Our next Grand Prix event will be the
5-kilometer Eastern Regional Masters
Championship, to be held Sunday, Aug. 12, at
Springfield College in Springfield, MA. The race
is part of the regional masters track and field
championships and is open to all competitors age
30 or older, which is most of us.
Starting time is 10:40 a.m.; the women's race
goes first. We've had good participation in this
event the past two years and are looking for
another strong turnout this time. Entry forms are
available at the USATF-NE web site. Click
here for an entry. For further
information, call the New England track and field
office at 617-566-7600.
Hats off to the New England Walkers members
and friends who assisted at the JP Morgan Chase
Corporate Challenge road race in Boston on June
21. In addition to helping the race run smoothly,
these volunteers earned vital funds for our club
treasury: Thomas Knatt, Richard Ruquist, Harold
Thornley, Michael LaRocca, Bill Harriman, Roger
Robinson, Ralph Robinson, Sasha Volgin, Tyler
Shelby, Rick Moore, Maureen Danahy, Steve
Vaitones, Yuri Kuo, Genya Kuo, Bob Falciola,
Bay State Games 3K - July 14, Dedham,
MA. The opening event, and probably the one with
the oldest field, in the track portion of the
annual Massachusetts summer sports festival.
Steve presumably holds some sort of longevity
record here, having won his first gold medal in
the games about two decades ago.
Town of Dedham
5-miler -- July 4, Dedham, MA. A holiday
tradition. Tough course, hot sun, no judges, and
we start amidst 340 runners. But it's a great
kickoff for the Fourth of July, with competitors
and support troops all in high spirits.
||Joanne Harriman, Tewskbury MA
||Sheila Sosnowski, Mystic CT
||Kathleen Mazzio, Dorchester MA
||Stan Sosnowski, Mystic CT
||Steve Vaitones, Waltham MA
||Bill Harriman, Tewskbury MA
||Charlie Mansbach, Newton MA
||Justin Kuo, Brookline MA
New England outdoor 3K championship, almost
- June 16, Dedham, MA. Perhaps it was the
humid 92-degree weather. Maybe it was the fact
that our 20K had come only six days earlier.
Perhaps everyone just had something else to do.
Whatever the reason, this normally well-attended
event, part of the regional track and field
championships, drew a field of ... just me.
"Do you really want me to do this?" I asked
meet director Steve Vaitones and his lieutenants
as the moment drew near. "I don't want to waste
everyone's time." Steve said I should indeed
race; I had entered and the period for the
racewalk had been scheduled. Then he thought a
moment and added, "How about if you race a mile?
Then people won't say 'Him again?'" for seven and
a half times around the track. It was a deal.
With full formality (or nearly so; we did
dispense with the hip number), I took to the
line, the starter fired his pistol, and off I
went. Halfway around, I received a long ripple of
applause from the athletes and coaches waiting
for their events to begin. When I entered the
final straightaway of the first lap, I looked at
the clock and realized that, in an effort to
impress my new fans, I had gone out at a pace
that I never could have sustained in my best days
of yore, let alone now. I abruptly shifted into a
more manageable gear. Three more laps, many more
words of encouragement, and I was done (in 9:30,
for the record). The competitive races could
resume. I left the premises without asking for a
first-place prize. "There's a glass awaiting
you," Steve said. "Ninety percent of life is
showing up." I said I would settle for an
unofficial designation as good sport of the
New England 20-kilometer championship
-- Charlestown, RI, June 10.
A turnout in double
figures for the second straight year at Ninigret
Park. A full field did not materialize this time
for a preliminary 5K, but race director Joe Light
and judge Tom Knatt went the distance informally,
to great applause. The course on the abandoned
runway was not only perfectly flat but also
perfectly shadeless, leaving us at the mercy of
the relentless warm sunshine. "No one is going to
set any records today," Bob Keating predicted
beforehand, and, indeed, several of us wound up
with personal worsts. But this was nonetheless
one of our top events of the year, with great
support from the judges and a spirited group of
||Reynaldo Carranzo (43), Ravona NY
||Bob Keating (54), Nashua NH
||Andy Cable (36), Shelton CT
||Stanley Sosnowski (50), Mystic, CT
||Bill Harriman (54), Tewskbury MA
||Bob Ullman (52), Nashua NH
||John Costello (45), Sherborn MA
||Charlie Mansbach (56), Newton, MA
||Louis Free (71), Uncasville CT
||Marcia Gutsche (39), Newton MA
||Jean Tenan (37) Bristol CT
||Joann Harriman (58), Tewskbury MA
||Maureen Danahy (44), Brookline MA
||Sheila Sosnowski (50), Mystic CT
||Gayle Johnson (52), Columbia MO
Judges: Joe Light, Ross Dagatta, Thomas Knatt
and Justin Kuo. (Justin, famous for his Danehy
Park double-duty as judge and competitor, this
time served as judge and race photographer. You
can check out his handiwork in the latter
category at newalkers.jkuo.org/ne20k/2001/tn on
Danehy Park 5K developmental racewalks
-- The monthly series in Cambridge, MA, continues
to get strong participation in its third year.
The recent results:
||Jamaica Plain MA
Judges: Bob Ullman and Joanne Harriman.
||Bob Ullman, Nashua NH
||Richard Ruquist. Cambridge MA
||Tom Knatt, Concord MA
||Holly Wenninger, Malden MA
||Pamela Hoss, Brookline MA
||Justin Kuo, Brookline MA
Judges: Carol Kuo, Joanne and Bill Harriman,
Judges: Joanne and Bill Harriman.
Trying to nurture racewalkers
We can divide our world into three categories:
Those who try racewalking and become hooked for
life; those who take it up but don't stick with
it; and those who would never think of trying it
in the first place.
Ken Mattsson fits squarely into the first
group, and he has spent much of the past decade
trying to reach out to people in the other two
categories. In an interview last month, Ken
talked about his efforts and the conclusions he
has drawn from them.
How did you become interested in
I started around 1989. I tried running and was
really really bad, largely because of joint
problems. I'd always gone for walks. Then I
started timing myself and tried walking faster. I
remembered seeing racewalking on television long
ago, on a little clip from the Olympics, so I
knew such a thing existed. So I started looking
for information. I saw listings for the New
England Walkers and the North Medford Club. I
mailed in a membership to the New England Walkers
and finally got a newsletter, but it didn't say
anything about how to meet people, how to learn,
where to go. I called Phil McGaw at North
Medford, and he invited me to Fresh Pond in
Cambridge. I worked out with him there every
Wednesday for a year, commuting from Marlborough.
He was really helpful.
After you began racing, what made
you want to participate in a broader way?
As I've said to people, I'm sure that in a
past life, I was a border collie. What I do is I
organize people whenever I have an interest in
something. So I tried to see how to get people
involved. It's a natural thing with me.
How did you begin?
The first thing I came up with was the
Racewalking Grand Prix. I organized that, tried
to get more people active. Then around 1992, Ed
O'Connor of Connecticut wrote a letter in Oho
Racewalker asking if anyone had e-mail and wanted
to talk about racewalking on the Internet. We
developed that idea. We now have 500 people
subscribing. I've been in charge of the list ever
since the beginning. I was also one of the people
who started the Danehy Park series. Mostly, I
just look for the opportunities for people to get
together, walk and talk, and to have a consistent
area they they can count on to ground their
training and goals.
How did organizing lead you into
A group of us used to work out consistently at
the MIT track. Having that group there helped to
provide an anchor -- if people are interested and
know that something is happening weekly, they
know that sooner or later they'll get there. We'd
get new people, and Justin Kuo and I would start
helping them out. Justin would also arrange for
Tom Knatt to give clinics for beginners. One time
Tom wasn't available to do a formal clinic, so
Justin asked me. I did it and liked it. I could
see that people were getting something from it,
and I was able to contribute something because of
my background in teaching, After that,
individuals would ask me for help. But individual
lessons would take a lot of my time, so five or
six years ago, I started doing Introductory
Racewalking clinics, for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
What led you to represent groups
beyond the New England Walkers?
Around winter 1996, I was doing weekly
sessions on the indoor track. I charged a nominal
fee. We had about 20 people. Then we moved
outdoors, and they kept coming. Around then I was
approached by the Leukemia Society, which was
developing its marathon program. I became what
they called a "paid volunteer," building the
program, learning how to motivate people. It was
endurance walking more than racewalking, but I
was teaching them the same efficient techniques.
It was taking all of my Saturdays. But with all
this activity, I was getting a core of people.
The group I was having at the track would go to
races and didn't feel part of the group they'd
see there. They felt they were their own group.
As I didn't really want to start a completely
separate club, and wanted to tie in more with the
world of running, I contacted the Cambridge
Sports Union, which had an organization in place,
about adding a racewalking component. We've been
working out there for the past three years. We
have had an introductory clinic once a month,
free with membership in the club.
What have you found will spur
People have to see that there is consistency
behind what we're doing. They should know about
the events, see listings consistently, know
things are going on, know we're still here. We're
always going to be a minority; we have to nurture
the small, committed communities. It takes a lot
of effort. If we can just do a few things well
and consistently, and let people know about them,
we'll be doing much better. Too many times it
seems that we're our own little party that others
don't know they were invited to. There are a lot
of great people in the racewalking community here
in New England who have done a tremendous amount
of work over the years, but we get burned out
easily, too. I think it's happened to all of
What should the rest of us be
We need to coordinate. We have to think small
and quality. Just like the program in Maine. Most
of the Olympians for the next 20 years are going
to come out of Maine because of Tom Eastler's
efforts up there. Granted, most of us don't have
the drive, enthusiasm, and tenacity of Tom, but
if we can have a focus here and coordinate, we'll
be doing much better. If people are interested
and can contact us, we can tell them where there
are clinics, where there are events etc. We need
to have those hooks out there. If we're a
consistent community, it will grow.
Other proposals for outreach
On the same theme of how best to develop
interest in our sport, following is a copy of an
e-mail that Tom Knatt sent to racewalking
organizers Sal and Marjorie Corrallo last month.
Tom welcomes all feedback.
I am following up on the topics discussed at
the Richmond meeting on Sunday morning. The main
item for me was to have the USATF promulgate
packets of information about racewalking which
would give an air of authenticity to the
One would be given to prospective new
racewalkers outlining rules and basic training
techniques. Ron Laird's stick figures come to
mind. Also, websites, books, a list of clubs,
availability of races, an invitation to join the
USATF, should be included. All items should be
allowed to be reproduced.
Another would contain promotional info. for
people like Frank Fina, race directors, club
presidents, and to present to the media and to
private companies to help promote the sport.
Emphasis for companies should be on
tax-deductibility, community involvement in an
Olympic sport, bolstering the company image, and
fostering business by attracting new customers
from the racewalking community. For the media,
specific suggestions on how to contact
newspapers, TV including local cable, radio etc.
would be good. An actual checklist would help. In
both packets, an easy to read history of
racewalking would spark interest.
Another packet could be directed toward
coaches (reluctant or otherwise) addressing their
concerns about coaching and judging the sport.
Another packet could be for topflight athletes
outlining opportunities, so that they might be
attracted to the sport.
I will stop myself here so as to not get too
carried away. The main point is that, with
several/many sheets of paper covering the
different topics, a pocket folder or manila
envelope can form a packet which can be tailored
to various audiences. If clubs, coaches, parents
of athletes etc. are allowed to reproduce the
material, the only cost to the USATF is the
initial production, which could probably be done
largely by volunteer efforts.
Do we need this? I am reminded that in 1968,
when I started, it took me six months or more to
find out the definition of racewalking at that
time. I'll wager that there are a lot of coaches
and athletes not in the sport today who cannot
give today's definition. The first thing to do to
gain recognition and interest for racewalking is
outreach. I think what I have outlined would be
part of that.
Ken Mattsson is scheduling racewalking
sessions at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Harvard
University track in Cambridge, MA in conjunction
with the Cambridge Sports Union.
For information, call Ken at 617-576-9331.
A track coach puts out the call
Dave Sullivan of the Athletics East track club
is looking to add racewalkers to his stable of
competitors. Those interested in competing for
Athletics East in New England track and field
championships would not need to give up their New
England Walkers memberships, Sullivan says.
Walkers would be given Athletics East uniforms
and would have their membership fees waived.
Those interested can call Sullivan at
781-246-2563 or visit the www.athleticseast.com
2001 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
canceled. It's always best to verify the time,
date and location with the race director before
5 -5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, 9:30
a.m. Moved up from the second Sunday of the month
so as not to conflict with the regional 5K.
Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before
12 - Eastern Regional Masters 5K
championship. Part of the regional masters track
and field meet. Grand Prix event. Springfield
College, Springfield, MA. New England track and
field office, 617-566-7600. Click
here for an entry form.
26 - Brookline Reservoir walk.
26 - Sherwood Foundation 10K. Unjudged
walk in conjunction with running race.
9 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, 9:30
a.m. (See August listing)
23 - Brookline Reservoir walk.
7 -- National One- and Two-Hour
Championships, Worcester Polytechnic Institute,
Worcester, MA. Grand Prix event. Justin Kuo,
14 - Sherwood Foundation 5K, 9 a.m.,
Providence, RI. 401-943-1123.
28 - Connecticut Racewalkers 10K
(tentative), Connecticut College, New London.
Racewalking down memory lane
August 1985 - Bob Keating outduels Tom
Knatt, 22:51 to 27:17, on a sun-baked track in
Waltham, MA, for the New England 5K outdoor
championship. Only four of us turn up for the
race, while a preliminary 3K draws 10
June 1995 - This is more like it:
Twenty walkers take to an equally sun-baked track
at Worcester Polytechnic Institute for the New
England 5K. Brian Savilonis wins the men's title
in 24:19; Lynda DeWitt is top woman in 27:19.
Phone any time
For up-to-the-minute information on race
schedules, clinics and other events, call the New
England Walkers hotline at: 781-433-7142
The New England Walkers
Send material to:
25 Larkspur Road
Newton, MA 02468
E-mail address: email@example.com
For membership information, contact Justin