Diaulos (running race)

Diaulos (Greek: Δίαυλος, English translation: "double pipe") was a double-stadion race, c. 400 metres (1,300 feet), introduced in the 14th Olympiad of the ancient Olympic Games (724 BC).

The length of each foot race varied depending on the length of the stadium.[1] This was because the Greek foot varied widely from one locality to another, for example the stade at Olympia was 192.27 metres (630.81 feet) but at Delphi it was 177.50 metres (582.35 ft) long.[2] Scholars debate whether or not the runners had individual "turning" posts for the return leg of the race, or whether all the runners approached a common post, turned, and then raced back to the starting line.[3][4] Although at Delphi an inscription referenced "turning-posts" as opposed to "turning-post" which suggests each runner had their own turning post, to prevent an outside runner from losing 3–4 metres (9.8–13.1 ft).[5] These were called kampteres.[6] Archaeological evidence at Nemea also shows that there were individual turning posts.[7]


  1. ^ Gardiner p.136
  2. ^ Sweet p.27
  3. ^ Miller, p. 32. "The first addition to the Olympic program was the diaulos, or double-stadion, race in 724. This race, the functional equivalent of the modern 400-meters, is difficult to identify on the vase paintings, because the runners' gait is similar to that of stadion runners. By comparing runners whose knees are slightly lower than the others' (contrast the knees in figures 3 and 11 with those in figure 30), we may be able to distinguish between the two events. The only depiction of the diaulos of which we are certain, however, is on a fragment of a Panathenaic amphora labeled, "I am a diaulos runner"."
  4. ^ Golden, pp. 51-52. "Diaulos, "double pipe" (see AULOS), one of the regular events at Greek competitive festivals. The diaulos was a footrace two lengths of the STADIUM (400 Greek feet) – up in lanes marked out by lime or gypsum, counter-clockwise around a post (KAMPTËR), and back in a parallel line. According to tradition, it joined the Olympic programme second, in 724; the first winner was HYPENUS of Pisa. Only men ran diaulos at Olympia, Isthmia and Nemea. At the Pythian games, however, it was on the original programme for both paides and men. Diaulos runners needed to be stronger than sprinters but lighter than HOPLITE racers (who ran the same distance, in armour); however (according to Galen), even a champion would be slower at this distance than a gazelle. Unchallenged by gazelles, some diaulos runners enjoyed success over many years: an Argive won at Olympia four times running (208-196), a feat matched and surpassed by LEONIDAS of Rhodes (164-152, adding victories in STADION and race in armour as well). Double victories in stadion and diaulos were not uncommon. The term is also used for a horse race of two lengths of the Greek HIPPODROME."
  5. ^ Gardiner p.137
  6. ^ Sweet p.27
  7. ^ Sweet p. 30


  • Miller, Stephen G., Ben Schmidt, Ancient Greek Athletics: the events at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and Isthmia. Yale University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-300-11529-6
  • Golden, Mark. Sport in the Ancient World from A to Z. Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0-415-24881-7
  • Gardiner, E. Norman. Athletics of the Ancient World. Oxford: Clarendon. Print. ISBN 978-0486424866.
  • Sweet, Waldo E. Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece a Sourcebook with Translations. New York: Oxford UP, 1987. Print. ISBN 978-0300063127.