El Roble Teams Bring Olympic Style Racewalking to CHS


Racewalkers from El Roble stood on the CHS track on Sunday, March 26th, poised and ready to start their race. Students from the El Roble racewalking team went to CHS to participate in a Fun Racewalk, which was set up by the Pilgrim Pacers, a racewalking group at Pilgrim Place. The students had the chance to be observed by USA track and field judges.

Racewalking (also known as speedwalking) is an Olympic sport. Dedicated racewalkers are eligible to receive college scholarships for their racewalking. According to a New York Times article that compared racewalking to running, racewalkers hit the ground with about 1.4 times their body weight with each step. Runners, on the other hand, hit the ground with as much as four times their body weight per stride. Injuries associated with running like shin splints and runner’s knee are also very uncommon among racewalkers. As a result, racewalking has significantly lower injury risk than other sports, which is the predominant reason why injured or elderly athletes take up racewalking to maintain their athletic lifestyle.

At a racewalk meet, rules are enforced by race judges. According to the USATF website, during racewalking, one must always keep at least one foot in contact with the ground, and the leading leg must be straightened as the foot touches the ground until the leg goes under the hip. If any of these two regulations were to be broken, the racewalker would be disqualified from the race.

“Racewalking is beneficial because [it causes] less pressure on your joints, and it’s easy to do once you learn the technique,” El Roble racewalking coach Kathleen Eagleton said. “A lot of the students at El Roble are interested in racewalking because there are many scholarships available.”

8th graders Lily Miller and Gaby Cerrillos were two of students from the El Roble racewalking team who also participated in the Fun Racewalk. After their walk, they were given feedback on their form and given tips to improve. One of the judges showed them the proper form for racewalking, and the students practiced again and applied their newly learned strategies. Other racewalking events held at the meet included a 5K and a 1500 meter.

“Racewalking is fun and looks funny. It’s also hard because you have to learn the technique, and it burns your calves,” Cerrillos said. “I like racewalking because it’s a better alternative than running when I’m not feeling as motivated.”

El Roble’s own racewalking team consists of 24 students – 18 boys and 6 girls – and is headed by the assistant coach for racewalking, Kathleen Eagleton. Most students from the racewalking team are also from the El Roble track and field team. Team practices consist of running laps, stretching, and practicing form and speed. There are racewalking events only when El Roble hosts the track and field meets.