Track Fact: Steeplechase

Mar 282005
Authors: Amanda Havekost

The steeplechase is a 3000-meter race.

During the runners' first of seven and a half laps around the track, there are no obstacles. In each lap following, the runners jump over five hurdles.

According to the International Association of Athletics Federations rules, the hurdle height is 36 inches for men and 30 inches for women. Four of the five hurdles are placed on level ground. The fifth hurdle has a sloped pit of water 12 feet long and 27.6 inches deep.

Steeplechase hurdles differ from other hurdles because they do not fall over if they are hit and runners can step on the top of them.


The steeplechase originated in Ireland in the 19th century and is named after horse races that went to town steeples. The steeplechase is an Olympic event that has been dominated by Kenyan athletes since 1968. The Kenyans swept medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics.


The world record for the 3000-meter men's steeplechase is 7:53.63 by Saif Saaeed Shaheen from Qatar.

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