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You SHOULD seed a race based on the fastest times an athlete presents coming in to the race. Place the fastest in opposite heats. Take the total number of competitors, divide by the number of lanes available. That tells you how many heats you have to run. Count off in the same kind of alternating pattern to balance out the field. By rating it would be something line 1,4 in one heat, and 2,3 in the other. Spread that out across three heats, it would be 1,6; 2,5; 3,4.

You must declare how you will advance. If 2 heats and automatic timing you could take the top 2 and then the 4 fastest others; top 3 and the 2 fastest; or simply the top 4 in each heat. Whatever system you use, the competitors MUST know what advances before hand. Every effort is to try to make things as fair as possible.


Three heats requires a faster time scheme unless you have 9 lanes and can make it mathematical. An imprecise (hand timing) system requires places over time to be the criteria. Over 24 or 27 entrants (8 or 9 lane track) should require a semi-final, seeded similarly, but now based on actual results in the heat.


Distance races tend to avoid heats in all but the largest of meets and generally select more on place rather than time.

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Q: How do you heat races at a track meet?
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