How it works

Often referred to as the ‘metric mile’, the 1500m is the marquee middle-distance event.

Demanding a balance of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, athletes complete three-and-three-quarter laps of a standard 400m track.

Athletes start in a bunched standing start and can break immediately for the inside. The race order is decided on time.

At major championships the 1500m schedule typically consists of a heat, semi-final and final.


In the USA and Great Britain, the mile (1609m) was a common middle-distance race. But the metric 1500m has been contested by men at every Olympic Games since 1896. Women first raced over the distance at the Olympic Games in 1972.

Some of the greatest names in athletics history have taken the men’s 1500m title including Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi, Australia’s Herb Elliott and Kenyan great Kip Keino. Current world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj claimed the Olympic 1500m title at the Athens Games.

The only man in history to claim back-to-back Olympic 1500m titles is Sebastian Coe, the current President of World Athletics.

On the women’s side, African-born athletes have claimed gold in 1992, 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

World Rankings