With only one American male walker having the A standard, a lot was on the line. Still, a light and fun attitude prevailed from the night before's traditional pre-race meal. Historically one would think this meant a trip to an Italian restaurant, however after one too many pasta dinners Kevin Eastler and Tim Seaman started a new tradition of carbo loading at IHop. Much to my culinary chagrin, I gave up an invite to Bob Gray's house and the promise of mouth watering ribs for a delectable IHop sandwich.
Fashionista Jonathan Matthews was gleaming before the race, probably just happy not to be stuck on a runway somewhere worrying about making it to the race on time.
Tim Seaman had two major jobs today. First, after a tough loss to John Nunn at the 50K Olympic Trials, to rebound with either a victory (and a B standard performance) or to walk under a 1:22:30 and finish in the top three. However, those of us that know Tim weren't buying his assertion that he was here today as an athlete first. Sure, he would race his heart out, but he was more focused on the results of his pupils. Trevor Barron -the obvious favorite, Nick Christie -an upstart with 14 months of race walking experience, and junior race walker extraordinary Tyler Sorrenson were all here due to the major efforts Tim put forth to train America's next generation of race walkers.
We've said that Trevor Barron's success would lift American race walking to a new level. This was obivious by the enthusiastic fan support that showed up early this morning to cheer Trevor onto what hopefully would be the first of many Olympic Teams.
Unfortunately for some, the race was over before the start. America's fastest milkman, gentleman farmer and super fast walker Patrick Stroupe had a work related injury earlier in the week that knocked him out of competition. Someone needs to tell Patrick you take it easy the week before the Olympic Trials. Fellow dairy farmer Tom Eastler states, "there are easy days on the farm." We hope he will have a speedy recovery and be back in contention before long.
The sky was overcast with a slight threat of rain, but the temperature was cool and conditions were near ideal for a fast race.Twelve walkers waited for the gun. Two of which though they head the announcer saying "Strike a pose." Guys, this is a 20K not a sprint. However, we'll give you points for creativity.
Right from the gun, Trevor Barron took charge with his coach by his side. What a rare bonus to have your coach striding step by step along with you to your first Olympic birth.
The men's 20K story continues...