The an initial competition in the very first modern Olympics in 1896 was the 100-meter dash, through American thomas Burke winning yellow in a time that 12 seconds. More than a century later, the 100 meter remains among the an ext popular events at the Olympics, and the win times have steadily improved. At the 2012 games in London, Jamaican Usain Bolt winner gold through an Olympic-record time of 9.63 seconds, virtually 2.5 seconds faster than Burke ran in 1896. (Bolt also holds the world record the 9.58, collection at the 2009 civilization championships.)
The 100-meter dash might be the fastest event at the Olympics, but there is so much that walk on throughout those 10 seconds. Here"s a look in ~ the science and method in the race, in addition to the sprinters" see of those 100 meters.

You are watching: How long is a 100 meter dash

When gaining into the blocks, writer Warren Doscher to write in "The arts of Sprinting," the the strongest leg have to be in the forward pedal that the starting block <1>. The fingertips should be set just behind the beginning line (not emotional it) <2> through the arms largely straight but the elbows unlocked <3>.

In addition to listening because that the starter"s gun, sprinters are keen to have actually their feet properly collection in the blocks.Bill Frakes
Apart from the males wondering how they could beat Bolt, there is one thing sprinters speak they are concentrated on after ~ they place themselves in the beginning blocks. "Listen for the gun," says English Gardner, America"s peak female sprinter. "Nothing rather matters however that. Friend can"t do anything else till the gun walk off. The worst point you have the right to do is false start. It"s one and also done in our sport. Ns just shot to listen for the gun and also react." The rules supplied to be that you might false start once and also be given a 2nd chance. That was readjusted in 2003. Friend can also be disqualified if you begin too soon after the total fires. Research has displayed that a person cannot hear the gun and also react in under a tenth of a second. Therefore, if you start sooner 보다 a tenth the a 2nd after the gun, it will certainly be thought about a false start. And you"re done. "A lot of races room won and also lost since a sprinter does not react properly to the gun," claims two-time Olympic 100 medalist Ato Boldon the Trinidad and Tobago. "You don"t desire to anticipate the gun; you want to reaction to it. There"s a difference. If girlfriend anticipate it and also you"re wrong, you"re going to be out." "You don"t want to guess the gun; you want to reaction to it. There"s a difference. If you anticipate it and you"re wrong, you"re walk to be out." In enhancement to listening for the starter"s pistol, Warren Doscher write in "The arts of Sprinting," sprinters have to make certain their feet space properly set and that the balls of their feet, ankles, knees and also hip joints room in alignment. Their head should be down. They need to take a deep breath and also hold it.And then, they should react to the gun.

When obtaining into the blocks, author Warren Doscher write in "The art of Sprinting," the the strongest leg should be in the forward pedal of the beginning block <1>. The fingertips must be set just behind the starting line (not emotional it) <2> v the arms mainly straight yet the elbow unlocked <3>.

There are various varieties of starts, consisting of the jump and also the "get up and go" starts that may put you the end front initially but won"t aid you. To write Doscher: "One deserve to only advice forward once the foot is on the track using backward pressure to it." throughout acceleration out of the blocks, a sprinter will certainly drive out in a 45-degree angle <1>, relocating his eight in opposite direction in a big range of motion <2> through one arm driving forward and the various other driving backward.

After the starting gun fires, sprinters have to be cautious too no straighten up also quickly.Ian Walton/Getty Images
American Justin Gatlin says the begin is all around instinct. "I"m like, "All right, I"m waiting for the gun and also getting set,"" states Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100 gold medalist. "If you"re thinking, "Are my arms also wide, space my arms as well close together?" it"s over for you. You just need to go on instinct. It"s favor blinking, favor breathing." less experienced runners might shot to climb up quickly and take fast steps to placed themselves into an early lead, however two-time Olympic 100 gold medalist Carl Lewis differs. He states the an essential is no to take it immediate quick steps, yet to take it longer, more powerful strides because that will assist you farther along in the race. "If your car runs out of gas, girlfriend don"t walk ahead and also pull it," Lewis says. "You get behind and push it. And when you press it, you continue to be on the very first step and also extend every the method until the following step. And all the method until you prolong to the next step. And also that"s how you get out that the blocks." "That"s specifically what i tell my young kids," claims Boldon, now a track and also field analyst for NBC sports who additionally does part coaching. "If you have to push other heavy, you"re not going to push it indigenous a 180-degree angle. You have actually to acquire some loved one angle come the earlier of that car. You"re trying to get over inertia and also gravity in the first part of the race."
There space various types of starts, consisting of the jump and the "get up and also go" beginning that might put you the end front initially but won"t aid you. To write Doscher: "One have the right to only accelerate forward when the foot is ~ above the track using backward force to it." throughout acceleration out of the blocks, a sprinter will certainly drive out in a 45-degree angle <1>, moving his eight in opposite directions in a huge range of activity <2> through one arm driving forward and the other driving backward.
In 2012, Jamaica"s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, center, conveniently kicked it into high equipment while to win her 2nd consecutive Olympic yellow in the 100.Mark Ralston/AFP/GettyImages
By now, the sprinters have pushed tough to acquire themselves moving, and also hopefully castle are much more of a Ferrari than a Ford F650 truck. It"s time to start increasing without standing up as well tall, too quickly. "You don"t want to rush your change and snap your head up, since you have all this great momentum walking forward," Boldon says. "You want to slowly yet surely stand approximately your upright to run position. "You want to relax your head and also stay low in a pushing place so your very first 10-15 steps, i m sorry will acquire you to 20-25 meters, will be low, efficient and powerful." The full strides in the 100 range from 40-41 because that Bolt to around 50 because that the optimal women. Doscher writes that to lessen the braking result of the foot once runners action on the ground, lock should have actually their knees slightly bent once doing so. In "Sprinting," writer Ryan McGill says the runner have to keep floor contacts together "bouncy" together they can, comparing it come running across hot coals.
At this point, sprinters will usually have perfect the start phase and also will currently be in the full running phase. Keep the human body as serene as feasible with shoulders down, leaning forward to maintain balance <1>. Feet land under hips through no overstride or excessive braking. There should be no wasted energy through torso rotation <2>.
Sprinters start to technique top rate after speeding up for the very first 30 meter of the 100.VCG/VCG via Getty Images
The length of the stride deserve to be an ext important 보다 the quickness, i beg your pardon is one factor Bolt, who is 6-foot-5, is for this reason fast. However just due to the fact that you aren"t tall doesn"t average you quiet can"t be fast. Trayvon Bromell is 5-9, yet he to be the first junior sprinter to beat the 10-second note in the 100. He also finished 2nd in the U.S. Olympic trials in 9.84, simply four-hundredths of a 2nd behind Gatlin. "I claimed in the 3rd grade the I wanted to be an Olympian, and people laugh at me," Bromell said afterward. "Now I"m here." nevertheless of height, peak sprinters will begin to reach their peak speed soon after reaching 30 meter in the acceleration phase."It"s the fastest component of the race," Boldon says. "Where you"re walking to acquire to your pure top finish speed, for many sprinters it"s indigenous 35 to 55 meters in the race."
At this point, sprinters will usually have perfect the start phase and also will currently be in the full running phase. Store the human body as tranquil as possible with shoulders down, leaning front to maintain balance <1>. Feet floor under hips with no overstride or extreme braking. There have to be no wasted power through torso rotation <2>.
Donovan Bailey knew not to look earlier while beating Frankie Fredericks, center, and Ato Boldon, right, at the 1996 Olympics.Getty Images/Staff
One important facet of the 100 is to constantly stay concentrated on yourself and also the track ahead of you. Glancing to your left or best to watch where your competitors are will just slow you down. "You should have the ability to run 100 meters choose a horse in the Kentucky Derby through blinders on," Boldon says. "Nothing in the 100 should ever reason a sprinter to look come his left or right." Boldon to know that full well. The glanced over to Namibia"s Frankie Fredericks in the 1996 Olympics and fell behind him, which acquired him bronze rather than silver. "I know an ext than many that you can do it," Boldon says, "but you have to spend the remainder of her life telling human being why it price you a medal in the Olympic Games."
Runners will be at peak speed halfway with the race. Stride size is generally much more important than stride frequency <1>. Usain Bolt"s stride is around 8 feet per step.
At this point, the sprinter is in ~ his peak. He is upright and additionally running his fastest. Exactly how fast? The best will be running at 25 come 26 mph. In his book, Doescher claims that in enhancement to keeping the body in alignment, the arms must be swung to the rear, v elbows slightly far from the sides and also no arm crossover. What is it favor halfway through the race? "It"s a lot choose driving," Gatlin says. "When you"re driving, you understand what you"re doing, but you"re check the mirrors, whereby you"re at. "OK, turn, rotate signal." It"s prefer you"re going with the checks and also balances the what you need to do to obtain down the race. Therefore it"s the journey phase. Come the end of the journey phase, run, stand tall, keep going."
Runners will certainly be at top speed halfway v the race. Stride length is generally an ext important 보다 stride frequency <1>. Usain Bolt"s stride is about 8 feet per step.
English Gardner is so locked in at the 60-meter mark that she can"t remember what she think about.Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Gardner claims she doesn"t remember what go on in her head at this point in the race. "I"m in another world," she says. "That"s once my transform ego takes over. I"m not even there anymore." She"s there, she"s just focused on running. And also winning. Gatlin states that at everything speed he has actually reached in ~ 60, "That"s all I can hold. So ns just need to bluff my method through. I need to get my way out ahead of the field. And hold on."
All sprinters will slow-moving down through this point. In enhancement to preserving proper an approach to store from slowing as well much, Ryan McGill, writer of "Sprinting," says that sprinters need to wear sunglasses if the sunlight is out because squinting can slow you even more.

See more: How Many Soccer Players On A Field During A Game, How Many Players Are On A Soccer Team And Field

While it have the right to be difficult for observers come tell, runners begin slowing down after 70 meters.Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
When you watch a 100-meter race, you could think the a sprinter pulling away close to the end is gaining speed on everyone. The is no the case. Anyone slows under by 70 meters, if no earlier. Boldon claims the id that some room able come get much faster at this phase is a myth, or at the very least an illusion brought about by seeing someone pulling ahead. "Everybody in the last 35 to 40 meters is decelerating," Boldon says. "If you see somebody traction away, it"s since they are decelerating much less than the others. But everybody, no issue who lock are, as lengthy as you room a human, you room decelerating in that last 3rd of the 100." the isn"t that dramatic a drop -- Boldon claims the ideal will slow down by maybe 2 mph - but it is sufficient to make the difference. "At 70 meters, you"ve obtained to maintain and also keep those knee up," claims Bromell. "People tend to gain to 70 and think, "Oh, I"m walk to kick it into another gear," however that doesn"t happen. You actually finish up pressing and slow down even faster."
All sprinters will slow-moving down by this point. In enhancement to keeping proper technique to store from slowing as well much, Ryan McGill, author of "Sprinting," says suggests the sprinters should wear sunglasses if the sunlight is out due to the fact that squinting can slow you also more.
As sprinters get closer to the finish line, they have the right to use their peripheral vision to evaluate the instance in a nearby race.Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
While sprinters room not claimed to watch to their left or right, Boldon claims at this point, castle can start to rely on their peripheral vision. "If you"re through yourself, you deserve to sort of start planning how you"re going to celebrate," he says. "But if you have actually company, and even if you"re not an altering your gaze come left or right, you"re thinking around assessing what"s in your peripheral vision and thinking, "All right. I have a slim lead," or "I have actually a slim deficit to do up." and now you"re thinking, "Is this a deficit I deserve to overcome with a skinny at the tape?" or "Is this a lead i can defend with a an excellent lean in ~ the tape?" "So your peripheral vision i do not care a real factor. Now you have to assess, "Am ns leading? Am i second? Am ns third?" You have a psychological decision come make. Every this is gift processed in minute fountain of a second." Especially due to the fact that you are acquiring close come the finish.
How Bolt"s record 9.58-second 100-meter dash looks when damaged down into 10-meter increments: source:
Carl Lewis knew come stay tranquil over the last 10 meters during a semifinal gyeongju at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.Focus top top Sport/Getty Images
Sprinters periodically make destructive mistakes at this point. Gatlin did at critical year"s human being championships in Beijing. He was in the lead and had a chance to ultimately beat Bolt. Then he stumbled slightly, his arms began to flail and also he shed to Bolt by an eyelash, 9.79 to 9.80. Gatlin states that"s what brought about him to shed that race: "You get captured up in the excitement, you want more, you shot to go for more, and you just lose yourself. You must stay calm and run to the complete line." The lesson? "Don"t gain greedy," Gatlin says. "Theoretically, male is not an alleged to run quicker after 70 meters. For this reason after 70 meters I have to be certain I"m running strong, to run tall and also getting to the complete line. If I gain greedy and start trying to find something else, then I"m losing all my technique, losing my balance. Walk forward, walking back, arms space flailing; you"re reaching for something that"s no there. You"re currently there. And it"s like you"re reaching for more. And once you"re up there trying to get it, you"re going to loss down." Lewis states the an essential is remaining relaxed. "That"s the hardest part of the 100 meters," he says. "You need to stay relaxed and also let the complete line come to you."
Leaning too at an early stage at the complete line can expense precious time in a tight race.Giuliano Bevilacqua/Corbis via Getty Images
9.27 seconds: the time Australian physiologist and also sports scientist Jeremy Richmond trust is achievable because that humans. Story
Gardner says that as soon as she is running, a the majority of times she gets into a zone whereby she doesn"t check out or hear anything from her competitors. Not until right before the line. And that"s when, she says, "I type of snap out of it. "OK, lean!"" since times are based on when the stems of a sprinter"s body the cross the line, leaning your body front to that line can aid you win. Yet if girlfriend lean also early, it also can make you lose. "Most sprinters lean too early," Boldon says. "You must lean on optimal of the line. A perfect skinny comes nearly when you space able to put your foot on finish line. Most guys who space falling personally form-wise or simply desperate because that the finish line will lean around a meter or two as well early. Therefore I try to tell my athletes, lean on top of the line together opposed to leaning to the line. "If you lean too early, you in reality rapidly boost your deceleration, and you"ve done more harm 보다 good. Therefore a lot of times an early lean will cost you the race quite than win you the race." In other words, you do not want to execute anything that will sluggish you under further. You want to overcome the heat at the fastest speed possible. So lean at the an extremely end. And then expect you somehow beat Bolt, that might currently be obtaining ready to execute his bow-and-arrow success pose.
9.27 seconds: the time Australian physiologist and also sports scientist Jeremy Richmond believes is achievable because that humans. Story
when the men"s record in the 100 has actually been damaged repeatedly over past decades -- going from 9.92 secs in 1988 come 9.58 currently -- the women"s record has not. Florence-Griffith Joyner ran 10.49 in 1988, and the peak sprint because then is 10.64 through American Carmelita Jeter in 2009. (This graph shows a selection of 100-meter documents over time, not the complete progression.)