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Walking is widely recognized as an important and healthful form of exercise, and the 5K footrace is an excellent venue for the walker to investigate the possibility of developing the strength and endurance for greater athletic effort, perhaps the eventual transition to running, or even competitive walking, if you want to be a real rebel. The Mag 7 Race Series strongly encourages participation from both runners and walkers, and these simple guidelines have been developed in order to assist race directors in understanding the basic differences between the run and the walk.
The technical sport of racewalking requires the enforcement of two basic rules for the athlete, and this enforcement is problematic for race directors in our area; true race walking competition requires an experienced, knowledgeable and keen-eyed marshal to judge performance, and that’s very difficult to provide on the local level. It’s easiest for most race directors to simply eliminate the walk division completely, but this can discourage participation, too.
Very simply stated: there is race walking, and there is the walk, a.k.a., speed walking, power walking, or fast walking; the latter is the most widely practiced form in our area.
In order to conduct a competitive walk, there’s still the need to readily distinguish a walker from a runner; ready for this? The basic difference is that most runners are airborne for a short time during each stride, and walkers are NOT. A legal walker is an earthbound athlete, all the time.
The restraints on the race walker are:
• No creeping
• No lifting
Creeping basically means no bent knee; the advancing leg must be straight and unbent at the knee when the heel of the advancing leg makes ground contact, and remain unbent until the leg is directly beneath the torso.
Lifting means that both the heel of the advancing foot and the toe of the receding foot don’t lose contact with the ground simultaneously; if both feet lose ground contact (the airborne phase of the stride), then it’s called running.
Creeping is the hardest rule to enforce on the local level, because keeping the advancing leg straight requires more discipline and self-regulation than most participants want to invest, so in the interest of attracting the greatest possible participation, the Mag 7 Series does not enforce the rule on creeping.
Then the basic rule for the Mag 7 Series legal walker is this: no lifting. If the walker becomes airborne for much more than a few paces, then they become a runner.
Brand-new walkers can understandably be carried away by the excitement of a competitive race, and unintentionally, almost unconsciously, forget the rule and begin transitioning to running, especially if they’re trying to close the gap between themselves and the next contestant, SO enforcement of this basic rule will be conducted discreetly, leniently, and non-confrontationally.
Within the Mag 7 Series, regulation of the walk is mostly internal; there is a group of dedicated Mag 7 walkers who are regular attendees and are very observant, knowledgeable, and competitive, and if there is a major violation on the course that is observed by and agreed upon by at least two or more experienced walkers, a first-time infraction will be reported to the race director and the race timer, and if the violation is deemed valid, the violation will be explained to the participant without penalty of reassignment to the run division. However, if such a violation results in wrongful receipt of an award, the rightful walker will be asked if they wish to contest the result, and if so, the award will go to the rightful recipient. The improper walker could then be moved down one place in that race’s walk division rankings, or placed in that race’s run division if there is broader objection.
In all instances, such decisions will be considered in the light of the topmost priority: encouraging long-term participation. Disqualification is the last resort, and will only be threatened if the participant can’t self-regulate and repeatedly offends the legal walking contingent by lapsing into a runner’s gait at multiple events.
Dedicated walkers are just as enthusiastic and supportive of nascent athletes as their running counterparts, and greatly enjoy the fellowship of a well-attended (and keenly competitive!) event. The Mag 7 Series participants know a good thing when they see it, and extend a hearty invitation to all comers to step up and experience the many benefits of a rousing, well-organized foot race!