Steeplechase (athletics)

Steeplechase (athletics)

The steeplechase is an obstacle race in athletics, which derives its name from the steeplechase in horse racing.


The length of the race is usually 3000 meters. The number of laps depends on whether the water jump is located to the inside of lane one or to the outside of lane eight or nine. Each runner encounters a total of 28 barriers over the course of the race, as well as 7 water jumps. According to IAAF rules, barrier height is 914 mm (36 in) for men and 762 mm (30 in) for women. Unlike those used in hurdling, steeplechase barriers do not fall over if hit; some runners actually step on top of them (which is legal). Four barriers are spaced around the track on level ground, and a fifth barrier at the top of the second turn (fourth barrier in a complete lap from the finish line) is the water jump, which consists of a barrier followed by a pit of water which is 3.66 m (12 ft) long and slopes upward from 700 mm (27.6 in) deep at the barrier end to even with the surface of the track. This slope rewards runners with more hurdling ability, because a longer jump results in a shallower landing in the water.


The event originated in the British Isles. Runners raced from one town's steeple to the next. The steeples were used as markers due to their visibility over long distances. Along the way runners inevitably had to jump creeks and low stone walls separating estates. The modern athletics event originates from a two-mile cross country steeplechase that formed part of the Oxford University sports (in which many of the modern athletics events were founded) in 1860. It was replaced in 1865 by an event over barriers on a flat field, which became the modern steeplechase. It has been an Olympic event since the inception of the modern Olympics, though with varying lengths. Since the 1968 Summer Olympics the steeplechase in the Olympics has been dominated by Kenyan athletes, including a clean sweep of the medals at the 2004 Games.

The steeplechase for women (3,000 meters long, but with lower barriers than for the men) made its first major championship appearance at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. In 2008, Women's 3,000 meters steeplechase appears the first time on the Olympic tracks in Beijing (see Athletics at the 2008 Summer Olympics - Women's 3000 metre steeplechase).a

World record progression

The official world record in the 3000-meter steeplechase for men is held by Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar (formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya) at 7:53.63 and was set on September 3, 2004 during the Memorial van Damme in Brussels. On August 16, 2002 Brahim Boulami of Morocco ran 7:53.17 but this has not been ratified by the IAAF, as Boulami was banned for two years in 2003 after testing positive for EPO.

The first person to run the steeplechase in under eight minutes was Moses Kiptanui of Kenya, who ran it in 7:59.18 on August 16, 1995 in Zürich, Switzerland.

The official world record in the 3000 m steeplechase for women is held by Gulnara Galkina-Samitova of Russia at 8:58.81 and was set at the 2008 Olympics.

Men (manual timing)

European record progression

National records

* As of 2008-10-03

External links

* [ IAAF rules]
* [ International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)] – official site
* [ World Record progression in athletics]
* [ World Masters Athletics] - official site
* [ Masters T&F World Rankings]
* [ Athletics all-time performances]
* [ Women's Steeplechase]

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