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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Track Racing Etiquette for Walkers

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

When racing on a track should you pass on the right or the left? Does the faster racewalker have the option to force the slower racewalker to an outside lane? Can a faster walker call out “track” when coming up behind a slower walker and coerce the slower walker to move over and allow the faster walker not to have to change lanes? How about if you’re the slower walker who has been lapped? Then, must you move into lane two? 

According to Ian Whatley, a member of the National 20K Racewalk team, the main concern of every racer should be safety and avoiding a collision with another walker. The best way to accomplish this is for every racewalker to stay in the inside lane unless passing another walker. It is the responsibility of the faster walker to pass the slower walker without  asking the slower walker to move.

Ideally, a faster walker passes on the right when at least three strides ahead of the slower walker, so as to not impede the stride of the slower walker. There is nothing more irritating than a walker who speeds up just enough to pass you, then slows back down as soon as he is in front of you in the same lane. Kind of sounds like rush hour on the expressway, doesn’t it?

Ian understands that everyone wants to do their best time. It’s not fair for a faster walker to expect a slower walker to move over and relinquish those seconds to the faster walker’s time. When Ian competed in a recent 20K, on a track in New Orleans, he lapped people 48 times. Yet, it was his obligation to go around them, which he did, while everyone stayed in the inside lane. Furthermore, Ian says the worst scenario is not knowing whether the walker is going to move over or hold his ground, thereby risking a collision.

There are exceptions to the usual rule that a competitor should pass on the outside. One would be in the case that the meet director declares a different “rule for the day.”   The other exception is if a competitor is on a track with racewalkers who are much faster and the competitor knows that he will be repeatedly lapped. He may choose to  move to the outside half of lane one, thereby giving the faster competitors the ability to pass on the inside as the slower walker still remains in the inside lane.

When it doubt, pass on the outside and make safety your primary consideration.

 
© 2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

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