Sunday, June 22, 2008

My First Racewalk Championships (Yes, I was watching.)

The USATF Junior National T&F Championships were held today in Columbus, OH. On the campus of Ohio State, the events were held at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

I have never volunteered to help with a racewalk of this calibre before. It was very interesting. Of the four volunteers, two manned the water stop, and two of us were "runners." I was a runner. Basically, I walked around the track, and if any of the racewalk judges had a red card on any of the athletes, I would "run" it to the head judge so that it could be marked on the DQ board.

The junior men started their 10,000 m race at about 7:30 a.m. to the applause of about 10 people. I had no idea what I was doing, so I walked around the track at a brisk pace. After about five laps, the head judge said I didn't have to be that quick. So, I continued around the track at a slower pace, stopping to talk to some of the judges along the way so I could learn what they were doing and what they were looking for. I was given one red card to turn in.

At about 8:30 the junior women started their 10,000 m event. I thought I knew what I was doing, and let the athletes go around twice before I got started. The head judge let us know we had waited too long, and needed to get going. I turned in two red cards for the women, and one was DQ'd near the end of the race.

Though I've had a couple of racewalking lessons, I am by no means a racewalker. Still, I noticed there was a lot more variation in style among the women than the men. And a lot more women bounced as they wallked. (I think bouncing is bad.) Also, I was surprised at how many did not push their arms back very hard, or their arms went out to the side rather than straight back. Several had a pretty strong forward lean.

However, when I blocked all of that out, and just watched their legs, most of them were very smooth, and I had no idea if their knees were straight enough or both feet were off the ground... I couldn't see any infractions!

So, today I got up at about 5:30 to watch people racewalk for two hours, walked around the track at least 10 times, and got a great hat and too-big T-shirt for my efforts. It was fun!

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