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.

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. Jennifer says

    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. 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.

  3. skierz says

    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!

  4. 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 😉

  5. 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.

  6. mommaof3ontherun says

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

  7. Nyle says

    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)

  8. 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.

  9. Lisa says

    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.

  10. 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.

  11. rayzwocker says

    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!

  12. kilax says

    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 :)

  13. 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!