It is crazy to believe that the 2011 season is all wrapped up. It was just over a week ago when Evan and I had made our way to Germany after a solid month of training in Leeds. After a long season, we were eager to get this last race under our belt and put together the type of race that we knew we were capable of.
The race took place in Naumburg, Germany, a small town about an hour south of Berlin. We were definitely very lucky with the conditions on that day, as we woke up to a sunny and a cool morning of 17 degrees. With such conditions, I was very confident that I would be able to carry on with my plan to break that Olympic A Qualifying standard. So, I went off at the start with the plan to hold 4:07/km. I managed to hold that pace for 5km going through the line in 20:42, but I also felt very strong and confident that I could continue to push the pace. And so I did, dropping the next 5km to a split of 20:39, crossing the half way mark in 41:21. I knew that I would need to pick up the pace in order to go under that elusive Olympic mark, so I began to chase down kilometer after kilometer. I managed to gain some ground on the standard after 15km with a split time of 1:01:48 (20:27 for the third 5km). Being under the target pace gave me a sense of confidence to push hard without the worry of blowing up and failing to cross the line under my goal. So, I went on picking up the pace. I managed to do my last 5km split in a time of 20:18, which in turn got me well under that desired mark. I finished the race in 3rd place overall in a time of 1:22:06 (Olympic standard = 1:22:30), 24 seconds clear of qualifying for my first Olympic Games. To my surprise, along with this massive accomplishment I received 250 Euros as prize money for my placing.
The race saw many other successes. Firstly, Evan managed to have a great performance finishing 5th in a time of 1:23:45 (minute and a half PB, and well under the Olympic B Standard of 1:24:30). He was the third walker in our group to go under the Olympic B standard in less than 7 days after Ben Thorne, our up and coming walker, managed to have a fantastic 1:24:12 performance in only his first 20km race in Edmonton. I am very confident that both Evan and Ben will be able to get under the Olympic A standard to solidify their place at next year’s Games. To wrap up the Canadian success, Rachel Seaman crossed the line breaking the Canadian Record for the third time this season in a time of 1:33:33 (3 seconds short of an A standard). I also want to give a mention to another amazing performance in Naumburg. Brendan Boyce, the Irish walker whom we had stayed with in Leeds, managed to qualify for the Olympics over the more gruelling distance of 50km, crossing the line with a time of 3:57:58 (You can follow Brendan here: http://www.brendanboyce.co.uk/). I definitely look forward to seeing him continue to get faster over the distance. And finally, it was great to see Alex Wright, the British walker, put together a solid SB performance of 1:26:45 after a season of injuries.
Here is the Athletics Canada news release about the race: http://athletics.ca/display_news.asp?newsid=1263
This wraps up the 2011 season, one full of exciting performances and experiences around the world. I definitely want to thank the British Race Walking Center in Leeds, UK (Alex Wright and Lauren, Brendan, Andi Drake, and Ian Richards) for their hospitality and h support as we prepared to finish the season on a high note.
I look forward to getting back to training in a few weeks and chipping away as we prepare for next summer’s London Olympic Games.