race

race

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race, one of the group of populations regarded as constituting humanity. The differences that have historically determined the classification into races are predominantly physical aspects of appearance that are generally hereditary. Genetically a race may be defined as a group with gene frequencies differing from those of the other groups in the human species (see heredity; genetics; gene), but the genes responsible for the hereditary differences between the traditional races are extremely few when compared with the vast number of genes common to all human beings regardless of the race to which they belong. Many physical anthropologists now believe that, because there is as much genetic variation among the members of any given race as there is between the groups identified as different races, the concept of race is unscientific and unsound and racial categories are arbitrary designations. The term race is inappropriate when applied to national, religious, geographic, linguistic, or ethnic groups, nor can the physical appearances associated with race be equated with mental characteristics, such as intelligence, personality, or character.

All human groups belong to the same species (Homo sapiens) and are mutually fertile. Races arose as a result of mutation, selection, and adaptational changes in human populations. The nature of genetic variation in human beings indicates there has been a common evolution for all races and that racial differentiation occurred relatively late in the history of Homo sapiens. Theories postulating the very early emergence of racial differentiation have been advanced (e.g., C. S. Coon, The Origin of Races, 1962), but they are now scientifically discredited.

Attempts at Classification

To classify humans on the basis of physical traits is difficult, for the coexistence of races through conquests, invasions, migrations, and mass deportations has produced a heterogeneous world population. Nevertheless, by limiting the criteria to such traits as skin pigmentation, color and form of hair, shape of head, stature, and form of nose, most anthropologists historically agreed on the existence of three relatively distinct groups: the Caucasoid, the Mongoloid, and the Negroid.

The Caucasoid, found in Europe, N Africa, and the Middle East to N India, is characterized as pale reddish white to olive brown in skin color, of medium to tall stature, with a long or broad head form. The hair is light blond to dark brown in color, of a fine texture, and straight or wavy. The color of the eyes is light blue to dark brown and the nose bridge is usually high.

The Mongoloid race, including most peoples of E Asia and the indigenous peoples of the Americas, has been described as saffron to yellow or reddish brown in skin color, of medium stature, with a broad head form. The hair is dark, straight, and coarse; body hair is sparse. The eyes are black to dark brown. The epicanthic fold, imparting an almond shape to the eye, is common, and the nose bridge is usually low or medium.

The Negroid race is characterized by brown to brown-black skin, usually a long head form, varying stature, and thick, everted lips. The hair is dark and coarse, usually kinky. The eyes are dark, the nose bridge low, and the nostrils broad. To the Negroid race belong the peoples of Africa south of the Sahara, the Pygmy groups of Indonesia, and the inhabitants of New Guinea and Melanesia.

Each of these broad groups can be divided into subgroups. General agreement is lacking as to the classification of such people as the aborigines of Australia, the Dravidian people of S India, the Polynesians, and the Ainu of N Japan within the traditional three race system. These exceptions highlight the problems associated with attempting to classify humanity into races and also challenge the validity of the notion of race when applied to human beings.

Race Classification and Racism

Attempts have been made to classify humans since the 17th cent., when scholars first began to separate types of flora and fauna. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was the first to divide humanity according to skin color. In the 19th and early 20th cent., people such as Joseph Arthur Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, mainly interested in pressing forward the supposed superiority of their own kind of culture or nationality, began to attribute cultural and psychological values to race. This approach, called racism, culminated in the vicious racial doctrines and anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany and was used to justify slavery and segregation (see integration) in the United States, apartheid in the Republic of South Africa, and European imperialism and colonialism generally.

Bibliography

See R. Benedict, Race: Science and Politics (rev. ed. 1943, repr. 1968); C. Lévi-Strauss, Race and History (1962); M. Mead et al., ed., Science and the Concept of Race (1968); S. M. Garn, ed., Readings on Race (2d ed. 1968) and Human Races (3d ed. 1971); J. C. King, The Biology of Race (1971); L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, The Origin and Differentiation of Human Races (1972); S. J. Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (1981); I. F. Haney Lopez, White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race (1996); A. Montagu, Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (6th ed. 1998); G. M. Frederickson, Racism: A Short History (2002).

Race between teams in which each team member successively covers a specified portion of the course. In track events, such as the 4 × 100-m and 4 × 400-m relays, the runner finishing one leg passes a baton to the next runner while both are running within a marked exchange zone. In swimming competitions, such as the 4 × 100-m and 4 × 200-m freestyle races and the 4 × 100-m medley, the swimmer completing one leg touches the edge of the pool to signal the start of the next teammate's leg.

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Term once commonly used in physical anthropology to denote a division of humankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type (e.g., Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid). Today the term has little scientific standing, as older methods of differentiation, including hair form and body measurement, have given way to the comparative analysis of DNA and gene frequencies relating to such factors as blood typing, the excretion of amino acids, and inherited enzyme deficiencies. Because all human populations today are extremely similar genetically, most researchers have abandoned the concept of race for the concept of the cline, a graded series of differences occurring along a line of environmental or geographical transition. This reflects the recognition that human populations have always been in a state of flux, with genes constantly flowing from one gene pool to another, impeded only by physical or ecological boundaries. While relative isolation does preserve genetic differences and allow populations to maximally adapt to climatic and disease factors over long periods of time, all groups currently existing are thoroughly “mixed” genetically, and such differences as still exist do not lend themselves to simple typologizing. “Race” is today primarily a sociological designation, identifying a class sharing some outward physical characteristics and some commonalities of culture and history. Seealso climatic adaptation, ethnic group, racism.

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Track-and-field event, a footrace over a series of obstacles called hurdles. Runners must remain in assigned lanes throughout a race, and, though they may knock hurdles down while running over them, they may do so only with a leg or foot, not a hand. Modern hurdlers use a sprinting style between hurdles, display an exaggerated forward lean while clearing the hurdle, and then bring the trailing leg through at nearly a right angle to the body, which enables them to continue forward without breaking stride after clearing the hurdle. Hurdling distances are 110 m and 400 m for men and 100 m and 400 m for women.

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Sprints are short running races in athletics. They are roughly classified as events in which top runners will not have to "pace themselves", but can run as fast as possible for the entire distance.

Rules

The start

Starting blocks are used for all sprint and relay events. The starting blocks consist of two adjustable footplates attached to a rigid frame. Races commence with the firing of the starter's gun. The starting commands are "On your marks" and "Set" or "Get Set". Once all athletes are in the set position, the starter's gun is fired, officially starting the race. For the 100m, all competitors are lined up side-by-side. For the 200m and 400m, which involve curves, runners are staggered for the start.

False starts

If a sprinter commences his or her starting motion from the set position before the starter's gun is fired, it is deemed a false start. The first false start of a race results in a warning to the offending runner, but any athlete in that race who thereafter commits a false start will be disqualified.

Lanes

For all Olympic sprint events, runners must remain within their pre-assigned lanes, which measure 1.22 meters (4 feet) wide, from start to finish. The lanes are numbered 1 through 8, starting with the inside lane. Any athlete who runs outside the assigned lane is subject to disqualification. If the athlete is forced to run outside of his or her lane by another person, and no material advantage is gained, there will be no disqualification. Also, a runner who strays from his or her lane in the straightaway, or crosses the outer line of his or her lane on the bend, and gains no advantage by it, will not be disqualified as long as no other runner is obstructed.

The finish

The first athlete whose torso (as distinguished from the head, neck, arms, legs, hands or feet) reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line is the winner.

Common distances

60 m

  • The 60 metres is normally run indoors, on a straight section of an indoor athletic track. Since races at this distance can last around six or seven seconds, having good reflexes and thus getting off to a quick start is more vital in this race than any other.
  • This is roughly the distance required for a human to reach maximum speed and can be run with one breath. It is popular for training and testing in other sports (e.g. speed testing for American football, although 40 yards is more common there).
  • The World record in this event is held by American sprinter Maurice Greene with a time of 6.39 seconds.
  • 60 metres is used as an outdoor distance by younger athletes when starting in sprint.

100 m

  • The 100 metres sprint takes place on one length of the home straight of a standard outdoor 400 m track. Often, the world-record holder in this race is considered "the world's fastest man/woman." The current world Record of 9.69 seconds is held by Usain Bolt of Jamaica and was set on 16 August 2008, at the Beijing Olympics. The women's world record is 10.49 seconds and was set by Florence Griffith-Joyner.
  • The 4x100 m relay is another prestigious event, with an average speed that is quicker than the 100 m, as the runners can start moving before they receive the baton. The World record in this event is 37.10 seconds, held by the Jamaican team as set 22 August 2008 at the Beijing Olympics.

200 m

  • The 200 metres begins on the curve of a standard track (where the runners are staggered in their starting position, to ensure they all run the same distance), and ends on the home straight. The ability to "run a good bend" is key at this distance, as a well conditioned runner will be able to run 200 metres in an average speed higher than their 100 m speed.
  • Indoors, the race is run as one lap of the track, with only slightly slower times than outdoors.
  • A slightly shorter race (but run on a straight track), the stadion, was the first recorded event at the Ancient Olympics and the oldest known formal sports event in history.
  • The world record in this event is 19.30 seconds, held by Usain Bolt and was set on 20 August 2008, at the Beijing Olympics.

400 m

  • The 400 metres is one lap around the track on the inside lane. Runners are staggered in their starting positions to ensure that everyone runs the same distance. While this event is a sprint (according to some), there is more scope to use tactics in the race; the fact that 400 m times are considerably more than four times a typical 100 m time demonstrates this.
  • The world record is currently held by Michael Johnson with a time of 43.18 seconds.
  • The 4x400 m relay is often held at track and field meetings, and is by tradition the final event at major championships.
  • Common tactics include exploding out of the blocks and continuing to run hard through the curve, relaxing in the middle 200 meters and kicking hard on the homestretch.

Uncommon distances

150 m

  • This informal distance can be used to work on a 100 m runner's stamina, or a 200 m runner's speed, and has been used as an exhibition distance. The distance was used in a race between 1996 Olympic champions, the 100 m gold medalist Donovan Bailey (Canada) and 200 m gold medalist Michael Johnson (USA). It was to decide who of the two, was really the 'fastest man on earth' (see Bailey-Johnson 150-metre race).

300 m

  • Another informal distance, which could be used to aid a 200 m runner's stamina, or a 400 m runner's speed. This is usually run indoors by high school athletes.

500 m

  • More common than 300 m and 150 m, because this is half a kilometre. This could aid 400 m runners in their stamina, or help a middle-distance runner to gain speed. The borderline distance between sprints and middle distance. This is usually run indoor by high school athletes and on occasion collegiate athletes.

600 m

  • This race is a CIS (Canadian Universities) indoor-only event only and run at all Canadian indoor track and field races because it is a recognized event at the Canadian University Championships. It is often run by 400 m runners looking to build endurance, or 800 m runners looking to build speed. It is a demanding race, with many athletes running at a pace just below their 400 m pace. The 600 m is sometimes considered a middle distance event.

Biological factors for runners

Some biological factors that determine a sprinter's potential are:

Other sports

  • The most common distance for rowing races is 2 kilometres. Races may be held at less than 1 km, which are known as dashes.
  • Horse Racing and Hamster racing have sprint distance events.
  • Track cycling features a sprint event, in which usually two riders compete over a distance of 1000 metres, though only the final 200 m may be timed. However, the time is normally immaterial - the aim is to be first across the line and win two races in a 'best of three races' match.
  • The term sprinting can be applied in any racing sport, such as swimming.
  • A 90 m beach sprint is held in surf lifesaving carnivals in Australia.

See also

External links

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