Thursday, September 25, 2008

No IAAF Challenge Final for me.

The IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final was held on Sunday in Murcia, Spain and I was just one of the thousands of spectators. After my last cortisone injection a couple of weeks ago in Australia I have kept cross training on the bike and swimming but haven’t been able to walk more than 5km without my foot becoming inflamed again. So I decided last week that racing in Murcia certainly wasn’t going to help it only rest will do that. I’m still keeping a general fitness and hope to start race walking in mid October when I return to Australia after I get some more medical advice. It was disappointing to not participate but I have had this problem for over two months and I need to let it heal.

The Challenge Final was held in the main street, Gran Via, of Murcia in South Eastern Spain. There were some short children’s and youth races before the main events; women’s 20km then the mens 20km. There was already a large crowd along the course for the start of the women’s race at 10.45am. My good friend and competitor since we were juniors, Susana Feitor (, won convincingly. She was strong and determined from the start to make up for her disappointing DNF in Beijing; and she showed she has great form in the second half of the year. Athanasia Tsoumeleka (Greece; Athens Olympic Champ) was 2nd and Olympic Silver Medallist from Sydney and Beijing Kjersti Platzer (Norway, came in 3rd and therefore won the Challenge on points overall. Even though I didn’t race in Murcia I ended up in 8th place overall in the Challenge and picked up a handy $5,000.

Women's Race IAAF Challenge Final

The men's race was incredible, partly due to the thousands of Ecuadorian fans that had lined the course to cheer their hero Jefferson Perez in his last race. There apparently 30,000 people in Murcia of Ecuadorian descent and I think most of them were on the 1km course in Murcia on Sunday. There was a large pack early on but as it became warmer the numbers dropped until it was just Jefferson and Paquillo Fernandez (Spain) with Jared Tallent close. Paquillo was too strong and Jared overtook Jefferson in the last 2km to place second. Jared had the added bonus of winning the Challenge overall and picked up $30,000! See for full report.

It was an emotional time for Jefferson that wasn’t made any easier when the thousands of Ecuadorian stormed the course; almost causing a riot! It was an incredible scene that I have never witnessed at a race walking event. Some of them were chanting “Jefferson for President.” When I asked Jefferson later about post race “crowd crush” he said that it wasn’t too bad; “in Ecuador the are usually 100,000 pushing people like that!”

Mens 20km IAAF Challenge Final

For me the Challenge Final in Murcia was the best race walking competition that I have witnessed outside the major championship events. It had a great atmosphere, the athletes thought it was well organised and lots of fun. Hopefully there will be more Challenge events like this in the future.

As for me I’m having a holiday in Turkey with Matt before returning to Australia in early October and hopefully I can start race walking again without any more problems.

Crowd waiting for the presentation at the Challenge Final

1 comment:

trailblazer777 said...

Wow! what a year for Tallent!!!

Hopefully some other people commenting soon, as this is a unique and great blog! which should be read, and commented on by many people IMO although I can understand people not being bold enough to comment on a (4-time!) Olympians blog!

Probably a wise move to rest the foot on your part. Thanks for the links here and on your website to other racewalkers websites too, interesting and inspiring to read.
Incredible the soccer like crowds for Perez! a fitting finish for a longtime champion.

Well done on the 8th spot, and
all the best with getting the foot right!