USATF 5K Masters Racewalk Championship

Driving 10 hours to Race Walk 3.2 Miles
Racewalking Champsionship

This weekend I will drive 5 hours from Atlanta to Kingsport TN on Friday, get up the next morning and walk 3.1 miles and then drive back home. About 60 other walkers from around the country will join me, making similar trips often from further distances, just to walk 3.1 miles.

We are making the trip to compete in the USATF 5K Masters Racewalk Championship. There is expected be to about 60 competitors age 30 and up in this event which will take most of us boomers and seniors a little over one half hour to complete.

Kingport TN has hosted this event for the last 21 years. This is where the best Masters race walkers in the country come to try to set a record, either the national record or their own personal best record.  The national record books show 10 of the 11 age division records for the American Masters 5km Race Walk Road Records were set in Kingsport, TN.

This is not a big track meet like the National Senior Games I attended in St Paul MN earlier this year. The only event is the 5k race walk championship.  The women race walk at 9:30am this Saturday morning, followed by the men’s race at 8:30am.  Masters age groups for Male and Females are: 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89.

The course is simply an asphalt road in front of the Americourt Hotel which has been surveyed and measured and marked for a 1K loop. You racewalk down the road, circle the cones and back for the 1K loop. You do this loop five times to get the 5k distance. How hard can that be, right?

Well race walkers have to have the correct form. There will be minimum of six to a maximum of nine Judges including the Chief Judge along the course looking at your form and cautions will be given. Each Judge shall use a yellow paddle for signaling cautions. On the third caution, the race walker will be shown a red paddle, disqualified and removed from the race. This happens to even to the best race walkers.

Definition of Race Walking. Race Walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg must be straightened (i.e., not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until the leg is in the vertical upright position.
On a personal note, I will be competing in the men’s age 65-69 division. My goals are:

– set a personal best time
– use the correct racewalking form and not get disqualified
– do not get injured

Competitions like this give race walkers the payoff and motivation for their hard training. You feel good when your competition is over, a feeling of accomplishment. It is always nice to meet other race walkers and get to know and admire their dedication to this sport.

One smart thing about the completions are they are judged by age divisions so you can see how you stack up against some of the best in your age bracket and also gives you a chance to compete on a level playing field.

Many race walkers started by just walking on their own.  For many, walking with a group like I did at our senior center is a path to race walking. Others who take up race walking may be runners who no longer want the wear and tear on their joints but still want the exercise and competition.

For baby boomers and seniors, race walking is a great sport. For more information on race walking, see eRaceWalk.com.

Robert Fowler

Boomers Find Path to Senior Games via Senior Centers

When I started retiring less than 10 years ago, I would have never in my wildest dreams thought I would be competing at the National Senior Games. Yet, I just returned from that event where I competed in two race walking competitions. It is an experience I will remember the rest of my life.

My unexpected path to the National Senior Games as it turns out, is a common one shared by many people I have spoken with. It began with me, as others, at our local senior center.

A few years ago I discovered Park Place Adult Center here in my town Johns Creek GA and began walking with the Park Place Pacers.  The men’s group was only me and Don from Cleveland and Lamond from New Jersey. We walked about 3.2 miles through Newtown Park three times a week, sharing the news of the day and stories from our lives.

Then at the annual North Fulton Golden Games we were pitted against 4 or 5 other local senior centers in a day of competition which included a couple of walking races. I heard about how good some of the other walkers were and we began training a little.

At the North Fulton Golden Games a gentleman 10 years older than me beat me in the one half mile race by 20 yards!  I was puzzled. Upon researching I found out he was race walking, a technique that makes you more efficient so you can walk faster.

I learned that the upcoming 2014 state level competition called the Georgia Olympics had a competition in race walking.  I signed up for some instructions in race walking and made the trip down to Warner Robins for the state meet last Sept where I came in 2nd in my age group for the 1500 meter race walk.

That qualified me for the National Senior Games in St. Paul MN in July 2015, so I signed up for the 1500 meters and the 5K race walks and began training a couple of months ago. The competition at the National Senior Games is fierce with 1200 athletes coming from all over the country to compete. The heat from my 1500 meter race, for example, shows 20 men coming from 19 different states for that race, many of which have been there before.

The experiences were valuable and enjoyable all along the way. Nothing like walking with new friends at your local senior center.  Competition at the state level gets those juices flowing while still fun.  At the National Senior Games level you are competing with the best but you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy it,  if you can make it that far.

Competing at any of these levels you will have the fellowship with others and enjoy their company. Everyone is happy and excited to be there. It is motivating as well to see what some people can accomplish in their 50+ lives. The training and discipline at the sate and national level is amazing.

I would encourage anyone to get involved with their local Senior Center, Active Adult Center, Adult Recreation Center, whatever it is called, and give it a try. Your life will be better for it. You will get some activity, develop some new routines on your schedule, and make new friends while sharing those activities.

Robert Fowler, age 67

PS: I came in 8th place at the National Senior Games and got a certificate and an experience I will remember. Who knows, maybe I will be going to the next National Senior Games which will be in Birmingham AL in July 2017. Hope to see you there. Find your senior center.  Here are some pics I took at the National Senior Games in Minnesota.

national senior games winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

basketball at national senior games

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

womens competion at National Senior Games