USA’s David Verburg has more 4x400m relay medals than you. The dreadlocked quarter miler gives his guide to running each leg.
“The responsibility on the first leg is to get your team in first position or, if not, at least as close to first for the second leg runner as possible.
“I personally enjoy running first leg because there are no variables. It is run in lanes, so you don’t have to worry about anyone bumping into you or getting stuck behind someone.
“I enjoy the big staggers of running first leg in 4x400m, it acts as a real motivation. I enjoy chasing athletes and if I pass one athlete, I use it a stepping stone to catch the next one.”
“The second leg can get a little physical, particularly as the athletes break from their lanes at the beginning of the back straight.
“Running leg two is a unique skill set because you have to go off hard for that first 100m to establish a position down the back straight. It takes a while to understand your body and know what you can and can’t do in order to run this leg well.
“If you are a 400m runner who prefers to run even splits, then this is probably not the leg for you because it requires much more work at the beginning of the leg and it can favour the speed based runners.”
Verburg won his second 4x400m world champs gold at Beijing 2015. He also has golds from two World Relays and one world indoor champs (including the iWR)
“It can be the deadliest of the legs. Run a solid leg and your anchor has a much easier job.
“This one is all about running your heart out to at least give the anchor something to work with. I’ve seen the likes of Tony McQuay run great third legs in the past.”
Fourth leg (anchor)
“You need not only to be a physically fit to run fourth leg but also mentally mature. Running anchor comes with a lot of responsibility.
“If you blast off too quickly and make a pace judgement error, three people can come past you and you have cost your team a medal.
“Waiting to receive the baton to run anchor you really need to be prepared for any scenario. The margin for error is so much smaller.
“Personally, it is not my favourite leg to run because if something bad happens, it is your fault and I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.”