Racewalking for Race Directors

By Barb Davis--Daytona Beach Track Club

Some guidelines to help you add a racewalk to an existing event:

1. Brochure: Be sure to designate "Racewalk" in title, whether judged or not, start time, award categories. We also include fitness walk and fun run/walk. Most racewalkers will recognize the word and look further.

2. Awards: We go Overall Male/Female, 3 deep in 30 and under, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+. Total of 32 awards. Give same awards as runners. Remember, these people paid just as much as the runners. I order from local supplier who does all trophies/plaques/widgets for 7 races.

3. Staggered start: we do a 2-minute delay on walkers - ALL WALKERS. The allows the runners to get out of the way, the racewalkers to get a fast start at the front of the walkers, and no one is dodging each other. It also gives the judges a fighting chance to see racewalkers at the start. Our largest race is 500 which is about 400:100 walkers to runners. If your race is larger, delay the start more. My 400 runners take about 30 seconds to get over the start line. Then line up the walkers and show them your nifty poster of "THE RULES":

(a) Feet must keep contact with the ground at all times. "No contact or lifting" (Draw a picture of the paddle sign ^^)

(b) Support leg must be straight, not bent. "Bent knee" (another artist rendering <)

(c) Knees must be visible to judge;

(d) 3 violations = disqualified. XXX

(e) No headphones: pacing devices I also put any special instructions like don't fold the race number, walkers have yellow numbers, we are tearing strips on the bottom of the number at finish line, etc. I copied these rules from Central Florida Walkers who have been doing this a long time.

4. Different colored numbers: I order a batch of 300 bright yellow numbers numbered from 300-600. This goes on the front and also gives you a different color finish strip at the bottom if you tear strips. I use leftover white numbers from old races (we always have leftovers in the 300-600 range) and racewalkers put them on the back. This helps your judges get the number for cautions and violations. Use 300-350 for one race then 350-400, etc. Remember, this numbering only works if you set the walk up as a separate race or you will end up with two #300's. If you have all one race, take your numbers to 600+.

5. Judges: We try for 5 judges because it takes 3 to disqualify. Our races are pretty low key so we may end up with 3 judges hoofing it to 2 or 3 locations each.

6. Finish Line: We set the walk (all walkers) up as a separate event on RunScore, have a separate timer, a separate spindle (we tear strips) and cross-check with finish cards. This smacks of excessive, but we are still experimenting. You can do one or the other: finish cards or tear strips. I personally like the finish cards because I can put them in order quickly, do the results, and present awards while all the runners are standing there waiting to mug the volunteer who walks out with the results list. The tear strips we use for our Computer Guy who can just log them in and download the official time. However, Guy is a runner so that list always comes out last. So you can go ahead and do the racewalker awards and by the time we finish the runner awards we have the racewalker times. Also, it's easy to get the finish times of the overall male/female off the time machine tape. Note that all walkers are in one category. Central Florida rule which we have adopted is if a walker does the judged racewalk and gets beat by a fitness or power or whatever walker, the racewalker wins. Best to clarify this rule early.

7. Have a racewalker demo 45 minutes after the start. We did this at our last race and it was wonderful. All those curious runners having fun and all the beginning racewalkers getting tune-ups. By the time the Fun Run is over, you are ready for racewalker awards and they had about 30 minutes for the demo.

8. Learn to racewalk. As a race director you will never understand the effort involved in racewalking and you will never give them the respect they deserve until you walk at least a mile in their shoes. Our track club sponsored a clinic with Dave McGovern attended by 26 racewalkers at all levels. I learned to racewalk, practiced for 2 months and walked a 36++ in a 5k. It was twice as hard as running, but twice the fun. Really taught me to respect those sub 30:00 5k's. And the minute your committee tells you it's not cost effective: I will send you the results sheets from our races which show that most racewalkers have a corresponding spouse or child or parent who runs the race. We charge $12 pre-registered and $15 day of race for a 5k. Order T-shirts wholesale and use the same printer and our shirts come out about $3.00 regular sleeve, $3.50 tank, and $4.00 long sleeve. Awards about $3-4.00 each. The math is easy.

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