That formidable clay oval is a historic arena of humankind’s greatest speed triumphs. Developed from track and field events dating back to ancient Olympic games as early as 776 BC, standardized 400-metre tracks of today are commonly associated with education and elite sportsmanship.
And though what comes to mind when we talk about awe-inspiring running routes tends to deviate beyond a regulated racecourse, that’s not to say we’re lacking in breathtaking locations.
For those who prefer to tread within the lines, here we present some of the most astonishing race tracks to channel your inner Bolt.
3D Track | Alicante, Spain
Additional to this conventional track in Alicante is a three-dimensional rise which veers off course, over the changing rooms, and back again. Designed by Subarquitectura, the gap between the courses also acts as a viewing platform for spectators, not forgetting an additional training element to runners who have to factor inclines into their regime.
Evelyn Grace Academy | London, UK
Zaha Hadid’s contribution to innovative sports architecture spans everything from the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford to the recently completed Al Wakrah Stadium for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The five-lane track in Brixton’s Evelyn Grace Academy is one of the defining features of its ultra-modern design.
Tiantai No. 2 Primary School | Zhejiang, China
300km from Shanghai in Tiantai, sparse availability of land saw LYCS Architecture incorporate a 200m track onto this four-story primary schools rooftop. It handily encircles a 3,000sqm secure courtyard to create a sense of inwardness.
Michael Johnson Track at the Nike campus | Oregon, USA
At the Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, this track is named after former 200m and 400m world record holder Michael Johnson. It wraps around a forest of tall western conifers and is the training ground of some all-time greats. To the west of the track stands an impressive bronze statue of its namesake athlete.
Brigham Young University | Utah, USA
Track and field remains a highly competitive sport across the United States, and one track that runs circles around other educational institutes sits in Utah’s Brigham Young University. Overlooked by a stunning mountainscape, the bright blue track is calling out for athletic accomplishment.
Osaka Air Track | Osaka, Japan
It’s on the roof of a shopping mall where you’ll find Osaka’s premiere 300m track built with community at front of mind. Tokyu Fudosan Holdings Group called on locals to find out what they needed most in the new facility, and the result was a mall that prioritized health and fitness. The fact that it also offers sprawling views over Osaka’s great urban landscape is a major bonus.
Panathenaic Stadium | Athens, Greece
The only stadium in the world to be built entirely of marble, the site of this Athenian track dates back to 330 BC. It was home to the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, with presentations held on its 204.07 metre long straightaways and unusually short turns of only 33.35 metres. Today, it marks the finishing point for the annual Athens Marathon.
Iten | Kenya
In a small town in the Kenyan highlands, Iten is the centre of the country’s middle- and long-distance running scene. What its high-altitude (2,400 metres) training ground lacks in remarkable, technically-accomplished design is made up for in its atmosphere – few places can boast quite so many international top athletes.