The 4x1500m relay is not run very often. That lack of experience was apparent in the first handoff at the World Relays on Saturday.
U.S. runner Katie Mackey was looking back to receive the baton from Heather Kampf. Before Mackey could turn to run with the baton, she smashed into Australian opening-leg runner Zoe Buckman.
Buckman had just handed off to Australia’s second leg but hadn’t yet gotten out of the inside running lanes.
Kenya ended up winning the 4x1500m by 22 seconds and in a world record. The U.S. recovered for second place, also beating the previous world record time.
The more regularly run sprint relays have been known to include collisions, such as the U.S. and Great Britain at the 2011 World Championships, but common sense says the longer the distance and the slower the pace (and, at the World Relays, fewer nations) would make it easier to avoid trouble.
Not on Saturday, though.