Running tracks...why anti-clockwise?

I have seen this asked somewhere before but can't remember the answer that was given....but why do athletes always run anti clockwise at track meetings?
I know that during 24hr track races they alternate to give each leg the same amount of work as the outside leg always has to work harder. I just can't seem to find an answer to why anti-clockwise tho...anybody??


  • they would crash into people coming in the other direction ............... durrrrrrrr!

  • feeling guilty about my last post so I've trawled the forum search thingy and found this ...................

    hope it's useful
  • Cyclists also ride anticlockwise, and revolving doors always go anti as well. I heard somewhere that it was to do with your heart being on the left, so by going anti it was closer to the ground and could work harder. Which sounds like nonsense.
  • Ohhh that explains why when running round the local park (I run clockwise)I seem to be running into peoples face's...

    Good question though and an answer is deserved!
  • Hasn't always been like that.

    The track at Cambridge University was clockwise (and had a lap distance of 1/3rd of a mile)

  • Shouldn't they go the other way in the southern hemisphere ?
  • On a similar note, why do all F1 racing courses have a right hand bend at the end of the first straight and then proceed clockwise for the course?
  • I think the F1 thing is probably a pits/refuelling thing. The cars are built to refuel to a particular side. If you had an anti-clockwise course you would need pits external to the home straight, rather than internal, to be able to refuel on the same side. Which would probably be a logistic nightmare for crowds and grandstands.

    It wouldn't be impossible, just easier to stick to the same side for pits.

    In NASCAR they go anticlockwise round the ovals, refuelling to the left - which would probably make it very awkward to race NASCARs on an F1 circuit.

  • They don't mark, the brazilian GP for instance has a anti-clockwise circuit.
    Clockwise is most common though...
  • bigponybigpony ✭✭✭
    Horse Racing, some tracks are left handed and other right handed.

    Never been able to find out if horses are naturally left or right hoofed. Anyone know?
  • When running on the road, it feels more comfortable running in anti clockwise loops, however when running off road, my favourite loop is clockwise.
  • I like the theory that the right-leg is dominant for right-handed folk, hence the anti-clockwise direction.

    Although hopping is slightly easier on my right leg (I'm right handed), and I'll usually tap out rhythms using that foot too, it's hardly conclusive proof of a dominant leg. Anyone who plays the drums may have some interesting input on arm/leg dominance... isn't the kick-drum generally played by the right foot?

    But also, is it true that most people have a left-foot slightly larger than their right? And if so, is it the other way round for lefties?

    Finally, do right-handed high and triple jumpers generally take-off on the right foot, and vice versa for left-handers? Can't remember what I preferred in school when attempting those.

    What a can or worms. It's really got me thinking.
  • The Oxford Uni track used to be clockwise like Cambridges. Not certain but think it was clockwise when Roger Banister did the 4 min mile
  • If you look at any pictures of Roger Bannister doing the 4 minute mile, the track is definitely anti-clockwise.
  • Iffley Road was definitely clockwise in 1954, though I think the start and finish were in the middle of the straight.

    Pictures of Dorando Pietri finishing the Olympic marathon at White City in 1908 suggest that the track was clockwise. It was certainly longer than 440 yards.
  • Sorry, I meant to say that Iffley Road was anti-clockwise....
  • If you run on the road clockwise, then side roads to be crossed will be on your right and traffic emerging will be in the closest lane, giving you less time to react. Especially true of blind side-roads. The other way round gives you a whole lane to see what's emerging. It doesn't matter about traffic turning into the road. Whatever way you run, you still have to look. Now I can't think of my point about running tracks - perhaps javelin throwers emerging !
  • I think it is because most people's left legs are shorter than their right ones, especially athletes who have spent a lot of time running around anti-clockwise tracks. Cause and effect.
  • During 12 and 24 hour track races, you get to change direction every 4 hours
  • SwerveSwerve ✭✭✭
    .... so the best idea is to go really slowly at the start, then after four hours you'll be in the lead!
  • Horses have a dominant side because they can lead with either leg in canter but usually start off on the dominant one if in a straight line. You have to force them to change by either foot signals or rein signals to put them off balance. They can develop weaknesses/imbalances if the dominant side is often used in trot or canter leading to mishaps.
  • Swerve
    i did try that
    But i didnt win;)
Sign In or Register to comment.