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Effect of wind speed and altitude
on sprint times

According to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Competition Rules, sprint and jump performances for which the measured wind-speed exceeds +2.0 m/s are deemed illegal, and cannot be ratified for record purposes (IAAF 1998). Performances achieved at altitudes above 1000m above sea level are classed as "altitude assisted".

Effect on 100m times

There a number of papers (see Referenced Material below) which discuss the impact of wind and altitude in the 100m race. The general consensus of these researchers is that the maximum legal tail wind of +2.0 metres/second provides a 0.10-0.12 second advantage over still conditions at sea level and with no wind every 1000 metres of elevation will improve a performance by roughly 0.03-0.04 seconds.

Correction estimates (Mureika 2008)[3] for 100m at varying altitudes for a male athlete running 10 seconds.

Wind m/s
0m
500m
1000m
1500m
2000m
2500m
0.0
0.00
-0.02
-0.04
-0.05
-0.07
-0.08
+1.0
-0.05
-0.07
-0.08
-0.10
-0.11
-0.12
+2.0
-0.10
-0.11
-0.13
-0.14
-0.15
-0.16

Correction estimates (Mureika 2008)[3] for 100m at varying altitudes for a female athlete running 11 seconds.

Wind m/s
0m
500m
1000m
1500m
2000m
2500m
0.0
0.00
-0.02
-0.04
-0.06
-0.07
-0.09
+1.0
-0.07
-0.08
-0.10
-0.11
-0.11
-0.14
+2.0
-0.12
-0.14
-0.15
-0.16
-0.17
-0.18

Linthorne showed that the advantage of a +2.0 m/s wind is 0.10 seconds for male sprinters and 0.12 seconds for female sprinters. The uncertainties in the effect of wind on race times is 10% and 12% respectively. (Linthorne 1994)[5]

Calculate adjusted 100 metre time

The following calculator, based on a formula identified by Mureika (2001)[4], will provide an estimate of your 100 time at sea level with zero wind.

Enter Altitude (metres), Wind Speed (metres/second) and your 100m time(seconds) and then select the 'Calculate' button to obtain a predicted 100m time at sea level with zero wind.

Altitude m Wind m/s 100m time s
     
Predicted 100m time s

Effect on 200m times

The information in the tables below assume the wind direction is down the 100 metre straight. The 200m athlete initially faces a head wind out of the blocks, which gradually subsides to its maximum effect as the athlete rounds the bend into the 100m straight. A +2m/s wind at sea level effects the 200m time by -0.12s for men and -0.14s for women.

Correction estimates (Mureika 2008)[3] for 200m at varying altitudes for a male athlete running 20 seconds.

Wind m/s
0m
500m
1000m
1500m
2000m
2500m
0.0
0.00
-0.05
-0.10
-0.15
-0.20
-0.24
+1.0
-0.06
-0.11
-0.16
-0.20
-0.24
-0.28
+2.0
-0.12
-0.16
-0.20
-0.25
-0.28
-0.32

Correction estimates (Mureika 2008)[3] for 200m at varying altitudes for a female athlete running 22 seconds.

Wind m/s
0m
500m
1000m
1500m
2000m
2500m
0.0
0.00
-0.06
-0.11
-0.16
-0.21
-0.26
+1.0
-0.08
-0.16
-0.18
-0.23
-0.27
-0.31
+2.0
-0.14
-0.19
-0.23
-0.28
-0.32
-0.35

Rules of Competition

The competition rules for this event can be obtained from:

Referenced Material

  1. DAVIES, C.T.M.(1980) Effects of wind assistance and resistance on the forward motion of a runner. J. Appl. Physio., 48, p. 702-709
  2. DAPENA, J. and FELTNER, M.(1987) Effects of wind and altitude on the times of 100-meter sprint races. Int. J. Sport Biomech., 3, p. 6-39
  3. MUREIKA, J.R. (2008) The Legality of wind and altitude assisted performance in the sprints. New Studies in Athletics, 15, p. 53-60
  4. MUREIKA, J.R. (2001) A Realistic Quasi-physical Model of the 100 Metre Dash. Canadian Journal of Physics, 79 (4), p. 697-713
  5. LINTHORNE, N.P. (1994) The effect of wind on 100m sprint times, Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 10, p. 110-131

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2009) Effect of wind speed and altitude [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/sprints/altwind.htm [Accessed

Associated Pages

The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page:

Associated Books

The following books provide more information related to this topic:

  • Sprints and Relays, F. W. Dick
  • Sprinting and Hurdling, P. Warden
  • How to Teach Track Events, M. Arnold