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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | March 18, 2022

Here are the differences between the indoor and outdoor track seasons

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There's no time to rest after the Division I indoor track and field championships, with the outdoor season beginning almost immediately after. While the sport of track and field largely remains the same across seasons, there are a few differences between indoor and outdoor track.

Here are some of the differences between the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

It's outside

Simple enough, the biggest difference between the indoor and outdoor track seasons is the environment in which the sport takes place. The outdoor track season is outside — literally — while the indoor season is not.

Whether it's in the scorching heat of Texas or the rainy days of Washington, the outdoor track season introduces a new factor into the sport, weather.

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Scoring is impacted by the wind

The elements do more than just impact the atmosphere athletes participate in during the outdoor track season; it impacts scoring as well.

The wind, via wind assistance, can help or hinder an athlete's performance in outdoor track and field. The wind can even prevent record-breaking performances from counting.

💨: Wind and scoring in track and field, explained

The track is bigger

During the indoor season, athletes race on a 200-meter track. During the outdoor season, athletes race on a 400-meter track. The bigger track means new events. More on that below.

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The events are different

Here's a list of the championship events at the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Men's events

  • 4x100 meter relay
  • 1,500 meters
  • 3,000-meter Steeplechase
  • 110-meter hurdles
  • 100 meters
  • 400 meters
  • 800 meters
  • 400-meter hurdles
  • 200 meters
  • 10,000 meters
  • 4x400 meter relay
  • 5,000 meters
  • Hammer
  • Pole vault
  • Javelin
  • Long jump
  • Shot put
  • High jump
  • Discus
  • Triple jump
  • Decathlon
    • 400 meters
    • 100 meters
    • Long jump
    • Shot put
    • High Jump
    • 110-meter hurdles
    • Discus
    • Pole vault
    • Javelin
    • 1500 meters

Women's events

  • 4x100 meter relay
  • 1,500 meters
  • 3,000-meter Steeplechase
  • 100-meter hurdles
  • 100 meters
  • 400 meters
  • 800 meters
  • 400-meter hurdles
  • 200 meters
  • 10,000 meters
  • 4x400 meter relay
  • 5,000 meters
  • Hammer
  • Pole vault
  • Javelin
  • Long jump
  • Shot put
  • High jump
  • Discus
  • Triple jump
  • Heptathlon
    • 200 meters
    • 100 Hurdles
    • High jump
    • Shot put
    • Long jump
    • Javelin
    • 800 meters

A glance at the event lists for men and women shows a few additions and subtractions from the indoor season. They are listed below.

Outdoor events that are not in the indoor season

Men's events

  • 4x100 meter relay
  • 1,500 meters
  • 3,000-meter Steeplechase
  • 110-meter hurdles
  • 100 meters
  • 400-meter hurdles
  • 10,000 meters
  • Hammer
  • Javelin
  • Discus
  • Decathlon

Women's events

  • 4x100 meter relay
  • 1,500 meters
  • 3,000-meter Steeplechase
  • 110-meter hurdles
  • 100 meters
  • 400-meter hurdles
  • 10,000 meters
  • Hammer
  • Javelin
  • Discus
  • Heptathlon


Indoor events that are not in the outdoor season

Men's events

  • Heptathlon
  • Weight Throw
  • Distance Medley Relay
  • Mile
  • 60 meters
  • 60-meter hurdles
  • 3,000 meters

Women's events

  • Pentathlon
  • Weight Throw
  • Distance Medley Relay
  • Mile
  • 60 meters
  • 60-meter hurdles
  • 3,000 meters

The sprints get longer and there are more field events during the outdoor season. In the combined events, the men add three events while the women add two.

The 400 meters is also one lap around the track during the outdoor season rather than the two laps during the indoor season. You'll often see faster times in the outdoor season for events that overlap with the indoor season.

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There are preliminary meets before the NCAA championships

Another difference between the indoor and outdoor track seasons is the preliminary meets before the outdoor championships.

The NCAA outdoor preliminary meets are held in the east and west regions, giving athletes one last chance to qualify for the Division I Championships. The qualifiers out of these two regions will compete for the titles in their events.

🏆: Here are the DI track and field teams with most NCAA championships

During the indoor season, there aren't any preliminaries. Qualifiers for the indoor championships are selected based on times during the regular-season and conference championships.

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