Time to Scrap 55m Hurdles?

I’m wondering if people who run the hurdles, coach the hurdles, or are interested in the hurdles would agree with my belief that it might be time to scrap 55 meter hurdles as an indoor event. I think it would be better instead at this point to stick exclusively with the 60 meter hurdles as the indoor distance of choice. There are a few reasons I feel this way.

Firstly, at the professional and international level, the 55m hurdles is already a dead event. Off the top of my head, at the Tyson Invitational, the Millrose Games, The USA Indoor Championships, and all the big meets overseas, the hurdlers run 60 meters. So the 55m hurdles is already on its way out. At the high school level is where it still remains prominent, as well as some collegiate invitationals. But at the major national high school meets, as well as at collegiate conference and the NCAA championships, the distance is 60 meters. It doesn’t make sense to even race at 55 meters if the big meets you’re training to peak for are 60 meters.

Another problem with the 55m hurdles is that the finish line is too close. Running that race gets athletes in the habit of falling off the last hurdle into the finish line instead of sprinting off the last hurdle. So not only does it not prepare them properly for the 60 meter races they’ll run at the end of the indoor season, but it also doesn’t properly prepare them for the outdoor 110m race, where the need to sprint off the last hurdle and time their lean perfectly becomes crucial.

The hurdles are an event that has continually evolved over the decades. Back in the 1960s a lot of races were run at 50 meters, which evolved into 55 meters. Just like the 50m hurdles were eventually phased out, maybe the 55’s time has come too.

© 2008 Steve McGill

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