Teresa Vaill began her 20-year elite athletic career as a high school distance runner at Pine Plains High School in Upstate New York. She entered the race walk without training, just to earn points. Then, a few weeks before the NY State meet, she began to train for the walk. This meager preparation was enough for the very talented Vaill to excel.
Vaill's walking career might have ended there, but at the 1981 Hartwick Invitational in Oneonta, NY, she met Susan Liers and her coach, Gary Westerfield. When race time came, Vaill chased Liers, then a national-class race walker. Seeing Vaill’s potential, Liers promised her the opportunity to become a member of Island Track Club and travel to races. Shortly after, Vaill joined the club and raced with Liers and teammate Carol Brown to win the Women’s 15K National Team title.
Mostly self coached, Vaill has never been to a training camp or tested physiologically; still, she works hard. Quiet by nature, Vaill prefers to talk with her feet. She walks hard from the gun (just look at the photo below) and keeps pushing until she runs out of gas—a formula that has served her well. Balancing the duties of her family farm with training, Vaill knows what hard work is all about. Waking at 2 A.M., her active life as a dairy farmer built her stamina and strength as a walker.
With hard work came many rewards: twelve national rankings in the 10K—1986 to 1998—and another consecutive four as a 20K walker. During this time, Vaill competed internationally, representing the United States for an amazing 13 years. In 1987, Teresa and twin sister Lisa both qualified and competed at the World Cup in New York City. What a nightmare for the judges!
A two-time U.S. Women’s 10K race walk champion, Vaill at 39 was runner-up at the 2002 U.S. Outdoor Championships. Almost winning the race entirely, she lead until the final mile, when Joanne Dow passed her. She ended the season ranked second nationally by Track & Field News. Still hanging in at the top, Vaill finished third in 2003. While Vaill has been ranked #1 in the 10K women’s race walk on three separate occasions—1986, 1993, and 1994—she remains most proud of her 10K victory at the 1994 U.S. Nationals. She recently rejoined Coach Westerfield at his new club, Walk USA. Still aiming to make her first Olympic Team, Vaill continues to train and race well.