What is the best lane in track and field? What is the best starting position for a runner?

olympics

The inside lane is oftentimes best in track and field not because the lanes are the fastest, but because the fastest athletes are placed in those lanes after qualifying rounds. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)AP

The inside lane is oftentimes best in track and field not because the lanes are the fastest, but because the fastest athletes are placed in those lanes after qualifying rounds.

Here is a breakdown behind why the middle lanes are an advantage in track and field, but not the advantage you might think.

Why are inside and outside lanes bad?

Inside lanes are bad because in races with turns, the corners are too tight and the tight corners can slow runners down.

Likewise, the outside lanes are bad because of the staggered starts required in the sport that limit athletes’ ability to see their competitors.

The wisdom holds that outside runners might have less motivation to chase down the competition or have trouble trying to gauge their speed compared to the inside runners if they cannot see other racers.

Aren’t all lanes in track and field the same?

No, the lanes are different because the inside lanes have tight corners and the outside lanes have limited field of vision.

But what is also notable about lane assignments in track and field is that the fastest runners always get assigned to the middle lanes.

Likewise, the fastest runners always win their races. The only exception to this rule is in the qualifying rounds when runners are assigned to lanes at random.

Related stories about the Olympics:

‘Twisties’ in gymnastics: What are they? How do gymnasts cope?

What are the new sports at the Tokyo Olympics?

Why aren’t there spectators at the Olympics this year?

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Katherine Rodriguez can be reached at krodriguez@njadvancemedia.com. Have a tip? Tell us at nj.com/tips.