The 5K moves west
After dropping our plans to hold a 5-kilometer championship in Brookline, MA, last month because of delays in securing permission to use the track, we are looking ahead to the Eastern Masters 5K at Springfield College on Saturday, Aug. 14. The race, part of the regional track and field championships, is open to all competitors age 30 and above.
The race will be the next event in our Grand Prix. "I don't like using masters-only events," says Prix overseer Brian Savilonis, "but no one under 30 is doing the Prix this year." And with our monthly club 5K at Danahy Park in Cambridge, MA, proving popular, the under-30 walkers can readily get a crack at the distance.
For an entry form for the Eastern Masters 5K, contact the New England Track and Field office at 617-566-7600 or go to the Web site at
Snail mail or web walk?
For the past year, Justin Kuo has posted our New England Walkers newsletter on the club web page at
Some members, including those with easy access to the World Wide Web, say they still prefer to receive the newsletter on paper. (And as one whose livelihood depends on the continued use of old-fashioned ink and newsprint, I am grateful for such sentiments.)
But others may be happy to read the newsletter electronically and forgo their printed copies (and in the process save the club some money in copying and mailing charges).
If you would like to stop receiving the printed version of the newsletter, please e-mail Charlie Mansbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone interested in helping convert the newsletter to HTML format should e-mail Justin at email@example.com or call him at 617-731-9889.
Grand Prix standings
Two have us have completed the requisite four events already, but plenty of opportunity remains for others to join us. Final totals will be based on walkers' scores in their four best races, based on age-graded tables. The remaining Grand Prix events are the Eastern Masters 5K Aug. 14 in Springfield, MA, the National One Hour-Two Hour in Worcester, MA Oct. 3, and a Ken Mattsson-organized 10K and 20K, site to be determined, on Oct. 23. The standings so far:
Men Brian Savilonis 316.3 Charlie Mansbach 277.2 Joe Light 238.8 (3 events) Bill Harriman 221.3 (3) Fred Anderson 199.1 (3) Many others with 1 or 2 races Women Marcia Gutsche 160.2 (2 events) Jeanne Shepardson 158.6 (2) Rachel Beaudet 144.9 (2) Florence Dagata 146 (2)
Club members are needed to work as marshals for the Tufts 10-kilometer road race in Boston on Columbus Day, Oct. 11. Volunteers help earn money for the club and will have their membership extended through 2000. To volunteer, or to learn more, call Justin Kuo at 617-731-9889.
Thanks to the NEW volunteers for helping to make the June 29 Chase Corporate Challenge a success. The crew of marshals included Fred Gonsalves, Marcia Gutshe, Bill Harriman, Michael LaRocca, Bill Rowan and Justin Kuo.
Ken Mattsson will conduct a session for beginning racewalkers from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, at the Harvard University track on North Harvard Street in Boston. The clinic is free for members of the Cambridge Sports Union. Fee for nonmembers is $15, and the payment will also secure you a membership. For further information, call Ken at 617-576-9331.
Danahy Park 5-kilometer racewalk -- July 11, Cambridge, MA. The fourth installment in the series of low-key New England Walkers races, and our best turnout yet. No fees, judging but no disqualifications, plenty of good spirit.
Men 1. Brian Savilonis Greene RI 26:06 2. Steve Vaitones Waltham MA 27:02 3. Bob Ullman Manchester NH 28:14 4. Bill Harriman Tewksbury MA 28:23 5. John Costello Needham MA 30:15 6. Tolya Kuo Brookline MA 31:30 7. Justin Kuo Brookline MA 32:52 8. John Harms Fitchburg MA 35:41 9. Bill O'Leary Sharon MA 37:50 * Justin completed the 5K course after the race because he was busy judging during it. Women 1. Holly Wenninger Malden MA 32:01 2. Meg Savilonis Greene RI 33:59 3. Joanne Harriman Tewksbury MA 37:18 4. Carol Kuo Brookline MA 37:19 5. Mari Ryan Watertown MA 37:59 6. Pat Yingling Boston 38:02 7. Florence Dagata Pawtucket RI 40:34 8. Anna Kuo Brookline MA 47:23 9. Wendy Glick Chelmsford, MA 47:56
Judges: Ken Mattsson, Justin Kuo and Charlie Mansbach.
Fourth of July 5-miler -- Dedham, MA. An unjudged racewalk as part of the town's traditional holiday road race. Kudos to these hardy six for making the effort on such an absurdly hot and humid morning.
Men 1. Bill Harriman 50 Tewskbury MA 49:45 2. Louis Free 69 Uncasville CT 55:28 3. Justin Kuo 44 Brookline MA 56:07 Women 1. Sheila Danahy 48 Mystic CT 1:00:00 2. Carol Kuo 51 Brookline MA 1:01:10 3. Joanne Harriman 56 Tewskbury MA 1:03:23
SATF New England Outdoor 3-Kilometer Championship -- Northeastern University track, Dedham MA, June 19. Part of the regional outdoor track meet. Some good duels at the front of the pack and in the middle.
Women 1. Marcia Gutsche 15:30.62 2. Holly Wenninger 18:18.15 Men 1. Brian Savilonis 14:53.00 2. Joe Light 15:15.90 3. Tom Knatt 16:29.64 4. Bill Harriman 16:38.12 5. John Costello 16:38.20 6. Fred Anderson 17:39.32 7. Charlie Mansbach 18:02.07
1-Mile Racewalk, Greater Boston Track Club Relays -- MIT track, Cambridge, June 16. Both Marcia and Holly beat the previous women's meet record, held for the past three years by Jeanne Shepardson. All four competitors raced as members of the Cambridge Sports Union.
1. Steve Vaitones 7:49.25 2. Marcia Gutsche 8:02.43 3. Ken Mattsson 8:25.39 4. Holly Wenninger 8:58.80
Danahy Park 5-kilometer Racewalk -- June 6, Cambridge, MA. The third event in the series.
Men 1. Steve Vaitones Waltham, MA 27:07 2. Bob Ullman Manchester, NH 27:48 3. R. Yannopoulos-Ruquist Lexington, MA 30:26 4. Ken Mattsson Cambridge, MA 30:45 5. Charlie Mansbach Newton, MA 31:12 6. Jesse Borkowski York, ME 34:22 Women 1. Mary Flanagan Marshfield, MA 31:53 2. Pat Godfrey Winthrop, MA 36:32 3. Pat Yingling West Roxbury, MA 38:36 4. Joanne Harriman Tewksbury, MA 39:19
Judges: Bill Harriman, Carol Kuo, and Justin Kuo.
New England 20-kilometer championship -- Rhode Island College, Providence, May 23. Providence is a hilly city, so it was perhaps fitting that our one-kilometer loop had us climbing and descending all morning. A spirited crew of judges and volunteers helped us through the ups and downs. Our biggest regret isn't that we had to climb the hill 20 times but that there weren't more people doing it with us. It's been six years now since we've managed to get a turnout in double figures for a local 20K.
1. Brian Savilonis 48 Brooklfield MA 1:54:53 2. Bob Ullman 50 Manchester NH 2:03:53 3. Bill Harriman 52 Tewsksbury MA 2:05:35 4. Charlie Mansbach 54 Newton MA 2:12:41 5. John Jurewicz 49 Boston 2:17:29 Joe Light Westerly RI DNF
A 5-kilometer race took place on the same course while we were an hour into the 20K. Nice performance by Rich in his 5K debut.
1. Rich McElvery 42 Hollis NH 27:58 2. Joanne Harriman 56 Tewsksbury MA 39:31 3. Wendy Glick 40 Chelsmford MA 49:30 4. Florence Dagata 72 Pawtucket RI 42:13
Judges: James Fields, Ken Mattsson, and Justin Kuo.
One mile, USATF-New England mini-development series -- May 12, MIT track, Cambridge, MA. An unjudged event, and a nice little example of family togetherness.
1. Tolya Kuo 11 Brookline MA 9:23.7 2. Justin Kuo 43 Brookline MA 9:35.8
1999 race calendar
As always, our listing of racewalking events is not engraved in stone. Some races are added during the season, others are changed or cancelled. It's always best to verify the time, date and location with the race director before setting out.
22 -- Sugar Bowl 5-Miler, Bayside Expo Center, Dorchester. An unjudged walking division as part of a running race. 781-331-5251.
23 -- Blessing of the Fleet 10-miler, Narragansett, RI. Unjudged walk begins at 5 p.m., run at 6. 401-783-2456.
24 -- Bay State Games 3K, Worcester State College. Part of the track and field portion of the statewide athletics festival. 781-932-6555.
1 -- 10K National Championships, Wilkes Barre, PA.
1-7 -- XIII World Association of Veteran Athletes Championships, Gateshead, England. (British Airlines flight 212L departs Logan Airport at 5:30 p.m. July 29.) ) Men's 20K, women's 10K. 5K on the track. Sandy Pashkin, 301 Cathedral Parkway, No. 6U, NY NY.
8 -- New England Walkers monthly 5K, Danahy Park, Cambridge, MA., 9:30 a.m. Call Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)
14 -- Eastern Regional Masters 5K, 10:40 a.m., Springfield College, Springfield, MA. 617-566-7600.
19 -- 40K National Championships, Ft. Monmouth, NJ. Year 61 of the tradition, and a longtime favorite for the hardiest among us.
3 -- National One- and Two-Hour Championships, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA. Grand Prix. Our 11th consecutive year as host of this major event.
23 -- 10k, 20k, time and site to be determined.
Racewalkers lead with their feet
By Bob Dicesare
The following article appeared in the City Weekly section of the Boston Globe on Sunday, June 16.
CAMBRIDGE -- Soccer rules the playing fields of Danahy Park on Saturday mornings, yet a group of enthusiastic athletes maneuvering around the perimeter of the park seems to catch every bystander's attention.
Some move their feet faster than others, some swing their arms, others grind their hips. Whatever shape or form, however, participants of Ken Mattsson's race walking clinic are learning a low-impact exercise considered less stressful on the knees than running, which still provides a brisk, cardiovascular workout.
"Race walking is like learning how to ride a bike," says Mattsson, 35, race walk coordinator for the Cambridge Sports Union and a certified Level I coach for USA Track & Field. "Speed is not the first priority. It's all about getting the feel and working on technique. You just need to put the time in to work at it."
Race walking is defined quite technically by the International Amateur Athletic Federation as a progression of steps taken so that the walker makes contact with the ground and no visible loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg must be straightened (not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until in the vertical position.
Although it has been an Olympic sport for men since 1908 and for women since 1992, many people who race walk never step on a starting line. The technique has been developed over the last half-century as an efficient way to increase ones general health. The average speed for a pedestrian just going for a walk is 3 miles per hour, or 20 minutes per mile. A person intentionally walking fast is more likely going about 4 miles per hour, or 15 minutes per mile.
Mattsson, a Cambridge resident and computer software training specialist for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, has been race walking for nine years and coaching for five. Through the Cambridge Sports Union, he is trying to help build up a race walking community in the Boston area. From the beginning, however, Mattsson is up front about the fact that race walking isn't as easy as it looks.
"This is not something you're going to learn in one 2 1/2 hour clinic," he says. "The clinic is the beginning of coaching, and coaching is learning. In order to do it well, you need the leg speed of an 800-meter runner, the technique of a hammer thrower, and the endurance of a marathoner."
In this first of several upcoming clinics, Mattsson suggests a variety of warmup exercises to get the necessary muscles ready for a race walking workout. There's the elephant pose, in which you turn your upper body from side to side letting your arms swing loosely like the trunk of an elephant. This relaxes the shoulders and upper body. Next is "alphabets," in which you stand on one foot and draw the alphabet with the toe on the other foot then repeat with the other foot to loosen up the ankles. There are also leg swings for mobility in the hips, and short toe and heel walks to warm up shins and calves.
After the workout is a brief cooling-down period, followed by the most important part of the workout: stretching. Although everyone has favorite stretches, Mattsson places a heavy emphasis on stretching the calves, shins, hamstrings, thighs, and back.
Amanda Kuhl, 28, of Somerville, likes walking in general, but even friends and co-workers have made reference to her natural fast pace.
"So I put it all together and got involved in race walking," says Kuhl, director of development for the Cooper Community Center in Roxbury. "It's easy on the body and you don't need a lot of equipment. You just have to really concentrate on technique."
Russ Hayes, 47, and Dave Kymalainen, 47, drove in together from Gardner for the clinic based on Mattsson's reputation.
"We had been doing some race walking events at home, but we realized we were doing it wrong," says Hayes, a teacher. "We want to learn how to do it right. Plus, everyone here is very helpful to one another. The camaraderie has been great."
John Harms, 38, was a serious runner for 20 years until his body began to break down. Now, he has turned to race walking as a low-impact alternative.
"It's much more body-friendly," says Harms, a lawyer from Fitchburg, "and it's a sport everyone can do. If you can walk, you can do it and get something out of it."
"There's growing support now for this type of activity, especially on the World Wide Web," says Mattsson. "The main thing is that people can come here to increase their energy level through a low-impact exercise and enjoy being outdoors."
For information on race walking clinics and races, visit Ken Mattsson's Web site at http://world.std.com/mattsson/walk-ways/, or call the Cambridge Sports Union, 354-2786, or the New England Walkers, 781-433-7142.
Racewalking down memory lane
June 1985 -- Competitive racewalking makes its debut in Newton, MA, as Myrna Finn persuades a local social service agency to add a walking division to its first (and, as it turns out, last) 5-mile road race. Steve Vaitones wows the pack at the start ("He's walking away from me, and I'm running," one guy exclaims) and finishes in 40 minutes. Emily Hewitt is the women's racewalk winner.
June 1989 -- The MetroWest Twilight Series offers a 3-kilometer racewalk as part of its weekly meets at the Northeastern track in Dedham, MA. Unbeknownst to yours truly, most every racewalker in the area has traveled to Bangor for the Maine State 5K on the particular day that I decide to compete in Dedham. I pay my $1 entry fee and wait in vain for other walkers to appear. Finally, the starting time arrives, meet director Vaitones says, "You want to race, Charlie?," and I nod and set out around the track all by myself. I finish my seven and a half laps to scattered applause, sheepishly gather up my gear and retreat to the parking lot. Fortunately, there are no awards, so I avoid precipitating a discussion of whether I finished first or last.
Keeping up with Joanne Dow
Our international competitor, Joanne Dow of Bedford, NH, heads to Spain next month for the world championships after finishing second in the 20K racewalk in the national track and field championships. She finished 53d in the World Cup 20K in France in May on the heels of winning national titles at 3K and 20K.
The following interview with Joanne was broadcast on National Public Radio's "Only a Game" on May 8 and was transcribed by Justin Kuo. The interview begins with comments by Mark Fenton, Joanne's coach, to interviewer Bill Littlefield.
MF: Show 'em your sixpack, too. I think that's the other impressive thing.
BL: Oh my god. It's like an advertisment for Gold's Gym over there.
MF: Look at this. Look at the biceps. Don't tell me walking's not a sport. These guys are athletes.
BL: That's racewalking coach Mark Fenton. I caught up with Fenton and his most successful athlete, Joanne Dow, as Dow was completing a recent workout at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology track.
Dow's sixpack, her well defined abdominal region, is in fact impressive, as is her extrodinary flexability. Also impressive is the fact that Dow, who started training as a racewalker when her children were 2 and 4, achieved world-class status in just 4 years.
The workout at MIT was part of Dow's final preparation for the World Race Walking championships held last week at Deauville, France. Dow, ranked number one in the US, after placing third in the Goodwill Games and then winning the US 20-kilometer championship in March, couldn't have been more enthusiatic about the competition in France.
JD: I've only competed abroad once, and that was two years ago in the Czech Republic. It's like being in the Boston Marathon. People line the streets. You have people on the course the entire way cheering you on. They see you and say USA, go USA. It was very, very exciting. And you're in this sea of women that are the world's best. So, it's a lot different than being in a qualifying race here where maybe you have 30 women, where over there there's over 200.
BL: When you are racing, are you racing against other women on the course, or are you looking at your watch and racing against your own splits and your own best time?
JD: That's the really great thing about the World Cup is that there's always going to be someone at your pace. So, there's a great chance to race and that's what I'm really looking forward to. Because, the last couple of races, I've sort of been out in front and even at the Pan Am Cup I sort of just led from the gun. And so, I'm really looking forward to having people in front of me and challenging myself and really testing my competitiveness again.
BL: (to radio audience): The first time she competed in Europe, Dow was surprised to learn the extent to which racewalking had become an established activity. She was told that in Poland, eighth graders have to pass a racewalking test as part of their physical education requirement. She could only shake her head in disbelief, given the inclination of most of those who see her train to regard her sport as utterly goofy.
JD: You have to be the kind of person that doesn't care about what other people think [laughing] when you're out there, especially training alone. I know Joannie Benoit tells the story about how she used to run and then run behind, way back when when she started running, and . . .
BL: She used to pretend she was picking flowers . . .
JD: . . . right, right
BL: . . . and she didn't want people to take her for a runner.
JD: . . . .exactly, exactly, exactly. But thanks to people like that, you know it's less common to see people doing goofy things out there. I mean, rollerblading is kind of goofy too, when you think about it. So is skateboarding in its own way. You know what I mean. Everything has its own element of goofyness. I think we just come to accept that running is normal and racewalking is [pause] funny looking.
BL: (to radio audience): Funny looking, in this case, means stiff legged and aggressively upright. One of racewalking's requirements is that a competitor must always have one leg in contact with the ground, and that that leg must be straight. As coach Mark Fenton explains, at competitions, like the one in France, racewalkers are watched constantly for possible infractions.
MF: There are judges, actually on the course, watching the athletes. They'll write up a red card if they feel that an athlete has either left the ground, which is called lifting, or if they bent their knee, which is called creeping.
BL: Do you get the yellow card first, or do they go right to the red?
MF: They actually, you have a white card which is the warning. They do! They'll give you the warning but then the red card is your "chuck" card. And you need three different judges acting independently to turn in red cards on you. That makes sure the Italian judge doesn't throw out the Russian athletes who's in front of the Italian athletes, so they all act independently.
BL: (to radio audience): As it turned out, it wasn't the judges that Joanne Dow had to worrry about in France. It was competitors from places like China, Russia, Romainia, Mexico, Portugal and so on. Dow finished 53rd in last weekend's 20 kilometer race, just over 10 minutes behind the winner, in 1 hour, 38 minutes, and 8 seconds. It was not a performance likely to influence Dow's 8-year-old daughter in her choice of role models. The 8-year-old opts for sprinter Marion Jones, which has to be a little discouraging for a racewalker, right?
JD: But you know, if you're going to have a hero, [laughling] she's a pretty good one to have!
BL: But why not mom?
JD: Well, because -- because, I'm mom, you know. I'm just mom to them. You know, I think they kind of understand some of this, but really, I'm just, you know, I'm just mom. And I'm the one they complain about. You know, if they don't like dinner and it's too early to go to bed and it's just, it's still me. It's the woman that has to enforce all the rules. What's to admire? [laughing] You know?
BL: (to radio audience): Hmmmm. What's to admire? How about balance, perspective, and a sense of humor. As well as competitive fire, a handful of medals and the sort of resilience that suggests strongly that the next time you hear a story about women's racewalking, Joanne Dow's name will appear a lot closer to the top of the list of finishers than it did last weekend.
[Music: "I'm Walking"]
BL: (to radio audience): In our final word, racewalking superstar Joanne Dow explains why her 8-year-old daughter doesn't idolize her US champion mom.
JD: Because I'm Mom, you know. I'm just Mom to them. What's to admire? [laughing] You know?
BL: (to radio audience): Ah, where to start? M is for the medals that you've won, Mom. O is for how often you've achieved, and so on. Happy Mother's Day weekend to all moms listening, especially those in Needham and Toquesta. I'm Bill Littlefield. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you all next week.
New England Walkers
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This page was last updated July
Corrections? Contact Justin Kuo (617-731-9889)