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Copyright 2012
Club Northwest

 

 

 

3. Racewalking for competition

milewalk

Ann and Stan work hard in the 1 mile racewalk at the Club Northwest All-Comers meet.

The US remains in a running boom. There are many thousands of marathoners and road racers. Money and the Olympics are the goals of the elites. While money may not be as plentiful in walking, if you’re a talented runner, but can’t break through to the next level, note that in all three Olympic racewalking events, 20K for men and women, and 50K for men, the US only sent one athlete in each event because not enough athletes qualified! Meeting the Olympic A standard would have guaranteed a spot.

We’ve had many local racewalkers make past Olympic teams, most recently Allen James, and Herm Nelson. Herm was a 10 minute steeplechaser in college, not an Olympic qualifying time for that event, yet he made several national teams including the Olympics as a racewalker. We are ready for the next group of local Olympians.

NAIA colleges still have racewalk as part of their track and field programs and these were the source of many high level walkers. Local schools now are mainly NCAA division schools that do not support racewalking. There are still many NAIA schools in the US (see our Youth page link for more information) that do offer racewalk scholarships as part of their track and field programs. There is currently a young walker, Trevor Barron, who came up in a college program, and represented us well at the London Olympics. It can be done. If you already have a fitness base from running, and some speed and endurance, why not see if you also have the coordination and rhythm to succeed at racewalking?

Nationally, racewalking is a much smaller sport than running, so it’s a little lonely at times, but the opportunities are limitless. There are local events but there are also many opportunities around the country at high level national races at many distances, from 3K to 50K. There are also Olympic training centers that welcome racewalkers as the source for our International teams. Another upside is that once you reach national level, you can continue for many years as racewalking is an endurance and technique sport so as speed declines over time, the endurance and form carry the day.

Locally, we have clinics for new walkers led by Stan Chraminski (see our Schedule page for details), five time National Masters Champion, and holder of several track age group records including 30K and 50K, who has competed for 25 years as a racewalker. Stan was a 2:40 marathoner, and 35 minute 10K runner who competed at a much higher level in racewalking. He was ranked as high as top 10 in the US in the 50K, as a 40 year old. So, if you have some talent and are looking for high levels of success, including representing the US in international competitions, racewalking just might be your ticket. 

An example of running times compared to racewalking times is the one-third rule: multiply your mile running time by one and 1/3, or 1.33, to get an idea of your racewalking potential. If you now run 6 minutes for a mile, you should be able to racewalk about 8 minutes for that mile. While a 6 minute mile won’t win many running events, an 8 minute racewalking will qualify you for many NAIA championship events. The top male racewalkers in the world cover 20K in about 6:30 per minute mile pace, after a few years of training. If you are an even more talented runner, faster than the six minute example above, your potential at racewalking could produce world class results for you. The women  are not far behind, and there are many opportunities available for those who can walk at about 7:30 minutes per mile pace.  (return to home page)