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An all-out sprint

800-meter run isn’t decided until final stretch

An all-out sprint

Cal State Stanislaus sophomore middle-distance runner Terrance Ellis won the 800 meter at last week's Chico Twilight with a time of 1 minute, 55.84 seconds.

POSTED April 15, 2011 10:42 p.m.

Don’t be fooled. The 800-meter run is considered a middle-distance event in track, but that doesn’t mean runners have opportunities to jog. For many, it’s practically an all-out sprint to the finish.

For that reason alone, the event can be enthralling. Usually, the winner isn’t decided until the last 150-200 meters, even if someone holds the pace for the majority of the race, which is two laps around the track.

Often times, runners who participate in the 800 meter also compete in the 4x400-meter relay, due to their ability to stay in sprint mode for a long period of time.

The race starts with runners lined up like almost any other race before they merge into the closest inside lane. Usually, runners stay close together before that final fight for the finish.

“The first 600 is pretty fast, but it feels like it comes down to the last 200,” said Cal State Stanislaus sophomore middle-distance runner Terrance Ellis, who won the 800 meter at last week’s Chico Twilight with a time of 1 minute, 55.84 seconds. “You can’t win the race in 600. Ultimately, it’s who sprints the faster at the end.”

Spectators will see a lot of that on May 26-28, when Stanislaus hosts the NCAA Division II Championships at Warrior Stadium, an event that is expected to attract thousands of athletes, coaches and fans while helping boost the local economy.

“It literally is an all-out sprint,” Stanislaus middle-distance coach Diljeet Dosanjh Taylor said. “You go until you have nothing left.”

“You have to stay relaxed, not tighten up,” she added. “The makeup of a good 800 runner is to have equaled components of speed and strength. And that’s how you’re successful in that race because it’s definitely a combination.”

Ellis has those qualities. He is considered the Warriors’ top 800-meter runner, with fellow men’s team runner Dawson Vorderbruegge and women’s runner Rubye Elhard also competing in the event. The latter two, however, are known in the 1,500-meter run, which is right above the 800 in length and just short of a mile.

Ellis has only been running the 800 for the past three years, he said. He competed in wrestling at Stagg High in Stockton, before he really took interest in track and field about halfway through his senior year. He started out not knowing much about his event. But lately, it seems like he has adapted quite well.

Now, all he wants to do is have enough for that final stretch.

“I never know who’s in my race, who’s in front of me, who’s behind me,” Ellis said. “All I know is that when that 200 meters come and if there’s anyone in front of me, all I can do is go for it.

“No matter what, you always have the will to try to win.”

 To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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