Race walkers impress at international meet in Richmond


Evan Dunfee considered going for a Canadian record at the Junior Can-Am Dual Race Walking Meet Sunday in Richmond. But conditions prevailed over intent.

Though an area along the dyke, between the John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse and the Navy League of Canada clubhouse on River Road, provided a picturesque backdrop for a series of races, the short, winding and sometimes hilly stretch was less than ideal for an athlete attempting to break a long-established 30-kilometre racek walk mark. Typically, those kind of achievements are ideally recorded on perfectly flat stretches that extend much greater distances.

That's not to say Dunfee and his 30-some colleagues didn't enjoy or fare well at the weekend meet. Inspired by the atmosphere, several younger athletes competing in the under-19 competition actually earned personal bests. The female racers covered a distance of five kilometers and the male racers 10 kilometers.

"While the course wasn't great, they were able to use a great atmosphere to their advantage," said Dunfee, the 24-year-old Richmondite who flirted with the idea of setting a new 30-kilometre mark at home.

Dunfee, who holds the Canadian men's race walk record at 20 kilometers of one hour, 20.13 minutes, had a good start but lost valuable momentum and likely up to two minutes just turning at either end of the short course. Still, he was happy with his time of 2:11.54 though it was well off the national standard of 2:04.50.

"What I'll take away most is that this was a very good indicator of where my fitness is at for 50 kilometers," he says. "It gives me a lot of confidence as I hope to break the Canadian mark at that distance in December in (Melbourne) Australia."

Between now and then, Dunfee plans to compete in several races in China starting in October. After spending Christmas in Melbourne, he'll gear up for the Pan-American Games next summer in Toronto, followed by the world championships in Beijing, China. Then the focus will shift once more to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.


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