by Al Heppner
CHULA VISTA, Calif. - (January 11, 2004) - The stock market was closed today, but Dow was way up.
Joanne Dow's Olympic "A" Standard for 20 km (1:32:54) overshadowed National 30 km Racewalk Championships by Kevin Eastler (2:14:44) and Michelle Rohl (2:38:01).
"I did a New Year's Day 10 km race in 45:55 (well under Olympic Qualifying pace)," Dow said. "I felt strong, but I didn't know if I had another 10 km in me (to get the 'A' Standard)."
She did today. Eastler was out front from the start, but Dow benefited from working with the men's 30 km trail pack which included Tim Seaman, Al Heppner, Curt Clausen, and Andreas Gustafson. Race participants could opt for the 10 km or 20 km distance, but everyone started at the same time.
At 10 km Eastler was 44:31, with the pursuit group at 46:04.
"I wanted to hold (American Record) pace and I was surprised that no one went with me," Eastler said.
Gustafson was disqualified at 12 km, while Heppner began to inch away from Seaman and Clausen to move solidly into second. Dow was able to hang onto Clausen, who led her to the 20 km promised land.
"I needed to be at 1:10:00 for 15 km and we went through under 1:09:00, so I knew I had over a minute in the bank, but I wasn't confident I had it until I saw the clock on the last straightaway. Curt really helped pull me through," Dow said.
Eastler was well under Clausen's American Record pace at 20 km with a 1:29:13 split, and Heppner second at 1:31:23. Seaman was less than 30 seconds behind, with Clausen another minute back.
In the final 10 km, Eastler continued to walk well and was still on record pace, but stopped to vomit with the finish line in sight and missed the record by 21 seconds. Heppner held on for a six-second personal best at 2:16:52, his first personal record (PR) at any distance since 2001. Seaman tied up badly in the final third of the race and dropped all the way back to seventh, allowing Clausen to move up to third by the finish (2:19:07). The Army's John Nunn patiently walked himself right into the middle of the race and had Clausen in his sights before settling for fourth in 2:19:39. Sean Albert was fifth in 2:23:50, followed by Philip Dunn (2:25:50).
Also of note was eighth-place finisher Mark Green, who set a new American Record in the 45-49 age group (2:32:24). Nick Bdera, 2:45:01, also set an age group record (55-59), as did Mark's father Max in the 70-74. Good weather contributed to five personal best performances.
Three-time Olympian Michelle Rohl added another National Title to her impressive resume, despite falling over three minutes short of her own American 30 km Record. Although her time was very solid, she wasn't pushed by the women's field. All of her competitors either didn't start, didn't finish, or got disqualified. With Dow's performance, an "A" standard (sub 1:33:30) from Rohl, which she has already done several times, would all but guarantee her a record fourth Olympic Team Berth.
Meanwhile, Eastler has moved to the forefront of the men's racewalking scene. At 26 years of age, he is already number two on the US All-time list at 20 km. His next challenge, which could be his greatest yet, is to break Tim Seaman's 6-year string as the reigning US Indoor Champion.
Looming on the men's racewalk calendar is the US 50 km Olympic Trials, which will be contested on the same course in Chula Vista, CA. The race kicks off at 7:30 AM on February 15.
|1||Kevin Eastler||26||2:14:44||US Air Force*|
|2||Al Heppner||29||2:16:52||US Army*|
|4||John Nunn||32||2:19:39||US Army*|
|5||Sean Albert||29||2:23:50||NB-North Jersey|
|6||Philip Dunn||32||2:25:50||New Balance|
|8||Mark Green||48||2:32:24||Las Vegas Walkers|
|9||Dave Doherty||33||2:34:40||San Diego TC|
|10||Michelle Rohl||38||2:38:01||Moving Comfort**|
|12||Dave McGovern||38||2:42:15||New Balance|
|16||Colin Peters||42||2:57:29||Hawaii TC|
|18||John Backlund||63||3:20:40||Rwers NW|
|19||Robert Weeks||62||3:29:39||WTW-San Diego|
|20||Paul Johnson||66||3:29:39||Florida AC|
|dq||Darlene Backlund||RWers NW|
|dnf||Bobbi Jo Chapman||World Class|
|dnf||Lee Chase||CT RWers|
|dns||Jolene Moore||Parkside AC|
*personal best time
**National 30 km Women's Champion