Racewalkers are studs

racewalking2 Racewalkers are studs
Photo courtesy of Dave McGovern

Taking a break from our regularly scheduled program…I am writing an article right now on racewalking, and I just had to share some of the things I’ve learned about it. I know–it kind of seems like a goofy sport. We’ve all seen racewalkers doing their thing and maybe even chuckled at the technique. But I’m hear to tell you–these guys are serious athletes who, at the top level, can blow by most average joe runners.

Did you know that the men race up to the 50k distance? And did you know the world record for that distance is 3:40? Yes, as in the time women must achieve in the 35 and under division to qualify for Boston. But these guys are doing 5 more miles in that time.

racewalking1 Racewalkers are studs
Photo courtesy of Dave McGovern

Female racewalkers only go up to 20k (where’s the parity???) but they smoke it at the top level. The current world record for a 20k by a female is 1:26. Yeah, that’s 12.4 miles in 1:26. Compare that to your last 10-miler for some perspective.

And while we as runners get to run any old way we please, racewalkers are watched very closely by lots of judges to make sure their technique is spot on. They have to make sure their advancing foot touches the ground before their rear one leaves it. They also must ensure that their advancing leg straightens briefly while the foot is in contact with the ground. That’s a lot to think about when you’re hauling ass, tired, and 40k into a race.

Next time you see a racewalker out there, give them your respect. They’re studs in my book.

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  1. I have few race-walker friends. I too am in awe. It is a powerful technique and if you don't do it spot on it really can wreck your body. Some of these folks go way faster than I; you have to respect that!

  2. La Historiadora de Moda says:

    They are bad ass! As an average joe runner, I have experienced them blowing by me.

  3. Andrew Opala says:

    just when I thought I was on top of the food chain! Thanks alot!

  4. Lesley @ racingitoff.com says:

    Ah, I love these peeps… they are always passing me while I supposedly "run". Unbelievable. I've tried to walk that fast and failed miserably. I think running is easier.

  5. they are insane! I have watched them at some races and it is incredible how fast they are going and having to maintain for the entire time!! good post!

  6. racewalkjudge says:

    A clarification on the description of what is legal, the leg must be straightened from the moment the foot makes contact with the ground until it is vertical with the ground. For some walkers that is barely a moment it is true, but not all of them. I know, picky, picky, but I am a race walk judge ;-)

  7. marathonmaiden says:

    my friend's dad race walks and he is intense whenever i see him out of the streets!

  8. Thank you for the clarification racewalkjudge!

  9. Patrick Mahoney says:

    did you ever see the episode of Malcolm In The Middle where Hal takes up speedwalking?

    Seriously, I just compared 12.4 miles in 1:26 to my last 10 miler. Yep, that's some persepective.

  10. mommaof3ontherun says:

    Love it….especially when I hear some people criticize people who take walking breaks. These people have my respect!

  11. I am a racewalker from New Zealand, I can only but dream of going half as fast! But it is so inspiring when you watch these top racewalkers doing their thing. They make it look so easy. :0)

  12. HEATHER @ runfastermommy! says:

    I can't not comprehend how one WALKS that fast. It baffles me!

  13. I had no idea they can walk that fast!

  14. Caratunk Girl says:

    They are total studs, I am always in awe when I see them. I didn't know about the judges watching them so closely though. Wow.

  15. I am in absolute awe of these guys. Incredible!

  16. The Green Girl says:

    I'm sorry but I still can't help but giggle. I'm a bad person, I know.

  17. Champions International says:

    Here is a great example of how to race walk: http://www.narionline.org/nari/RaceWalk101/RWCIABVFlyerRGB.pdf

  18. When I ran in central park I saw race walkers all the time. They have races there and I was (am) always so impressed and in awe! It looks hard! They go so fast but can't run. I can definitely see how it would be a great workout and work different muscles than when running.

  19. Anabela (Bela) Neves says:

    I am always at awwwe because I have no idea how they do that!

  20. WHAT!? That's crazy!

  21. never seen them in person, but someone told me about them back in college. i have always wanted to know more about it.

  22. Cynthia O'H says:

    I don't understand the technique at all. Really, I've tried it but I just can't seem to get it. Race walkers really do have a skill and talent that we will never be able to match.

  23. Thanks for the blog post. Can't wait to see the article! Another correction: the world record for 50k is 3:34:xx. (Although the track record may be 3:40…) That's a sub-3:00 Marathon + another 4.8 miles!

  24. I totally agree. I used to racewalk at school and it is tough going. I much prefer this to running.

  25. I am sure that race walking is so much harder than it looks! You are right….they are studs:)

  26. I saw one in the park yesterday and he was hard core.

  27. Silly Girl Running says:

    I'm with you on this one! It seems so exhausting! Even looking at it! Chapeau race walkers!

  28. wow, they look fierce! tons of respect!

  29. great. such a boost to know that raceWALKERS are beating me haha. that's crazy fast for walking!

  30. wow. i didn't know that about their technique!! that is awesome.

  31. I've seen a few race walkers at events. The dedicated ones are pretty fast!

  32. So cool! Will we be able to read the article you are writing?

    Racewalking is something I have wondered about, but not looked in to :)

  33. Runners Fuel says:

    I don't think my butt could handle being a race walker. Those are some awesome people!

  34. shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama says:

    I had to jump back and comment on this one.

    I give all sports their dues. My gripe is I have seen a lot of race walkers who don't adhere to correct form…of course they are not the elites of the sport but it gripes me when they enter for the race walking cat and then "run" some of the distance!

  35. This is a very nice post, so informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing such a great post.


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