Masters Running


Olympic Racewalking (Read 174 times)


    I'm sorry I didn't reply to this over the weekend, but I was away and without internet access.


    After watching every step of the way of the men’s 50K Race Walking on the high speed/density/etc. tv next to me (that takes 10 seconds to change stations) for three-and-a-half hours earlier this evening (Saturday), I got up to do the same for every sway in the women’s 20K this morning (Sunday).  There may be rhythmic this-and-that’s in the Olympics nowadays but none of ‘em can keep it up for an hour-twenty-five minutes like that. I’d even say something about the men’s race except I’m a man.
    However, though they are just doing their jobs, it’s just sickening to see some officious official, who comes across as unnecessarily pompous and arrogant, stick a red flag in the face of an otherwise powerful athlete who might have inadvertently lost contact with the ground or lifted a heel too high or something.  Even if it was vertent, why can’t they have an increasing time penalty or something for each violation instead of, after three violations, so drastically trashing four years of the kind of dedicated training and sacrifice it takes to be an Olympian?  Yuk.  Quite frankly, it kind of ruined the viewing experience, especially when the announcers couldn't even figure out what happened.  However, each athlete seemed to accept the DQ and turned off the course without apparent comment to the official. 


     I also watched most of the men's 50K (early on Saturday morning here), but I was away at a wedding for the women's 50K. The men were incredibly fluid, and I'm sure the women were as well. In regard to the judging - I know many people feel that the penalties are too harsh, and the system too archaic. However, it does work. And it is no more judgmental than calling balls and strikes in a baseball game, even if the judging can have a greater impact on the outcome. The rules of racewalking are what differentiate it from running. Therefore, if you violate the rules, you are more running than racewalking, and thus not competing fairly. You get a 'caution' (a yellow paddle) if a judge thinks you are close to breaking a rule, but it isn't flagrant/obvious. So that warns a competitor that he might be pushing too close to the edge. You get a red paddle when a judge is sure that you are breaking one of the rules. You only get disqualified if 3 different judges each give you a red paddle. So you have many chances to clean up your form during a race before you get disqualified. A board on the course reminds each competitor, as they go around, how many red paddles they've received. The only reason judges stick a paddle in a competitors face is because they want to be sure that the racer knows they have been given a paddle. Also, if the walkers are in a pack, it is important that it is clear which walker is being paddled. So it is in an effort to help the racer, rather than to be arrogant. Did you notice, in the 50K, that a judge apologized to a racewalker for having to pull him off the course? Most racewalkers know they are pushing the edge of the envelope, especially when it comes to the "loss of contact" rule. (The rule specifically states that the loss of contact has to be visible to the naked eye, which is why what shows in slow-motion is often not called.) Rather than a racewalker being surprised at getting a paddle during a race, I think the general feeling is that if you don't get at least a 'caution' or two, you may not be trying hard enough.


    There has been discussion about time penalties or other penalties less severe than disqualification. But if you institute time penalties, then the first person to cross the line may not be the winner of the race (if XX penalty seconds have to be added to that racer's time). And the competitors on the course wouldn't really know where they stand compared to who is just in front or behind them. It could make determining who the winner is very confusing to racers, judges/timers and spectators. The current rules may seem extreme, but every racewalker goes into a race with eyes wide open, and knows the risks. That is why you so rarely see a racewalker complain about a DQ.


    I was pretty amazed watching the women's race walking. THe announcers said the leader had 'walked" 10 miles in 68 minutes. That's about my fastest MILE pace RUNNING! Pretty impressive but it looks like it would hurt the hip flexors to move like that?


     I wish I could racewalk half as fast as Olympic racewalkers! (Well, I can walk half as fast, but that's not so fast. So maybe I'd like to be 3/4 as fast...) A racewalker who has mastered the technique has two things going for them that help prevent injuries, including to the hip flexors: They are very fluid in their motion, and there is far less jarring from the impact with the ground than there is in running. So the stresses on the body are considerably less than with running. Yes, racewalkers use their hips a lot more than runners, but you are far more likely to see racewalkers with hamstring injuries than hip injuries.





    Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos.

      A nice explanation, Jay. Thanks.

      And a good example of why racewalking is definitely a sport.  Smile


        It makes my shins ache just watching them!


        Running is stupid

        Trails are hard!

          Thanks, Jay.  Hoping you might wiegh in on this.  I missed the men's race, but caught part of the women's.  I don't envy the judges their jobs--I certatinly have a hard time telling that at least one foot is always on the ground.  And i wish I could run that fast.

          Need a fast half for late fall.  Then I need to actually train for it.