Early-Year Walk Review

Hong Liu already had 2 WC golds and an Olympic gold; now, moving up in distance, she has a World Record as well. (MARK SHEARMAN)

WHILE FIELD AND TRACK athletes slowly make the conversion from indoors to outdoors, the heel & toe brigade has already cranked out some significant action, including a World Record and the crowning of 4 USATF national champions:

World Record For Liu

The women’s 50K walk is still in its infancy (and may never pass beyond it if proposed event-changes happen?), but it has only taken very few years of competition at the highest level for the 4-hour barrier to be cracked. Claiming the World Record in her debut at the distance, Olympic 20K champ Hong Liu won the Chinese title in the event (Huangshan, March 09) with her 3:59:15, crushing the former best of 4:04:36 set by countrywoman Rui Lang last year). Walking on a wet day, Liu easily handled Maocuo Li, whose 4:03:51 also brought her home ahead of the previous WR. The men’s 50K title went to Qin Wang at 3:38:02. The 20Ks (not national champs) were staged a day later, with wins going to Kaihua Wang (1:19:01) and Shenjie Quieyang (1:25:37 for the No. 8 performance ever).

USATF 50K Titles To Stevens & Forgues

A hot day in Tustin, California (January 26) didn’t do any favors to the walkers contesting the USATF 50K Championships. The best mark of the day came on the women’s side, where Robyn Stevens of Salming overcame the conditions in producing a PR 4:34:24 that moved her to No. 3 on the all-time U.S. list, but left her short of a WC qualifier of 4:30:00. Matthew Forgues (Maine Race Walkers) took the men’s title, his first, at 4:27:28, winning by more than a half-hour.

USATF 20K: Stevens Again, & Christie

The USA’s best walkers returned to Tustin on March 17 for the national 20K, and Robyn Stevens continued the best walking of her life at age 35. Her PR 1:33:34 moved her to No. 6 on the all-time list and left her a frustrating 34 seconds shy of getting a World Champs qualifier. Finishing some 90 seconds behind her was Miranda Melville (1:35:12). On the men’s side, Nick Christie successfully defended his title with a 1:27:38. □