Birthday: Sept 20th, 1961
Current Residence : Escondido, CA
Hometown: Seattle, WA
College: Western Washington
20 km - 1:26:41
50 km - 3:59:41
Two-time Olympian Herm Nelson claims he was forced into race walking in 1986 by his Western Washington University coach. Nelson was a man without an event, bested by teammates at both his specialties, the steeplechase and marathon. His coach, eager to replace the points that he would lose when team member Allen James graduated, picked an event for Nelson. The coach made a wise choice.
Graduating college in August 1987 and searching for a job, Nelson devoted his efforts to training for the upcoming 50K Olympic Trials. He placed 5th, missing the team by one spot with a time of 4:15:51 as Jim Heiring, 4 th place, elected to compete in the 20K. This small taste of Olympic glory was enough for Nelson to commit to seriously training for the 1992 Games.
Nelson made 1989 his breakout year. Competing and racing well at both the World Cup and the USSR National Championships in Leningrad, he recorded personal bests for both races. He then completed the hat trick by breaking not only his personal best again, but also the American Record for the track 50K with a time of 4:04:24.
After competing so strongly in 1989, Nelson felt his body take the toll. He spent most of 1990 recuperating from a back injury sustained at the end of the previous year. Recovering by 1991, Nelson began the long preparation for the upcoming 50K Olympic Trials. By 1992 the International Olympic Committee had added the qualifying standard requirements. Nelson squeaked by. He finished 2nd at the trials with a time of 4:04:39, meeting the A standard by 21 seconds in the process. Unfortunately, he did not fare well at the Olympic Games, finishing 32nd out of 45 starters and 32 finishers.
During the Games, Nelson was bothered by gall bladder problems that had been coming on for some time. He had planned to retire after his race, but finishing last left a bad taste in his mouth. Resolute, he committed to training for another four years. Wanting to tear it up on the home turf, he qualified again in 1996 with an improved time of 3:59:41, but had another disappointing experience. He was disqualified.
Nelson felt ready to hang up his shoes for good when he was given advice by four-time Olympian Abdi Bile from Somalia. Bile said, "If you feel you still can do it and want to do it, don't give up." Taking the advice to heart, Nelson planned to go for it in 2000.
Struggling with a groin injury after the Olympics Games in 1996, Nelson never fully regained his top form. Realizing his competitive career was almost done, he wanted to complete his race walking career on a high note, so he headed north for the Canadian 50K National Championship. End on high note he did, winning the race in 4:33, although they could not give him the title.
Nelson knew that with a final 50K win under his belt, it was time to move on. Affectionately called "The Bear" for his hibernation-like napping, he dusted off his physics degree and is now a process engineer in Laser Optics for Mellisgriot Corporation in Carlsbad, California. He still hears the call of race walking and apparently has not completely escaped its grasp. Rumor has it he may emerge from his cave for the 10K Penn Relays race walk this year.
1996 10th - 1:34:07 1995 2nd - 1:26:41 1993 4th - 1:31:42 1989 8th - 1:29:39
1997 7th - 4:34:12 1996 8th - 3:59:42 1994 3rd - 4:04:23 1993 3rd - 4:09:49 1992 2nd - 4:04:38 1991 3rd - 4:05:33 1989 9th - 4:04:23
1998 2 hour - 23,694 meters 1997 30K - 2:28:07 1993 2 hour - 25,918 meters
50K Olympic Games
1996 – DQ - Atlanta, USA
1992 - 32 nd - 4:25:48 - Barcelona, Spain
50K World Championships
1993 - 31 st - 4:21:08 – Stuttgart, Germany
50K World Cup
1993 - 51 st - 4:27:44 - Monterrey, Mexico
1989 - 41 st - 4:12:24 - L'Hospitalet, Spain
50K Pan Am Games
1997 – DNF - Manaus, Brazil
50K Pan Am Cup
1992 - 11 th - 4:32:42 - Guatemala City, Guatemala
1988 – 5 th – 4:15:01 – Mar del Plate, Argentina