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New England Walkers Newsletter
September 1998

Our hours to shine

The racewalkers have come from the far corners of the counry and from two miles dow nthe street. They've been Olympians, novices and everything in between. And all have helped put us in the national spotlight as hosts of the one-hour and two-hour USA racewalking championships.

Our New England association has been conducting this event since 1989, getting strong turnouts, drawing plaudits and providing a memorable time for all nvolved. This year's championships will be held on Sunday, Oct. 4, on Alumni Field at Woircester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, beginning at 9 a.m. As always, we hope that all New England Walkers will take part in the activities.

Those who race will find first-class competition and camaraderie. Those who do not race _ and those who can offer their time before or after competing _ can find many fulfilling ways to be part of the events, as organizers, tumers, lap scorers, race officials, water table helpers, or occordinators of postrace festivities. The championship spirit will touch everyone, guaranteed.

If you haven't already gotten your entry form for the races electronically, a copy is in the mail. Those who wish to volunteer their services should contact Justin Kuo at 617-731-9889.

We hope to see everybody on Oct. 4.

The grand finale

Another of our cherished traditions _ the New England Walkers' season-ending 10-kilometer race, potluck meal and club meeting _ will be held Sunday, Nov. 8 at the home of club founder Tom Knatt, 83 Riverside Drive, Concord, MA.

Starting time for the race is 12 noon. The meal will begin after the final competitors have crossed the finish line, and one needn't race in order to dine. (In some years, the eaters have been known to outnumber the racers.) Please bring an item, hot or cold, to share.

After the meeting, we will begin laying plans for 1999. All topics and all viewpoints are welcome. The more voices we hear at this club meeting, the better we can serve all our club members.

See you there, rain or shine. For directions, call Tom Knatt at 508-369-7912.

Volunteers thanked

Fourteen club members served as course marshals at the Chase Corporate Challenge road race in Boston July 30. The volunteers' efforts earned much-welcome revenue for our club. Thanks go to Tom Knatt, Harold Thornley, Dorothy Thornley, Bill Rowan, Sheila Hammond, Bill Harriman, Michael LaRocca, and Carol, Genya, Yuri, Tolya, Anna, Masha and Justin Kuo.

Weekly workouts

Racewalker and coach Ken Mattsson continues to conduct training sessions on the MIT track in Cambridge, MA at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesdays. For information, contact Ken at 617-576- 9331.

High-flying Dow

The ranks of American medal-winning racewalkers in international competition are small. But our own Joanne Dow entered this select company on July 14 with a third-place finish in the Goodwill Games in New York.

Joanne completed the 10-kilometer walk in a personal best of 45:36.92, trailing only Yelena Nikolayeva (43:51.97) and Nadezhda Riyashkina (44:25.99) of Russia. Americans Michelle Rohl and Debbi Lawrence occupied the next two spots.

On Aug. 30, Joanne earned a place in another international competition by winning the 20-kilometer US trials for the Pan American Cup in 1:35:45. The women's Pan Am Cup race will be held in Miami on Oct. 3.

And all of this follows Joanne's 1998 US titles at 10 and 20 kilometers.

Race results

National Masters Track & Field Championships, July 31-Aug. 2, Orono, ME This is what athletics are all about. Or should be.

Hundreds of men and women from all over the nation flocked to the University of Maine campus to compete in this three-day event. Many others volunteered long hours to make the meet run smoothly. Their combined efforts brought them no fame, no seven-figure (or even one-figure) contracts - just the immeasurable satisfaction of taking part and giving one's all. High spirits were in the air all weekend.

The 5-kilometer racewalks took place on the track, in a long series of heats, on Friday. The 10- and 20-kilometer walks were held on Sunday on a two-kilometer road course. Race director (and microphone-wielding m.c.) Tom Eastler, course designer Wayne Nicoll, and a large group of judges and volunteer helpers made everything go smoothly.

New England finishers were:

Women's 10-kilometer racewalk
Ages 35-39
 2. Catherine  Marsh     37   Pawcatuck, CT         1:16:34.71
Ages 40-44
 5. Christine  Anderson  44   Shrewbury, MA         58:17.11
 6. Lee  Chase           44   Glastownbury, CT      58:23.38
10. Denise  Hambrick     41   Wallingford, CT       1:22:12.30
Ages 44-49
12. Sheila  Danahey      47   Mystic, CT            1:06:46.03
Ages 60-64
 2. Jeanne  Shepardson   64   Sherborn, MA          1:04:47.15
Ages 65-69
 4. Lorelei Ruben        65   Rockport, MA          1:22:12.56
Men's 20-kilometer racewalk
Ages 30-34
 1. Ken Mattsson         34   Cambridge, MA         2:05:22.30
Ages 44-49
 1. Brian  Savilonis     48   Brookfield, MA        1:52:07.71
 2. John  Jurewicz       48   Boston                2:04:23.84
 3. Stanley  Sosnowski   48   West Kingston, RI     2:06:25.98
 6. Fred  Anderson       46   Plymouth, NH          2:19:25.19
Ages 50-54
 2. Robert  Keating      51   Nashua, NH            1:50:03.30
 4. Joseph  Light        50   Westerly, RI          1:54:47.16
 6. Bill  Harriman       51   Tewksbury, MA         2:04:06.55
 7. Charles  Mansbach    53   Newton, MA            2:11:33.63
Ages 55-59
 4. David  Baldwin       55   Harrington, ME        2:05:11.43
 5. Thomas  Knatt        58   Concord, MA           2:10:24.58
Ages 60-64
 6. Paul  Mailman        60   Enfield, ME           2:21:44.57
 7. Richard  Huie        63   Branford, CT          2:38:41.56
Ages 65-69
 4. Louis  Free          68   Uncasville, CT        2:20:55.99
Women's 5-kilometer racewalk
Ages 35-39
 2. Kelley  Cullenberg   37   Farmington, ME       30:02.41
 3. Lisa White           35   Jamaica Plain, MA    34:46.40
 4. Catherine  Marsh     37   Pawcatuck, CT        36:15.46
Ages 40-44
 2. Maryanne  Torrellas  40   Clinton, CT          25:07.07
 7. Lee  Chase           44   Glastownbury, CT     29:09.65
 9. Wendy  Dudas         42   Woodstock, CT        33:58.02
Ages 45-49
10. Sheila  Danahey      47   Mystic, CT           32:01.97
11. Cheryl  Sunmann      47   Fairland, IN         32:22.13
12. Heidi  Duskey        45   Medford, MA          33:13.63
Ages 55-59
 7. Marsha  Hartz        58   Greenville, ME       37:06.77
Ages 60-64
 3. Jeanne  Shepardson   64  Sherborn, MA          31:45.03
12. Rachel  Beaudet      62 Longmeadow, MA         37:53.23
Men's 5-kilometer racewalk
Ages 45-49
 1. Stanley  Sosnowski   48   West Kingston, RI    25:09.64
 2. Brian  Savilonis     48   Brookfield, MA       26:24.51
Ages 50-54
 2. Robert  Keating      51   Nashua, NH           24:55.46
Ages 55-59
 4. Thomas  Knatt        58  Concord, MA           27:51.28
Ages 60-64
 5. George  Scott        63  Eastford, CT          29:32.26
 *  Spencer Parrish      61  Waterbury, CT         33:11.35
 7. Paul  Mailman        60  Enfield, ME           33:27.21
 8. Gustave  Davis       61  Orange, CT            34:58.73
Ages 65-69
 6. Robert  Beaudet      65   Longmeadow, MA       31:14.69
 7. Bill  McCann         68   Longmeadow, MA       32:55.95
 8. Louis  Free          68   Uncasville, CT       33:17.27
12. Geoffrey  Bye        68   Guilford, CT         35:05.68
13. Richard  Shepardson  66   Sherborn, MA         37:12.80

* Denotes athlete is not a US citizen

Walkers who competed on the track and then on the road two days later found the double effort tiring. And most everyone slowed down during the second half of the 20K as the hot sun beat down on us.

Bay State Games 3-kilometer racewalk, July 25, Shrewsbury, MA., High School track A new venue for the track and field finals after many years at MIT. "Track was pretty soft _ not the best for walking," Brian reports.

   1. Brian  Savilonis    Brookfield    14:24.00
   2. Steve  Vaitones     Waltham       14:37.20
   3. Ken  Mattsson       Cambridge     16:40.90
   4. Bill  Harriman      Tewksbury     17:01.60
   5. John  Jurewicz      Roxbury       17:51.10
   6. Fred  Anderson      Plymouth, NH  18:30.30
   7. Sal Yerardi         Malden        18:33.90
   8. Justin  Kuo         Brookline     18:47.20
   9. Dick  Shepardson    Sherborn      21:34.20
      Charles Schultz     Charlton      DQ
Women (or should that say "Woman"?)
   1. Jeanne  Shepardson  Sherborn      19:23.30

National 10-Kilometer championships, Niagara Falls, NY, July 11 The grand finale for this event at the Niagara Falls site after 21 years. The weather was a pleasant 62 degrees, in a departure from conditions in many of those 21 years. The New England Walkers took second-place team honors in the open men's (Savilonis, Sosnowski, Mattsson) and open women's (Gutsche, Shepardson, Kuo) categories. New England finishers:

     Brian Savilonis (1st, M45-49)       51:13
     Stan Sosnowski (3d, M45-49)         52:42
     Marcia Gutsche (4th, senior women)  55:20
     Ken Mattsson (11th, senior men)     57:31
     Tom Knatt  (4th, M55-59)            57:37
     Jeanne Shepardson (1st, W60-64)     65:57
     Justin Kuo   (5th, M40-44)          66:03
     Louis Free  (5th, M65-69)           67:22
     Yuri Kuo  (2d, junior men)          69:57
     Carol Kuo   (3d, W50-54)            73:47

5 miles, Dedham, July 4 An Independence Day tradition. The race is held in conjuction with a run and is unjudged. The course was shortened from its usual 10 kilometers this year.

   1. Steve Vaitones   42:51
   2. John Jurewicz    49:29
   3. Justin Kuo       57:46
   4. Yuri Kuo (12)    61:12
   5. Paul Joyce       61:54

Paul Schell was out there, too, but Justin couldn't find him in the official results.

Among those in the 5-mile run were: Genya Kuo (14), 38:23; Tolya Kuo (10), 39:56; and Anna Kuo (9), 61:24.

Downloading -- (your body, not your computer)
Temptations of racewalker and runner

By Josef DellaGrotte

While racewalking may be the answer to runners' knee problems, it is not without its own, and those problems tend to be in the hips and in the lower legs. The syndrome I have begun to see in clients is something akin to compartment syndrome, in essence, an irritation of the shin tendon with serious consequences. How does this happen? Keep in mind that the basis of racewalking lies in a power-walking gait that people especially in Africa discovered long ago. When that cantilever action is going well, no problems. The problem arises when the racewalker tries to walk faster by walking with greater downward thrusting, which he or she does not usually notice for some time, until it is too late.

We know from basic physics that if you press the ground more, you get a gravity response that thrusts your bones and your spine up. For example, if you leap from a height onto a trampoline, you bounce up. the surface has to be resilient. If you try the same thing on asphalt or cement, you do not get uplift; you just compress and the bones fracture. If you are running, or walking forcefully, you inevitably start to download into the lower leg compartments.

After all, one way to try to get more speed is to press the ground more. This temptation needs to be resisted (unless you are walking on resilient surfaces) in favor of aligning the body. This requires activating through some simple movement exercises our

  sensory-motor awareness. If you are going to go faster there will inevitably be more downward thrusts, but they will be compensated by a corresponding uplift.

Keep in mind that when you want to increase competitive speed, the first tendency is to override the body by trying harder. You will in fact walk faster, but there will also be countereffects that will not only slow you down but make you vulnerable to injury. The injuries happen by downloading into the lower legs, as well as by forcing the hip propellers to turn with friction.

How then can you sense when you are actually downloading too much? The first step is to learn the most efficient basic power-walk form. Then when you racewalk, you are able to notice when something is not right. Otherwise, the will to overcome limitations takes over. And since willpower is no match for the reality of gravity and biomechanics, you lose.

Walkers are invited to upgrade their biocomputer software-awareness by attending a workshop on walking without prob- lems. Oct. 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in Watertown, MA., indoors and outdoors. Subscribers to the New England Walkers newsletter receive a 33 percent discount: $60. Call Somatic Training Associates at 1-800-873-2398

How many of us are there?

A few months ago, Steve Vaitones raised this issue on the Internet:

"Let's have some fun with this question, posed to me by a product development person from a major athletic shoe company.

"How many competitive racewalkers are there in the USA?

"It probably depends on how we define `competitive' and `racewalking,' the top level being along the lines of how may Ohio Racewalker subscribers are there, multiplied by a publication reading factor.

"Then maybe look at the `major' championships and competitive events. Then stretch it to cover walking divisions in or with runs.

"I was going to reply in the range of 1,000-2,000, if we're lucky. Can anyone suggest some numbers, with background on their estimate?"


In response, Phil Howell of Georgia offered these thoughts:

"As the compiler of the national/regional racewalking ladder, I have brought together the names of 3,100 people who have participated in competitive racewalks over the last three years. This includes competitors who did not qualify for the ladder in 1997.

"I have included 50K participants (just for my own curiosity) but have not included participants in the non-ladder dis- tances (1500m, 3000m, 8K, 15K, 100K, etc.). Most participants in these non-ladder-distance races are the same ones who show up for 5K's, etc., but I am probably missing about 200- 300 youths and others who only race these distances.

"I also suspect there are 500-1,000 racewalkers who only race locally (mostly in smaller clusters) and for whom I have no record of races.

"Some in my database are no longer racing, but probably just as many have recently started but have yet to show up in my database (therefore, a wash).

"I would, therefore, estimate the number of competitive racewalkers (i.e., those who participate in races) at 3,700- 4,300."

"Another way to estimate the number of competitve racewalkers is as follows. Some 700 racewalkers qualified for the ladder in 1997, but there are far more competitive racewalkers who did not qualify for it. I am not sure of the ratio, but I would not be surprised if there were at least 5 nonqualifiers for each qualifier. (I am one of this latter category - and I do quite nicely at "local" races.) That 5+:1 ratio would carry the number to at least 3,500.

"I am comfortable saying there are about 4,000 active, competitive racewalkers in the U.S., and at least another 10,000 who have studied the technique but do not compete at this time."


For a local perspective, the New England Walkers newsletter has a mailing list of a little under 200. But the highest total of club members we've had competing at any event in the past two years has been 30.

Racewalking down memory lane

September 1985 Tom Knatt and Emily Hewitt win the first annual three-mile Governor's Cup walk in Boston for competitors age 40 and over. Close to 2,000 walkers participate, but probably fewer than a dozen of us are racewalkers. John Gray, his tome on our sport newly off the presses, goes roaring past me at the halfway mark and says, "I thought I'd never catch up with you. Want to buy a book on racewalking?" The banter ceases as he abruptly takes a wrong turn onto the runners' course and puts in an extra two miles.

September 1993 Justin Kuo captures the Elliot Hospital Heart to Heart 5K in Manchester, NH in 27:53, with Tom Knatt close behind in 28:06. The records list Joanne Dow in ninth place with 32:11. It's unclear if she was using racewalking form then, but if she wasn't, she sure caught on soon after.

September 1994 Brain Savilonis (1:14) and Joanne Dow (1:25) are the top finishers in the New England 15-kilometer championship in Ninigret Park in Charlestown, RI. Race organizers measured off a loop, to be repeated 10 times, that fell just short of the desired 1,500 meters. To make up the difference, they added an offshoot into a parking lot, around a rec- tangle marked by cones and back out. And so, on this day in which the United States nearly invades Haiti, each of us racewalks a total of 80 90-degree turns with military-like precision.

You've got our number

Your faithful newsletter staff also regularly takes to the phone lines to bring you up-to-the-minute information on race schedules, clinics and other events. Call the New England Walkers hot line at:


The New England Walkers Newsletter is published six times a year as a service to club members.

Please send letters, articles, queries, comments, results and exhortations to:

Charlie Mansbach
25 Larkspur Road
Newton, MA 02468

E-mail address:

All submissions are welcome.

New England Walkers
39 Oakland Road
Brookline, MA 02245-6700
United States

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This page was last updated October 6, 1998.
Corrections? Contact
Justin Kuo (617-731-9889)