This was a race for the ages. Tim Seaman said afterwards, "If this isn't a race isn't talked about for the next 20 years there is something wrong." He was right. In 27 years of race walking I have never witnessed an American race of such magnitude, with such gutsy perfromances and unbelievable excitment. As a photographer, former competitor, reporter and fan, the 50K is the most exciting competition for me to watch. Observing the strategy play out as a war of attrition ensues just gets me going. This year I had pegged the guys to beat as Tim Seaman, John Nunn, Patrick "the Milkman" Stroupe, and Ben Shorey. My predicition was the four of them would walk together for at least 30K. If the younger Shorey or Stroupe were in great shape and dropped the hammer, I didn't know if Seaman or Nunn could go with them. I surmized if the pack stayed close together longer, the veterans would have the advantage. Here's the story of how it actually played out.
After a rainy, cold Saturday that would have put a major damper on the 50K Olympic Trials, the weather was picture perfect: 40 degrees, no wind, and slightly cloudy. 13 competitors were headed to the starting line, but two in particular were reaching a unique achievement just by starting the race. Erin Taylor-Tallcot would be the first woman qualifying and competing in a men's track and field event. She qualified not by making a women's time standard, but the men's. Additionally of note, Dave McGovern was competing for the seventh time in an Olympic Trials, tying the all-time record set by hammer thrower Ed Burke.
The atmosphere was jovial and the athletes were joking around before the race. Allen James is shown on the left doing his impersonation of CoCo the monkey. George Castanza would be proud.
At stake was an Olympic berth. Sadly, probably only one as no one had either an A or B time standard needed. Given the picture perfect weather, the winner was surely going to break 4:09 and qualify with a B standard, but no one seemed ready to aim for the 3:59 A standard needed to send more than one man to the Olympic Games.
The lead pack taking it out intelligentyly, aka, conservatively
Quickly, the four leaders were as I expected: Stroupe, Seaman, Shorey, and Nunn (Left to Right)
The guys were content to work together, fueling up early
Yandy Alvarez off the lead pack,
but still walking very well.
Allen James (Left) and Ray Sharp (Right) walked
together bringing up the "more experienced" walker pack.
Erin Taylor-Talcott making history simply by competiting
Dave McGovern, showed strain early, but manned up and kept going
Our group of four was joined by Eric Codero making the lead pack quite a sight
John Nunn relaxed in the lead pack
Ben Shorey also relaxed in the pack
Laps went by as our lead pack made it look effortless.
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