The 4 × 100 metres relay
or sprint relay
is an athletics track
event run in lanes over one lap of the track with four runners completing 100 metres each. The first runners must begin in the same stagger as for the individual 400 m
race. A relay baton is carried by each runner. Prior to 2018, the baton had to be passed within a 20 m changeover box, preceded by a 10 metre acceleration zone. With a rule change effective November 1, 2017 that zone was modified to include the acceleration zone as part of the passing zone, making the entire zone 30 metres in length. The outgoing runner cannot touch the baton until it has entered the zone, the incoming runner cannot touch the baton after it has left the zone. The zone is usually marked in yellow, frequently using lines, triangles or chevrons. While the rule book specifies the exact positioning of the marks, the colors and style are only "recommended". While most legacy tracks will still have the older markings, the rule change still uses existing marks. Not all governing body
jurisdictions have adopted the rule change.
Transfer of the baton in this race is typically blind. The outgoing runner reaches a straight arm backwards when they enter the changeover box, or when the incoming runner makes a verbal signal. The outgoing runner does not look backwards, and it is the responsibility of the incoming runner to thrust the baton into the outstretched hand, and not let go until the outgoing runner takes hold of it without crossing the changeover box and to stop after baton is exchanged. Runners on the first and third legs typically run on the inside of the lane with the baton in their right hand, while runners on the second and fourth legs take the baton in their left. Polished handovers can compensate for a lack of basic speed to some extent, and disqualification for dropping the baton or failing to transfer it within the box is common, even at the highest level. Read more...