World Champs Men’s 35K Walk — Stano Moves Up

Last year’s Oly 20K winner, Massimo Stano had no problems walking 15K farther this time around. (KIRY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

JAPANESE STAR Daisuke Matsunaga took off “like a Mat out of hell.” Sprinting in a race that wasn’t a sprint, he stayed in front of the 50-man 35K field for more than half its distance.

The expected happened. Just past 20K (1:22:23) he was gobbled up by a pack of pursuers and began fading… and fading. And now the real race was on.

Cut a long story short. The chase pack of at least two dozen evaporated to 10… and then 3: Sweden’s Perseus Karlström, who’d already won a World 20K bronze a week earlier; Japan’s Masatora Kawano and Italy’s favored Massimo Stano, the reigning Olympic 20K king.

Now it was really pedal-to-the-metal time and Karlström was the first to drop off, with two of the 1K loops to go, and the audience really getting into the action. Kawano and Stano had cruised most of their earlier Ks in the low 4s, but dipped to a joint 3:53 for No. 34, and this became either man’s race.

The all-out dash to the wire was on, and the crowd loved it. Just as he had in his Olympic win, Stano gained a 1-stride lead, and then a 2-stride edge, and a bit more, and joyously got to the line in 2:23:14, Kawano breathing down his neck, finally toppling over the line in vain.

Stano’s final K (3:50) was his quickest of all and it meant everything. Kawano (3:51 closer) earned the silver in 2:23:15. Karlström’s closing 4:07 claimed a 2:23:44 bronze.

Adorned in Italy’s flag and his new gold medal, Stano, 30, called himself “proud; very, very proud. I proved myself at another distance. But I’m not sure which one I like better.” Not since Ivano Brugnetti in ’99 had Italy won “long walk” WC gold.

“The pace was very quick,” said Kawano, “just as we expected, but I couldn’t hold on at the end.”

Just out of medal range were three more from three nations, and three continents: Ecuador’s Brian Pintado (2:24:37), China’s Xianghong He (2:24:45) and Canada’s Evan Dunfee (2:25:02.)

Matsunaga? He wound up 26th in 2:33:56.

This is the first year the 35K has replaced the 50K as “the long one” in the racewalking world — so record comparisons are relatively irrelevant. WA lists Russia’s Vladimir Kanaykin — with his 2:21:31 in ’06 — as the fastest ever, but today’s top 5 now claim 2-3-4-5-6 on the all-time charts.

“I got used to the podium, it’s fun being on the stand,” said Canada’s Dunfee, who’d earned bronzes at 50K at the ’21 Olympics and ’19 Worlds. “But I’m still mad about the 50K. That was the dumbest thing they’ve ever done. They never listen to the athletes anyway.”

Back in 19th at 2:30:47 was Dawid Tomala of Poland, the Tokyo Olympic 50K champion, And taking 36th in 2:41:08 was Nick Christie, the lone American entry, who’d also done “the double” after his 31st in the 20K.

“I was hoping to at least break my American Record [2:38:16], but it just wasn’t to be,” said Christie. He was “on pace” for the first half of the race but faded at the end. “But now there’s Budapest [’23 WC] and Paris [’24 OG].”


MEN’S 35K WALK RESULTS

(July 24; 1-kilometer loop)

(temperature 52–63F/11–17C; humidity 92–82%)

1. Massimo Stano (Ita) 2:23:14 NR (WL) (2, 2 W)

(21:03, 20:28 [41:31], 20:31 [62:02], 20:38 [1:22:40], 20:26 [1:43:06], 20:18 [2:03:24], 20:10);

2. Masatora Kawano (Jpn) 2:23:15 NR (3, 3 W)

(21:03, 20:28 [41:31], 20:32 [62:03], 20:37 [1:22:40], 20:24 [1:43:04], 20:20 [2:03:24], 19:51);

3. Perseus Karlström (Swe) 2:23:44 NR (4, 4 W)

(21:02, 20:29 [41:31], 20:31 [62:02], 20:38 [1:22:40], 20:24 [1:43:04], 20:20 [2:03:24], 20:20);

4. Brian Pintado (Ecu) 2:24:37 NR (6, 6 W);

5. Xianghong He (Chn) 2:24:45 NR (7, 7 W);

6. Evan Dunfee (Can) 2:25:02 NR (9, 10 W);

7. Caio Bonfim (Bra) 2:25:14 NR (10, 11 W);

8. Eider Arévalo (Col) 2:25:21 NR;

9. Tomohiro Noda (Jpn) 2:25:29 PR; 10. Miguel Ángel López (Spa) 2:25:58 NR; 11. Ricardo Ortiz (Mex) 2:27:11 NR; 12. Ever Palma (Mex) 2:27:55 PR; 13. Aleksi Ojala (Fin) 2:28:22 NR; 14. Aurelien Quinion (Fra) 2:28:46 NR; 15. Yangben Zhaxi (Chn) 2:28:56 PR; 16. César Rodríguez (Per) 2:29:24 NR; 17. Hao Xu (Chn) 2:29:55 PR; 18. Rhydian Cowley (Aus) 2:30:34 NR; 19. Dawid Tomala (Pol) 2:30:47 NR; 20. Wayne Snyman (SA) 2:31:15 PR; 21. Miroslav Úradník (Svk) 2:31:16 PR; 22. José Luis Doctor (Mex) 2:32:43; 23. Vít Hlaváč (CzR) 2:32:50 NR; 24. Andrés Chocho (Ecu) 2:33:28; 25. Brendan Boyce (Ire) 2:33:31; 26. Daisuke Matsunaga (Jpn) 2:33:56; 27. Marius Žiūkas (Lit) 2:34:16 NR; 28. Diego Pinzón (Col) 2:34:26 PR; 29. Aléxandros Papamihaíl (Gre) 2:34:48 NR; 30. Erick Barrondo (Gua) 2:35:01; 31. Dominik Černý (Svk) 2:35:39 PR; 32. Álvaro López (Spa) 2:36:20 PR; 33. Artur Mastianica (Lit) 2:36:25 PR; 34. Karl Junghannß (Ger) 2:38:50; 35. Georgiy Sheiko (Kaz) 2:39:47;

36. Nick Christie (US) 2:41:08 (AL) (x, 3 A);

37. Arnis Rumbenieks (Lat) 2:42:47; 38. Marius Cocioran (Rom) 2:43:27; 39. Rui Coelho (Por) 2:44:55; 40. Carl Dohmann (Ger) 2:45:44;… dnf—Carl Gibbons (Aus), José Montaña (Col), Jonathan Javier Amores Carua (Ecu), João Vieira (Por), Luis Campos (Per);… dq—Artur Brzozowski (Pol), Luis Angel Sánchez (Gua), Veli-Matti Partanen (Fin), Andrea Agrusti (Ita), Marc Tur (Spa).

(leader 5Ks: Matsunaga 20:14, 40:38, 61:10, 1:22:33; Pintado 1:43:04; Stano 2:03:24)

(best-ever mark-for-place: all but 1)

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