Saturday, 13 Jul 2024

A Running Team Race: A Forgotten Olympic Event

The Summer Olympics has had its fair share of captivating sports events throughout history. One of these forgotten gems is the Running Team Race, a precursor to the modern-day relay races. This event, which was part of the athletics discipline, graced the Olympic program from 1900 to 1924, leaving an indelible mark on the tournament’s rich tapestry.

The Origins of the Running Team Race

The Running Team Race was not your typical team competition. Despite the billing, athletes from all teams competed individually in a direct race. Each participant earned points based on their finishing position, contributing to their team’s overall score. To qualify for the race, a minimum of three runners was required, allowing a maximum of five athletes per team.

Evolving Distances and Participation

The inaugural Running Team Race in 1900 covered a distance of 5000 meters. Throughout the ensuing years, the race underwent several modifications. In 1904, it became a 4-mile event before being further reduced to 3 miles in 1908. The distance finally settled at 3000 meters for the next three Olympic Games until its discontinuation in 1924.

While the event’s early editions witnessed the participation of only two teams, subsequent Olympics saw a rise in interest. The United States emerged as the most successful nation in this short-lived discipline, clinching three gold medals and a total of five medals overall.

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Highlights from Past Editions

1900 (5 km)

The 1900 event saw two teams comprised of athletes from France, Great Britain, and Australia. The victory went to the mixed team, with Brits Charles Bennett and John Rimmer finishing in the top two spots. France secured the silver medal in this exhilarating race.

1904 (4-miles)

This edition featured two teams from the United States: New York AC and Chicago AA. Although not officially recognized as part of the Olympic Games program, it remains a notable chapter in the history of the Running Team Race.

1908 (3 miles)

Great Britain dominated the 1908 event, leaving a significant mark with their exceptional performance. The United States and France followed in second and third place, respectively.

1912 (3km) and 1920 (3km)

The United States showcased their prowess yet again, emerging victorious in both the 1912 and 1920 editions. Sweden made a strong impression during the 1912 race, securing the second spot, while Great Britain claimed the third position. Meanwhile, in 1920, Great Britain and Sweden finished second and third, respectively.

1924 (3km)

The 1924 race witnessed Finland’s triumph, with Great Britain and the United States taking second and third place, respectively.


  1. What is the Running Team Race?
    The Running Team Race was an Olympic event contested individually by athletes from different teams, with each participant contributing to their team’s overall score.

  2. When did the Running Team Race take place?
    The Running Team Race was part of the Summer Olympics from 1900 to 1924.

  3. How many athletes were required to participate?
    A minimum of three runners and a maximum of five runners were allowed per team.

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The Running Team Race, an often-overlooked event in Olympic history, captivated audiences from 1900 to 1924. Athletes from different teams competed individually, earning points based on their finishing positions. The United States emerged as a force to be reckoned with, dominating the race and securing multiple gold medals. While the Running Team Race may be consigned to the annals of history, its legacy lives on, reminding us of the rich tapestry of sporting excellence woven throughout the Summer Olympics.

For more information and to explore other intriguing events, visit