So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Post-Bushwacker...Keeping It Real

It's the middle of a Monday morning & I'm sitting at my home office desk. A temporary situation, due to the fact my loving wife is going on the road again - please, no Willie Nelson music. Thank you. I'll drop her at the airport, then go in to my real office & commence to do my real work.

This last weekend was the running event which (kind of) kicks off the autumn racing season for a lot of local runners; a point-to-point 5K from Gulf Breeze to Pensacola Beach. Most of the folks who participate in the event do so because they know the post-race event is really good. Hey, when you can get over a thousand people (not counting bandits) to run in (EDITORIAL COMMENT: Hyperbole follows) a billion degree heat & near-maximum humidity conditions, you know it isn't for the medals or the race shirt. It really has to do with the post-race party. In my humble opinion, the Capt'n Fun group does the post-race as well as any other large club in the country.

But, talking to my friend Aaron...or at least with Betsy, his wife...the next day, one thing we don't do real well (the same goes for a lot of local events) is racewalking. Aaron racewalks because he's had one of his hips replaced; no running for him, to say the least. It doesn't mean he's slow, though...he's a ten-minute per mile (perhaps faster than that!) kind of guy. The only way you're going to beat him in a racewalk is either work at it - or cheat by running.

How can you tell when a racewalker is running? Simple enough...if you take the time to look closely. I've seen racewalkers with both feet off the ground before - definitely cheating.

Here's the problem. USA Track and Field controls racewalking. They train judges/officials in the technique & lay down the rules. Road Runners Club of America supports recreational runners, as well as walkers who do so because they are unable to run. RRCA clubs & many events - at least the ones here - get themselves in a real kettle of fish because they decide to set up a 'racewalking' division and provide awards for those people who consider 3.1 miles too far (There are some days when I consider 3.106856 miles too far.) to run.

So what do you do, Mr. or Ms. Race Director? If you have an event that's big enough to attract real racewalkers from out of the area...the ones who have seen USATF officials & participated in real racewalking events where improper technique is disqualified, do you tell these folks to suck it up and drive on? Do you make the effort to get USATF judges to officiate your racewalk division, or perhaps restructure & rename it a fitness walker division?
(I would love to use an inflammatory, pejorative term here, but I worry about the ability of my hips, knees, & other joints to carry me at my speeds for the rest of my mortal existence! Hubris tends to bite me squarely in the backside.)

It's kind of a shame to hear we do wrong by a number of people in the community...especially the ones who decide to travel three hours one way, spend a week of holiday time, beaucoups of dough, etc., etc., etc. There are people within the local community who know enough about the sport to judge an event or two, perhaps even enough to teach proper technique.

If we're going to do it, let's keep it real. If not, tap the kegs before the start & have a fun run.

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