Racewalking is a long-distance athletics event. Although it is a foot race, it is biomechanically different from running in that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. Stride length is reduced, so to achieve competitive speeds, racewalkers must attain cadence rates comparable to those achieved by Olympic 400-meter runners — and they must do so for hours at a time since the Olympic distances are 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) and 50 kilometers (31 miles).
There are two rules that govern racewalking. The first dictates that the athlete's back toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched. Violation of this rule is known as loss of contact. The second rule requires that the supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes over it. These rules are judged by the human eye, which creates controversy at today's high speeds. Athletes may sometimes lose contact for a few milliseconds per stride which can be caught on high-speed film, but such a short flight phase is undetectable to the human eye.
Athletes stay low to the ground by keeping their arms pumping low, close to their hips. If one sees a racewalker's shoulders rising, it may be a sign that the athlete is losing contact with the ground. What appears to be an exaggerated swivel to the hip is, in fact, a full rotation of the pelvis. Athletes aim to move the pelvis forward, and to minimize sideways motion in order to achieve maximum forward propulsion. Speed is achieved by stepping quickly with the aim of rapid turnover. This minimizes the risk of the feet leaving the ground. Strides are short and quick, with pushoff coming forward from the ball of the foot, again to minimize the risk of losing contact with the ground. World-class racewalkers (male and female) can average under seven and eight minutes per mile (or under four and five minutes per kilometre), respectively, in a 20 km (12.4 mile) racewalk.
There are judges on the course to monitor form. Three judges submitting "red cards" for violations results in disqualification. There is a scoreboard placed on the course so competitors can see their violation status. If the third violation is received, the chief judge removes the competitor from the course by showing a red paddle. For monitoring reasons, races are held on a looped course or on a track so judges get to see competitors several times during a race. A judge could also "caution" a competitor that he or she is in danger of losing form by showing a paddle that indicates either losing contact or bent knees. No judge may submit more than one card for each walker and the chief judge may not submit any cards; it is his or her job only to disqualify the offending walker. Disqualifications are routine at the elite level, such as the famous case of Jane Saville disqualified within sight of a gold medal in front of her home crowd in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Racewalking is an Olympic athletics event with distances of 20 kilometers for both men and women and 50 kilometers for men only. Racewalking first appeared in the modern Olympics in 1904 as a half-mile walk in the 'all-rounder,' the precursor to the 10-event decathlon. In 1906, stand-alone 1,500m and 3,000m racewalks were added, and – excluding 1924 – there has been at least one racewalk (for men) in every edition of the Olympics since. The women's racewalk became an Olympic event only in 1992, following years of active lobbying by female internationals. A World Cup in racewalking is held bienially, and racewalk events appear in the IAAF Athletics World Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Pan American Games, among others.
Race walking in Greece
- Theodoros Stamatopoulos
- Dimitris Thanopoulos
- Nikos Katsilas
- Giorgos Argyropoulos
- Spyros Kastanis
- Christos Karagiorgos
- Aris Karagiorgos
- Dimitris Tsiris
- Yiannis Maris
- Nikos Rasidakis
- IAAF racewalking rules (see "Definition") Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- IAAF website, discussion of racewalking history and rules Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- IAAF official website Statistics.