Current Residence : Rialto, CA
Hometown: Rome, NY
10 km - 49:41.3
Sue Brodock began her competitive career in junior high school, running track for the Fontana Cinderbells in California. Having trouble with allergies, Brodock occasionally struggled through her races, so coach Bob Bollinger suggested she try race walking. In the Sixties and Seventies, women had few opportunities to race walk. However, the AAU had an active program, and their meets were to become Brodock’s main stage. In her very first year, she competed at the Nationals. And though she downplays her early success, Brodock must have been a natural.
With no grade-school or high-school walking programs, Brodock competed solely for club teams. In the early seventies, Coach Bollinger retired and she switched teams to the Realto Roadrunners, coached by David Japps. Japps’ strategy was to have Brodock run two thirds of her training and walk the remaining third. He would get her in great shape first, then work on technique.
While her sisters walked well, they didn’t have Sue’s determination and talent. To this day, Japps claims that Brodock was the hardest-working athlete he ever coached.
Still in high school, Brodock by 1973 had moved up to the Senior level, where she found few competitions for women and instead challenged the male-chauvinist walking world of the times by racing men. Japps remembers traveling to a men’s race in Arizona. Brodock walked well but was eliminated, allegedly because she was a woman. Apparently, when the judge disqualified her, he actually justified his call by claiming that no woman should be able to walk as fast as the men.
When I first heard this story, I thought maybe Coach Japps was coloring history. Sad to say, I was wrong. Gary Westerfield, coach of Brodock-rival Susan Liers, confirms that many judges in those days held a similarly disparaging view of women.
Fortunately, not everyone shared that view. Brodock was invited to the men’s LA Times Invitational, a massive indoor track meet in the 70s. Racing competitively, she held her own against an all-male field. And although she did not win the race, she did earn the title, “Best Athlete of the Meet.” Actually, she won this title for two consecutive years. The first year, she received a motorcycle that she sold to raise traveling funds. The following year she won a special coin that she kept.
Brodock achieved one of her greatest accomplishments early in her career. In 1974 she won what would later become the Women’s World Cup. Back then, it was a 5K race named the Women’s World Meeting. At first, Brodock was unsure how she would attend her first international competition, as she had no sponsors and would need to raise her own funds to cover all expenses. Typically, athletes of the time solicited support through a mail campaign, but Brodock proved much more creative. She and her coach walked door-to-door seeking to repaint addresses on residents’ curbs. At just three dollars an address, that was a lot of houses to paint.
A perfectionist in her walking, Brodock’s long-standing goal was to break 7:00 for the mile. After many attempts, she walked a 6:58.4 at the 1979 Los Angles Times Indoor Games, breaking the world record in the process.
Brodock gave up walking soon after becoming a born-again Christian and making her relationship with God her highest priority. She retired after the 1983 Indoor Nationals and today owns the Pretty Pet Parlor, a grooming shop in Fontana, CA. She is no longer involved in race walking, but race walking has not forgotten her. For her electrifying indoor performances she was inducted into the Indoor National Track and Field Hall of Fame. She retains the honor of holding more Senior National titles then any woman in U.S. history, although Michelle Rohl is quickly closing in on her.
Rankings did not exist during the time Sue Brodock competed.
1983 1 Mile - 7:14.67 1982 1 Mile - 7:07.14 1980 1 Mile - 7:06.9 1978 1 Mile - 7:01.7 1977 1 Mile - 7:05.9 1976 1 Mile - 7:12.7 1975 1 Mile - 7:22.5 1974 1 Mile - 7:28.6
1982 20K - 1:46:40 1980 5K - 23:19.1 10K - 51:01.0 15K - 1:16:57 20K - 1:48:22 1979 5K - 24:07 10K - 51:32.8 1978 10K - 52.18.2 1977 5K - 24:10 10K - 51:17 1976 5K - 25:28.4 1975 5K - 25:12.9 10K - 52:03 1974 1500M - 7:29.7 1973 5K - 27:39.9
5 K World Cup
1979 - 22nd - 25:00 - Eschborn, West Germany
1974 - 1st - 24:16.2 - Stockholm, Sweden