While the two 20K events were well supported by the local and foreign fan base, it was to my surprise to see a much stronger fan turnout for the 50K. Combining the cheering crowd with relatively lower temperatures set the stage for an awesome 50K battle.
With so many talented walkers in the field, it was anyone's guess as to who would take charge early. Would those who doubled prove their wisdom or lack their of? Would Robert Korzeniowksi (3 time Olympic Gold Medalist) prove as history usually dictates that specialization in distance events bears the most fruit? Would the current world record holder Dennis Nizhegorodov prove that he is ready to take the reigns from Korzeniowksi and ruin his swan song? Only 50 kilometers would give us the answer.
Due to technical difficulties with setting up my video camera, I missed the flash of Robert Korzeniowksi (Poland, 2679) with Yucheng Han (China, 1346), Caohong Yu (China, 1381), and the current world record holder Dennis Nizhegorodov (Russia, 2917) at his side. The pack led a trio of walkers with Nathan Deakes, fresh off his 20K bronze medal, (Australia, 1056) walking side by side with Aigars Fadejeves (Latvia, 2414) and Andreas Erm (Germany, 1873). The two groups announced from the start that they were the contenders, leaving the rest of the field in the proverbial dust.
Led by Andreas Hoehne(Germany, 1894) and Sergey Korepanov (Kazakstan, 2317) the second pack of contenders was huge. Whether the slower start of these walkers would pay off wouldn't be determined for quite a while. There is a reason that they say the 50K race starts at 40K. Many a walker has misjudged their ability and gone out too fast.
Amongst those hiding in the middle of this pack is America's hope for a medal, Curt Clausen (3242).
A surprise slow start found Jefferson Perez, 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and 4th place finisher in this week's 20K race walk in the third pack.
While some might be surprised to see veteran walker Philip Dunn start in nearly last, multiple sources close to Racewalk.com have confirmed that Philip had lost time to training and intended to walk the 1st 10K in last place. Hopefully this conservative pace will pay off equally well as it did for the 20K specialists.
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