Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Longer Than A Marathon

If a marathon seems like long distance, try a 50 km--that's 31 miles compared to the marathon's 26.2 miles.

I'm not thinking about entering this race, but it might be a good opportunity to see some world class athletes in action.

So how long does it take to walk a 50k? The world record was just broken in Australia. Here's the story.

Deakes destroys World record for 50km Race Walk
Saturday 2 December 2006

Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nathan Deakes has broken the World record** for the 50km Race Walk in Geelong, Australia, this morning. Deakes recorded a time of 3:35:47.

Competing at the Telstra Australian 50km Road Walking Championships in blustery conditions, Deakes took 16 seconds off the World record previously set by Poland's World and Olympic champion Robert Korzeniowski at the 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris, France in 2003 (3:36.03).

In a big day for Australia’ walkers, Duane Cousins set a personal best and World Championships a-qualifier of 3:53.19 to finish second, as did Victorian Jared Tallent who walked a time of 3:55.08 to finish in third place.

Deake’s smashed his previous best and Australian record of 3:39:43 which he set in Melbourne in 2003.

Overcome by tears, an emotional Deakes fell to the ground after crossing the finish line, his wife Annette and parents rushing in to congratulate him.

“It’s obviously quite a surprise. I didn’t think I was in that kind of shape. To break a World record is really special. To do at home is even nicer. The best prepared athletes walk fast anywhere,” explained Deakes after the race.

“I had a great training camp at altitude in US but the key has been the fact that I have been injury free for the last 6 months. My hamstring has been really good and I’ve been able to get through a lot of work.”

“I’m getting older and it’s getting harder, but right now I’m very very content.”

In a dominating performance, Deakes demonstrated his class above the field taking an early lead before destroying his opposition to take out the Telstra Australian 50km Road Walking Championships title.

In front of an ecstatic home crowd, the Geelong local was ahead of the World record pace by over 2 minutes at the 40km mark, however he tired over the concluding stages dropping the frenetic pace in the final 10km.

The 50km distance has not always been a favourite of the 29-year-old on the Olympic and World Championship stage, disqualified in 2001 in Edmonton and at the 34km mark in Athens when walking side-by-side with Kozeniowski. The duo were under World record pace at the time of the disqualification.

Based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, Deakes is coached by Craig Hilliard, whose credentials as one of Australia’s leading track and field coaches continues to grow. Hilliard was behind the success of super walker Kerry Saxby-Junna in the 1990’s.

It’s been nearly seven years since an IAAF World record has been broken by an Australian athlete in Australia. Emma George leaped 4.60m in Sydney to break the women’s Pole Vault World record in 1999.

Michelle Cook and David Culbert – Athletics Australia Media – for IAAF

**pending the usual ratification procedures