Although competitive walking can trace its roots back to 16th century Europe, the 19th Century was the Golden Age of walking in the US. Pedestrian races were immensely popular in the US and Great Britain throughout the 19th and into the early 20th century.
Ultra races ranging from from 12 hours to six days were among the most popular spectator sports during the Victorian era. Large prize purses were common and betting was prolific.
Due to its popularity at the time, racewalking became one of the first events on the Olympic program.
Racewalking first appeared in the Olympics in 1904 as an event in the “all- rounder,” the precursor to the decathlon. In 1906, separate 1,500- meter and 3,500-meter races were contested. Over the years distances were gradually increased to the current 20km and 50km events.
Henry Laskau, Ron Laird, Larry Young and other US walkers were among the best in the world through the 1950s and ‘60s.
Racewalking remained reasonably popular in North America through the 1980s, but we’ve been on a steady decline ever since.
Few “cradle to grave” clubs in the US, as exist in Australia, Spain, Italy and other top walking nations
Inconsistent support/ training opportunities for elite walkers. (Racewalkers are no longer able to train at ARCO.)
1997-2004: Medals at international competition: 3 2005-Present: Medals at international competition: 0 1997-2004: Number of athletes with A & B standards: 5 2005-Present: Number of athletes with A & B standards: 2 1997-2004: Number qualified for Olympic Games: 9 2005-Present: Number qualified for Olympic Games: 3 1997-2004: American Records: 20 2005-Present: American Records: 2 1997-2004: First-time Olympians: 5 2005-Present: First-time Olympians: 1 Results with and without OTC Chula-Vista
Lack of support/positive recognition for racewalking in the US Barcelona Olympic Silver Medallist Carlos Mercenario with Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stalone at the Acapulco Planet Hollywood opening.
Australian tabloids follow the personal lives of Oz racewalkers.
Phone cards and statues honor Chinese ‘92 gold medallist Yueling Chen
Mexican competitions draw huge crowds, Corona/Tecate/Bohemia girls, cheerleaders and heavy media coverage.
During maximal exercise, running and racewalking resulted in similar VO 2 Cardiovascular, respiratory, and perceptual responses during running and racewalking are the same during maximal exercise and during submaximal exercise at the same VO 2.
Female racewalkers and runners have similar attributes
↑ Training = ↑ performance for racewalkers, just as it does for runners.
Yet there is little correlation between running success and walking success
Athletes who may not have the inherent athletic talent to be elite distance runners but who have the work ethic required to be elite athletes may be taught to be exceptional racewalkers.
Racewalking is an endurance event, but also a technique-specific skill for which not everyone has an aptitude. It takes consistent training over time (10 years+?) to develop a top racewalker. But our chain has too many broken links to keep walkers around long enough to reach the top.
There are many strong youth programs across the US that support the walks, yet only Maine and parts of New York State have racewalking in their track programs. And beyond high school, only the NAIA and a few Division II colleges conduct racewalks as scoring events in their meets.
The few programs that do support racewalking have had a huge impact. One school, UW-Parkside has produced dozens of National Champions and five Olympians.
Without opportunities for consistent training over time (à la Hansons, Running USA, Nike Oregon Project) USA Racewalking has suffered.
Characteristics of successful endurance programs: 1. Physical activity during childhood and early adolescence. 2. Sport specialization at +/- age 16.5 years. 3. Long-term development. 4. Increased training volume and intensity during adolescence and young adulthood (16-24 years.) 5. High-quality coaching. 6. Training partners and team atmosphere. GIBBONS, T. Common characteristics of successful endurance programs. Track Coach v169 Fall 2004; p.5398-5408; 5393
Michelle Rohl Ran 4:21.09 for 1,500m in 1988, 16:49.37 for 5,000m in 1989 15-time NAIA All-American 1987 NAIA cross-country runner-up 1988 NAIA 1,500m/3,000m indoor champion Qualified for the 1996 Olympic Trials in the marathon with a 2:48:56. Switched to racewalking to rehabilitate an Achilles injury and went on to set the 10,000m and 20k American racewalk records and make the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic teams.
Matt Boyles Three-time All-American runner at Rio Grande 2004 Ohio NAIA & NCAA D-II Cross Country Runner of the Year 2008 Indoor racewalk champion, 2nd at 20k and 50k Olympic Trials.
DEFINITION OF RACE WALKING Rule 150: Race Walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg must be straightened (i.e., not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until in the vertical position. Disqualification for failure to adhere to the above definition is governed by Rule 39.3. Rule 39.3: 1. The Judges of Racewalking shall have the sole authority to determine the fairness or unfairness of walking, and their rulings, thereon shall be final and without appeal. Judging decisions are made as seen by the human eye.
Racewalking for Runners: 5k training Monday: Off or easy 30-minute racewalk Tuesday: 2K warm-up, then 8 to 12 x 400m at 6 seconds faster than 5K race pace, 2:00 rests Wednesday: Easy 45-minute to 1-hour racewalk Thursday: 2K warm-up, then 30-minute tempo run Friday: Easy 45-minute to 1-hour racewalk Saturday*: 2K Warm-up, then 6 x 1K at 5K race pace, 2:00 rests Sunday: Easy 10-mile run. Accelerate over the last 5K, or add a few 30-second surges *If racing, switch Saturday and Thursday workouts and cut the number of 1K repeats to 2 to 3.
Racewalking for Runners: 10k training Monday: Off or easy 30-minute racewalk Tuesday: 2K warm-up, then 12 to 16 x 400m at 6 seconds faster than 10K pace, 2:00 rests Wednesday: Easy 45-minute to 1-hour racewalk Thursday: Warm-up, then hard 45-minute to 1-hour run, or accelerate through 1 hour start easy finish fast Friday: Easy 45-minute to 1-hour racewalk Saturday: 2K warm-up, then 3-4 x 2K (or 1 mile) at 10K race pace, 3:00 rests Sunday: Easy 12 mile run. Accelerate over the last 5-8K, or throw in a few 1-minute surges
Racewalking for Runners: 20k training Monday: Off or very easy 30-minute racewalk Tuesday: 2K warm-up, then 12-16 x 400m at 6 seconds faster than 1/2 marathon pace, 2:00 rests Wednesday: Easy 1-hour racewalk Thursday: Hard 60-90-minute run, or accelerate through 90 minutes. Start easy finish fast Friday: Very easy 45-minute to 1-hour racewalk Saturday: 2K warm-up, then 6-8 x 2K (or 1 mile) at 1/2 marathon race pace, 3:00 rests Sunday: Easy 12- to 15-mile run. Accelerate over the last 8K, or throw in a few 30-second surges.
Resources for collegiate racewalkers NAIA Racewalking www.naiarw.com/NAIANEWSINFO.html USATF Racewalkingwww.usatf.org/groups/RaceWalking World Class Racewalkingwww.racewalking.org Racewalk.comwww.racewalk.com