We’ve noticed on many sources that for folks seeing the live video for the first time, the setup of our track here at Franklin Field is a tad bit confusing. Here is the scoop:
The stadium was built in 1922, before the relays were run in lanes around the oval. What is Lane 5 today was Lane 1 in the original cinder configuration. However, when it became apparent that the existing track would be too small for oval relays in lanes (as there was only space for 4-5 lanes), the university decided to widen the track. However, the higher-ups at Penn decided that they didn’t want to remove the brick wall of the stadium to put new lanes on the outside; the only option was to build lanes shorter than 440y on the inside. Thus, the first 4 lanes are shorter than 400m today. For most 4×400 trials, the interior lanes are not used, but for all races in lanes, some teams do have to run more than a lap for the first leg of the 4×400 or for all of the 4×100 & 4×200. With 4×400’s utilizing a 3 turn stagger, the 2nd leg will run one turn in his or her lane, then cut out to lane five. On television, this can look a little strange, but the simple issue is that the stadium is older than the necessity for a 9 lane facility.