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Homeracing

Furlongs, miles, and meters: How do race distances compare?

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 13th, 2022

In the United States, the distance of a horse race is measured in furlongs and/or miles. But this isn’t the case in many other racing nations.

The U.S. isn’t alone in maintaining the use of the furlong, a largely archaic unit of measurement equal to 220 yards or one-eighth of a mile; England and Ireland also cling to this traditional standard. But other prominent racing jurisdictions (including France, Japan, Australia, Dubai, and Hong Kong) favor the metric system.

The metric system has its advantages. Instead of using two separate but related units (furlongs and miles) to measure distances, the metric system uses meters across the board. In the U.S., 10 furlongs and 1 1/4 miles represent the same distance, which can be confusing to beginning bettors unfamiliar with the different scales. Under the metric system, the same approximate distance is 2,000 meters—nothing confusing about that.

But for U.S. bettors, correlating meters with furlongs and miles adds another layer of complexity. Suppose you’re analyzing a Japanese horse traveling to compete in the Breeders’ Cup, and all the races the Japanese horse has run are measured in meters. Experienced bettors memorize how metric distances equate to furlongs and miles, but unless you’re an expert on units of measurement, a beginning bettor might find themselves asking a search engine “how many furlongs is 2,000 meters?”

To speed up your learning process, we’ve compiled a handy chart comparing distances from half a furlong (one-sixteenth of a mile) to 16 furlongs (two miles) with their precise metric distances and rounded metric equivalents. This is important because 2,000 meters isn’t exactly equal to 10 furlongs or 1 1/4 miles, even though they’re widely considered the “same” distance.

FurlongsMilesMetersMetric Equivalent
1/2 furlong
1/16 mile
100.58
100 meters
1 furlong
1/8 mile
201.17
200 meters
1.5 furlongs
3/16 mile
301.75
300 meters
2 furlongs
1/4 mile
402.34
400 meters
2.5 furlongs
5/16 mile
502.92
500 meters
3 furlongs
3/8 mile
603.50
600 meters
3.5 furlongs
7/16 mile
704.09
700 meters
4 furlongs
1/2 mile
804.67
800 meters
4.5 furlongs
9/16 mile
905.26
900 meters
5 furlongs
5/8 mile
1,005.84
1,000 meters
5.5 furlongs
11/16 mile
1,106.42
1,100 meters
6 furlongs
3/4 mile
1,207.01
1,200 meters
6.5 furlongs
13/16 mile
1,307.59
1,300 meters
7 furlongs
7/8 mile
1,408.18
1,400 meters
7.5 furlongs
15/16 mile
1,508.76
1,500 meters
8 furlongs
1 mile
1,609.34
1,600 meters
8.5 furlongs
1 1/16 miles
1,709.93
1,700 meters
9 furlongs
1 1/8 miles
1,810.51
1,800 meters
9.5 furlongs
1 3/16 miles
1,911.10
1,900 meters
10 furlongs
1 1/4 miles
2,011.68
2,000 meters
10.5 furlongs
1 5/16 miles
2,112.26
2,100 meters
11 furlongs
1 3/8 miles
2,212.84
2,200 meters
11.5 furlongs
1 7/16 miles
2,313.43
2,300 meters
12 furlongs
1 1/2 miles
2,414.02
2,400 meters
12.5 furlongs
1 9/16 miles
2,514.60
2,500 meters
13 furlongs
1 5/8 miles
2,615.18
2,600 meters
13.5 furlongs
1 11/16 miles
2,715.77
2,700 meters
14 furlongs
1 3/4 miles
2,816.35
2,800 meters
14.5 furlongs
1 13/16 miles
2,916.93
2,900 meters
15 furlongs
1 7/8 miles
3,017.52
3,000 meters
15.5 furlongs
1 15/16 miles
3,118.10
3,100 meters
16 furlongs
2 miles
3,218.69
3,200 meters

As can be determined from the chart above, 10 furlongs is equal to 1 1/4 miles and 2,011.68 meters. This means a 2,000-meter race is actually 11.68 meters (12.77 yards) shorter than 1 1/4 miles. It might not seem like a lot, but the difference adds up; if a horse completes a 2,000-meter race in precisely two minutes (2:00.00), they averaged a speed of 16.67 meters per second over the duration of the race and would have traveled 1 1/4 miles (2,011.68 meters) in approximately 2:00.70.

Nitty-gritty details aside, if you save this chart for easy reference when analyzing international horses and races, you’ll soon memorize equivalent distances and never have to wonder about the distance of a race again. Instead, you can focus on picking winners, a much more satisfying pursuit.

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