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New England Walkers Newsletter
June 2004

See you in Lincoln, RI, everybody

Sunday, June 13, is the date. The event is our biggest race of the year, the 15 Kilometer National Championship at 10:30 a.m. in Lincoln Park, which is located off Route 146 northwest of Providence. Top walkers from around the country, many of them looking for a tune-up before the Olympic trials, are expected to be in the field, and we want to put on a good show.

Which means that in addition to competitors, we need volunteers aplenty. If you can help with counting laps, setting up the course, registering competitors, serving as course marshals, or working the water/aid table, please contact the New England Track and Field office at 617-566-7600 or e-mail

Please also let the Track and Field office know if you can lend chairs or tables to the cause. For an entry form, go to or call the New England Track and Field office at 617-566-7600.

This is it - the last snail-mail newsletter

The time has come. In the interests of timeliness and efficiency, the New England Walkers club is discontinuing mass mailings of the printed newsletter after this issue. We will rely on the Internet to keep members informed.

Many members already read the newsletter online on our web page at

And members who have subscribed to the newalkers electronic list receive an e-mail notification when a new newsletter has been posted.

Subscribers to the list also receive regular postings on all matters related to racewalking, and anyone can contribute to the discussions. Most of the New England Walkers are already subscribed.

To subscribe, users go to:

or they may look for the "Subscribe to newalkers" and Yahoo Groups icon on our home page.

Wide participation in these electronic outlets will assure that everyone is receiving up-to-the-minute information on racewalking activity in our region.

We have heard from two subscribers who do not have Internet access and wish to receive paper copies of the newsletter. Any others in this category should inform Charlie Mansbach, 25 Larkspur Road, Newton, MA 02468. He will see to it that printouts will come to you in the mail.

Best in print 1982-2004

A look back at our publication as it passes into history

Tom got in the first words.

The New England Walkers Newsletter, like the club itself, originated with Tom Knatt. Membership was small in the early days, written communication was irregular, and Tom wasn't above dashing off a missive by notepad. "For those of you who had trouble reading my handwriting," Tom declared in his Winter 1982-83 issue, "I have decided to show you how terrible my typewriting is."

Gradually, readership grew, mailings became more frequent, and a succession of editors tried to build on what Tom had begun. Ken Mattsson brought us detailed looks at the national and global racewalking scenes and worked steadily to identify and meet club members' needs. Joe Light added colored paper, wide-ranging reports, thoughtful commentary, and our first listings of members' e-mail addresses. I chipped in with roundups of New Year's resolutions and glances down Memory Lane. We all attempted to broaden the perspective as often as possible by coaxing other members to write for us.

As years came and went, we always had plenty to say - sometimes more than we had room for without increasing the postage cost. Our countless thousands of words went in many directions, but here were the constants:

If you raced, we told everyone

From the beginning, the newsletter was the publication of record for New England Walkers competitors. We listed results from international and national championships, events held on members' neighborhood streets, and everything in between. Joanne Dow, Bob Keating, Brian Savilonis, Steve Vaitones, Joe Light, Tom Knatt, Meg Ferguson, Gretchen Eastler-Fishman, Maureen Danahy, and Marcia Gutsche won national titles. Others captured regional or local crowns, took age-division honors, shared in team medals, reached individual goals, or simply exulted in going the distance. Glories big and small got equal reverence. Sometimes the turnout was in the hundreds or more than a thousand; many times it was in double or even single figures. One race featured five judges and five walkers; twice we reported on track events with a field of one.

And for us, race results meant more than a walker's time and place. We told you about the hills, the wind, the downpours, the searing heat. One winter, we noted that more than half the course in Brockton was covered with packed snow. Another winter, we said that there was no snow but that walkers had to navigate around ducks and geese.

In one year alone, we told of how Ken was brought to a stop in his winning performance in a Lancaster, MA, 5-miler when a train passed in front of him; of how a 10K in Marlborough, MA, was suddenly shortened to 5.8 miles when the lead vehicle took a premature turn; of how a 5K national championship course in Hamden, Conn., featured speed bumps, a 90-degree angle and an unsteady rubberized ramp that most walkers bypassed in favor of the abutting grass.

We reported on walkers missing a turn and screeching to a halt in front of a dumpster in a dead-end parking lot; of walkers getting so lost that a search party was dispatched; of walkers staying on course and discovering that they were going through an annual Polish picnic. Even track races had their surprises; one year the 3K competitors at Harvard were informed after the race began that they had to do an extra lap because the wrong starting line had been used and the event was being changed to a two-miler.

We could - and we did - go on and on. Whatever your favorite racing memory, chances are the newsletter helped share it with all.

We went by the numbers

Statistics, it is said, are the lifeblood of sport. And so the newsletter didn't stop with listings of walkers' times.

We gave you splits, performances by age, personal bests, comparisons with international age-graded tables. In 1997, Joe published two pages' worth of the tables themselves so walkers could see what their times would be measured against. Six years later, we printed an interview with Bev LaVeck to explain how the tables came into being and why they seemed to favor older walkers.

In 1992, long before we discovered the tables, we proudly announced our first Grand Prix competition, which based a score on the walker's position in the race and the number of competitors. To avoid confusion, we included a formula:


And that was child's play. Two years later, Brian led us into the mathematical big leagues by explaining racewalking performance prediction with an equation to relate time and distance and an explanation touching on natural logarithm, slope and intercept. At the end, Ken tacked on an editor's note that said: "A bit confusing? You're probably not the only one" and invited readers to have Brian do all the calculations for them.

Brian, in fact, calculated everyone's Grand Prix scores for years before passing the baton to Bill Harriman. And these guys always had the answers.

What to do when the 2001 Clamdigger 8K turned out to be 360 meters too long? Bill resolutely hauled out his calculator, multiplied our official times by 0.9569378, and never looked back.

And when people voiced trepidation about the unfamiliar 20K course at Ninigret Park, we offered these words of assurance: "The area is scenic and the course is pleasant and flat. The loop is 1,375 meters, which means we will race 14.75 laps to cover the 20 kilometers. Our finest mathematicians will be on hand to help you determine your target pace per lap."

Add it all up and it is clear that when it came to statistics, we were Number One.

We went beyond the numbers

Ultimately, though, racewalking is not about integers as much as it is about flesh-and-blood people. So club members shared their experiences with us, bringing the events alive in ways that mere race results never could.

Disneyphiles Sheila and Stan Sosnowski took us to the Magic Kingdom's marathon, where their goal of winning Mousecars turned into a five-year quest. "Sunday morning 6 a.m., time to wish upon a star and make a dream come true," Stan triumphantly wrote in 2002, when the ultimate fantasy became reality. Tom reported regularly from the National Senior Games, grand occasions where the organizers were often long on ambition but short on execution. "Number pickup for the 1500M consisted of a fellow calling out your name over a barely audible megaphone," he told us from the Baton Rouge games. "Because they ran out of computer chips for the 5K racewalk, although the road race had them, times were not recorded for the males in the race." Joe gave us the special joys of the National Invitational 20K. "Have you ever gone one-on-one with Michael Jordan?" he wrote one year. "Played a match against Tiger Woods? Shagged home run balls with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? Gone head-to-head with an Olympic gold medal winner? I have - the last one, that is, and head-to-head means his head whizzed by mine 3 or 4 times, but no matter. Racewalking is an incredible sport in that anyone can literally rub shoulders with world champions and party with them afterwards."

In interviews of our own and in material we reprinted from other media, we brought you accounts of Joanne's life as she competed at the world's highest levels. Bill Purves told us about making international teams as Hong Kong's only racewalker: "If that sounds glamorous it's because you've never raced 20K on a track deep in mud at the Philippine Championships. That was in Davao. The Muslim separatists were shooting at anyone who left the hotel, and it was 36 degrees centigrade at race time." I reported from world masters competitions in Ontario, Canada, and Gateshead, England, and from the International Racewalk Grand Prix in Rio Maior, Portugal. You even tolerated (perhaps barely) my account of a racewalking workout amid cows and madcap traffic in Jodhpur, India. The longest and most spirited piece we ever ran came from a member who hadn't racewalked but only observed: Joan Burguess attended the 1996 Olympic track and field trials in Atlanta, loved every minute of it, and filled two full pages with her report.

The special demands of long-distance races got extended looks in our pages. Bill Harriman contributed a three-part report, spread out over six months, on training for and competing in a 50K. Many walkers went the 26.2-mile distance in the Boston Marathon and then went to varying lengths to tell us about it. Bob Ullman wrapped up the experience in a paragraph, Maureen took up a column, and Ken used nearly two pages. Submissions at any length were always welcome. And no one reflected the human dimension more than Michael Hoffer, whose annual reports on the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program showed how athletic inclinations, hard work, and good will can touch many lives deeply.

We were full of advice

Racewalkers are always striving to improve, and we tried to help. I reported from a Howard Jacobson clinic and titled it "The World According to Howard." Meg later gave us two pieces from a Martin Rudow clinic and called them "The World According to Martin." Brian took us into the coaches' world with a regular column on training. Over the years, his advice encompassed goals and periodization, cross-training, basic walking drills, and the aforementioned performance prediction. Bill gave us the thorough list of pointers that he offers to newcomers at Danehy Park. I wrote an article on avoiding injury that may seem, in retrospect, to be composed of equal parts solid advice and wishful thinking.

Our information could go far. One year, we reprinted an article from the Boston Globe about the benefits of racewalking. The Ohio Racewalker reprinted our reprint. A year later, someone mailed another reprint of the same story to the Ohio Racewalker, and the Ohio Racewalker reprinted it again. In 1992, we published a map of the intricately winding Taunton course. Emily Hewitt clipped it out and carried it with her for the entire 11.7 miles of that year's race.

We wrote about changes in the racewalking rules and the difficulties that older walkers might encounter in following them. We reported in detail about judges' duties and the steps one must take for certification. We told people how to get to races, how to join USA Track & Field, where to find books, articles, and instruction sessions they might find useful. Letting no aspect of racewalking go uncovered, Joe even printed Meg's recipe for wild rice salad, the hit of our potluck post-race meal at Tom's house.

We were there in spirit

Words of encouragement rang out from the beginning. We were constantly exhorting people to attend clinics, join in workouts, compete in races, and indulge in grand meals once we got the racewalking out of the way. We listed members' training schedules and invited others to join in, and periodically published names and numbers of walkers to contact for advice. We welcomed new members by name, sometimes more than once. With the words "if you've been wondering, meanwhile, who all these New England Walkers are," we printed rosters of the entire membership to try to foster togetherness.

To encourage more activity, we announced in 1991 that we would award patches to members who totaled at least 50 miles in club-organized workouts and selected races in a calendar year. We took the team-look concept further the next year by printing four prospective logos for NEW singlets and T-shirts and asking for a vote. After an underwhelming response, we went back to the drawing board and presented a fifth logo, the one we are still using.

Occasionally, a hint of frustration would creep in. "1996 has been a puzzling and rather discouraging year for racewalking in New England," Joe wrote. "One one hand, interest in racewalking seems to be high. We have added many new members to the club. Yet attendance at races is, for the most part, down." We could even pretend to sound tough. "This year," coach Savilonis wrote in a 1996 pep talk, "I plan to serve as Team Coordinator and getting out my whip to ensure that we are represented at all the nearby nationals."

But most of the time we were decidedly upbeat. We'd kick off each year by heralding a full schedule, a wealth of racewalking opportunities, something for everyone. At the start of the millennium, we said we were embarking on our biggest era yet. And that's the route we will keep trying to follow.


Clearly, our interests and goals are much the same now as they were in the beginning. But our ways of connecting with each other have undergone a sea change. It was as recently as the early 1990s that Justin Kuo rushed postcards to the entire membership to make sure we knew about a late-scheduled race. And it was as recently as 1996 that I worked the phones like a crazed telemarketer in order to drum up a full field for our final Taunton race. But that was also the decade in which Justin set up our New England Walkers web site and then led us into using our electronic list. Now, the system unites 99 percent of us. And the computer screen, not the postal system, is where members look first. When Pat Yingling and Heidi Duskey organized the New England one-hour championships last September, I quickly sent out a newsletter with the details and an entry form. By the time people received the mailing, virtually everyone had already learned about the event on-line. Only two of the nearly 20 of us who competed in the race clipped out the entry form from the newsletter; everyone else downloaded it.

We can't foresee the next changes, of course, any more than Tom could have guessed what things would be like now when he was pounding away on his typewriter more than 20 years ago. But whatever the technology brings us, rest assured that our traditional newsletter, or something very much like it, will be along for the ride.

Charlie Mansbach

Race results

Danehy Park 5K - Cambridge, MA, May 9. Bill Harriman reports on the start of Year Six of the popular series:

Dan Pendergast came all the way from Farmington, Maine to nail a PR and men's course record with a quick 23:39 on a cold, windy morning. Dan is the first product of the Maine high school racewalk program to come to Danehy and flashed the fine speed and technique that so many of the Maine walkers feature. Holly Wenninger won the women's division. A total of 13 walkers finished before the rain ruined the post-race clinic. That clinic may be repeated later this year.

1. Dan Pendergast (22) New Sweden ME 23:39
2. Steve Vaitones (48) Waltham MA 28:06
3. Holly Wenninger (39) Malden MA 31:37
4. Justin Kuo (49) Brookline MA 32:29
5. Pat Godfrey (57) Winthrop MA 32:55
6. Bob Campbell (59) Merrick L. I. NY 33:20
7. Heidi Duskey (51) Medford MA 33:40
8. Pamela Hoss (55) Brookline MA 33:48
9. Bob Kittredge (59) Newton MA 35:48
10. Tom White (71) Milton MA 36:13
11. Mari Ryan (49) Watertown MA 36:25
12. Pat Yingling (60) W. Roxbury MA 36:25
13. Christine Rafal (37) Cambridge MA 40:08

Clamdigger 8K- April 25, Westlerly, RI. Nice day, well-run event, good performances. But it was our smallest turnout in nearly a decade for this traditional event.

1 Bob Keating 41:27
2 Marcia Gutsche Rutledge 41:44
3 Brian Savilonis 43:27
4 Bill Harriman 49:34
5 Charles Mansbach 52:06
6 Justin Kuo 53:00
7 Joanne Harriman 54:03
8 Bill McCann 55:12
9 Louis Free 56:56
10 Heidi Duskey 58:39
11 Florence Dagata 73:27

one DQ
Judges: Bill Banks, Ross Dagata, Joe Light, Stan Sosnowski
Volunteers: Sheila Sosnowski, Greg Rutledge

2004 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 setting out.


6 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 10 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)

13 - National 15K, Lincoln Park, Lincoln, RI, 10:30 a.m. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600. Click for details and entry form..

18-19 - Massachusetts Senior Games for competitors age 50 and older. 1500-meter and 5K racewalks at Springfield College. 413-748-3812

19 - New England Junior Olympics, Durham NH. 1500m walk age 18 and under

20 - 3K, USATF-NE Outdoor Championships, MIT track, Cambridge, 12:50 p.m. 20-minute limit. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600.

26 - USATF East Region TF Meet, New Jersey. 5000 meters


4 - Dedham 5-miler, Dedham, MA. An unjudged walking division as part of the town's holiday road race.

10 - Bay State Games, MIT, Cambridge MA. 3000 meters, 9:00 a.m. 781-932-6555.

11 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 10 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)

24 - Easter Masters 5K championship, Springfield College, MA. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600.


8 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 10 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.) September

12 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 10 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.) October

17 - East Region one-hour, Bentley College, Waltham MA New England track and field office, 617-566-7600.

??? - Connecticut Racewalkers 10K

The New England Walkers

Send material to:
Charlie Mansbach
25 Larkspur Road
Newton, MA 02468
E-mail address:
For membership information, contact Justin Kuo at 617-731-9889

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

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This page was last updated Friday, May 28, 2004.
Corrections? Contact Justin Kuo (617-731-9889)