The 50 kilometer race walk is the longest test of endurance in international championships, such as the World Champs and Olympics. Racewalking is a combination of endurance sports and technique. Think of walking seven minute miles for four plus hours and having to walk a straight line at the end. Technique when one is trying to survive adds to the problematic challenges of world class race walking.
Philip Dunn, a two time Olympian, and Pan Am medalist had company most of the way during the 50k trials and made it a race. In checking the results one will note that race walkers never seem to retire. Notice Marco Evoniuk, the 1980 Olympic Race walker and former member of the Frank Shorter Racing Team. Curt Clausen was also a finisher. For more on the race, please read the following release from USATF:
Dunn wins U.S. Olympic Team Trials – 50 km Race Walk
MIAMI, Fla. – Two-time Olympian and 1999 Pan American bronze medalist Philip Dunn won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials -50 km Race Walk in convincing fashion Saturday at Crandon Park in Miami, Florida.
The race featured a prize purse of $55,000, with the top eight finishers guaranteed prize money. The local organizing committee was led by event director Robin Beamon from the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department. ING Miami Marathon race director Robert Pozo served as the technical director of the race.
Dunn and Matt Boyles, who was competing in only the second 50 km race walk of his career, had ample opportunity to get to know each other during the majority of the race. They led a group that included veteran Ray Sharp, 48, and newcomer Yariv Pomeranz after the first three laps of the 25-lap, 2-kilometer course.
Dunn and Boyles were shoulder-to-shoulder after five laps and it was a two-man race from then on. Boyles opened a 10-yard lead on Dunn at the 30 km mark and his lead was three seconds over Dunn at 36 km. At 38 km, the two combatants were shoulder-to-shoulder and that’s when Dunn began to make his move. At the 42 km mark, Dunn held a 59-second lead over Boyles and he cruised to the finish in 4 hours 12 minutes 55 seconds, with Boyle the runner-up in 4:14:30.
“The 50 km is always a challenging race. It’s a brutal endurance contest,” said Dunn. I was in the thick of it the entire way and that’s where I wanted to be. It went exactly how I envisioned it. In a 50K, the last half is when the race starts. I really made a move at 38K and that was the difference.”
In order to compete in the 50 km walk at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Dunn must first better the Olympic Games B qualifying standard of 4 hours 7 minutes. He will attempt to better the B-standard at the 23rd IAAF World Race Walking Cup, May 10-11 in Cheboksary, Russia.
Dunn faced the identical scenario after finishing third at the 2004 Olympic 50 km Trials. On March 23, 2004, Dunn bettered the Olympic A standard and punched his ticket for the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, with his time of 3:59:12 at a race in Tijuana, Mexico.
2007 USA 20 km and 50 km race walk champion Kevin Eastler, who has bettered the B-standard, was unable to finish the race on Saturday. “I went about 2.25K or so. I got about one lap in,” said Eastler. “I had surgery (sports hernia) in December and the recovery has been pretty slow. It was unfortunate timing and I need to focus on recovery and Beijing, hopefully. I’d like to go to World Cup and maybe compete in a few races in Europe before competing at the Olympic Trials 20K.”
In getting accustomed to the grind of a 50 km race, runner-up Matt Boyles said the final portion of the race is the toughest to get used to. “You don’t understand what it feels like with 10K to go in a 50K, it feels absolutely awful (laughter), said Boyles. “To put on a surge like that in a race like this, that takes a lot of guts and I hand it to him (Dunn). It was a very courageous race on his part. You have a lot of anxiety leading up to these races, but after you cross that finish line you can let your hair down and eat bad food and rest and just sit around and be lazy, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The race, which began at 7:15 a.m., was staged under partly sunny skies with 62% humidity, light winds and temperatures that ranged from 72 degrees at the beginning of the race, to 80 degrees at the end when the heat index hit 82.
2008 U.S. Olympic Trials – Men’s 50 km Race Walk Results
1. Philip Dunn (San Diego, Calif.) 4:12:55
2. Matthew Boyles (Cedarville, Ohio) 4:14:30
3. Benjamin Shorey (Zion, Ill.) 4:27:14
4. Stephen Quirke (Kenosha, Wis.) 4:27:15
5. Raymond Sharp (Atlantic Mine, Mich.) 4:49:24
6. Marco Evoniuk (Little Silver, N.J.) 4:53:39
7. Theron Kissinger (Southbury, Ct.) 5:04:15
8. John Souchek (San Francisco, Calif.) 5:10:22
9. Mark Green (Reno, Nev.) 5:13:22
10. Curt Clausen (New York, N.Y.) 5:17:50
Did not finish: Dave McGovern (Locust Valley, N.Y.), Tim Seaman (Chula Vista, Calif.), Kevin Eastler (Aurora, Colo.). Disqualified: Yariv Pomeranz (New York, N.Y.)
For more information on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials – Men’s 50 km Race Walk, visit http://www.usatf.org/events/2008/OlympicTrials-RW/