The closing stages of a men's 400 m race
|World||United States Michael Johnson 43.18 (1999)|
|Olympic||United States Michael Johnson 43.49 (1996)|
|World||East Germany Marita Koch 47.60 (1985)|
|Olympic||France Marie-José Pérec 48.25 (1996)|
The 400 metres, or 400 metre dash, is a common sprinting event in track and field competitions. It has been featured in the athletics programme at the Summer Olympics since 1896 (1964 for women). On a standard outdoor running track, it is exactly one lap around the track. Runners start in staggered positions and race in separate lanes for the entire course. In many countries, athletes previously competed in the 440 yard dash (402.336 m)—which is the length of a quarter of a mile and was referred to as the 'quarter-mile'—instead of the 400 m (437.445 yards), though this distance is now obsolete. An athlete who competes in the 400 m may still be referred to as 'quarter-miler'; the distance or event might still be called the "quarter."
Maximum sprint speed capability is a significant contributing factor to success in the event, but athletes also require substantial speed endurance and the ability to cope well with high amounts of lactic acid to sustain a fast speed over a whole lap. While considered to be predominantly an anaerobic event, there is some aerobic involvement and the degree of aerobic training required for 400 metre athletes is open to debate.
The United States dominates the men's event. The current men's world record is held by American Michael Johnson, with a time of 43.18 seconds. The world indoor record holder is Kerron Clement, in 44.57 seconds. The current women's world record is held by Marita Koch, with a time of 47.60 seconds. Grenadan Kirani James is the reigning men's Olympic champion, while LaShawn Merritt holds the world title; Christine Ohuruogu is the reigning women's world champion, while Sanya Richards-Ross holds the women's Olympic title. The men's T43 (classification) Paralympic world record of 45.07 seconds is held by Oscar Pistorius.
An Olympic double of 200 metres and 400 m was first achieved by Valerie Brisco-Hooks in 1984, and later by Michael Johnson from the United States and Marie-José Pérec of France both in 1996. Alberto Juantorena of Cuba at the 1976 Summer Olympics became the first and so far the only athlete to win both the 400 m and 800 m Olympic titles.
Fastest 400 m runners
All-time top 25 men
- Updated July 2014
- Updated August 2013
Notable 4x400 m relay splits
- Jarmila Kratochvilova: 47.75 s (Helsinki, 1983), 47.8 s (London, 1983), 47.6 s (Athens 1982)
- Marita Koch: 47.70 s (Erfurt, 1984), 47.9 s (Athens, 1982), 47.9 s (Canberra, 1985), 48.21 s (Stuttgart, 1986)
- Olga Bryzgina: 47.80 s (Seoul, 1988)
- Olga Nazarova: 47.82 s (Seoul, 1988)
- Allyson Felix: 47.80 s (London 2012), 48.01 s (Osaka, 2007)
- Florence Griffith-Joyner: 48.08 s (Seoul, 1988)
Most successful athletes
Multiple (3 or more) 400 metres victories at the Olympic Games and World Championships:
- 6 wins: Michael Johnson (USA) - Olympic Champion in 1996 and 2000, World Champion in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999.
- 4 wins: Marie-Jose Perec (FRA) - Olympic Champion in 1992 and 1996, World Champion in 1991 and 1995.
- 3 wins: Cathy Freeman (AUS) - Olympic Champion in 2000, World Champion in 1997 and 1999
- 3 wins: Jeremy Wariner (USA) - Olympic Champion in 2004, World Champion in 2005 and 2007.
- 3 wins: Christine Ohuruogu (GBR) - Olympic Champion in 2008, World Champion in 2007 and 2013.
- 3 wins: LaShawn Merritt (USA) - Olympic Champion in 2008, World Champion in 2009 and 2013.
Best Performance by Year
- Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences, "Aerobic versus anaerobic training for success in various athletic events" by Shepard, R. J., 1978
- "Isaac Makwala shatters African record in La Chaux-de-Fonds". Athletics Africa. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.