200m hurdles - which is better 5 flight or 10 flight?

Simon Hampel

Staff member
Little Athletics in Australia run 5 flight 200m hurdles races (U13 and U14 age groups) with the same separation as what you'd find in a 400m hurdles race. The U15 and U17 age groups run 7 flight 300m hurdles, again, with the same separation as a 400m hurdles.

However, the Athletics NSW (and other state bodies) and Athletics Australia run 10 flight 200m hurdles for the U15 and U16 age groups before moving to standard 400m hurdles races for U17 and above.

The debate between which event is better - 5 flight or 10 flight - is an interesting one.

Personally, I can see benefits in both.

If you start from an assumption that both races are intended to be preparation for an eventual move to 400m hurdles, then there are arguments in favour of both formats.

A 5 flight 200m hurdles uses the same separation as a 400m hurdles, so the way you run between the hurdles will be exactly the same (albeit a bit more aggressively for a 200m hurdles given the shorter distance). Indeed, the 7 flight 300m hurdles which follows, continues that same separation - with the intent of preparing for future 400m hurdles running.

However, one of the key factors in running a 400m hurdles is maintaining your technique over the last few hurdles given how tired you are going to be towards the end of the race. From this perspective, a 10 flight 200m hurdles is arguably more challenging than a 5 flight, and thus more closely aligned to the importance of technique.

I think if you consider the races on their own merits and not just as a precursor to the 400m hurdles, then my personal preference would be the 10 flight 200m hurdles - it's more challenging and has more risk than a 5 flight.

But given they are indeed designed to lead to 400m hurdles in the older age groups - I do see the benefits of both approaches and can't really decide which is better.

I think we are fortunate to have the opportunity for our athletes to experience both formats if they do dual membership with Little Athletics and "senior" athletics, although I'm disappointed that this distance isn't offered as an event in its own right beyond the limited 2 years they are run.

I'd be interested to hear opinions from other athletes / coaches / parents as to which format they think is "better" - or indeed, which format they prefer.

5 flight or 10 flight?