What Is The Definition Of Heat In Track & Field?
1. A heat is a smaller grouping of athletes competing in the same race. It is often used as an initial race to qualify for semifinals (if applicable) and finals of the meet. Semifinal races are also conducted in heats.
2. Heats are also referred to as “qualifying heats” as their purpose is to allow athletes to qualify for future races in the meet. This is not to be confused with “preliminary heats” which allow athletes on the cusp of the qualifying requirements an opportunity to qualify for the first round.
When Are Heats Used?
Heats occur most often in sprints and shorter runs (e.g., 100M, 110M Hurdles, 400M, 800M, 1500M) as tracks only contain eight to nine lanes for a potential eight to nine racers at a time.
In longer distance races (e.g., 5K, 10K), athletes can most often compete at the same time. However, these distances also use a heat system if the competition field is extensive, such as in the Olympics.
How Do Heats Work?
Heats group athletes by most recent qualifying time. Officials distribute the fastest qualifying times across all heats so that the fastest runners will not face each other in preliminary heats. Then, in most cases, the winner and runner up automatically win a spot in the following round.
In other cases, the top three finishers secure a spot in the next round. Following this placement, the next top times across all heats receive a try as well, while the number of time-allotted spots depends on the race (first round or semifinal) and the breadth of competition.
Why Is It Called A Heat?
The term heat originates from horse racing when qualifying heats helped a horse warm up. As the horse ran more heats, the warmer and faster it ran.
Example Of How Heat Is Used In Commentary
1. Gabby Thomas took second in Heat 4, the fastest heat we’ve seen thus far in the 200M.