Photo courtesy of Stephen G. Miller

Before the start of a race, runners at Nemea would line up in front of a catapult-like starting mechanism called a hysplex, a reconstruction of which is shown. Two cords stretched along the length of the starting line and were attached to wooden posts. When a signal was given, the torsion-sprung posts were released, and the cords fell to the ground. A fair start was thus ensured for every race; any over-anxious runners would have barreled clumsily into the cords.