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What Are the Different Types of Indoor Track and Field Events?

Indoor track and field events showcase athletes' speed, agility, and strength in a controlled environment. From the swift sprints to the demanding distance races, and the precision of jumping to the power of throwing events, each competition offers a unique challenge. Which event captures the essence of athleticism for you? Explore further to find your track and field inspiration.
S. McCumber
S. McCumber

There are three types of indoor track and field events — track, field and combined. Indoor track and field meets feature many of the same events as their outdoor counterparts, such as the 400-, 800-, 1,500- and 4x400-meter runs. Common field events include the long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault and shot put. In addition, indoor track meets include the 60-meter run and 60-meter hurdle, as well as the heptathlon and pentathlon, which are combined events.

Most indoor tracks are 200 meters in the inside lane, which is approximately half the size of an outdoor track. The smaller size of the track means the 100-meter and 200-meter races are not normally run during indoor track and field meets. The 200-meter race, in particular, is difficult to run on an indoor track because the inside lanes cover a shorter distance than the outside lanes and there is not enough length on the track to stagger starting positions.

A runner getting ready to compete in a track and field event.
A runner getting ready to compete in a track and field event.

To compensate for the loss of the short sprints, indoor track meets usually include the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles. These races are run down the shortened straightaway of the indoor track. The hurdles race includes five hurdles over the 60-meter course.

Field events at an indoor track and field meet are the same as at an outdoor meet. Field events that are found at an outdoor meet but not included at an indoor meet include the discus, hammer and javelin throws. The exclusion of these throwing events is a result of the size limitations of the infield at an indoor track and field meet.

The two combined events found at an indoor meet are the heptathlon and the pentathlon. The heptathlon is normally reserved for men, though some indoor meets also offer the event for women. The pentathlon is generally accepted as a combined event for women only in international competition.

The heptathlon consists of seven events. Four events are held on the first day of competition. These are the 60-meter run, long jump, shot put and the high jump. On the second day, the athletes compete in the 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000-meter run. The winner is determined by a scoring system that awards points based on time, height and distance achieved during the individual contests.

The pentathlon is a combined competition that consists of five events. The events can vary depending on the organization governing the indoor track and field meet. The accepted events for international, amateur competition include the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run. Like other combined events, the pentathlon is determined by a point system.

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Discussion Comments


I admit it: I'll watch track and field if the diving, swimming and gymnastics aren't on. I do appreciate a lot of the events, but I love watching the gymnastics competition. It's always fascinating. I even like the rhythmic gymnastics, where the gymnasts use ribbons, hoops and large balls as part of their routines.

Seems like the best stories tend to come from the Olympic track and field events, though. I don't think there's a better one than Jesse Owens taking four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, right under Hitler's nose. He was born about 25 miles from where I live. One of Alabama's greatest sons.


I like the track and field events, if for no other reason than it's much easier to keep up with who is doing well. There aren't too many rules in high jump, for instance. You run, jump and try not to knock down the bar. That's it.

When I watch the Olympics, I also try to catch some of the field events, like javelin and discus. That's the only time you ever see them and it's always interesting to see the athletes compete. These events sometimes have more rules, but they are interesting to watch. I always learn something about another country or the sport.

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    • A runner getting ready to compete in a track and field event.
      By: mezzotint_fotolia
      A runner getting ready to compete in a track and field event.