What Features Make the Difference to a Running Hurdle?
Although there may be several different styles of running Hurdles available in Track & Field, all competition running hurdles are built around the same concept to meet IAAF and UKA specifications. However, there are a number of features to look out for to get the best available Hurdles.
1. The Fixing of the Vertical Leg to The Top Board
Due to this area of the hurdle taking the most impact from users, the top board needs to be fixed securely to the top board. The plastic top board is the weakest part here, so you should always look for a hurdle where the vertical leg has a flat surface where it is connected to the top board. This can be done in 2 ways, either that the vertical leg is square or if the vertical is round, then a plastic bush is used to create a flat surface. You regularly see round vertical legs fixed directly to the top boards and these tend to be the hurdles with the shortest lifespan as the leg twists where it meets the plastic. Another addition here is a plastic bush inside the top board itself. Top boards are hollow so a plastic bush over the bolt prevents over-tightening.
2. Height Adjustment
Most standard hurdles are height adjustable using a button aka spring clip. The button part of the clip (the part we touch) must be of a suitable length that there is no risk of it slipping. There are hurdles available from other suppliers that only use a short button clip and should vertical force be applied, these can slip causing the hurdle to fail. Our hurdles use a button that extends approx. 5mm from the leg but there are hurdles available out there with button clips less than half that size.
3. Materials & Build Quality
The regulations governing the build of the competition hurdle do allow for a variance in the materials used and more importantly the build quality. Both aluminium or steel hurdles are available with even some including our ARH Olympic hurdle using elements of both to get the best performance. However, it is the build quality that can make a difference. To reduce the cost of the hurdle, some manufacturers will use channel sections of metal rather than a full box section. A channel section is much weaker than a box section and is an area of potentially un-repairable damage. Another area of concern is the quality of the joints of the hurdle, particularly where the vertical leg joins the horizontal leg. A full seam weld should be clear when joining box section to box section. And when joining round vertical legs to square horizontal legs (the weakest area), we prefer to feed the round section leg through the square leg and fix tightly with a bolt. This also allows the hurdles to be broken down to be flat-packed to reduce transport costs and long term storage which is used on the ARH Olympic Hurdle.
4. Easily Adjustable Sliding Weights
Now every hurdle has to have these but ensure that the components used are non-corrosive (stainless steel). This is particularly important as should the components corrode (rust), changing 160 sliding weight positions for a flight of hurdles is going to be even more difficult. Going one step further, hurdles are now available with sliding weights that can be changed using your foot to save bending down on each hurdle (Alu-Elite hurdle) and even easier again are the hurdles that automatically change the sliding weights when the hurdle height is adjusted (Alu-Matic hurdle).
5. The Finish
Not the finish of the race, but the finish of the hurdle. Hurdles must be protected against the elements and either a thick powder coated (painted) finish or zinc plating should be applied to prevent corrosion. This is particularly important as hurdles can take quite an impact when tipped over and are at risk of poor paint finishes chipping away.