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Sprinting is running over a short distance in a limited period of time. It is used in many sports that incorporate running, typically as a way of quickly reaching a target or goal, or avoiding or catching an opponent. Human physiology dictates that a runner's near-top speed cannot be maintained for more than 30–35 seconds due to the depletion of phosphocreatine stores in muscles, and perhaps secondarily to excessive metabolic acidosis as a result of anaerobic glycolysis.

Usain Bolt, world record holder in 100 m and 200 m sprints
Allyson Felix, gold medalist in 200 m sprint at 2012 Olympics

Sprinting is running over a short distance in a limited period of time. It is used in many sports that incorporate running, typically as a way of quickly reaching a target or goal, or avoiding or catching an opponent. Human physiology dictates that a runner's near-top speed cannot be maintained for more than 30–35 seconds due to the depletion of phosphocreatine stores in muscles, and perhaps secondarily to excessive metabolic acidosis as a result of anaerobic glycolysis.

In athletics and track and field, sprints (or dashes) are races over short distances. They are among the oldest running competitions. The first 13 editions of the Ancient Olympic Games featured only one event—the stadion race, which was a race from one end of the stadium to the other. There are three sprinting events which are currently held at the Summer Olympics and outdoor World Championships: the 100 metres, 200 metres, and 400 metres. These events have their roots in races of imperial measurements which were later altered to metric: the 100 m evolved from the 100 yard dash, the 200 m distance came from the furlong (or 8 mile), and the 400 m was the successor to the 440 yard dash or quarter-mile race.

At the professional level, sprinters begin the race by assuming a crouching position in the starting blocks before leaning forward and gradually moving into an upright position as the race progresses and momentum is gained. The set position differs depending on the start. Body alignment is of key importance in producing the optimal amount of force. Ideally the athlete should begin in a 4-point stance and push off using both legs for maximum force production. Athletes remain in the same lane on the running track throughout all sprinting events, with the sole exception of the 400 m indoors. Races up to 100 m are largely focused upon acceleration to an athlete's maximum speed. All sprints beyond this distance increasingly incorporate an element of endurance.

The 60 metres is a common indoor event and it is an indoor world championship event. Less common events include the 50 metres, 55 metres, 300 metres, and 500 metres which are used in some high school and collegiate competitions in the United States.

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