At time 0, all the runners are together at the starting gate; shortly after, they are arranged in the order {1, 2, 3, 4}, counting from the starting gate. The order changes to {4, 1, 2, 3} when runner 4 passes the starting gate. Then either runner 3 passes the starting gate, runner 4 laps runner 1, or the two events happen at the same time, giving possible orders {3, 4, 1, 2}, {1, 4, 2, 3}, or {3, 1, 2, 4}.

In the second half of the race the order mirrors the first half of the race, but in reverse; for instance, just before the end, the order is {4, 3, 2, 1}.