An Illustrated History of Race Walking
By Mike Rosenbaum, About.com Guide
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Where race walking is now
Nathan Deakes at the 2007 World Championships
Mark Dadswell/Getty Images
Pre-Olympic race walkers used the “fair heel and toe rule” to distinguish walking from running. Early Olympic rules were more specific, requiring a walker’s knees to be straight at some point during each stride. The rules have been tweaked over the years and currently require the walker’s front foot to be on the ground when the rear foot is raised. Also, the front leg must straighten when it makes contact with the ground. Current race walkers also exhibit more fluid form, leading to dramatically reduced times. Robert Korzeniowski’s winning time in the 50-kilometer event (3:38:46) in 2004 was almost 42 minutes faster than Christoph Hohne’s winning time in 1968 (4:20:13).