What are walking races?

          Most of the race competitions involve running but now walking races are also found as Olympic events. Another name for the walking race is heel and toe racing.

          The rules for walking races are more strict than usual races. No contestant is allowed to break into a run to beat his rivals. The runner should never break the contact with the ground. One foot must always be in touch. The legs must also be held straight as if walking and not be bent as when running. A competitor is entitled to one warning signalled by a white flag. A red flag is a signal of final disqualification for an erring competitor. Action is taken against a competitor after the independent recommendation of three judges, or two judges if one is the chief judge.

          Walking races are different than marathon races. In marathon races running is allowed but not in walking races.

          The method for race walking is nothing like normal walking. The hips are rolled rhythmically, the legs are pulled or jerked up and down very rapidly and the shoulders and arms are swung in very exaggerated pumping movements. The overall effect is very comical to watch. It is something like a penguin’s waddley yet it enables racers to move upto 16 kilometres per hour.

          The walkers are entitled to take refreshments at official refreshment stations if the race exceeds 20 km. Stations are sited at 10 km apart and after 20 km, every 5 km apart. No other unofficial refreshments are allowed for the walkers. Additional sponging points, supplying water only are provided at points after 20 kms.

          Events of walking races are very long. In the Olympics the events cover 20 kilometres and 50 kilometre distances. Walk-races present an interesting and entertaining scene to the spectators.