Sprint relays boil down to nothing more than running fast and passing a stick. The baton pass is hardly the feat of subatomic precision that heavily favored U.S. teams sometimes make it appear. The exchange must be made within a 20-meter zone. It's really not that hard to get this right. It looks that way only when you don't practice.
In high school the event was never known by its proper name, the 120-yard hurdles. It was always "high hurdles" or just "the highs." While everything else in the world seems to look a bit smaller and less daunting as we grow up, those darn hurdles still look as imposing as they did on the first day of freshman track—and those hurdles were only 39 inches high, three inches lower than the barriers used in college and international competition.
You stand next to one, noting uncomfortably that it bisects your spreading gut, and wonder, Can this really be the same hurdle those guys at the Olympics seem to fly over, clearing 10 of them and 110 meters in about 13 seconds? You will never get a real sense of this from watching hurdlers on television. The camera angles do not convey the barely controlled recklessness of the event, the real danger in those 10 full-speed leaps of faith. Hurdlers risk broken arms and dislocated shoulders but make it look as if they were casually stepping over a curb.