Spencer’s Corner: Old Race Walking Rules vs New Race Walking Rules



A short comment about Bob’s note re. ‘Walking the Dream’. Keeping in mind basic RW rules and definition about what RW actually is, I can’t get my head around the comments such as, “next launch”, and why anyone should want to work out “the efforts needed to stay airborne”, and how they are in any way connected or relevant to racewalking. Sorry Bob, I’m not with you on this one. Let us once again look at the rules, past and present.

Old Rule: Racewalking is a progression of steps so taken that unbroken contact with the ground is maintained.

A) During the period of each step, the advancing foot of the walker must make contact with the ground before the rear foot leaves the ground.
B) The supporting leg must be straightened (i.e. not bend at the knee) for at least one moment when in the vertical upright position.

New Rule as from 1995/96 season. – Racewalking 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 in the vertical upright position.

What are the changes? – This new wording conforms to what is happening for the past many years. The judge’s eyes determine illegal loss of contact, not a video shoot or a photograph showing loss of contact. Further, the written requirement for double contact has been removed. Then in addition we have the change to: – straight leg from first contact until the vertical upright position and not just the ‘for one moment’ as before. Further also note, there is no written requirement that initial contact must be made with the heel, only that the leg must be straight on ground contact.

Another GP, the third for this year, behind us. Thick mist delayed the start by 30 minutes, followed by glorious fine weather, ideal for racing and good times. Once again I had to reduce my plan of a 30 km to just 20. This persisting Cold/Flue which seems to stay around forever has taken its toll affecting so many of us this year. The ‘Cape Doctor’ is not doing his job well at all. The target now is a fast 30 km in 4 weeks time. Hopefully third time lucky.

This weeks session.

  • Warm up well, get loose and flexible.
  • 100/100m, 3 laps, the usual drill. 2 min. rest.
  • 3 circuits continuous.10, 10, 5, Crunches, push-up, bar-pulls, 100m jog to steps. 76 steps, single up, easy down. 700m at 80%, repeat, repeat.
  • 200m at 80% to bottom of “short hill” (approach road to Velodrome). 3x up fast, down easy, return 200m at 80% to base. 2 min. rest.
  • Start with 200m easy, followed by 1x3000m at close to race-pace. Finish at base.
  • Warm down and stretch out.

Good advice.
This week a recall from days gone by and the effect of the RW rule changes mentioned above. I recall the 1997 World Championships, after the changes made the season before. Many walkers hopes and ambitions were destroyed by judges applying the “straight leg on first contact until the vertical upright position”. It was difficult especially for older walkers to adapt. In my 5000m track race (55 – 59) there were 8 DQ’d walkers, with similar statistics throughout all the men and ladies categories. Note, each age category walkers had their own race. 18 to 20 races on the track, only the 20 and 10km road race combined walkers however there are no mixed races women/men. I have fond memories of 1997. World champion 55+. Double Gold and winning times of 23:52 (5000m) and 1:45:16 (20km).

To finish off, a few quotes:

Giulio de Petra (80): – If I miss a day of training, I feel guilty. My body does not feel good. So every morning I am out as soon as it is light and the time I spend walking sets me up for the rest of the day.

Don Johnson (75) I have never been one to read every walking/running magazine and what have you. The time you spend doing that, you could be out training. Why read about someone else doing something when you can be doing it.

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