About Walking

The Club caters for both race and fitness walkers. Your questions about both are answered here:

What is the difference between race and fitness walking?

Racewalking is an Olympic sport where competitors need to comply with rules set by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (see below). Racewalking events are always judged and competitors can be disqualified. Fitness walking is a term we use for all other walkers. Its also been called ‘power walking’ and ‘sport walking. The only rule is that you don’t run.


So does that mean that racewalkers are really serious?

Some are. Olympic Bronze Medallist Nathan Deakes trains up to 280km on the cyclepaths around Canberra. But most aren’t. We have a mixture of both in our Club and we happily cater for all standards. One of our walkers competed in the Athens Olympics and several are national champions in their age groups. However, most of our racewalkers come along to our events as much for socialising as competing.


Are fitness walkers less important?

Absolutely not! We have roughly the same number of fitness walkers as racewalkers in our Club and they enjoy our races just as much, and are as equally important to us as our racewalkers. Some of them are pretty good too. One of our fitness walkers holds numerous Australian ultra-distance walking records – like walking 180km in 24 hours. That’s keen but most of our walkers would rather just hear stories of her latest exploits rather than join her! Its really up to you as to how serious you want to get about this sport.



What are the rules of racewalking?

This is the IAAF rule:

Race Walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground, so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg shall be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until the vertical upright position.


Note that bit about loss of contact being visible to the human eye. Commentators on television seem to take great delight in showing racewalkers clearly off the ground when viewed by a camera in slow motion at ground level. This is not how racewalking is judged. Just as cricket umpires need to make instant decisions based on what they believe they saw, so do racewalking judges. One difference is that three different judges need to give a walker a red card before they are disqualified. Clearly, red cards are not the yellow paddles that you may see judges show a walker – these are cautions and indicates to the walker that they are ‘in danger of breaking the rules’. Judges do not tell walkers when they get a red card. But if they get three, the Chief Judge will appear with the dreaded red paddle.


If you are really interested in finding out more about how racewalking rules are applied, go to the Victorian Race Walking Club website for a history of how the rules developed, a link to the current rules and additional rules for judging in Australia.

How do I learn to racewalk?

Come along to one of our events and we’ll show you the technique. The best way to learn is to then have a go at a few events and we can give you some feedback. Our judges are friendly and will not disqualify you (unless it is a championship event) but will let you know what you’re doing right and wrong.


You can also learn how to racewalk with ‘Icabod’ from the North American Racewalking Foundation. This site uses a stick figure to show you some useful tips on technique.


Why should I walk?

The Heart Foundation recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a great way to stay fit as it requires minimal equipment, does not have the same impact stresses as running, and you can talk to your partner while you’re walking. Walking has been shown to:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes
  • Help control your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improve your self esteem and help you relax, and
  • Keep your weight down.

You can walk as fast or slow as you wish. No matter whether you’re a race or fitness walker, walking fast uses your arms vigorously, giving you a full body work-out.


Will I be too slow?

Provided you can walk without the aid of a stick, no you won’t be. At all our events, you can choose between a long and short distance meaning you can choose the distance that you feel comfortable with. We have fast and slow walkers so you probably won’t come last. Even if you do, we’ll show you how to improve. We also have regular handicap starts so that everyone gets an equal chance of winning.
How good am I?
A 25 year old walker is clearly going to have an age advantage over a 15 or 50 year old walker. Age graded tables enable you to compare performances of, say, a 25 year old who runs 5km in 20 minutes aganist a 60 year old who walks 5km in 34 minutes (the 60 year old wins this one!).


Sounds great. How do I join?

Go to our ‘About the Club‘ page


45 thoughts on “About Walking

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