reading Mill's record was 46.6 in '58? Just going from memory here.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wayne T. Armbrust
                          For many years at Ohio Stadium, even after a rubberized asphalt track was installed in the early-mid 60s, you could still see the remnants of the old 220 yard cinder straightaway that Jesse Owens undoubtedly ran on. The start was outside the southeast corner of the stadium; the gates had to be opened to let the runners through. Old railroad rails were used as curbing.
                          Why did they need curbing on a straightaway?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tandfman
                            Originally posted by Wayne T. Armbrust
                            For many years at Ohio Stadium, even after a rubberized asphalt track was installed in the early-mid 60s, you could still see the remnants of the old 220 yard cinder straightaway that Jesse Owens undoubtedly ran on. The start was outside the southeast corner of the stadium; the gates had to be opened to let the runners through. Old railroad rails were used as curbing.
                            Why did they need curbing on a straightaway?
                            To contain the cinders.

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                            • #15
                              Mills ran 46.6 around one turn in May of 1958. His record lasted until Ted Nelson (Andrews TX) ran 46.5 in April, 1961. A month later, Ulis Williams took the record to 46.1, where it remained for exactly 11 years.

                              Back (kind of) to the original topic: The last 220 on a straight course at the California HS State Meet occurred in 1966. Real estate was precious, and when the 180 lows went away for good after 1974, a lot of those long chutes disappeared forever.

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