Endurance events are longer distance running events / races which take place mostly away from an athletics stadium.  They are usually categorised as Cross-country, Trail or Road Running.  Fell and mountain running would not normally be included, being generally organised by the Fell and Mountain Running Associations.

Officials, stewards and marshals are needed at the start, along the course and at the finish:-

  • At the Start, the Starter and Starter’s Assistants ensure a fair and orderly start of the races.
  • Along the course, Officials and Marshals are there to guide the competitors, ensure their safety and to make sure the rules are followed.
  • At the finish Officials are there to ensure a fair and orderly finish, take the times, check the finishing order and ensure a safe and prompt exit from the finish area. Positions and time may be determined manually or by a computerised “chip” system.
  • Race walking outside of a Stadium needs the same officials and, in addition, specialist walking judges to ensure that the style of walking follows the rules.


Endurance Officials Duties
How to Organise a Road Race
Road – Start Instructions
Road – Finish Instructions
Keeping on the Right Side of the Law

Judging field events is, in essence, the application of a set of rules to ensure that all athletes competing in an event get the same chance, thereby ensuring that the end results are purely dependent upon their own ability, and not influenced by others. In short, ensuring a “Level Playing Field”. The rules have evolved over a number of decades and even now are still subject to change as equipment manufacture improves, and/or athletes’ abilities improve with new training techniques.

Judging is, in nearly all cases, subjective and comes from experience. Judges must therefore have a clear understanding of the rules that apply to each event and so ensure that each competitor competes under the same conditions.

The application of the rules for both men’s and women’s events rests with the judges in charge of an event, and is overseen by a Field Referee. See the booklet: “Oh No! You’ve been asked to be Field Referee

Field Judging – in brief

What is a Field Judge?

A Field Judge is part of a team of officials who oversee the Throwing and Jumping events at an athletics meeting.

What events are involved?

There are nine field events in athletics – five are throws and four are jumps as follows:

  • Shot (including seated for athletes with a disability)
  • Discus (including seated for athletes with a disability)
  • Hammer
  • Javelin (including seated for athletes with a disability)
  • Club Throw (for athletes with a disability)
  • Long Jump
  • Triple Jump
  • High Jump
  • Pole Vault

What sort of things would I do?

You would help with marking where the throwing implements land, returning implements back to the competition area after they have been thrown, measuring and recording distances or heights, ensuring the rules for each event are adhered to and ensuring the competition is conducted fairly and safely.

How many Field Judges are there at a meeting?

At league meetings, clubs are asked to provide a certain number of officials to judge the field events. They are placed under the direction of the field referee who is appointed by the host club. Usually from three to six judges are required for each field event, depending on the event and the type of meeting.

Contrary to popular belief, getting the sand smooth and level, is not child’s play…

Child playing in long jump s


You can find out more in the Athletics Officials’ Guide “Getting started as a Field Official“.

For more in depth information, order edition 2 of “How to Judge Field Events” by Mike Parmiter.

Track athletes spend many hours of effort and training in all sorts of conditions in order to improve personal performance. The progress of achievement by a track athlete can realistically only be measured by the time it takes to travel a measured distance and therefore it should be the duty of those who record their positions and times to be as accurate as possible.

Those who become involved with athletics, other than by competing, are usually parents whose children have joined a local club. Invariably parents get asked to help out at club meetings by officiating on the track or in the field.

Like most duties, track judging is not difficult once the basics are understood and accuracy will improve with experience. Newcomers wishing to try their hand at track judging for the first time at a meeting will be welcomed and, in general, will work with more experienced colleagues who are able to assist and advise.

Every year the track and field season gets more and more crowded with meetings at all levels and the demand for Officials becomes greater and greater, so your assistance as an Official is badly needed if meetings are to be adequately covered.

For more information and guidance contact the Track sub-committee Chair, using the “Contact” form on this website.

Track Judging – in brief

What do I do during the Meeting?

  • Either Judging the Finish (including operating the Lap Board and Bell and maintaining Lap Charts) or Umpiring.

How do I Judge the Finish?

  • By writing down the athletes’ numbers as they cross the Finish Line.

How do I get all the Numbers?

  • Only with experience gained by practice and advice from other Officials.

What if I don’t get all the Numbers?

  • Don’t worry, as this is common with inexperienced Officials. Just write down what you can. Don’t guess and don’t copy. If the Referee has sufficient judges, one person, or more, will be designated to concentrate on the last 3 or 4 athletes only.

What does the Clerk of the Course do?

  • Ensures that all equipment for the Track events is available and safe and this includes such items as the judge’s stand, hurdles, lap board and bell, relay batons and flags, wind gauge, etc.

What does the Track Steward do?

  • The Track Steward maintains the seeding sheets, records the result, liaises with the Timekeepers’ Steward to record the times and liaises with photo finish and Referee on any changes to results.

What is the Track Referee?

  • The Referee is in charge of all Track events, allocates duties to the Judges/Umpires, decides the result in case of any difference of opinion and deals with any disputes.

What do I need to know as an Umpire?

  • You will need to be aware of all the rules related to Track Running and the action you need to take if you observe an infringement. If in doubt, ask.

What duties does an Umpire undertake?

  • Check that athletes do not stray from their lanes; in 800m and 4x400m relay races, oversee the Break Line; identify Obstruction; report infringements in hurdles races and steeplechase events; officiate at relay take-overs; operate the Wind gauge.

Concentration is an asset for all Officials…


Who decides on the Race Result and Umpires Observations?

  • The Track Referee makes decisions on track races.

You can find out more in the Athletics Officials’ Guide “Getting Started as a Track Official


The achievement of a track athlete can realistically only be measured by the time it takes to travel a measured distance. Track athletes spend many hours of effort and training in all conditions in order to improve personal performance; therefore it should be the duty of those who record their times to be as accurate as possible.

Like most duties, timekeeping is not difficult once the basics are understood and accuracy will improve with experience. Newcomers wishing to try their hand at timekeeping for the first time at a meeting will be welcomed, and in general will work with more experienced colleagues who are able to assist and advise.

Timekeeping In Brief:

When do I start my watch?

  • From the flash (or smoke) from the Starter’s gun to the athletes crossing the finish line.

Which athlete do I time?

  • You time the finishing position given to you by the Chief Timekeeper, not the lane the athlete is running in.

When do I stop my watch?

  • When the torso of the athlete you are timing (or front axle of wheelchair) crosses the finishing line.  Watch the athletes closely as they approach the finish line in order to ascertain the location of the finisher you are timing. When the athletes are approximately 6-10m away from the finish line switch your eyes to look across the finish line and stop your timer at the moment you see any part of the torso of the athlete you are timing reach the finish line.

Sequence of Events

  • The Starter (the person wearing a red shirt / cap) will blow a whistle
  • The Chief Timekeeper checks that everybody is ready and signals back to the Starter.
  • You only watch the Starter (not the athletes!). When the Starter raises his / her arm, concentrate, wait for the flash (or smoke) – not the sound – and then start your watch.
  • If for any reason your timer has not started, you must let the Chief Timekeeper know immediately as someone else can watch it.
  • Stop your watch at the moment you see any part of the torso of the athlete you are timing reach the finish line.

Duties in detail

The primary duty of a timekeeper is to record the time it takes for an athlete to complete a race.

Arrive at a meeting at least half an hour before the first track event starts and report to the Chief Timekeeper. He will ask what Level or experience you have and he must know this in order to organise the team effectively.  If you are inexperienced, you should tell him/her, and you will most probably be paired with a more experienced colleague. You will also be asked if you are confident in taking two times. If not, do not be afraid to say so; we all had to go through the same situation when we first started.

The Chief Timekeeper will then ask you to time one or two finish placings – you do not time a particular athlete or lane. You may, for example, be asked to time fourth place in races up to and including 400m (sprints) and 4 & 10 in races over 400m. This means that you are required to time the competitor who crosses the line in 4th place (in sprints) and those in 4th and 10th in the longer races.

Having stopped your timer at the appropriate moment, you then wait until your colleague (if you are working with one) or the Chief Timekeeper asks you for the time recorded on your timer. All hand held times (as opposed to photo-finish) are returned in 1/10th sec. Your timer will show 1/100ths sec, so the time has to be adjusted (rounded up).

The Chief Timekeeper will allocate other (secondary) duties to timekeepers.  Hand timing is a perfectly acceptable technique for registering a National record for races exceeding 400m. Secondary duties form part of the data supporting a claim for a National or indeed World record.

Calling intermediate times: telling the competitors in a race the actual time the race has been running for in seconds or minutes and seconds. It usually takes place as the finish line is crossed during a lap.  Recording lap splits and leader: Mainly for record purposes, it is important to record the number of the leading athlete in races exceeding 400 metres in length and relevant split / lap times.

Lap chart: Typically for races such as 3000m and above, the number of competitors and their ‘spread’ of ability inevitably leads to lapping i.e. where runners overtake other competitors and finish more than one lap in front . It is vital to keep track of each athlete to ensure each runner completes the exact distance, and receives the correct finishing time.

Relay ‘splits’: Relay ‘splits’ are a very rough indication of the time each competitor records in running their particular ‘leg’ of a relay. To maintain consistency, the split time is taken as the relay baton crosses the finish line (for a 4x400m) NOT the point at which the baton is actually handed between team runners.

Lap times to announcer: Usually adopted at major fixtures, but can equally apply to meetings where track facilities include a good PA system.  The Chief Timekeeper is responsible for supplying lap / split times to the Announcer. The Chief may authorise a ‘non timekeeper’ to assist by calling lap times at, say the start of the 1500m.

You can find out more in the Athletics Officials’ Guide “Getting Started as a Timekeeper”.

Useful Equipment

Stopwatch, waterproofs, and an A4 or A5 clipboard are essential (weatherwriter).
Digital multi-memory timers are available in a variety of combinations, and are priced accordingly, with two or three rows of display to give split, lap times and running watch time, with 8, 10, 12, 30, 100 or even 300 memory capacity.  Some recall times only when the timer is stopped, others have the facility to recall recorded times whilst the timer is still running.  It is important that you get to know all the operations of your timer and their sequences, so that you can work it instinctively.  The basic operations are the same:

  • Press the start button to start the timer.
  • Press the lap/split button to record the required number of times (a counter display shows how many times you have taken).
  • Press the stop button for the last time and stop. A separate button is pressed to recall the times in sequence.
  • When all the times are noted, press the lap/split button to clear. With some timers the recorded times are retained in the memory and can be recalled as often as required until such time as the timer is started again.

Track events cannot happen without having a starters assistant (previously known as marksman) or starter. These roles are crucial to keeping track events running to time. Neither can work properly without the other and the co-operation between both sets of officials is essential for the well-being of the athlete. A Starter’s Assistant will ensure athletes are ‘ready’ for the start and allow the Starter to concentrate on ensuring all athletes have a fair and even start. The role of Starter or Starter’s Assistant is quite challenging, you are working with athletes who are ‘hyped up’ especially in sprint races. You need to be firm but diplomatic but overall an enjoyment of athletics is essential.

Newcomers are always welcome & will always work with a qualified starter (a starter requires a licence)

Starter duties – in brief

What does the Starter’s Assistant (Marksman) do before a race?

  • Call-up the competitors approximately 10 minutes before the race is due to start, advise athletes of heats/lanes allotted or draw for lanes if not pre-arranged.  Check clothing, shoes and numbers, issue leg numbers for right leg of shorts if required for photo finish
  • Advise athletes of qualifying conditions if heats are to be held; likewise for quarter/semi finals, advise Starter of number of heats.
  • Check positioning of starting blocks, advise athletes of ‘break points’ for echelon starts.
  • Tell the athletes to “Remove Track Suits” approximately 3 minutes before the race is due to start, marshal them to approximately 3 metres behind their start line in their correct lane.
  • As soon as the athletes are ready and not before the race is timed to start the designated Starter’s Assistant for this duty must advise the starter clearly (usually by raising a noticeable clipboard above their head).

What does the Starter do?

  • Start the race after receiving ‘clearance’ from the Chief Starter’s Assistant and alerting the Timekeepers. Recall the athletes if there is a false start or if there has been a block failure.
  • Issue warnings / disqualifications to the athletes.  Remain alert to the duties performed by Starter’s Assistants and liaise with Photo finish team as required.
  • Be responsible for keeping the meeting to the timetable

What does the Starter’s Assistant (Marksman) do at the start of and during a race?

  • Watch the start line on straight starts, lanes on echelon starts for hand faults etc.
  • Watch athletes from rear on straight starts for hand faults etc. i.e. hands inside lanes.

You can find out more in the Athletics Officials’ Guide “Getting Started as a Starter“.

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Other Roles

Ancillary roles are usually, although not always, undertaken by athletics officials and can include the following:

  • Infield Spotter
  • Call Room
  • Athlete Steward
  • Presentation Steward
  • TIC (Technical Information Centre)
  • Seeding
  • Results

Technical roles are undertaken by officials, usually within their preferred discipline and include:

Technical Officials usually take the management roles at major events and duties include:

  • National Technical Delegate
  • Meeting Manager
  • Competition Director
  • Technical Director
  • Start Co-Ordinator
  • Track Referee
  • Field Referee
  • Track Assessor
  • Field Assessor
  • Call Room Manager
  • Chief Seeding Officer

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