Coming to a world class race walking event in Russia has a special aura about it. The depth of the Russian women's walking program is so deep their "slow" walkers could crush half the field. So the anticipation at the start of the women's race walk at the 2013 IAAF World Championships was high.
Unlike the men's race, the air was relatively cool. The women were fortunate enough to start on the earlier end, at 9:30 AM. With the same format as the men, the women started on the track and headed to the road. 61 in all, the pack was tight. For the first time at a World Championships, three American Women were in the 20km.
The pack got underway and was a judges nightmare. I don't know how anyone could decern individual sets of legs in such a large group.
Fortunately, the pack started to thin out a little with the Russians content not to press hard early.
Indeed, the pace seemed relatively pedestrian for a World Championships. Perhaps, seeing so many men go down hard in the 20km on Tuesday led to a more conservative approach.
American's Maria Michta and Miranda Melville took a note from their coach's playbook and started out as the caboose as well.
One on the road, Elisa Rigaudo of Italy took control and lead a LARGE pack.
Quickly Rigaudo was joined by the Czech Republic's Anezka Drahotova at the front.
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