by Bryan Thomas
The 44th Lake Burley Griffin Walking Carnival was held in Canberra Sunday 13 June. This popular annual carnival (the LBG) is the largest race walking event held within Australia. It has been conducted by the ACT Race and Fitness Walking Club on behalf of Racewalking Australia in Canberra every June since 1967.
This year’s carnival attracted more than 390 walkers of all ages ranging from Under 10 boys and girls to Open and Masters men and women. In fact members of masters or veterans athletics clubs (particularly of the local ACTVAC) were prominent. Sixty-seven of them participated in the various events and most officials and helpers were of “mature-age”. Events included 1km races for the Under 10s and 2, 3, 5 and 10km for older juniors and 5km, 10 and 20 miles for Open and Masters athletes. The blue riband event, the 20 mile LBG Classic, is two laps of the main basin of Lake Burley Griffin while the 10 mile race is one lap. Open and masters competitors could choose to compete either as a racewalker (as defined by IAAF rules) or as a fitness walker (judged by the same rules except that bent knees are permitted).
The 10 and the 20 mile events started at 8am when the temperature was a frosty -3C. However, the early morning chill gradually warmed and changed to a beautiful clear, still and sunny day – ideal for racewalking.
Jarred Tallent (25 year-old silver and bronze medallist in the 50 and 20km walks at the Beijing Olympics) representing Victoria, but residing at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, cruised to victory in the gruelling 20 mile (32km) walk. His time of 2hrs 26min 35sec was more than a minute ahead of Chris Erickson. This was Jarred’s fifth win in the Classic but it was not as quick as his record performance of 2.14.57 set last year. This is less than 4.15/km. Many veteran athletes can only dream of being able to run at such a pace?
Nine of the 13 racewalkers in the 20 mile LBG Classic were masters while all nine fitness walkers were masters/veteran athletes. Twelve of the 27 women, and 10 of the 18 men that completed the 10 miles were masters, and almost all fitness walkers in this event, as well as the 5 miles, were masters.
Some of the more outstanding masters/veterans in this year’s carnival were –
M65 Robin Whyte (ACT) has competed, as well as being on the organising team, in all 44 LBG Classics. This year he finished the 20 miles in 3.37.41. This was Classic number 33 for South Australian M65 Bill Starr who did the two laps in 3.58.12.
Stuart Kollmorgan (Victoria) 3.06.07 was first master in the 20 miles but close on his heals was M50 Colin Heywood (ACT) in a time of 3.06.47.
W70 Val Chesterton (ACT) enjoyed a memorable day. Not only was she an important member of the LOC and completed the 20 miler in 4.47.54, but this was also her 70th birthday. This was Val’s sixth consecutive LBG Classic, the most by a woman.
Then there were the remarkable performances by two Australian superwomen of masters’ racewalking. Regular participant in the LBG carnival, W50 Lynn Ventris (WA) was 3rd outright and first master in the 10miles in the time of 1.25.59. Lynn currently holds all World Records for W45 and W50 3000m, 5000m and 10km racewalks.
W60 Heather Carr (Victoria) was second to Lynn in a time of 1.33.23. Heather also holds numerous Australian Records in walk events from W40 through to W60. She is the current World Record holder for W55 and W60 10km and the W55 3000m.